Writing like representational art was a powerful

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Unformatted text preview: eping. These attributes—urbanism; technological, industrial, and social change; long-distance trade; and new methods of symbolic communication—are defining characteristics of the form of human culture called civilization. At about the time the earliest civilizations were emerging, someone discovered how to combine tin and copper to make a stronger and more useful material—bronze. Archaeologists coined the term Bronze Age to refer to the period 3100–1200 B.C.E. in the Near East and eastern Mediterranean. eventually, man-made canal systems. Thus, control of water could be important in warfare; an enemy could cut off water upstream of a city to force it to submit. Because the Mesopotamian plain was flat, branches of the rivers often changed their courses, and people would have to abandon their cities and move to new locations. Archaeologists once believed that urban life and centralized government arose in response to the need to regulate irrigation. This theory supposed that only a strong central authority could construct and maintain the necessary waterworks. More recently, archaeologists have shown that large-scale irrigation appeared only long after urban civilization had already developed, so major waterworks were a consequence of urbanism, not a cause of it. Mesopotamian Civilization Early Civilizations in the Middle East to About 1000 B.C.E. By 4000 B.C.E., people had settled in large numbers in the river-watered lowlands of Mesopotamia and Egypt. By about 3000 B.C.E., when the invention of writing gave birth to history, urban life and the organization of society into centralized states were well established in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia and the Nile River in Egypt. Much of the urban population consists of people who do not grow their own food, so urban life is possible only where farmers and stockbreeders can be made to produce a substantial surplus beyond their own needs. Also, some process has to be in place so that this surplus can be collected and redeployed to sustain city dwellers. Moreover, efficient farming of plains alongside rivers requires intelligent management of water resources for irrigation. In Mesopotamia, irrigation was essential because in the south (Babylonia), rainfall was insufficient to sustain crops. Furthermore, the rivers, fed by melting snows in Armenia, rose to flood the fields in the spring, about the time for harvest, when water was not needed. When water was needed for the autumn planting, less was available. This meant that people had to build dikes to keep the rivers from flooding the fields in the spring and had to devise means to store water for use in the autumn. The Mesopotamians became skilled at that activity early on. In Egypt, on the other hand, the Nile River flooded at the right moment for cultivation, so irrigation was simply a matter of directing the water to the Read the Document fields. In Mesopotamia, villages, Two Accounts of an Egyptian towns, and cities tended to be strung Famine 2600s B.C.E. at MyHistoryLab.com along natural watercourses and, Wa...
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