Essay Early River Valley Civilizations

7 July 2016

Some of the earliest civilizations on Earth were the Early River Valley Civilizations. All of these civilizations existed between 3500 and 1500 BCE. Three of these civilizations, China, Sumer, and Egypt shared many characteristics. Among these common characteristics were the development of agriculture through irrigation, the importance of religion in society, and the form of government they shared. The first characteristic these civilizations shared was the development of agriculture in their society through irrigation.

The use of irrigation is most obvious in Ancient China where they would use various canals and water systems to flood fields, allowing them to farm rice. In Sumer the land was extremely fertile, but during the dry summers agriculture would have never been possible. Irrigation allowed the Sumerians to use the land to its fullest potential. The development of basin irrigation, a way of controlling the rise and fall of the Nile, allowed the Egyptians to prosper by farming crops such as barley and wheat.

Essay Early River Valley Civilizations Essay Example

The development of agriculture through irrigation had a profound effect on these early civilizations and on the world as a whole. Another characteristic these civilizations shared was the importance of religion in all facets of their society. An example in Chinese society of religion was the debate of Daoism versus Confucianism, and how it constantly affected society. The debate affected everything in the society from gender relations to the way the Chinese were governed. You can see how religiously centered the people of Sumer were as each city-state had their own patron god.

The civilization that was most easily recognized as having heavy religious influence was Egypt. In Egypt the pharaoh, their version of a king, was treated as an earthly god and was constantly worshipped as such. Religion shaped the ways many of these societies functioned. The final characteristic these societies shared was a monarchy form of government, which was believed to have power from divine sources. In ancient China the importance of dynasties led by an emperor is very clear, a dynasty is when rule is passed down through a family.

Chinese dynasties kept their rule by the Mandate of Heaven, which said an emperor’s reign, would be blessed if the gods were pleased. However, if heaven was not pleased disasters such as floods occurred and the people quickly dethroned the emperor. Sumer is famous for its city-states, which were areas that consisted of a city and the surrounding countryside, which were ruled by an independent king. In Egypt perhaps the most famous rulers of all time reigned, the pharaohs. The pharaohs lived lives of extravagance and were treated as earthly gods.

The government of these early civilizations made an impact on government that can still be seen today throughout the world. The civilizations of China, Sumer, and Egypt certainly have many differences, but their similarities are most important. Many of the similarities such as the development of agriculture through irrigation, the importance of religion to societies, and the form of government have lingered through history and some still continue to affect areas of the world today.

Irrigation is still crucial to agriculture even in the United States today. Religions are just as important in countries today, most notably in the Middle East. Monarchy is still a form of government in Saudi Arabia and other countries throughout the world. Although the world is very different today from when the Early River Valley Civilizations existed their similarities have left a lasting impression on the way life is today.

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