Ancient Civilization Essay

This essay has a total of 1499 words and 8 pages.


Ancient Civilization




Describe Paleolithic and Neolithic cultures. What were the main characteristics of each?

The Paleolithic "Old Stone" era began in about 40,000 - 10,000 B. C. The beginning of
this period was marked by the first human hunter-gatherer societies. Hunting, fishing,
and gathering of fruits and nuts were the main economic endeavors at the time. The
responsibilities in these hunter-gathering societies were shared. The men of this period
did the very dangerous hunting of large wild animals like bison and reindeer, while women
gatherer fruits and nuts for an entire year. The small communities of 25-50 people came
to consensus on decisions and ideas were shared. The extended family was core. Men and
women both played a roll in child bearing. The people of this era lived in huts and
caves. Caves were idealistic living quarters; they could be heated in the cold weather
months and were cool in hot weather months. Caves were also good advantage points for
observing prey. Caves were also the sites of representational art. Paleolithic cave
paintings were of bison, horse, reindeer and mammoths. Historians believe that art may
have been the cave dwellers' attempts to control the environment through magic. Other
representational art of this time included (Venus) figurines of women. The female
figurines exaggerated the buttocks and breasts of women, perhaps in attempt to control
fertility of women. Men spent a lot of time fashioning tools, like the javelin for
hunting. The skilled craftsmanship of tools and the artists demonstrates at least a
limited specialization of skills and division of labor, so these societies required
organization in the villages. The desire to trade ideas and merchandise with other
societies developed.

The Neolithic "New Stone" era began sometime around 10,000 B. C. The beginning of this
period was marked by the domestication of animals and plants. With men occupied in
hunting, it may well have been females who first unraveled the secrets of agriculture.
Humans specialized in the wild plants they collected and the animals they hunted. They
began to learn how to control the environment in order to domesticate plants and animals.
The domestication of animals perhaps started with dogs, which were useful in hunting.
Then they learned to keep sheep, goats, chickens and cattle. Next came farming. They
learned to grow wheat, barley, then legumes (beans). Craft specialization was evident,
in addition to farming and shepherding, occupations in trading and accounting, iron
working, clothing making, jewelers, artists and mining developed. The villagers mined
copper (period was also known as Copper Age), gems, perhaps for pottery and hunting tools.
Accountants were used for trade transactions. Technological advancements came into use
like the wheel and complex metal casting. In Europe, elaborate temple complexes and other
monuments were built, which required complex mathematics. Also during the Neolithic
period, religions developed. Gods and goddesses controlled everything. Gods and
goddesses of the earth and fertility were worshipped. There was a strong urge to create
cities near water. The organization and engineering that took place in this period is
what lead humans to civilization.


Discuss the causes of ancient civilization.

Civilizations evolved in response to the need in the Neolithic communities for
organization and engineering. Early civilizations were very complex. In early
civilizations there is evidence of large and specialized labor forces, strong government,
technology to control the environment, significant projects in art and thought and the
invention of writing. As Neolithic communities grew, there was a strong urge to create
cities near water. The first civilizations began in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers and in the valley of the Nile River in Egypt around 3500 - 3000 B. C..
Large and efficient irrigation and drainage projects created channels, dikes, or dams to
control floodwaters and to improve the fertility of the land.

There was a need for social and economic hierarchies. The city was a society of
strangers. There were single people as well as nuclear families in monogamous
relationships. Civil rights came because you lived in a city. With individual freedoms
came more responsibilities. There were five main social classes. The first class was
the royal family, which marked the first form of government - monarchy. The position of
king or queen was inherited. If there was not an eldest son, the daughter became queen.
The second class in the hierarchy was the aristocracy. The third class was made of the
burghers or the artisans, mechanics, teachers, accountants, scribes and translators. The
fourth class was made of the serfs. Serfs could not be bought or sold, but could not
leave the land on which they worked, they had specific jobs.

The river valley society developed into city-states, independent political units that each
contained a rural countryside with villages controlled by a capital city. The urban
landscape's most visible sign of centralized authority was the temple. The temple was
the most important authority in religion, politics and economics. Temples were wealthy
and powerful and commanded loyalty because only a strong institution could control the
large amount of manpower required to build these elaborate works of architecture.
Religion and politics went together, and this was the monarchy's way to prove their
legitimacy. The religions at this time were polytheistic. For instance there could be 3
gods per city and 1 national god.

There were military forces in early civilizations. The original "police" were the king's
guards and temple guards. There were special military drills developed to train the
armies to address the military's main concern, how to deal with outsiders.


Discuss Egyptian art, architecture, literature, and religion.

Continues for 4 more pages >>




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