The term civilization refers to a level of development in which people in different communities live together peacefully. Ancient civilization refers to the first settled and stable societies that formed subsequent governments, nations, and empires.
The study of ancient civilization, as its name implies, relates to ancient history. The beginning of ancient history dates back to about 3100 BC when humans invented writing. Before the invention of writing, different people lived on the surface of the earth. After the creation of writing, it became possible to keep a historical record.
Generalities about ancient civilization
These civilizations had standard features and existed in the first ancient societies such as Mesopotamia and Egypt in the Middle East, in the Indus Valley in present-day Pakistan and India, and Huang Hee China (Yellow River), on the island of Crete, in the Aegean, and Central America. Communities formed cities together and invented their writing forms. They learned how to make pottery for their daily use and how to use metals for their necessities.
They were able to tame animals. Gradually they formed relatively complex social structures with class systems.
Over the past 200 years, archaeologists have uncovered significant archaeological finds. It is interesting to know that archaeologists discovered Sumerian culture in Mesopotamia in the 1890s. Archaeologists made interesting archaeological discoveries in China in the late 1970s.
Sumer is one of the oldest known civilizations in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia (present-day southern Iraq). This ancient civilization originated during the Chalcolithic period and the early Bronze Age between the sixth and fifth millennia BC.
Based on some of the information gathered, historians have found that the Sumerians were related to the Hurrians and Urartians. The Caucasus region was also their homeland (Ilʹi︠A︡Sov, L. 2009).
It is challenging to understand Sumerian texts. They are among the most difficult early texts and, in many cases, do not provide the complete grammatical structure of a language (Allan, Keith, 2013).
Around the second and third millennia BC, the Akkadian language replaced the Sumerian language and became famous (Sanders, S. L. 2006).
The Sumerians used it as a sacred, ceremonial, literary, and scientific language in Babylon and Assyria, and it was an official language until a century AD (Campbell, L., & Mixco, M. J. 2007).
The beginning of civilizations by inventing and learning the principles of agriculture
Agriculture and related matters formed permanent communities and taught people to live together. Learning agriculture and its principles can be considered a turning point in human history because it brought about significant changes, known as the Agricultural Revolution.
Agriculture in the Middle East gradually developed around 6500 BC. In this way, people did not constantly look for food to feed themselves or their herds. Over time, people gained unique ability and experience in producing food for themselves and their livestock and changed their lives in a new way.
Gradually, communities continued to live along the valleys of fertile rivers. Because rivers were the best source of drinking water, they also used them for transportation.
In addition to drinking water and transportation, communities that lived along rivers also used rivers to irrigate agricultural land.
In addition to meeting the nutritional needs of ancient societies, the domestication of animals also provided conditions for them to use animal skins to provide clothing for themselves and their children and to protect them from the cold.
Read more : Ancient Civilizations That Influence Us Today
Agriculture and the creation of the first cities
Agriculture can be described as a revolutionary discovery because it made possible the creation of permanent settlements. Inner settlements eventually led to the construction of cities.
The coexistence and domestication of animals to prepare their meat and skins allowed more people to survive and give birth.
We referred to agriculture as a revolution and made remarks about complex social structures. Agriculture followed the division of labor. Communities that lived along the rivers, some of whom learned the profession of agriculture, some of whom worked and gained experience in various industries such as pottery, textiles, or tools. In this way, artisans would turn to farmers for food and provide them with agricultural tools or food by providing them with tools.
Agriculture could be a profession if access to water were easy and permanent. So the early communities were looking for a place to live where rivers and streams would be full of water, and there would be plenty of snow and rain in that geographical area.
Probably the ancient civilizations were all formed in the same way as we described. Of course, there may be differences in the type of formation due to regional and climatic differences.
The invention of fabrics for the production of clothing in early civilizations
The villagers also invented the cloth to use in addition to using animal skins as clothing. They were able to use wool and linen to make suitable fabrics for clothing or tents. The villagers used different materials to build houses in the villages. They learned to build their homes using wood, brick, and stone to protect themselves from storms, floods, and wildlife disasters.
