Ancient Civilizations

A civilization is A human society with complex organization. Throughout history, people have created many kinds of civilizations. These usually appeared once people stopped hunting and gathering wild foods and learned to farm. As a result of farming, more food was produced so larger populations could be supported. Different classes developed, overseen by powerful rulers who were called kings. Most civilizations created organized religions with gods worshiped in temples. Conflicts over land and religion led to many civilizations going to war with each other.

Hunting and Gathering

For much of human history, people lived by hunting wild animals and gathering wild plant
foods—a way of life still followed in parts of the world such as the African bush. Hunting
and gathering can only support a small population that often has to keep moving in
pursuit of food. Although hunter-gatherers are sometimes called primitive, their way of
life demands great skill and knowledge.


Between 10,000 and 8000 bce, people living in some parts of the world learned to farm. Farming
allowed people to settle in one place, at first in villages. These grew larger over time until the
first towns emerged.


Various writing systems were invented to keep records of business and government. The earliest
are hieroglyphs in Egypt and cuneiform in Mesopotamia (Iraq). writing was a widely respected
skill, and experts such as Egyptian scribes had high status. Law codes, religious texts, poetry, and works of science and history were all written down.


Civilizations around the world developed kingship, with rulers displaying their importance in particular ways. The kings of many societies wore special crowns, donned lavish robes, and sat on thrones. The people they ruled over were expected to bow before them. In ancient civilizations, kings often claimed divine status. Egyptian pharaohs, for example, were worshiped as gods after they died.


The new way of life allowed societies to amass wealth and led to competition over land and
resources. From an early date, men went to war with each other. Many peoples went to war for
religious reasons, fighting on behalf of their gods. Settled farming peoples were also raided by
foreigners such as nomads from the steppes of Asia. warfare was a major cause of the collapse
of many ancient civilizations.


Farming peoples were at the mercy of nature, and they worried about bad weather, which
could destroy their crops. They worshiped gods linked with natural forces such as the
Sun and rain, and they asked these gods to protect them. In the early cities of
Mesopotamia, they built great ziggurat temples where they worshiped their gods.


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