Part 1: the rise of agriculture and agricultural civilizations summary

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  1. Paleolithic and Neolithic Revolutions

Developments in this period, which began about 9000 B.C.E., are the advent of agriculture and the achievements of the complex societies that resulted. The period ends about 1000 B.C.E., when several civilizations were poised to develop more elaborate cultural and political forms and to embrace wider areas beyond river valley cores. The agriculture that emerged from the Neolithic or Agrarian Revolution produced more food and encouraged wider contacts than hunting-and-gathering economies allowed. Key groups developed settled residences, in contrast to the mobility of hunters and gatherers. The advent of civilization increased the scope of human organization. The rise of agriculture redefined human impact on the environment and radically shifted demographics, allowing high concentrations of people in a small area, and permitting specialization within society.

  1. Civilization’s First Phase: The River Valleys

Five major centers of early civilization developed in river valleys. Although they fanned out into adjacent territories, they had limited contact with one another. Civilizations created institutions or long lasting patterns of organization including governments, legal procedures, education, religion, systems of writing, trade, familial and gender patterns, and characteristics in art and architecture. But civilizations also depended on contacts, through war and trade, and their degrees of isolation varied considerably. It was in civilization that new forms of social and gender inequality arose. While agricultural societies became important, nomadic herding was introduced. For millennia, interactions between nomadic societies and sedentary civilizations had important effects on world history.


  1. What events mark the beginning and end of this period?

  2. What challenges did the first civilizations face?

The first civilizations arose in areas of the world that were remarkably similar. All were river valleys located in areas closely bordered by deserts or steppes. The exception was the central valley of Mexico and the modern nation’s eastern coast. The climates were often dry and, even if there was rain, a year-round supply of water was problematic. Resources other than soil and water lacked and natural defensive features were minimal. Civilization may have arisen as a solution to survival and in order to fulfill need


  1. Continents

  1. North America

  2. South America

  3. Africa

  4. Eurasia

  5. Australia

  1. Bodies of Water

  1. Atlantic Ocean

  2. Pacific Ocean

  3. Indian Ocean

  4. Mediterranean Sea

  5. Red Sea

  6. Persian Gulf

  7. Arabian Sea

  8. Yellow Sea

  1. Physical Features

  1. Himalayan Mountains

  2. Arabian Peninsula

  3. Hindu Kush Mountains

  4. Sahara

  5. Arabian Desert

  6. Ganges River

  7. Great Indian Desert

  8. Yellow River

  9. Tigris/ Euphrates Rivers

  10. Nile River

  1. Cities

  1. Meroe

  2. Jerusalem

  3. Harappa

  4. Mohenjo Daro

  5. Ninevah

  6. Luoyang

  7. Babylon


  1. Historical Regions

  1. Fertile Crescent

  2. Mesopotamia

  3. Southwest Asia

  4. Valley of Mexico

  5. Indian Subcontinent

  6. European Subcontinent

  1. River Valley Civilizations

  1. Fertile Crescent

  2. Indus River Valley Civilization

  3. Yellow River Valley Civilization

  4. Nile River Valley Civilization

  1. CHAPTERS ONE through Four REVIEW (Review the Guns, Germs, and Steel chapters as well to answer these questions.)
  1. Describe human migration across the globe.

  2. How and where did agricultural societies first emerge?

  3. How did sedentary agriculture lead to societal changes?

  4. What are the characteristics of civilization and where did the first ones arise?

  5. How did geography influence the rise of civilizations?

  6. What political, social, economic, and religious institutions emerged?

  7. What social hierarchies, gender relationships, and social inequalities arose?

  8. Describe the contributions of Judaism.
  9. How were the first civilizations similar and different?
  10. Why was the Neolithic Revolution critical for the rise of civilization?

  11. Why did the earliest civilizations rise in such challenging environments?

  12. How did the need to organize labor resources shape the political and social structures of these societies?

  13. To what degree did new technologies, such as metallurgy, writing, and monumental construction, contribute to the power and wealth of elite groups?

  14. How is the interaction of these societies with environment reflected in their religious beliefs and world-views?

Short Answer Questions: Please prepare a response ahead of time for the following questions.

  1. Describe social inequality and gender issues in Hammurabi’s law codes.

  2. Describe the symbolic conflict found in the Epic of Gilgamesh and the outcome of that conflict.

  3. Describe the Mandate of Heaven and how it was used by the Chinese people to justify a change in government.

  1. Map 2.3: Ancient Egypt (Textbook: Page 41)

  1. What geographic features protect Egypt from invasion?

  2. How does the Nile River effect movement?

  3. From what directions would Egypt experience foreign contacts?

  4. How is Kush even more isolated?

  5. Which civilization would have had the greatest influence on Kush? Why?

  1. Map 2.2 Mesopotamia (Textbook: Page 31)

  1. Why is Mesopotamia exposed to attack?

  2. What benefit was there to having larger empires?

  3. Why would this region be a crossroad? With what results?

  1. Map 2.1 River-Valley Civilizations (Textbook: Page 30)

  1. What geographic features isolate China from the other River Valley Civilizations?

  2. Describe the two possible trade routes from the Indus River Valley to Mesopotamia?



Pages 5 – 25


  1. The Neolithic Revolution

In the Neolithic (New Stone) Age, between roughly 8000 and 3500 B.C.E., some human societies in different areas over the globe crossed one of the watersheds in human history. They mastered sedentary agriculture and domesticated animals that would prove critical to human development. These innovations produced the food surpluses and rising populations that made possible the rise of genuine towns and the increasing specialization of occupations within human societies. At the same time pastoral nomadism developed, but these people remained on the periphery of civilizations and sedentary agricultural zones.