It is interesting to know that agriculture even played a role in the formation of mathematics. Because people had to pay attention to the movements of the moon, the sun, and the planets, in this way, they could prepare themselves and the agricultural lands for the new season.
The invention of the calendar by early civilizations
The calendar is the result of their initial calculations to determine the seasons. Because with a calendar, they could calculate the arrival time of each season.
They also needed to measure the area of land to divide the property. They needed the same unit to exchange agricultural products such as grains or cereals. All these problems gave rise to mathematics.
People in that period felt the need to write after learning how to measure in different ways. The first civilizations used painting to do this to be able to report events and other things.
Egyptian hieroglyphics and information about it
Egyptian hieroglyphics are one of the most well-known ancient writing systems. Egyptian hieroglyphic is a term used to mean “sacred engravings” because they engraved many of the oldest inscriptions on stone.
The most important ancient civilizations
Important ancient civilizations were created in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and China, dating back to the fourth millennium BC.
In the Middle East, people probably lived along the river and farmed. Their type of agriculture depended on the reproduction of seeds and grains.
As you know, Mesopotamia is between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. This region is part of Iraq today. Around 5000 BC, farmers in the floodplains grew wheat, barley, chickpeas, and other agricultural necessities and food products.
How to irrigate agricultural fields in early civilizations
It may be interesting for you to learn about primary irrigation systems. For the first time, the Sumerians in Mesopotamia planned to build an irrigation system and sought a solution.
So they emptied the swamps so that they could build canals and ditches. These measures were considered large-scale irrigation projects and required the formation of a government and law to do so. Therefore, we know the Sumerians as the constituents of the first ancient civilizations.
Introduction to Shinar
In the Bible, the land of the Sumerians is called Shinar. The Sumerians used a secret language to communicate with each other. Their language was not related to other known languages at that time. They probably migrated from Iran to southern Mesopotamia in 4000 BC.
Eridu, Nippur, Lagash, Kish, and Ur were among the Sumerian cities. Of course, it is necessary to know that the cities were different from the agricultural settlements about which we provided information earlier. A priest had the task of appointing and organizing working groups of farmers to take care of the land. Farmers were responsible for planting barley, beans, wheat, olives, grapes, and flax for the people.
temple cities and acquaintance with it
These early cities we mentioned date back to 3500 BC and were called temple cities. People built the temple of the local God around these cities. They built temples on towers called ziggurats or sacred mountains. Around these shrines, they also built public buildings, bazaars, and other properties.
Gradually, the temple cities became city-states. The city-states are, in fact, the basis of the first real civilizations.
The city government was one of the best forms of human habitation because it was easier to transport and communicate there than in other areas.
Ensis were the people in charge of running the city government. They also controlled and maintained local irrigation systems.
The Ensis was allowed to distribute and support the surplus food supplied by the farmers to the leaders and the priests, artists, and artisans of others.
Other human skills in early civilizations
In addition to agriculture, the Sumerians were engaged in other activities. From each other, they learned the profession of metalworking and making wheeled carts and were able to produce pottery wheels and use them to prepare food and other utensils for themselves.
It is possible that they first invented the form of writing. The Sumerians were engraved or painted on clay tablets.
Later the Sumerian script was also called cuneiform. The Sumerians prepared clay or stone tablets and wrote down the accounts of the temple’s food stores.
As mentioned earlier, the Sumerians created the first calendar to identify seasons and prepare for climate change. They set the calendar based on changes in the phases of the moon.
After a while, the Semites, Egyptians, and Greeks welcomed the Sumerian lunar calendar and based it on their work.
With Sumerian communities and cities and other remote areas, sales of the goods they made increased. In this way, the class of merchants was growing day by day.
Modern scientists believe that the Ubaidians were the first civilizing force in ancient Sumer because they had extraordinary abilities, dried the swamps for agriculture, and engaged in weaving, leather making, metalworking, masonry, and pottery.
