|Ancient River Valley Civilizations
Extrapolate and highlight key points for discussion.
Remember to use your Compare and Contrast chart to record comparisons and contrasts
The development of farming caused ancient people to give up their normal lifestyles and establish permanent settlements, which grew into civilizations. Most early civilizations developed on River Valleys. Governments, social structures, writing systems, and belief systems developed as population grew. Ideas moved from one culture to another with the help of migration, trade and warfare. Ancient River Valley civilizations developed around river valleys, but they are all different. Two of them are in China and Egypt. Although Egypt and China both had River Valley civilizations and were similar, they had many more differences.
The river valley in Egypt is around the Nile River. The Nile is a very famous river for being the only river that flows north. It was very useful to the Egyptians because it floods periodically in a cycle that was predictable. It was also very gentle, but not too gentle or else it couldn't fertilize the land. It was considered the gift of the Nile. The rich soil deposits, and growth of fresh plants each year. They had a cycle every year; flood, plant, harvest- flood, plant, harvest. It seemed to work out well for them. The Nile wasn't their only geographical advantage. The hot dessert surrounding the river made it hard for anyone to invade or move into Egypt. This may have been a great advantage for the Egyptians, but it wasn't the only one. Egyptians had many advantages and advancements in religion and technology, but only a few things stood out, for example, the Pyramids. The Egyptians needed tombs to bury or place the dead. The pharaohs forced the slaves, or lowest people in the social classes to build these tombs. Using their advance knowledge of geometry, a pyramid seemed right. When they entombed the dead, they didn't just throw them in there- they mummified them. The most important people such as Pharaohs were mummified. The Egyptians basically worshiped cats, and they were mummified as well. The mummification process is very complicated, it involves taking out all the body fluids and organs, wrapping the body carefully- and with preservatives, and putting all the person's possessions with him or her. It was a long process, but it was necessary for their belief in the afterlife. They not only believed in afterlife, but they were monotheistic and believed that Pharaohs were gods in human form. Another interesting characteristic of the Egyptians was their written language, Hieroglyphics. It was a system of symbols and pictures. The only way that we were able to decipher it was with the help of the Rosetta stone. The stone had 3 languages written, Egyptian hieroglyphics, advanced hieroglyphics, and Greek. The Greek was what we were able to translate the hieroglyphics with. Overall the Egyptian culture heavily influenced many cultures we have today.
The Chinese civilizations were very different from the Egyptians. The River Valley in China was the Yellow River Valley. The Yellow River, also known as the Huang Ho, is the central point in this civilization. Unlike the Nile in Egypt, the Yellow River was unpredictable and flooded violently. Even though this sounds bad, the Chinese learned to live with it. They found out how to irrigate and use the renewal of soil to cultivate and farm. This was very helpful in producing enough to trade with other civilizations other than their trading of agriculture. They were pretty isolated from everyone else. The Himalayan Mountains and dessert land separated them from other civilizations. They also had some jungle barriers, but the most important barrier or isolation was cultural. The Chinese were very different from the Egyptians in that they were much more advanced and much smarter. The Chinese advanced in pottery, fireworks, water transportation and harvesting. These advancements lead to more and more trading. The more trading they did the larger their economy grew. Due to the lack of government and the worshiped King, the people didn't make a lot compared to what they deserved. The King was in an Aristocratic ruling class, started by warrior families and continuing with generations. The social classes in China were different from the Egyptians In that the Chinese didn't have priests or a strong military at the top. They had Artisans, craft workers and then merchants, followed by peasant farmers and slaves. This segregation seemed to work for them in that the civilization grew and continued to expand. The Yellow River Valley civilization was more different than similar to the Nile River Valley civilization.
Ancient River Valley civilizations all developed around river valleys, but they are all different. Two of them are in China and Egypt. Each civilization had a river running through their cities. The Egyptians and Chinese were and still are very different. They have some similarities, but they have a lot more differences. The development of farming and the permanent settlement brought governments, advanced written languages and other new technologies. With all this came trade, migration and disputes which may lead to war. All this combines to expand knowledge and the spread of ideas with new advancements. The Yellow River and the Nile River Valleys may be similar, but their differences are much more obvious.
Summary: Ancient River Valley civilizations developed around river valleys, but they are all different. Two of them are in China and Egypt. Although Egypt and China both had River Valley civilizations and were similar, they had even more differences.
The development of the ancient civilizations, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Harappa, was dependent on the flooding patterns, possibilities for trade, and course and location of each civilization's river: the Tigris - Euphrates, the Nile, and the Indus, respectively. These civilizations were successful because of the existence of those rivers. Yet, the ways in which the rivers contributed to the civilization's success differs in so many ways.
