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3 Foundations
of Civilization
Before You Read As you read,
take notes in
Main Idea Reading Focus Key Terms a graphic organizer like
1. Why did some early villages this one. Record key facts
From farming villages surplus
develop into cities? about the first cities and
arose cities, and with division of labor
civilizations, including
them, the first civilizations, 2. What characterized the traditional economy
why civilizations change.
marking the beginnings of worlds first civilizations, and civilization
recorded history. where did they develop? artisans Cities Civilizations
3. What factors cause civiliza- cultural diffusion
tions to change over time?

When is a town wall not enough? this water, the people of Jericho grew barley and wheat
The townspeople of Jericho stood back and herded sheep and goats. In addition, the townspeople
to admire their hard work. A massive traded across the region. Jerichos mighty wall, agriculture,
stone wall with a 30-foot high watchtower now encircled and trade represented the first steps toward civilization.
their town. Jerichos residents had every right to be proud. Yet, Jerichos wall failed to protect the town. Sometime
Around 8000 BC, when most people still lived as nomads, during the 7000s BC, the community at Jericho ceased to
Jericho was the first walled town known to exist. To build exist. Over time, many other groups settled at Jericho and
such a wall took engineering skill, planning, and leadership. rebuilt its wall. Even so, Jericho never developed into a
Located in the Jordan Valley north of the Dead Sea, civilizationthe first civilization was still to come.
ancient Jericho was an oasis in an otherwise arid land. A
spring at the site provided a continual source of water. With

The site of ancient
Jericho, located in the
Jordan Valley, and some
of the ruins that remain.

18 Chapter 1
From Villages to Cities Characteristics of Cities As populations
increased and economies became more com-
The development of agriculture and the growth plex, some villages grew into the first cities.
of settlements marked a major advance in These cities differed from early villages in sev-
human history. As societies became more set- eral ways. First, cities were larger and more
tled, and villages grew in size and complexity, densely populated than villages. For example,
the first cities began to appear. the first known city was Uruk, located between
Advances in farming and changing econo- the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now
mies helped lead to the development of cities. Iraq. Around 3000 BC Uruk was home to some
Like the transition from a nomadic life to a 40,000 to 50,000 people and covered more than
settled agricultural life, the transition from 1,000 acres. In comparison, the village of atal
villages to cities took place gradually. Hyk at its height had only about 5,000 to
6,000 people and covered about 30 acres.
Advances in Farming As time passed,
Second, cityor urbanpopulations were
early farmers continued to develop new meth-
more diverse than village populations. Early
ods to increase farm production. One of the
villages usually consisted of a few extended
most significant advances in farming was the
families or clans, whereas early cities usually
development of irrigation systems. An irriga-
included many unrelated people.
tion system is a network of canals or ditches
Third, early cities often had a more formal
that links fields of crops to nearby streams or
organization than villages. For example, most
to storage basins of water.
early cities had a defined center. City centers
The use of irrigation enabled early people
often contained palaces, temples, monuments,
to farm more land and to farm in drier con-
government buildings, and marketplaces.
ditions. As a result, farmers could plant more
Many early cities had defined boundaries as
crops and produce more food. With irrigation,
well, marked by defensive walls, which sepa-
some farmers began to produce a surplus, or
rated the city from the surrounding villages.
excess, of food. With surplus food, villages could
The large number of people living in cities
support larger populations.
provided the labor to create these large-scale
Changing Economies Because irrigation building projects.
made farmers more productive, fewer people Finally, early cities served as centers of
needed to farm to feed the growing population. trade. Merchants and farmers from the sur-
As a result, some people were able to work full- rounding villages traveled to city markets to
time in jobs other than farming. For example, exchange goods and raw materials. The people
people skilled in making tools and weapons in the city produced goods to trade in turn. This
could devote all their time to that work. Other trade fed city economies.
people became full-time weavers, potters, or ContrastHow did early
religious leaders. The economic arrangement cities differ from early farming villages?
in which each worker specializes in a particu-
lar task or job is called a division of labor.
Food surpluses and a growing division The First Civilizations Reading
of labor resulted in economic changes. Early Skills
The worlds first civilizations formed from Predicting Based
farming villages had traditional economies. In
some of these early cities. A civilization is a on what you have
a traditional economy, economic decisions are
complex and organized society. The first civili- read so far, where
made based on custom, tradition, or ritual. In do you predict that
zations arose in fertile river valleysthe Tigris
early villages, most people were farmers and the first civilizations
and Euphrates in Southwest Asia, the Nile in developed?
relied on trade to obtain a few raw materials.
Africa, the Indus in South Asia, and the Huang
With the development of irrigation, how-
He (also called the Yellow River) in China. In
ever, villages could produce extra food as well
these river valleys, the rivers flooded annually.
as valuable trade products. In some villages,
These floods spread mineral-rich silt from the
leaders began to make economic decisions
river bottoms onto the nearby land. As a result,
based on fueling trade and feeding the grow-
the river valleys had fertile land that could
ing population.
support a growing population.