Worship of the Gods by the Sumerians
There were various gods in the Sumerian religion. If we want to name their most important gods, we can mention the God of natural forces and the God of the sky, the God of the sun, the God of the earth, and the God of water and storms.
The Sumerians did not just worship the gods in the great temples. They also worshiped God in small shrines and their homes, devoting time to worshiping God, day and night.
But the situation was not as calm as it seemed. The Sumerians no longer spent their day and night in pure peace. Eventually, a war broke out between the cities, and kings named Lugal emerged.
Formation of the army and official laws
They were able to take power from the rulers of the city government and replace them. In this way, Sumer became a more united country, with a common culture and a centralized state.
After the formation of the Sumerian state, the Sumerian king needed a powerful army and clear and new laws. A kingdom called Lugalzaggisi of Umma ruled the Sumerians until 2375 BC.
The defeat of the Sumerians over the Semites
After successive wars, the Sumerians lost to their neighbors, the Semites. But the Sumerian civilization was continued by their successors, the Akkadians, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Chaldeans.
The Babylonians contributed to the growth of civilization because they were interested in astronomy and mathematics. The construction of the first capital is one of the points we can mention about the development of culture by the Babylonians.
Hammurabi became king of Babylon and introduced the Law of Hammurabi in the late 18th century BC. The Law of Hammurabi can be considered the first and most complete set of Babylonian laws in the world.
ancient civilization in Egypt
If you are eager to know the ancient civilization in Egypt, you should know that Egyptian farmers began to settle in the narrow valley of the Nile in 5000 BC. The writing was invented 2,000 years ago and left a glorious culture, pyramids, and monuments for future generations.
The Egyptians used the Nile River for drinking and agricultural water. They witnessed the river rising and flooding every year. Of course, the floods were harmful to them and beneficial because they led to the accumulation of sediments along the coast and prepared the land for agriculture.
The more fertile the land, the more optimistic farmers were about the high yields of annual crops. Little by little, they began to think about storing surplus grain for times of drought or selling it to other people in exchange for other goods.
The more surplus produced there was in Egypt, the more wealth there was for ancient Egypt. The Nile was not just a source of drinking water or agriculture for the Egyptians. The Egyptians used the Nile for transportation, and the Nile was one of their most important transportation routes.
Agriculture in ancient Egypt
The ancient Egyptians who chose the Nile Valley and Delta to live together were primarily farmers. Cereals, fruits, and vegetables were grown in these primitive settlements in Egypt. Sometimes some people raise animals. Larger payments replaced smaller settlements. The people at that time needed to establish a central government in the region to control the Nile floods through dams and canals.
ancient civilization in India
Historians consider the Indus Valley to be the cradle of Indian civilization. The Indus Valley is in present-day Pakistan. It is interesting to know that archaeologists did not discover this valley until 1924.
About 4,000 BC, farmers cultivated vegetables and grains and raised animals along the riverbank. There were two large cities, Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, and several smaller cities in 2700 BC.
According to historians, Mesopotamian merchants sailed from Sumer to the Indus Valley. There, the people of the Indus Valley taught the Sumerians skills such as sophisticated irrigation and drainage systems and the art of writing.
Archaeologists have found that the Indus River civilization had large cities and robust architecture. There were extensive public buildings, palaces, baths, and large warehouses, and they used these places to store agricultural products. The inhabitants of India and the Indus River had reached a relatively high level of culture before destroying their civilization, and archaeologists realized this from numerous works of art in the area.
After long wars in the fourth and third centuries BC, the Mauryan Empire conquered most Indian subcontinent (Singh, G. P., 2008).
Suppose you want to know more about Indian literature. In that case, we have to say that from the third century BC onwards, Prakrit and Pali literature grew in the north, and Tamil Sangam literature grew in the south of India.
ancient civilization in China
The Chinese lived in the Huang He or Yellow River valley in northern China in 3000 BC. At that time, they had learned skills such as pottery, wheel use, farming, and silk making. But at that time, they did not know how to write or use metals and did not learn these skills.
