Over the years of history, there have been many civilizations. We will look at the earliest of all civilizations known to man.
From Village to City began in 8000BC and spanned all the way into 3000BC. Throughout this report we will look at the 6 key features of this civilization as outlined in our classroom discussions, and hope to convey what we have learned in a useful, and interesting way. The development of a city:The first city to be built was Jericho, in the Middle EastMap: This map is a picture of what the division of land would have looked like in those times. Clearly identified here, it is possible to see Babylon, Ur, and Eridu. Microsoft Encarta ’95. (Appendix 1). Sumer at this time evolved into the largest city-state, established by a people known as the Ubaidians.
The development of the city, allowed for rapid population growth due to the abundance of food. Sheep, goat and pigs had been originally domesticated for use as food, not as sources of clothing. The main economic activity during this time was trade and barter. Obsidian, a volcanic glass was fashioned into razor sharp tools and weapons. It was also used as trade.
People who lived near Obsidian deposits often risked their lives to collect it and eventually barter it off for food or money. Obsidian comes from volcanoes and was a kind of glass, the only of the times. The value of Obsidian was great, and so therefore was the supply and demand. Salt, ore, copper, and soapstone were accepted trade materials around 8000BC. Most of the Village to City civilization took place during the copper age, when copper was mined and used for many purposes.
Trade developed between different cities, Jericho, Sumer, Adab, Eridu, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash, Larsa, Nippur and Ur. Most of the trade consisted of livestock and other things such as weapons and food.Sumerians constructed large temples called Ziggurats. These temples were the focal point of religious activities in towns. They were made of sun-dried mud bricks that eroded easily.
Not many of these remain today.Near 4000BC, urban societies included, farmers, herders, merchants, artisans, priests, debtors, creditors and social leaders. Economic authority in that time took the form of tax collection, creditors and debtors. Civil authority was created with the use of Hammurabi code. Hammurabi Code is in a way the articulation of values. It reflects the way they believed that matters should be handled from their times.
This code is a collection of the laws and edicts of the Babylonian King Hammurabi. King Hammurabi’s code covers everything from loans, deposits and personal injury to domestic property and family rights. It contains no laws for religion, but the criminal law is comparable to the Semitic law of “an eye for an eye.” This code was particularly humane for its time. However, remnants of King Hammurabi’s Code of Laws are still present in today’s society.
Many people believe that the Capital Punishment controversy dates back to King Hammurabi. Capital Punishment has been outlawed in Canada, however it is still in effect as the main source of deterrence and for cleaning up the streets in many countries i.e. the U.S.A. (in some states).
Division of Labor:Since there had been farmers, merchants, etc., a division of labour was present. As fore said, there were many job roles that had to be fulfilled, for the society to function. There was no real specific information regarding the use of gender roles. However, there were certain roles that were male only, such as hunter and farmer, and other that were designated for females; namingly cooking and cleaning. Class structure developed as the cities grew larger.
Leaders and civil authority were in a higher class than that of the regular citizens. In this time period also there was slavery. Slaves, to which later became more commonly known as Serfs’.Development of Writing:Cuneus: Given above is some text which has been written in the form of Cuneus. It is engraved in a stone tablet as they had not discovered paper. Microsoft Encarta ’95.
(Appendix 2).The first form of writing known, was cuneiform. In cuneiform each symbol represented a word.
This writing was developed around 3000BC, and lasted until the 1st century. With this development it allowed for the continuity in beliefs and helped keep business and legal records.The same writing gave us a very good insight into their culture, and way of life today. Cuneus, Latin for wedge, was given this name because the symbols appear wedge shaped. This writing has been found on clay, stone, metals and wax. Earlier forms of these were pictographs, but this became too difficult, which led to the use of lines instead.
Cuneiform also helped with the continuity of traditions, and passing on of heritage. Art: Urn: This Urn clearly shows the importance that art played in their lives. By this time period they had already invented the potters wheel.Microsoft Encarta ’95. (Appendix 3).Art was very popular during these times. This terra-cotta urn demonstrated that this culture enjoyed arts as an entertainment, use for burial or as barter.
Architecture was demonstrated with the early construction of Ziggurats. House walls were plastered and sometimes painted. These same Ziggurats were used for worshipping in, and was considered a sacred place.
Technological Advancements: The Wheel: The artifacts above are the actual first wheels that were ever invented. After the first’ wheels came more advanced theories. Microsoft Encarta ’95. (Appendix 4).
The wheel originated in early Mesopotamia around 3000BC. It was a great technological achievement. This allowed for easier travel as the wheeled cart replaced the wedge as a means of transport.Also, with the invention of the wheel came a wider trade area, increasing a civilizations reach into other areas. Seen here in the above picture, are some of the earliest models of the wheel known to man. The very first wheel that was constructed was made with the use of ball bearings on the inner portion of the wheel, which is actually a quite advanced theory.
Ball bearings are commonly used today for many things. Also, Grass was harvested for seeds, with a sickle made up of flint blades set into wood. Obsidian was fashioned into sharp arrowheads and weapons.
Rocks were used to crush grain for baking, and hammers were used to construct buildings. All theses tools allowed for better harvests and shaping of the environment.The Environmental Impact:Tools: Given in this picture are many of the early tools used for cultivating, farming, and grinding wheat. Microsoft Encarta ’95.
(Appendix 5).Village to City populations affected the environment negatively. They over-cultivated the land, when they discovered harvesting. In some cases this was so severe, that it instigated the process of desertification. Since the technological level was not as sophisticated as other civilizations, the environment was not polluted, just over-used. This ultimately led to the downfall of some cities. It became increasingly harder to grow because the land was tired and could no longer produce the proper vitamins the plants needed to survive.
Some cultures had to rely solely on the barter system and livestock reproduction for food.Conclusion:Many aspects of the Village to City civilization can be found still in today’s modern society. One of the most valuable inventions was the wheel, presently we see wheels everywhere. We would not have cars, planes, computers, literally anything can be derived from these early ancestors.
The people in that time made many important discoveries, many of which are being used to date. Furthermore, if it weren’t for the advancements that were made up from our ancestors of long ago, we no doubt not be where we are today. We must ask ourselves, when they invented, did they comprehend the repercussions of their developments? In other words, did they realize that they were changing history as we know it forever. If it were not for these early inventors surely we would not be as advanced as we are now. Bibliography: 1.
Davis, M. Dale. Civilizations in History. Toronto: Oxford University Press Canada , 1947. 2. Brown, Dale and Edmond White.
The First of Men. 2nd edition Toronto: Time-Life Books 1973.3. Aiello, Leslie. The Origins of Man. 2nd Edition.
Scarborough: Prentice-Hall Books , 1982. 4. Gibson, Dwight L., Terry G.
Murphy, Fredrick E. Jarman and Derek Grant. All About Law.
3rd Edition. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons Canada , 1990. 5.“Sumerian Civilization”, and “Sumerian Culture”. Microsoft Encarta. CD-ROM.
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Civilizations. Toronto: Gage Books , 1993.