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First Civilizations. To 500 BCE. First Civilizations. What does this map suggest about why first civilizations developed in the places they did?. Mesopotamia. Code of Hammurabi. One of the earliest civilizations emerged in Sumer (in southern Mesopotamia) between 3500 and 3000 b.c.e .

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first civilizations1
First Civilizations

What does this map suggest about why first civilizations developed in the places they did?

Code of Hammurabi
  • One of the earliest civilizations emerged in Sumer (in southern Mesopotamia) between 3500 and 3000 b.c.e.
    • first written language

Why was the Egyptian Empire in the New Kingdom so long and thin?


Appearance of Egyptian civilization in Nile River Valley (northeast Africa) and smaller Nubian civilization to its south at about the same time

indus valley
Indus Valley
  • Indus Valley civilization in Indus and Saraswati river valleys of present-day Pakistan arose between 3000 and 2000 b.c.e.
    • elaborately planned cities and standardized weights, measures, architectural styles, and brick sizes
    • written script that remains thus far undeciphered
    • unlike other civilizations, it generated no palaces, temples, elaborate graves, kings, or warrior classes
    • scholars remain uncertain as to how society was organized; theories include a series of small republics, rule by priests, or an early form of the caste system
    • environmental degradation led to the collapse of this civilization by about 1700 b.c.e., but several aspects of its culture shaped later Indian societies
  • around 2200 b.c.e., a First Civilization took shape in China
    • from the start, China was defined by the ideal of a centralized state
    • the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties enlarged the Chinese state
    • ruler was the “Son of Heaven,” an intermediary between heaven and earth
    • early written language with oracle bones as early documents
    • China has maintained impressive cultural continuity into modern times
the Olmec produced a First Civilization much later (around 1200 b.c.e.) on coast of Gulf of Mexico, near present-day Veracruz
    • cities arose from competing chiefdoms and produced elaborate ceremonial centers
    • created the first written language in the Americas by about 900 b.c.e.
    • culture influenced later civilizations in Mesoamerica, including the Maya and Teotihuacán
Norte Chico (central coastal Peru), emerged between 3000 and 1800 b.c.e.
    • twenty-five urban centers
    • Norte Chico differed in several ways from Mesopotamia and Egypt
    • unusually self-contained; only import was maize, derived from Mesoamerica
discussion questions
Discussion Questions
  • What distinguished civilizations from other forms of human community?
  • How does the use of the term “civilization” by historians differ from that of popular usage? How do you use the term?
  • “Civilizations were held together largely by force.” Do you agree with this assessment, or were there other mechanisms of integration as well?
  • In the development of the First Civilizations, what was gained for humankind, and what was lost?
review questions
Review Questions
  • When and where did the First Civilizations emerge?
  • What accounts for the initial breakthroughs to civilization?
  • What was the role of cities in the early civilizations?
  • In what ways was social inequality expressed in early civilizations?
  • In what ways have historians tried to explain the origins of patriarchy?
  • How did Mesopotamian and Egyptian patriarchy differ from each other?
  • In what ways did Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations differ from each other?
  • In what ways were Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations shaped by their interactions with near and distant neighbors?
  • What were the sources of state authority in the First Civilizations?