The Beginnings of Civilization 19

Characteristics of Early Civilizations
As large cities began to form, the first civilizations appeared. A civilization Specialized Labor This model from the
is a complex society with a number of specific characteristics. In what civilization of ancient Egypt depicts special-
way are the characteristics of specialized labor and government ized laborers hard at work pounding grain
and religious institutions connected? into flour, rolling dough, and baking bread.

Record Keeping and Writing One early

method of record keeping was a clay pouch
that held clay tokens. Each tokens shape
and markings indicated a specific trade
good, such as oil, perfume, or sheep.

Although early civilizations differed, they officials gathered taxes and organized defense.
had several characteristics in common: In some early civilizations, religious leaders
Developed cities such as priests held government power, while
Organized government in other early civilizations, influential elders,
Formalized religion warriors, or families held power.
Specialization of labor
Social classes Formalized Religion Early civilizations
Record keeping and writing had formal religious institutions that included
Art and architecture ceremonies, rituals, and other forms of wor-
ship. To gain the gods favor, priests and other
Developed Cities Cities with developed religious leaders performed rituals, such as
social and economic institutions, or patterns of sacrificing animals or offering gifts of food. To
organization, formed the basis of early civiliza- honor the gods, people built large temples and
tions. Early cities served as political, economic, participated in various ceremonies.
and cultural centers for surrounding areas. Because religious leaders often interpreted
Major cities in the early river valley civiliza- the will of the gods, priests became powerful
tions include Ur and Uruk near the Tigris and figures in many early civilizations. At the same
Euphrates rivers, Memphis on the Nile River, time, priests and rulers sometimes competed
Mohenjo Daro on the Indus River, and Anyang for power. To prove their authority, some lead-
near the Huang He. ers claimed that they ruled by the will of the
gods or that they represented one of the gods
Organized Government As cities grew, on Earth. As a result, government and reli-
governments formed. Building large irriga- gious institutions were often closely connected
tion systems and feeding a growing population in early civilizations.
required planning, decision making, and coop-
eration. Early governments probably formed in Specialization of Labor As cities became
response to such needs. The governments in the more complex, the division of labor increased
first civilizations created laws and established and many new jobs developed. For instance,
systems of justice. To help coordinate peoples officials gathered taxes, engineers planned
efforts, government officials supervised food irrigation systems, and soldiers defended city
production and building projects. In addition, walls. While some people farmed, others built
large public works, such as temples and roads.

20 Chapter 1
The Arts Chinas Shang civilization created
intricate works of bronze, such as the elephant
below. A delicate Ibex decorates a pottery
shard from Indias Harappan civilization.

Government and Religious Institutions

These figurines from the early civilization of
Sumer depict praying holy men in sheepskin
skirts. Such figurines were placed in temples.

