The Birth of Civilization

Topics: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Neolithic Pages: 69 (18953 words) Published: December 25, 2012
The Birth
of Civilization
Mohenjo-Daro Figure. Scholars believe this limestone statue from about 2500 B.C.E. depicts a king or a priest from Mohenjo-Daro in the Indus valley in present-day Pakistan.
Does this figure seem to emphasize the features of a particular person or the attributes of a particular role? Hear the Audio for Chapter 1 at
CRAIMC01_xxxii-031hr2.qxp 2/17/11 3:22 PM Page xxxii
WHY IS “culture” considered a defining trait of human beings? EARLY CIVILIZATIONS IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO ABOUT 1000 B.C.E. page 5 HOW DID control over water resources influence early Middle Eastern civilizations? ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN EMPIRES page 14

HOW DID conquest and trade shape early empires in the Near East? EARLY INDIAN CIVILIZATION page 16
WHAT INFLUENCES did the first Indus valley civilization have on later Indian religious and social practices?
WHY DID large territorial states arise in ancient China?
HOW DID agriculture influence the development of civilizations in Mesoamerica? 1
he earliest humans lived by hunting, fishing, and collecting wild plants. Around 10,000 years ago, they learned to cultivate plants, herd animals, and make airtight pottery for storage. These discoveries transformed them from gatherers to producers, allowing them to grow in number and to lead a settled life. Beginning about 5,000 years ago, a far more complex way of life began to appear in some parts of the world. In these places humans learned how to increase harvests through irrigation and other methods. Much larger populations came together in towns, cities, and other centers, where they erected impressive structures and where industry and commerce flourished. They developed writing, enabling them to keep inventories of food and other resources. Specialized occupations emerged, complex religions took form, and social divisions increased. These changes marked the birth of civilization. ■

Humans are cultural beings. Culture is the sum total of the ways of living built up by a group and passed on from one generation to another. Culture includes behavior such as courtship or child-rearing practices; material things such as tools, clothing, and shelter; and ideas, institutions, and beliefs. Language, apparently a uniquely human trait, lies T

The ways of living built up by a group
and passed on from one generation to
WHY IS “culture”
considered a defining trait
of human beings?
CRAIMC01_xxx-031hr.qxp 2/8/11 3:42 PM Page 1
behind our ability to create ideas and institutions and to transmit culture from one generation to another. Our flexible and dexterous hands enable us to hold and make tools and so to create the material artifacts of culture. Because culture is learned and not inherited, it permits rapid adaptation to changing conditions, making possible the spread of humanity to almost all lands of the globe.

The Paleolithic Age
Anthropologists designate early human cultures by their tools. The earliest period— the Paleolithic Age (from the Greek, “old stone”)—dates from the earliest use of stone tools some 1 million years ago to about 10,000 B.C.E. During this immensely long period, people were hunters, fishers, and gatherers, but not producers, of food. Paleolithic people learned to make increasingly sophisticated tools and to control fire, and they acquired language.

Evidence of religious faith and practice, as well as of magic, goes as far back as archaeology can take us.
Fear or awe, exultation, gratitude, and empathy with the natural world are reflected in the cave art and in the ritual practices, such as burial, found at the Paleolithic. The sense that there is more to the world than meets the eye—in other words, the religious response to the world—seems to be as old as humankind. Paleolithic culture could support only a...
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