Seeds Of Trees Essay

1164 words - 5 pages

According to the encyclopedia Encarta, a civilization is an advanced state of a society possessing historical and cultural unity. There are four early river valley societies that had successfully met the requirements to be called civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and India. These four civilizations encompass several similarities as to how they developed, including location, spirituality, governmental structure and forms of written communication.
Location played a fundamental role in the development of these four civilizations. They grew next to rivers, which was source of food and water. Thanks to the river, civilizations were able to develop agriculture. Agriculture is the first step towards cultural development since it allows people to go from a nomadic to a sedentary life. When people do not have to worry about finding food, it allows time to develop other areas of human life. These agricultural societies had to adjust constantly to floods by building canals and dikes. Methods of drainage and irrigation were used to take advantage of the fertile soil next to the river. Mesopotamia, which means “between the rivers,” developed amid the Tigris and Euphrates River. Egypt, or “the gift of the river,” grew next to the Nile River. China was located on the Huang Ho River and Indian on the Indus River. Location was also strategic in many circumstances and allowed the river valley civilizations to develop differently. Mesopotamia was open to invasions by peoples such as the Hittites. Egypt had natural protection from all sides: the Nile River to the east and south, the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the desert to the west; invasions were less frequent. “Egyptians felt a sense of security that was rare in Mesopotamia” (civilization, 29). China, like Mesopotamia, was open to invasions, for instance barbarian tribes. India’s location facilitated trade between West Asia, Africa and Europe. It was also protected by the Himalayan Mountains to the north. Nevertheless, it was also invaded on several occasions by people such as Alexander the Great and the Greeks.
Spirituality develops differently in each civilization The river valley civilizations seemed to seek for refuge and answers in the spiritual realm. Many times spirituality is manifested in the organized entity of religion which later restrains instincts and human behavior. Mesopotamia was a polytheistic society, where gods such as the sun-god Shamash and the moon-god Nanna represent forces of nature. Their take on religion was rather pessimistic given that the rivers would rise unpredictably and therefore it was interpreted as manifestation of angry gods. Mesopotamians were not concerned with the afterlife since they believed that only Gods could reach immortality. In the other hand, Egyptians devoted a lot of time to the idea of an afterlife, because of this, they built temples, mummified their kings and wrote books such as The Book of the Dead. Spirituality was of main concern to the...

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