Artisans, or skilled craftspeople, devoted their represented a specific item, such as a goat or
time to crafts such as basketry, carpentry, a piece of pottery. The tokens were stored in a
metalwork, or pottery. Merchants and traders clay pouch. To retrieve the tokens, the pouch
exchanged the products that artisans made and had to be broken open. The Inca civilization of ACADEMIC
brought back acquisitions from other areas. Peru, which developed later in South America, VOCABULARY
used knotted colored strings to keep accounts. acquisition some-
Social Classes As urban societies developed Systems of writing began to develop about thing that has been
institutions and specialized labor, a social order 5,000 years ago. The first writing systems used obtained or bought
developed as well. This social order was based pictographs, or picture symbols, to represent
on peoples occupations, wealth, and influence. objects or ideas. In time, people created more
In early civilizations, rulers, priests, and nobles advanced writing systems that used abstract
had the most power and ranked highest in the symbols to express a wider range of ideas. With
social order. Merchants and artisans usually the development of writing, early civilizations
ranked next. Below them were farmers and began to create a written record of their society.
unskilled workers, who made up the majority Such ancient texts and records are still impor-
of the people. A class of enslaved people often tant: they provide historians with a wealth of
formed the bottom of the social order. Some information about early civilizations.
slaves were people who had been captured in Along with writing, people in early civili-
war, while others had been sold into slavery. zations developed calendars. Because of the
growing importance of farming, people needed
Record Keeping and Writing As life in
to track the changing of the seasons and when
early cities grew increasingly complex, people
it was time to plant or harvest. People in early
needed ways to keep permanent records. For
river valley civilizations also needed to know
example, merchants needed to keep records of
when yearly floods would occur.
trade goods, and officials needed to track tax
In response to such needs, some early civi-
payments. In early civilizations people used a
lizations created calendars. These calendars
variety of methods of keeping records before
were based on the phases of the moon, which
the development of writing. For example, the
were easy for early people to see and track.
early civilization of Sumer, which developed
Early lunar, or moon-based, calendars were
along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, used
inaccurate, though, because the lunar year is
clay tokens and pouches to keep records. The
several days shorter than the solar year.
shape of each token and the markings on it


w8nafs_beg_sec3.indd 21 2/27/07 8:26:50 PM

The Arts The people in early civilizations
produced amazing works of art. The styles and
Change in Civilizations
techniques that artists used reflected each civ- Once early civilizations developed, they contin-
ilizations culture. Early artists created statues ued to change over time. Factors such as the
and paintings of gods and goddesses, heroes, environment, conflicts, and the movement of
and rulers. As the use of bronze spread, some people and ideas affected civilizations and led
artisans created intricate art pieces in bronze. to change. While some changes weakened civi-
Works of art often adorned city squares, lizations, others strengthened them and led to
public buildings, and royal tombs. The most growth and expansion.
elaborate pieces of art, such as monumental
Environmental Influences Because of
statues of rulers, were meant to reflect a civili-
their dependence on farming, people in early
zations power and bring its ruler prestige.
civilizations relied on their environments. The
Draw Conclusions What forces of nature could easily bring destruction
was the relationship between job specialization and and ruin, however. Raging storms could destroy
the development of social classes in early civilizations? crops and leave people without enough food.

Economic Systems
H ISTORY Traditional People make economic choices

and Economics
Economy based on customs and traditions.

Command A central government makes all

Economy economic decisions.

Needs and Wants Market

Private individuals make economic
choices based on competition.
All people need certain things to survive, such as
water, food, and shelter. In addition, people want Mixed Uses a mix of traditional, command,
Economy and market economies.
things in addition to their needs, such as jewelry
or cars. To satisfy their needs and wants, people
make economic choices. In a society, the three factor into such events. For example, imagine
basic economic choices are (1) what to produce, two countries each rich in what the other lacks.
(2) how to produce it, and (3) for whom to pro- They form an alliance to meet their needs and
duce it. Societies develop economic systems to wants together. In history you will find many
make these choices. Understanding economic such examples. Finding the why behind events,
systems is essential for understanding history. then, is often a matter of discovering the needs
Economic Systems in History Prehistoric and wants involved and the economic systems
hunter-gatherers met their needs and wants used to pursue them.
simply. As cities and civilizations developed,
Draw ConclusionsHow might an understand-
though, satisfying needs and wants became
ing of needs and wants and economic systems
more complex. People faced new choices: What
help you understand the causes of a war?
do we need to prosper? What do we want that
we cannot produce for ourselves? With whom
will we trade to obtain those things? Such ques-
tions forged new economic relationships, and
different economic systems developed.
Economic Systems in Your Life Much of
history involves the interaction of societies in Two merchants
pursuit of their needs and wants. Conquests, rev- bargain in this carving
olutions, periods of artistic developmentneeds produced sometime in
and wants and differing economic systems often the 900s to 700s BC.

