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them, because nomads have often sparked major changes that have greatly affected and sometimes dominated settled communities.EARLY AGRICULTUREBy about 5000 BCE agriculture had become well established in several areas. In southwest Asia, wheat and barley were raised, and sheep and goats were domesticated. In southeast Asia, yams, peas, and early forms of rice were grown, and pigs, oxen, and chickens were kept. In the Americas, corn (maize), squash, and beans were staples of the diet, and in South America, potatoes were also grown. Domesticated animals were far less important in the Americas than they were elsewhere, but South Americans did domesticate llamas and alpacas.As agriculture began to take hold in various parts of the world, the population grew rapidly. For example, world population in 3000 BCE was probably about 14 million humans, but by 500 BCE, the total had risen to about 100 million.TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTSThe time period that followed the advent of agriculture and preceded the earliest civilizations is known as the Neolithic era (in contrast to the earlier Paleolithic - or "Stone Age" - era). The name means "new stone age", and it is characterized by the refinement of tools, primarily for agricultural purposes. The time period spans roughly from 10,000 to 4000 BCE.Early labor specialization is based on three craft industries: pottery, metallurgy (especially copper), and textile production.COMMON CHARACTERISTICS OF THE RIVER-VALLEY CIVILIZATIONS
•Location in river valleys - Rivers provided water for crops, as well as the easiest form of transportation. All four river valleys of the earliest civilizations had very fertile soil called loess, or soil carried and deposited as river water traveled downstream. •Complex irrigation systems - Controlling the flow of the rivers was a major issue for all of the civilizations, and all of them channeled the water for agricultural use through irrigation systems. •Development of legal codes - The most famous set of laws was Hammurabi's Code, but all wrote and implemented laws as political organization and long-distance trade grew more complex. •Use of money - Long distance trade made the barter system (trading one type of good for another) impractical, so all the civilizations developed some form of money for economic exchanges. •Elaborate art forms and/or written literature - These took different forms, but all civilizations showed advancements in these areas. •More formal scientific knowledge, numbering systems, and calendars - Developments in these areas varied from civilization to civilization, but all formalized knowledge in at least some of these areas. •Intensification of social inequality - In all river valley civilizations, gender inequality grew, and all practiced some form of slavery. Slaves were often captives in war or hereditary, and they were used for household work, public building projects, and agricultural production.