The notable civilization of Mesopotamia lied in between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. Depressively, these rivers flooded frequently at random times. However, because of the floods, silts were deposited in great amounts and over several millenniums, a flat fertile expanse called an alluvial plain was made. Since this alluvial plain was impossible to water, the Mesopotamians were forced to develop the system of irrigation, which is still in use to this day. In addition, the demanding landscape of this region forced the Mesopotamians to develop many new farming techniques that are still in use to this day. Surprisingly, Mesopotamians were not only successful in agriculture. The Tigris - Euphrates Rivers were over 1,200 miles long, flowing down towards the Persian Gulf from eastern Turkey, running through many different civilizations. Due to this convenience of the location, Mesopotamians were also successful in trades and acquiring different ideas and techniques from foreign civilizations. Yet, an assumption could be made that the location of this civilization was vulnerable for attack from those foreign civilizations, especially with having absolutely no natural barriers.
The sophisticated civilizations of the Egyptians were successful because of the Nile River. The Nile, a river that flows upwards from Lake Victoria into Mediterranean, had all the Egyptian cities built right beside it. There are multiple reasons for this. The Nile flooded every September, unlike the Tigris - Euphrates where the civilians had to worry about a flood that may happen the next day. Due to this, the Egyptian farmers were able to set their farming season precisely, enabling for a more efficient harvest. Also, the silt left behind by the Nile was very fertile, so the agriculture was very successful. Apparently, both the Egyptians and Mesopotamians were blessed with the deposit of silt, although the Egyptians were more fortunate in the sense that they knew when the large silt deposit would take place. Because the farmers depended so heavily on the flooding, the pharaoh was blamed when the flooding didn't take place. The Nile also helped in the construction of the great pyramids. Because the Nile flowed upwards, the Egyptians were able to gather stones only found in "upper" Egypt and sail it up to the construction site. Where could the pyramids have been if it wasn't for the great Nile? Also, having deserts on either sides of the Nile ensured protection of Egyptians from foreign attacks, unlike the Mesopotanians who were surrounded by blood thirsty civilizations. In addition, the Nile enabled the Egyptians into the Mediterranean which was the chief trading route at that time. Therefore, the Egyptians were given a great opportunity to trade with civilizations in the present day Europe, Africa, and Asia.
The Harappans would never have been successful if it wasn't for the Indus River. Around 7000 B.C., the Harappans settled into the land of Indus Valley along the Indus River. Indus River originated from a spring up in the northern side of Himalayan Mountain range. Unlike the Egyptians and the Mesopotanians, the Harappans did not welcome the flooding of Indus River that took place during the monsoon season of May to June. Due to the heavy rain and the sudden melting of snow in the mountains, the Indus River suddenly flooded and washed off many unstable villages. However, the Harappans were blessed with mineral filled water that ran off from the mountains. The Indus River ran off from the mountain, carrying with them the important minerals in running water that was idealistic for growing healthy crops. The Harappans did not miss this great opportunity. One of the major successes achieved by the Harappans from the river was the cultivation of variety of crops. Evidence remains that a large irrigation canal was built to pump mineral rich water directly into the farmland from Indus River. Compared to the two earlier civilizations, the Indus River had the most advanced irrigation system. In addition, the advantage of having Indus River flow into the Arabian Sea enabled for the Harappans to go out into the Indian Ocean, giving them infinite trade routes. Evidence remains that Harappan goods were found along Tigris - Euphrates Rivers, and vice versa. The Harappans had a great natural barrier of Himalayan Mountains to the north and Thar Desert to the east, but they were too exposed to their west side. Pitifully, that exposure led to the Harappan defeat to the Aryans.
The Tigris - Euphrates, Nile and the Indus Rivers were the key factors in development of the civilizations of Mesopotamians, Egyptians, and the Harappans. The flooding of these rivers brought forth many obstacles as well as successes in the agriculture. The convenient location and characteristics of the rivers helped in diversifying the civilizations in means of trading. Most importantly, in all of the civilizations, the river helped to preserve the history. The river had brought forth the willingness and determination to the civilizations to win over the problems they face and fully utilize them instead. That is what made these civilizations remarkably different compared to many other civilizations that existed at that time.
Summary: The development of the Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Harappan civilizations was sustained by the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers, the Nile River, and the Indus River, respectively. The rivers helped agriculture develop, enabled trading, and preserved history.