22 Chapter 1
Flash floods could wipe out whole cities, and Conflicts also arose between civilizations
drought could kill off livestock. Farming used and nomadic groups. Not all people had chosen
up the land, and after a period of time the soil to live in settled communities. Nomadic pas-
lost fertility. Food shortages and other natural toralists, or herders, traveled with their herds
disasters could weaken a civilization and leave over wide-ranging territories. These nomadic
it open to outside attack. groups were loosely organized into tribes led by
A need for resources, such as metals, stone, chieftains. Nomadic societies had simple social
and timber, could also cause civilizations to organizations but developed rich cultures.
change. As early civilizations expanded, they Toughened by the need to protect their
began to use more resources. Some resources herds, nomads were usually skilled warriors. In
ran out. Other areas lacked needed resources. addition, once they learned to domesticate the
In such cases, people had to look for alternative horse, nomads became highly mobile. Although
solutions. In areas with few trees, for example, nomadic groups and settled communities often
some people began to use dried animal dung traded, nomads sometimes launched raids on
as fuel for cooking. To obtain scarce resources, villages and cities. Further conflicts arose as
civilizations expanded trade. nomads and farmers competed over land.

Spread of People and Ideas The spread Identify Cause and Effect
of people and ideas was another source of How did cultural diffusion affect early civilizations?
change in civilizations. Throughout history, the
movement of people through trade, migration,
and conquest has helped spread cultures and
ideas. Traveling merchants learned new lan-
guages to conduct trade with foreign groups.
Section 3 Assessment
Online Quiz
Keyword: SHL BEG HP
Migrants brought their language, customs, and Reviewing Ideas, Terms, and People
traditions with them when they moved to new 1. a. Define What is a division of labor?
areas. Civilizations often imposed their own b. Identify Cause and EffectHow did irrigation systems help
cultures on the peoples they conquered. contribute to the development of the first cities?
The spread of ideas, beliefs, customs, and 2. a. Recall Where did the worlds first four civilizations develop?
technology from one culture to another is called b. Summarize What conditions existed in river valleys that encouraged
cultural diffusion. As a result of cultural diffu- the development of the first civilizations?
sion, people adopted new customs, skills, and c. Evaluate Why do you think that record keeping and writing are
technologies. Advances such as writing, metal- necessary characteristics of civilization?
working, and farming techniques spread from 3. a. Identify What are some factors that cause civilizations to change?
one civilization to another. Artists borrowed b. Explain What are some causes of cultural diffusion, and how did it
designs and materials from other cultures and affect early civilizations?
blended them with their own styles to create c. Elaborate What are some possible ways that trade, migration,
new forms and designs. Religious beliefs spread or invasion might lead to the spread of technology?
as people adopted the gods and goddesses of Critical Thinking
other civilizations and made them their own.
4. Identify Supporting Details Use your notes and a graphic organizer
like the one shown below to identify and describe each of the character-
Expansion and Warfare Expansion and
istics that early civilizations had in common. You will need to add rows to
warfare contributed to change in civilizations
your graphic organizer.
as well. As civilizations grew, they needed more
land and other resources to support their grow- Characteristics Description
ing populations. Conflicts over land, water, and
other resources occurred and often led to war.
Civilizations waged war to gain control of
rich farmland, important sea ports, or regions
with valuable resources. Through conquest,
civilizations expanded their control over land 5. Exposition Write two paragraphs that explain how migration and
and people. Through such means, some civili- cultural diffusion contributed to civilizations changing over time.
zations developed into states and kingdoms. Consider the spread of both people and ideas.

