|3500 BC||Sumerian culture and the development of the fi rst urban centers|
Sumerian city-states in Mesopotamia
Date of oldest written records yet discovered (Mesopotamian clay tablets)
|3200-3100 BC||Menes unifies Upper and Lower Egypt|
|2686-2181 BC||Old Kingdom in Egypt|
|2600 BC||Indus Valley civilization|
|2334-2191 BC||Akkadian dynasty in Mesopotamia|
|2000-1900 BC||First appearance of the Epic of Gilgamesh|
|1894-1595 BC||Babylonian dynasty in Mesopotamia|
|1700s BC||Hyskos invade and conquer Lower Egypt|
The word civilization means something beyond “human life” or even “human society.” Certain basic elements are necessary to support human life: a source of fresh water, the ability to procure food, and a habitable climate. A civilization is the next step toward social organization. All civilizations have certain common factors.
First and perhaps most important, civilization requires a surplus of food. That means that the people have learned not just to hunt food and gather it but also to plant and grow it. The surplus of food naturally leads to a rise in population and the existence of wealth and disposable income. Society grows more complicated: it organizes itself into classes and begins to build cities. It also becomes literate; all early civilizations had classes of people who could read and write. Advanced human civilizations are also noted for their scientific and artistic achievements. In the field of science, the first sophisticated societies invented the wheel, established the 365-day calendar, and plotted the stars, while their artists created paintings, statues, and jewelry at whose charm and beauty we continue to marvel to this day. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, which still stand after four thousand years, are universally agreed to be one of the great architectural achievements of history.
The first human civilizations all appeared in the same region, which is known as the Fertile Crescent. This area includes present-day Egypt, Pakistan, and Iraq. The presence of rivers, fertile soil, and hot climates combined in this region to make the beginning of human civilization possible.
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