  1. Civilization

The emergence of civilization occurred in many agricultural societies. It often built on additional changes in technology including the introduction of metal tools. Most civilizations had common features including cities, writing, formal institutions especially government and religion, stratified classes, and trade. Early civilizations included Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus River, and China.

B.The Heritage of the River Valley Civilizations

River valley civilizations left a number of durable innovations, but most declined after about 1200 B.C.E. This decline was often due to nomadic migrations across Eurasia by pastoral nomadic chariot peoples from the Central Asian steppe. A number of small centers emerged in Southwest Asia. These civilizations introduced further innovations including the religion of Judaism, the alphabet, iron tools, and extensive trade connections across the Mediterranean basin.
Conclusion: The First Civilizations

The river valley civilizations created a basic set of tools, intellectual concepts such as writing and mathematics, and political forms that persisted across three continents. The rise of civilizations reduced local autonomy, as kings and priests tried to spread trade contacts and cultural forms and warred to gain new territory. Civilization itself was an integrating force at a larger regional level, although in Southwest Asia, smaller identities persisted. However, these civilizations had only sporadic contacts with each other. Consequently, they and their leading institutions and cultural forms developed separately. Thus, four distinct centers of civilization developed (five if the emerging Olmec culture in Mesoamerica is included), each with widely varied patterns.


Chapter One

  1. Paleolithic (Old Stone) Age

  2. Neolithic (New Stone) Age

  3. Neolithic Revolution(s)

  4. Pastoralism

  5. Domestication

  6. Patriarchal

  7. Animism, Polytheism, Monotheism

  8. Holocene

Chapter Two

  1. Sedentary

  2. Civilization

  3. Institution

  4. Babylon

  5. Sumerians

  6. Semitic

  7. City-State

  8. Hammurabi

  9. Scribe

  10. Ziggurat

  11. Cuneiform

  12. Pharaoh

  13. Hieroglyphics

  14. Papyrus

  15. Harappa

  16. Mohenjo-Daro

Chapter Three

  1. Loess

  2. Shang

  3. Divination

  4. Zhou

  5. Mandate of Heaven

  6. Yin/yang

  7. Legalism

  8. Confucius

  9. Daoism

  10. Hittites

  11. Hatshepsut

  12. Akhenaten

  13. Ramesses II

  14. Kush

  15. Meroe

  16. Minoan

  17. Mycenae

  18. Troy

Chapter Four

  1. Olmec

  2. Chavin

  3. Celts

  4. Neo-Assyrian Empire

  5. Ashur

  6. Israel

  7. Hebrew Bible

  8. Monotheism

  9. Phoenicians

  10. Carthage

  11. Tophet

  12. Neo-Babylonian kingdom

Facts to Know:

  1. As compared with Paleolithic and Neolithic societies, the agriculture of civilizations changed man’s physical environment.

  2. The period of the Neolithic Revolutions and river valley civilizations ended when various civilizations first established contacts between the regions.

  3. The first truly revolutionary transformation of human society was the Agricultural Revolution.

  4. In most ancient and classical civilizations and societies, priests developed considerable social power and influence because they interpreted the gods’ wishes and placated the deities.

  5. Periodic nomadic invasions in the early history of Eurasia caused disruptions, but facilitated innovations and prompted synthesis.

  6. Unlike Sumer and Egypt, the Indus Valley or Harappan civilization had a system of writing that has never been translated.

  7. Compared with river valley cultures in Egypt and Mesopotamia, civilization in China probably developed after civilizations in the Nile Valley and Southwest Asia.

  8. Historically, pastoral nomads lived on the grassy plains of the continents, where sedentary agriculture was extremely difficult.

  9. Contacts between sedentary and nomad peoples resulted in trade, tribute payments by weak sedentary societies to stronger nomadic groups, raids and warfare between both groups, and nomads serving as mercenaries to some sedentary societies. Pastoral nomads from the Central Asian steppe who had threatened sedentary civilizations throughout world history include the Indo-Europeans, Hsiung-nu (Huns), Scythians, and Turks.

  10. In comparison to women in sedentary societies, women in nomadic, pastoral societies belonged to paternalistic societies as strong as any sedentary societies.

  11. The requirements for a new period in world history to begin are:

a. The world map must change significantly.

b. New types of contacts between civilized regions must develop.

c. New patterns and parallel institutional developments will occur.

d. New technologies may arise.

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