The Beginnings of Civilization 23

HISTORY & Geography Interactive

River Valleys
and Civilizations
Pure, sparkling waterit makes life possible.
River Transportation
Water also made civilization possible. The
River travel allowed early
first civilizations all arose in river valleys.
civilizations to trade goods and
Common geographic features made these
ideas. This man is traveling on
river valleys ideal for farming. The rivers
the Tigris River, one of the two
provided water for irrigating crops. The soil
main rivers of Mesopotamia.
along the rivers was highly fertile, nourished
$ "6
each year by rich flood deposits. Flat land &6301& $"

bordered the rivers, which made it easier to 4.

plant crops. In addition, the river valleys fall


in a similar latitude with a warm to hot

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Irrigation and Farming

River water was key to farming in
early civilizations. Irrigation canals
enabled people to channel the
water to their crops. These fields
are located along Egypts Nile River.

24 Chapter 1
Flooding The first civilizations all arose
along rivers that flood their valleys each year.
The receding floodwaters left behind fertile
silt, enriching the soil and producing abun-
dant crops. At the same time, flooding could
be destructive, as in this scene of flooding on
the Huang He (Yellow River) in China.




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The highlighted lati- LP 4FB
tude lines mark the

zone where the first


civilizations arose.
0$&"/ GEOGRAPHY Interactive Map


SKILLS Interpreting Maps Keyword: SHL BEG

1. Location Where were each of the four river valley civiliza-

tions located? What do all the locations have in common?
2. Human-Environment Interaction What advantages did
the locations of the first civilizations provide in addition to the
advantages mentioned here?

The Beginnings of Civilization 25

Susan Ramrez
Susan Elizabeth Ramrez is the Penrose Chair of History and Latin
American Studies at Texas Christian University. She received her
Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and taught
for many years at DePaul University. A specialist in the history and
culture of the Andean region, Professor Ramrez is the author of
numerous articles and books, including The World Upside Down:
Cross-Cultural Contact and Conflict in Sixteenth Century Peru.
Her most recent book, To Feed and Be Fed: The Cosmological
Bases of Authority and Identity in the Andes, offers a new inter-
pretation of the rise and fall of the Inca Empire. She serves on
the editorial boards of the Hispanic American Historical Review
and The Americas.

Peter Stearns
Peter N. Stearns is Professor of History and Provost at George Mason
University. Founder and longtime editor of the Journal of Social
History, Stearns is also author and editor of numerous books, including
the Encyclopedia of World History and the six-volume Encyclopedia
of European Social History from 1350 to 2000. Professor Stearns
received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and has taught for
over 40 years. He is a member of the American Historical Society
and the Social Science History Association, among other profes-
sional organizations. His current research topics include the
history of gender, body image, and emotion. His most recent
book is Childhood in World History.

Sam Wineburg
Sam Wineburg is Professor of Education and Professor of History (by
courtesy) at Stanford University, where he directs the only Ph.D. program
in History Education in the nation. Educated at Brown and Berkeley, he
spent several years teaching history at the middle and high school levels
before completing a doctorate in Psychological Studies in Education
at Stanford. His book Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts:
Charting the Future of Teaching the Past won the Frederic W. Ness
Award from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
His work on teacher community won the 2002 Exemplary Research
on Teaching and Teacher Education Award from the American
Educational Research Association. He was a member of the blue-
ribbon commission of the National Research Council that wrote
the widely circulated report, How People Learn: Brain, Mind,
Experience, and School. He is also the Senior Consulting Author
on Holts American Anthem.

COntents iii
Program Consultant Academic Consultants
Kylene Beers, Ed.D. Elizabeth Shanks Ahmet T. Karamustafa, Ph.D.
Senior Reading Researcher Alexander, Ph.D. Professor of History and
School Development Program Professor of Rabbinic Judaism and Religious Studies
Yale University Talmudic Literature Department of History
New Haven, Connecticut Department of Religious Studies Washington University in
University of Virginia St. Louis
Senior Consulting Author Charlottesville, Virginia St. Louis, Missouri
Steve Goldberg Elizabeth A. Clark, Ph.D. Christopher L. Salter, Ph.D.
NCSS Board of Directors John Carlisle Kilgo Professor Professor of Geography and Chair Emeritus
Social Studies Department Chair of Religion Department of Geography
New Rochelle High School Department of Religion University of Missouri-
New Rochelle, New York Duke University Columbia
Durham, North Carolina Columbia, Missouri

