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Chapter 2

The Rise of Civilization in the Middle East and Africa


Full civilizations emerged first in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, by 3500 B.C.E., and in Egypt by 3000 B.C.E. along the Nile. The two very different civilizations had distinct political and cultural characteristics which influenced both neighboring and distant succeeding generations. Both civilizations encountered difficulties around 1000 B.C.E. as the rivervalley period ended, but by then they produced offshoots in neighboring regions.

Setting the Scene: The Middle East by 4000 B.C.E. The first civilizations developed through gradual agricultural consolidation and technical advance. The resulting more complex economy created the need for more developments in government, communication and record-keeping..
Agriculture and the Rise of Civilization. Civilization gradually emerged in the Middle East and northeast Africa along great river systems as sedentary agricultural societies increased production and developed new forms of social organization. Rights over property stimulated improvements that passed on to heirs and led to more extensive government. Irrigation projects along major rivers required cooperation among farmers, a large labor supply, and political and economic organization to manage the systems.

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