Ancient civilization and the Shang Dynasty in China
The Shang Dynasty ruled from 1046 to 1600 BC as the first documented period of ancient China. The dynasty consisted of a king, nobles, ordinary people, and slaves.
Shang ruled the Yellow River valley, known as the cradle of Chinese civilization.
Ancient Civilizations and Neolithic Civilizations in China
Neolithic civilizations, however, originated in various cultural centers such as the Yellow River and the Yangtze River. It is interesting to note that these Yellow River and Yangtze civilizations developed thousands of years before Shang.
Do not forget that China is one of the oldest ancient civilizations globally with a history of thousands of years.
Ancient civilization and China are the most well-known of them, and China is known as one of the cradles of culture in the world.
Anyang is the capital of China in ancient civilization
They chose Anyang as their capital. According to some scholars, travelers from Mesopotamia and Southeast Asia traveled to China and taught the Chinese the basics of agriculture. Learning the basics of agriculture helped the growth of ancient Chinese civilization. The Anyang people had the skill of using jade, bronze, chariots, and ancestor worship and had highly organized armies.
The writing style in ancient China
The Chinese written form dates back to 2000 BC. Their writing style was a complex system consisting of characters that included words in general or parts of words. The Chinese wrote texts on bones. The purpose of recording the report on the bones was to predict future events.
ancient civilization in the United States
Gaining helpful information about the migration of Indians and their migration across the Americas and how to accurately identify the exact travel routes is still the subject of ongoing research and debate by archaeologists.
If we want to explain civilization in the United States, we must refer to the first complex and well-known civilization in the Americas, the Olmec civilization in central Mexico. The Olmecs have lived in the lowlands of present-day Veracruz and Tabasco since about 1200 BC.
Small jade carvings and ancient civilization in the United States
Traces of small jade carvings and massive historical monuments in these areas show the existence of civilization thousands of years ago.
Volcanic stone sculptures and the existence of civilization in the United States
The volcanic rock sculptures left in San Lorenzo also remind us of the existence of civilization in America. This building represents an organized and diverse society and shows that leaders, artisans, and workers were also present in these communities.
You need to know about many other complex pre-Columbian civilizations in Central and South America. If we want to name them, we have to mention Chavin, Nazca, Moche and Inca Peru and South America and Chibcha and Tyrone in Colombia. These include Marajurara and Tapajo in Brazil, the Maya of the Yucatan Peninsula, and the Aztecs of Mexico.
In this article, we introduced you to ancient civilization. We provided information about the Sumerians and provided information about the Indians in ancient times and the Chinese. We described the formation of culture in the United States.
In addition to generalities, we discussed people’s way of life and livelihood who lived and worked in ancient civilization. They had to learn skills, rules, and principles to create interaction. They invented calligraphy, and among the most important inventions of ancient culture, we can mention the creation of the calendar to determine the seasons.
I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Tell us, did you want to live in that period? If you were born in ancient times, what occupation would you choose? Did you farm or produce handicrafts and pottery? Leave a comment for us and be with us on social networks.
Allan, K. (2013). The Oxford Handbook of the History of Linguistics. Oxford University Press.
Campbell, L., & Mixco, M. J. (2007). A Glossary of Historical Linguistics. Amsterdam University Press.
Ilʹi︠A︡Sov, L. (2009). The Diversity of the Chechen Culture. Poligraficheskie masterskie.
Sanders, S. L. (2006). Margins of Writing, Origins of Cultures. Amsterdam University Press.
Singh, G. P. (2008). Researches Into the History and Civilization of the Kirātas. Penguin Random House.
Kipfer, B. A. (2000). Encyclopedic Dictionary of Archaeology (2000th ed.). Springer.
Cline, E. H. (2021). 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed: Revised and Updated (Turning Points in Ancient History, 6) (Updated ed.). Princeton University Press.