A note on Civilization A civilization is generally defined as an advanced state of human society containing highly developed forms of government, culture, industry, and common social norms. Historians, anthropologists, and other scholars have identified several core characteristics of civilization. Some of the most commonly suggested characteristics include urban centers, agricultural manipulation and storage, irrigation, written language, standards of measurements, craftsmanship technology, social stratification, state government, a common religion and/or ideological outlook, and a shared culture. All civilizations have certain characteristics. These include: (1) large population centers; (2) monumental architecture and unique art styles; (3) written language; (4) systems for administering territories; (5) a complex division of labor; and (6) the division of people into social classes. Large population centers, or urban areas (1), allow civilizations to develop. People, like farmers, who live outside urban centers but sell their goods and services there, are still part of that region’s civilization. The huge urban center of Teotihuacan, in modern-day Mexico, for example, had more than 100,000 residents between 300 and 500 CE. The development of the Teotihuacan civilization was made possible in part by the rich agricultural land surrounding the city. As the land was cultivated, fewer farmers could supply more food, such as corn and beans, to more people. All civilizations work to preserve their legacy by building large monuments and structures (2). This is as true today as it was thousands of years ago. Western civilization, another name for civilizations of European origin (which include Australia and much of North America), has monuments like Mount Rushmore, in the U.S. state of South Dakota, or the Eiffel Tower, in Paris, France. These monuments represent the civilization that made them. Similarly, pyramids and other monumental structures have represented Egypt for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptian civilization is also represented by a distinct art style. Characteristics of this art style include hieroglyphics and stiff human figures. Written communication (3) is another element that all civilizations share. Writing allows systems for trade, government, and thought to develop. Written language also allows civilizations to record their own history. The world's oldest known written language is Sumerian, which developed in Mesopotamia. Sumerian civilization began keeping records about 3100 BCE. Sumerian writing was called cuneiform, meaning it was made up of different collections of wedge (triangle) shapes. Just like written records of modern civilizations, Sumerian cuneiform kept track of taxes, grocery bills, and laws for things like stealing.
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- Summer '19
- Indus Valley Civilization, Indus River valley