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Culture & Social Order in Ancient Civilizations

Please help me with the following questions.

1) What are the characteristics of the first civilizations of 5000 years ago( especially in the Mesopotamia)? what makes these groups "civilized" as opposed to prehistoric peoples?

2)Discuss the importance of religion in the first civilizations. Compare and contrast religion in Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt and Isarel.

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Several early civilizations arose from the great River Valleys of the world: the Sumerian near the Tigris/Euphrates in what is now Iraq; The Egyptian in the Nile delta area, the Yellow River in China, and out of the Indian subcontinent, the Indus Valley civilization.

Coming together as a civilization is complex and certainly took generations to move into an actual city or city-state. The likely scenario is that for thousands of years, southern Mesopotamia was home to hunters, fishers, some farmers, but mostly nomads. It is really the establishment of farming (the domestication of plants) that allowed humans to settle in one place long enough to have a society in which people became specialists (potters, bread makers, administrators, builders, etc.). It is also likely that people began to flock together out of protection from enemies, natural disasters, or that extended family groups just became larger and larger until finally they were a community - and communities merged into cities. In Mesopotamia, the first known "city" as we would call it, was called UR - and was a collection of dwellings encased in a fortified wall, suggesting that the inhabitants lived together for protection, farming and hunting outside the walls, but coming inside at certain times. If we think about it logically, when people come together and begin to trade and engage in commerce, a few things become necessary: a monetary system (banking) and a way to keep records (writing). Archaeologists believe that one of the earliest examples of this is about 9,000 years old, and signal not just the ability to track the daily economic life, but to begin to share abstract thoughts.

(See: "The Hunter-Gatherer," in Absolute Astronomy.com. Cited in: http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Hunter-gatherer.

The Sumerian, or Mesopotamian, civilization is considered the "cradle" of civilization, even though some evidence points to earlier starts in China and India. The name Mesopotamia simply means "land ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides comprehensive guidance in tackling the standard of civilization and culture of the first civilizations (i.e. Mesopotamia) to distinguish their society from that of prehistoric peoples. It also explains the role of religion in the first civilizations by presenting the role of religion in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt.