A Global View: Early Civilizations
Section 1: Toward Civilization
How did the first civilizations evolve?
City-based civilizations – city-states emerged (Kings, priests, and traders
rose to wealth and power. Invention of writing – new way of life)
Development of tiny villages of stone and mud huts, raised crops and
herded/penned up animals. Agriculture emerged. Specialization in arts,
crafts, trade and war.
Over thousands of generations, they learned to make tools, fire, decorate
cave walls with pictures of animals.
First humans were wanderers, wearing animal skins and hunted for food,
search for fruits, roots, and wild grains.
Ancient Societies
 Early civilizations took shape in North Africa, the
Middle East, India, and China.
 Hereditary monarchs for leadership – these rulers
depended on priests, officials, aristocrats, or
merchants for support.
 Mohenjo Daro or Babylon – centers of political power
and economic development.
Ancient Cultures
 Architects constructed elaborate royal palaces, temples,
and royal tombs -pyramids of Egypt.
 Sculptors carved beautiful statues of gods, goddesses, and
 Painters depicted scenes of everyday life or military
 Development of writing preserved some of the world’s
oldest literature.
 Religion also grew more complex – (Most ancient societies
believed in more than one god (polytheism), but the
Hebrew people of the Middle East introduced
Monotheism – the worship of one-single, all powerful God.
First Civilizations: Africa & Asia
(3200 B.C. – 500 B.C.)
 Ancient Kingdoms of the Nile:
 More than 5000 years ago, a rich farming civilization
grew in the valley of the Nile River in Egypt.
 The people learned to build dikes, reservoirs, and
irrigation ditches to channel the river and store water
for the dry season.
 Eventually these villages joined together into 2
kingdoms. Ruler – King Menes (created the world’s first
unified state along the Nile).
History of Ancient Egypt
Old Kingdom
Pharaohs – Egyptian
- They built the
majestic pyramids to
serve as tombs.
- They were looked
upon as
“messengers of the
Middle Kingdom
New Kingdom
- Trade and warfare
brought Egypt into
contact with other
civilizations (cultural
- New ideas, customs,
and technologies
spread from one
people to another.
Egyptian Civilizations
 Worshipped many gods and goddesses
 Society was organized into classes:
Merchants and Artisans
Farmers and Slaves
City-States of Ancient Sumer
 To the North East of the Nile lies the Fertile Crescent
(Mesopotamia – land between the Tigris and Euphrates River).
 A City-State is a political unit made up of a city and the
surrounding lands.
 Control of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers was the key to the
development of a civilization in the Sumerian city-states. The
city-states of Sumer often fought for control of land and water.
 War leaders gained importance and eventually became
hereditary rulers. A social hierarchy, or system of ranks
 The Sumerians invented the earliest form of writing called
cuneiform. Scribes, or specially trained people who knew how
to read and write, maintained records for the kingdom.
Roots of Judaism
 The early Hebrews developed Judaism, which is a
monotheistic religion (based on the belief in one true
 Holy book – Torah
 Prophets or spiritual leaders urged the Hebrews to obey
God’s law. These prophets preached a strong code of
ethics, r moral standards of behavior.
 By 1000 B.C. the Hebrews established the Kingdom of
 Invading armies captured the Hebrew Kingdoms and the
Hebrews became known as Jews. They lived in captivity for
many years and were forced to leave their homeland. This
diaspora or scattering of people sent Jews to different
parts of the world.
Early Civilizations and Empires of
 Cities of the Indus Valley:
 India’s first civilization emerged in the Indus River Valley
about 2600 B.C.
 2 Main Cities – Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa.
 Most Indus people were farmers. Merchants and traders
sailed with cargoes of cotton cloth, grain, copper, and
pearls all the way to the city of Sumer.
 By 1750 B.C. the quality of life in the Indus Valley was
declining – severe floods had ravaged cities and farms
along the Indus River = abandonment of cities.
Early Civilizations and Empires of
 Kingdoms of the Ganges:
 People migrated from the Indus Valley to North West
India. Over hundreds of years, the people spread into
northern India and intermarried with existing residents.
Their descendants called themselves Aryans.
 In time, the Aryans moved alongside the Ganges River
and a new Indian civilization had emerged. Most of what
we know about the Aryans comes from the Vedas, a
collection of Hindu prayers, hymns, and other religious
The Vedas
Early Civilizations and Empires of
 Aryan Society: people were divided into social classes
1. Priests
2. Warriors
3. herders, farmers, artisans, merchants
4. farmworkers, servants, and other laborers
5. dalits – did jobs no one else wanted
* Over time these divisions gave way to a more complex
caste system – social groups into which people are born
and which they cannot leave.
Early Civilizations and Empires of
 Aryans’ Religious Beliefs:
 They were polytheistic
 Later, they moved toward believing in a single spiritual
power – brahman, who lived in all things.
Early Civilizations and Empires of
Chinese history began in the Huang He Valley, where
Neolithic people learned to farm. Like other places, the need
to control a major river through large water projects led to
the rise of a strong central government.
 Geography:
 Great barriers blocked the easy movement of the Chinese to
the outside world:
High mountains
Brutal deserts
Thick jungles
Pacific Ocean
Early Civilizations and Empires of
 The Shang and Zhou Dynasty:
 About 1650 B.C. a Chinese people called the Shang came
to power in Northern China.
 In 1027 B.C. the Zhou people overthrew the Shang. The
Zhou (Joh) dynasty lasted until 256 B.C.