Program Advisers
Academic Reviewers
Christian Appy, Ph.D. Geoff Koziol, Ph.D. Paolo Squatriti, Ph.D.
Department of History Department of History Department of History
University of Massachusetts, Amherst University of California University of Michigan
Amherst, Massachusetts Berkeley, California Ann Arbor, Michigan

Jonathan Beecher, Ph.D. Robert J. Meier, Ph.D. Marc Van De Mieroop, Ph.D.
Department of History Department of Anthropology Department of History
University of California, Santa Cruz Indiana University Columbia University
Santa Cruz, California Bloomington, Indiana New York, New York

Stanley M. Burstein, Ph.D. Vasudha Narayannan Educational Reviewers

Professor Emeritus of Ancient History Department of Religion
Department of History University of Florida Sally Adams
California State University, Gainesville, Florida Garden Grove High School
Los Angeles Garden Grove, California
Los Angeles, California David L. Ransel, Ph.D.
Department of History Chris Axtell
Prasenjit Duara, Ph.D. Indiana University Sheldon High School
Department of History Bloomington, Indiana Sacramento, California
University of Chicago
Chicago, Illinois Susan Schroeder, Ph.D. Tim Bayne
Department of History Lincoln East High School
Benjamin Ehlers, Ph.D. Tulane University Lincoln, Nebraska
Department of History New Orleans, Louisiana
University of Georgia Derrick Davis
Athens, Georgia Helaine Silverman, Ph.D. Reagan High School
Department of Anthropology Austin, Texas
Lamont King, Ph.D. University of Illinois
Department of History Urbana, Illinois Terry Dawdy
James Madison University Lake Travis High School
Harrisonburg, Virginia Austin, Texas


w8ncfs_frm_revsur.indd iv 2/15/07 8:13:58 AM

Educational Reviewers Field Test Teachers
Sally Adams Saundra J. Harris Bruce P. Beichner
Garden Grove High School Lane Technical College Allegheny-Clarion Valley High School
Garden Grove, California Prep High School Foxburg, Pennsylvania
Chicago, Illinois
Chris Axtell Earl Derkatch
Sheldon High School Marc Hechter Owasso High School
Sacramento, California Palo Verde High School Owasso, Oklahoma
Las Vegas, Nevada
Tim Bayne Steve Goldberg
Lincoln East High School Preya Krishna-Kennedy New Rochelle High School
Lincoln, Nebraska Bethlehem Central High School New Rochelle, New York
Delmar, New York
Derrick Davis David Futransky
Reagan High School Brian Loney Cosby High School
Austin, Texas Jefferson County Public School Cosby, Tennessee
Golden, Colorado
Terry Dawdy Anthony L. Marshall
Lake Travis High School Jennifer Ludford Booker T. Washington High School
Austin, Texas Princess Anne High School Tulsa, Oklahoma
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Nick Douglass Josh Mullis
Anderson High School Patrick Teagarden Barr-Reeve Junior/Senior High School
Cincinnati, Ohio Homestead High School Montgomery, Indiana
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Lynn M. Garcia Michael B. Shuran
Hutchinson Central Technical High Reagan Williams Tullahoma High School
School DH Conley High School Tullahoma, Tennessee
Buffalo, New York Greenville, North Carolina
Nancy Webber
Ernestine Woody
Barbara Harper E. E. Waddell High School
Freedom High School
Bryant High School Charlotte, North Carolina
Tampa, Florida
Bryant, Arkansas
Krissie Williams
Barnstable High School
Hyannis, Massachusetts

Top: Mexico City, 1998
Background: Rosetta Stone
Helmet: Anglo-Saxon helmet, early seventh century,
Sutton Hoo, England

Copyright 2008 by Holt, Rinehart and Winston

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w8ncfs_frm_revsur.indd ii 2/27/07 7:58:40 PM

Susan Elizabeth Ramrez
Peter Stearns
Sam Wineburg

Senior Consulting Author

Steven A. Goldberg

w8ncfs_titlepage.indd 1 2/15/07 8:13:06 AM