Civilization is the process by which a society reaches an advanced stage of social and cultural development and organization. It is also a form of complex society whereby it is characterized by urban development, social stratification, and a form of government. Civilizations include characteristics such as centralizations, domestications of animal and plant life, dependence on agriculture, specialization of labor, and expansion of social ideologies. The beginning of civilization depended on basis of agricultural settlements that led to the supplementation of surplus food. This, in turn, led to the formation of social governments and societal stratification which initially began at water sources. The formations of governments led to the need for writing to maintain and record the social rules that favored the government’s progression which in turn led to the expansion of geographical boundaries and hence the acquirement of more resources. Writing also led to the sharing of ideas among societies (White 58-60). This paper will therefore seek to analyze the major influences that favored the development of early civilizations.
One of the earliest and major tools of civilization was agriculture which enabled the people to settle between 3000 and 4000 BCE. Agriculture became the single decisive factor that led to the development of complex societies. Agriculture was a turning point in human history where developments and it was termed as an agricultural revolution which changed human history as people settled instead of nomadism which entailed looking for food by moving from one place to another. The people settled in the river valleys for a varied number of reasons. Some of these include; the supply of clean water for drinking, irrigation of the farms, and also transportation to lower parts of the river. The sedentary settlement led to the domestication of animals to provide for other sources of food supply apart from crop farming. The food surplus led t the extension of geographical boundaries which led to the formation of governments. The growing number of people led to a specialization in other types of work such as crafting, pottery, and making tools due to the surplus supply of food. The development of barter trade also became significant as the craftsmen exchanged the tools for food from the farmers. This was a result of the division of labor (Taiz 167-181). These activities were evident in Mesopotamia and the Yellow Valley which is considered the cradle of civilization in terms of farming. Such places had a wide valley that allowed settlement and sloping land that enabled mechanization of farms and transportation of goods along the river valley.
Developmentally, apart from farming the other three forms that influenced the early civilization of humankind to include the invention of written language, creation of cities with monumental architecture, specialization of work, and organized religion (Scarre 22). Soon after the agricultural revolution, there was an extensive division of labor that led to the development of other forms of work. The people could therefore not rely on farming alone as they could do other activities. It is their engagement in these activities that facilitated the development of urban centers which functioned also as trade centers. These centers also allowed the farmers to acquire other tools from traders and set the basis for agricultural extension to cater to the rising market of food supply. This saw the development of infrastructure and the need for a strong government for administration and bureaucracy; to manage the systems of the society and maintain order. To preserve these legacies, monuments were built and the existing inventions of written language saw the preservation of culture and enabled the present culture to learn of its existence. Religion became a source of togetherness and enabled firm foundations of beliefs that conceptualized the social governments. Most of these early civilizations developed from agrarian communities which provided surplus food for cities. The cities formed centers for enriched social hierarchies based on gender wealth social status and division of labor. Some of the cities developed to become powerful and large and were maintained through taxes.
Scarre, Chris, and Brian M. Fagan. Ancient civilizations. Routledge, 2016.
Taiz, Lincoln. “Agriculture, plant physiology, and human population growth: past, present, and future.” Theoretical and Experimental Plant Physiology 25.3 (2013): 167-181.
White, Leslie A. The evolution of culture: the development of civilization to the fall of Rome. Routledge, 2016.