River Valley Civilizations Essays

1. Write an essay comparing and contrasting two civilizations in one category from the River Valley Civilizations sheet. For example, you could choose Egypt and China and compare and contrast the governments. Your essay should have specific information. Be sure to explain both how they were alike and how they were different in that category. You can use the River Valley Civilizations sheet as a reference. Answer:

Ancient Egypt and China were very similar but also differed in many ways. Their geography was alike. They both shared the same concept of writing. Both civilizations valued religion and made it a big part of their lives. The main difference between the two countries would be the intricacies of their cultures. This essay will compare and contrast the two ancient civilizations.

Egypt and China both had an abundance of waters. For Egypt, it was the Nile River, for China, the Yellow River. These rivers were really important to both of the civilizations in many ways. They both had systems of writing that incorporated simple pictures. Both the ancient Egyptians and Chinese were polytheistic. The Chinese and Egyptians were both technologically advanced. Both of them even had complex irrigation methods. Also, literacy was limited to a select amount of people for both civilizations. When it comes to differences between the two civilizations, they often come down to the detail. For example, both of them had organized governments but Egypt’s was a Theocracy and China’s was a Monarchy. Social hierarchy differed between the two, as well. In Egypt, the Pharaoh was the sun and stars over the whole of Egypt, he was believed to be a reincarnation of God. In china however, home and family were at the center of life. The two both built great structures, but the Egyptians made Pyramids while the Chinese built the Great Wall of China. The ancient Egyptians buried the dead with thought to preservation due to the belief that the souls could use their bodies in the after life.

How Did Mesopotamia's Geography Lead to Its Development? (Secondary Source)

by Kevin Wandrei


Mesopotamia, centered in modern-day Iraq, is regarded as the birthplace of civilization. While the region was widely occupied by humans as early as 12,000 B.C.E., historians believe that large civilizations began in Mesopotamia between 4,000 and 3,000 B.C.E. Mesopotamia's development in this period was supported by a series of geographical factors, including rivers and fertile lands.



The Fertile Crescent


Mesopotamia's soil was uniquely fertile, which gave humans reason to settle in the region and begin farming. As early as 5,800 B.C.E., people were living in the area known as the "Fertile Crescent" to take advantage of the rich soil. The soil's richness came from runoff from nearby mountains, which regularly deposited nutritious silt onto the river floodplain. This region stretched from modern-day Kuwait and Iraq northward to Turkey. Before the settlement of Mesopotamia, neolithic humans were largely hunters and gatherers who did sporadic farming. Mesopotamia's unique fertility allowed humans to settle in one place to farm.



Trade Routes


Mesopotamia's rivers and location in central Asia supported extensive trade routes. In the time of Mesopotamia, smaller civilizations existed to the west in Europe and North Africa and to the east in India. For these regions to trade, they needed to traverse Mesopotamia's territory between them. This allowed Mesopotamia to access resources not native to its region, like timber and precious metals. In turn, Mesopotamia developed key aspects of civilization, like a token system to keep trading records.



Tigris and Euphrates


While Mesopotamia's soil was fertile, the region's semi arid climate didn't have much rainfall, with less than ten inches annually. This initially made farming difficult. Two major rivers in the region -- the Tigris and Euphrates -- provided a source of water that enabled wide-scale farming. Irrigation provided Mesopotamian civilization with the ability to stretch the river's waters into farm lands. This led to engineering advances like the construction of canals, dams, reservoirs, drains and aqueducts. One of the prime duties of the king was to maintain these essential waterways.



Flat With Few Mountains


The Mesopotamian region is relatively flat with few mountains and few forests. This made the people who lived there vulnerable to foreign invasion and conquest, because there were few natural places to hide. Vulnerability spurred the development of major organizational aspects of human civilization like government, professional warfare, and concepts of empire. By the first millennium B.C.E., the region was home to the world's first multinational empire, the Assyrian Empire. Assyria introduced government innovations such as dividing its empire into provinces. Mesopotamia's geography also made governance challenging, and numerous rebellions occurred in the early millennia.






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