 A dynasty is the time during which one family rules.
Early Civilizations and Empires of
 Religion:
 By Shang times, the Chinese prayed to many different
gods and nature spirits. Over time, Chinese religious
practices came to focus on respect for ancestors – they
called on the spirits of ancestors to bring good fortune
to the family.
 Believed that the universe reflected a balance between
2 forces, yin and yang. Yin was linked to the earth and
female forces, while Yang stood for heaven and male
Major Religions
Has no single founder
No single sacred text
Most important Hindu gods
– Brahman, Vishnu, & Shiva
The goal of life for Hindus is
to achieve union with
Reincarnation – is the
rebirth of the soul in
another body form
• Urged people to seek
enlightenment through
meditation, rather than
through priests, formal
rituals, and many gods.
• Founder was Siddhartha
Gautama, known as the
Buddha which means the
“Enlightened One”.
• Buddhists seek nirvana, or
union with the universe and
release from the cycle of
Hindu gods
Empires of India
 In 321 B.C. Chandragupta Maurya forged the first
Indian empire – conquered much of India.
 India traded with civilizations in Africa, the Middle
East, and Central & South East Asia.
 Most Indians of that period were village peasants.
 The caste system also greatly influenced Indian
society. The caste rules governed where people lived
and how they lived their lives.
Chinese Empire
 China’s most influential philosopher, Confucius was
born in 551 B.C. A brilliant scholar who took very little
interest in religious matters. He was more concerned
with social order and good government. He put filial
piety or respect for parents above all other duties.
 Hanfeizi – was another great philosopher whose
ideas differed greatly from Confucius. He insisted that
the only way to achieve order in society was to pass
strict laws and to impose harsh punishment.
 Daoism – a third philosophy, sought to live in
harmony with nature than to bring order to human
affairs. They viewed government as unnatural and
therefore the cause of many problems.
Ancient Greece
The Early People of the Aegean
 The earliest civilization in the region was the island of Crete
in the Aegean Sea, home to the Minoan people.
 The Minoans were greatly influenced by Egypt and
Mesopotamia. These early people gained ideas and
technology from these contacts.
 By about 1400 B.C., Minoan civilization had vanished.
 The Mycenaeans, another civilization of sea traders soon
took over the Greek mainland and Crete. The Mycenaeans
too absorbed both absorbed both Egyptian and
Mesopotamian ideas. They are best remembered for the
Trojan War.
Rise of Greek City-States
 After 750 B.C., the Greeks evolved a city-state called the
polis. Typically, Greeks built cities on 2 levels. On a hill top
stood the acropolis, or high city. There, the Greeks
dedicated temples to the gods and goddesses. On flatter
ground lay the walled main city with its market place,
theatre, public buildings, and homes.
 At first, the Greek city-states was a monarchy – where the
government was run by a king or queen. Slowly, power
shifted to a class of noble landowners – aristocracy or rule
by a landholding elite. As trade expanded, wealthy
merchants, farmers, and artisans challenged the nobles for
power. The result was oligarchy – government run by a
small, powerful elite group of people.
Sparta vs. Athens
- Warrior society
- City-state took root
- Spartan boys trained for
Military service
- Women ran the family’s
- Democratic city-state –
gov’t run by the people
- only male citizens
- women did not have the
freedom to progress and
educate themselves
Spartan Warrior
Notable Leaders/Greek Citizens
 Philosophers and teachers (Socrates, Plato, Aristotle) used
observation and reason to understand and explain life’s
events, rather than them being a cause by the gods.
 Solon – Athenian who introduced reforms making the
gov’t more democratic and the economy more profitable.
 Phillip II – Macedonian King who conquered Greece
 Alexander the Great – Macedonian leader who conquered
an empire stretching from Greece to India and encouraged
the spread of Greek culture throughout his empire.
Notable Greeks
Alexander the Great
 Rome began as a small city-state in Italy. The people of this
time settled along the Tiber River.
 In 509 B.C. the Romans became a republic, a gov’t in which
officials were chosen by the people.
 The most powerful people in gov’t were the Patricians, or
members of the landowning upper class. Eventually,
commoners or plebeians also gained the right to be
elected to the Roman senate.
 First emperor of Rome was Augustus – he laid the
foundation for a stable gov’t and made economic changes
to the country.
 Romans admired Greek culture. They adapted Greek ideas
which dramatically influenced Roman architecture, art, and
technology. The greatest legacy of Rome was its
commitment to the rule of law and justice.
Rise of Christianity
 Leading figure was a Jew named Jesus. Jesus was born
around 4 B.C. in Bethlehem. Some believed he was the
messiah, or savior sent by God to lead the Jews to
 The teachings of Jesus were firmly rooted in the Jewish
religion. Link to the belief in only one God and the Ten
 To Roman authorities, Jesus was a dangerous
troublemaker. Eventually he was executed. But his
disciples, or followers, believed that Jesus had risen from
the dead, talked with them, and then ascended into
 A few Jews believed and accepted him as the messiah, or
Christ – those people became known as the first
Decline of Roman Empire
 After the death of the emperor Marcus Aurelius in
A.D. 180, Rome was in turmoil. Eventually, the empire
split into two parts (east and west), each with its own
 In the west – corrupt gov’t, poverty, declining moral
values and unemployment.
 Eastern empire continued to prosper under the
emperor Constantine and other emperors. In time,
the eastern empire would become known as the
Byzantine empire.

Unit 1 WH - Everglades High School