What Drives Political and Economic Development in Ancient Civilizations?
Compared to present-day civilizations, civilizations of the past depended much more on its physical surroundings. Because transporting goods required lots of time and manpower, it was expensive. Thus, the characteristics of many civilizations were dependent on the physical environments and natural resources that were easily accessible. Clearly, a civilization centered on a river has major advantages over one that is not. Rivers allow for fertile soil and an essentially limitless source of drinking water. With little worry for the humanities basic needs, these civilizations could value food and water less and value other aspects of life more, such as education and religion. Citizens could actually focus and specialize on different parts of culture and architecture instead of worrying about the resources needed for survival. Once the basic needs for human existence are met, humans could divert their attention to other more artistic activities of cultural significance. But if you look at the empires individually, each has its own unique advantage that allows for its distinctive path to a successful civilization. Egypt, for example, flourished due to division. Egypt was split into the northern area (Lower Egypt) and the southern area (Upper Egypt). The tensions caused by their different physical environments were apparent. Lower Egypt was had much more coastline because it was adjacent to both the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Thus, the dominant type of soil was that of sand and clay. Upper Egypt, on the other hand, had much richer soil which was often coloured black. These differences in soil color represented the “yin and yang” of Egypt: redness of the sand versus the blackness of the soil; life versus death; heaven versus earth; order versus disorder. On top of these color variations, Lower and Upper Egypt had vastly different natural resources. Upper Egypt had access to all of the...
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