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How do the various river valley civilizations fit into the eight basic features of civilization?

by tom44 on August 6, 2013

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Question by cgirly37: How do the various river valley civilizations fit into the eight basic features of civilization?
This is a question at the bottom of my study guide and and i’ve been searching for the answer for the past two hours and just cant figure it out. please help!

River valley civilizations- ancient China, ancient India, Mesopotamia, Egypt.

Eight basic features of civilization-
cities, well-organized central government, complex religion, job specialization, social classes, arts and architecture, public works, and writing.

Best answer:

Answer by Mark V
I’m not sure that I can explain all eight, but I’ll give you my best answers.

A river valley is critical to early civilization because it provides direct food resources (fish, turtles, etc.), agriculture through diversion of river water (irrigation), faster, easier, and larger trade avenues (you can carry more goods in a boat than on a camel, and you can carry them farther and faster). Might consider that a central government could be maintained through use of the river to rapidly move military and police forces across large areas. If people don’t have to put so much time into finding food anymore, then there is more time to specialize in other jobs (such as working in a stone quarry, or being a carpenter, etc.). Again, if you have more time on your hands, then you can go into “unnecessary” things, like art and architecture. I suppose that depending on which specialized jobs people go into, that might create social classes (but it would probably be different from civilization to civilization, because each society would put more importance into one thing than another society – for instance Sparta and Athens were very similar in ancient Greece, but in Sparta, it was more important to be a warrior, and in Athens, it was more important to be a scholar). Writing, again, could flourish simply because people have more time on their hands. Public works might arise because, as people’s lives improve and get more sophisticated (because, for instance, people have more time to study science and engineering), they expect more, such as plumbing, or common buildings (perhaps a library or place of worship).

Those are my best explanations. An anthropologist could undoubtedly give you a better answer, but these at least seem reasonable.

As for complex religion? I have no idea how to approach that one. Sorry about that.

Add your own answer in the comments!

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One thought on “How do the various river valley civilizations fit into the eight basic features of civilization?

  1. Luke says:

    Ok I’ll try to get this in one answer

    China:
    Not sure on the specific city names, but they were there.
    They had dynasties and bureaucracies on and of for a long time, namely the Qin and Han dynasties.
    They believed in spirits and such.
    They had scholars, government workers, skilled workers, unskilled laborers and the all important peasant.
    Same as above
    They developed some of the most unique art forms on earth.
    They built canals and roads for transportation.
    They developed calligraphy

    India (Indus River valley):
    We dont know very much about them, as their language hasn’t been decoded yet.
    However, we do know that they had very well built cities that used only right angles for the streets.
    Their religion is rather scarce in info as well, but it is rather Hindu-like.
    We know they had large granaries as well as bath houses, almost equal to the Romans.

    Mesopotamia:
    Cities such as Ur and Babylon sprang up along the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.
    They had kings usually priests
    They had many myths and legends, as well as a complex polytheistic religion
    Farmers, craftsmen, merchants, priests, scribes, all the standard stuff
    Like most civilizations, your work specified your class
    They made great strides in literature, as well as building great temples
    As stated above, they had huge temples and later court houses as well as dams and irrigation systems
    Cuneiform

    Egypt:
    Cairo and Memphis were two major cities.
    Pharaoh dynasties
    Many, many myths and legends as well as a short period of monotheism.
    Farmers, priests, scribes, merchants, some sailors, and craftsmen as well as slaves
    Same as Meso. job showed your class
    Pyramids (duh) as well as large temples, palaces, and dams.
    Temples
    They had the picture writing (the name of which I am going completely blank on).

    Hope this helps 🙂

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