ancient civilizations

From Ancient Egypt to Mesopotamia

Ancient Civilizations like Ancient Egypt was a civilization in Northeast Africa situated in the Nile Valley. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes (often identified with Narmer). The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.

Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Levant, after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history, Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, and the Macedonians under Alexander the Great. The Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander’s death, ruled Egypt until 30 BC, when, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.

The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, and social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and a military intended to assert Egyptian dominance.

Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a pharaoh, who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs.

The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying, surveying, and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental pyramids, temples, and obelisks; a system of mathematics, a practical and effective system of medicine, irrigation systems, and agricultural production techniques, the first known planked boats, Egyptian faience and glass technology, new forms of literature, and the earliest known peace treaty, made with the Hittites.

Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its art and architecture were widely copied, and its antiquities were carried off to far corners of the world. Its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for millennia. A newfound respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians has led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy.

Ancient Civilizations: Discoveries and Advancements

Most scholars now believe that isolated civilizations first arose independently at several locations; initially in Mesopotamia around Tigris and Euphrates rivers and, a little later, in Egypt and the eastern Mediterranean. Other civilizations arose in Asia along the Indus River in modern India and the Yellow River in what is now China.

All these early civilisations had to invent or discover everything for themselves because unlike later civilisations such as the Greeks in the west or the Chinese in the east, they had no one to learn from. Therefore, the Egyptians had to invented mathematics, geometry, surveying, metallurgy, astronomy, accounting, writing, paper, medicine, the ramp, the lever, the plough, mills for grinding grain and all the paraphernalia that goes with large organised societies.

So how do we define Egyptian inventions today? It is very difficult to determine because three thousand years is a long time for discoveries to be made and lost or appropriated by others. For example the Greeks sometimes take the credit for inventing mathematics but they learned their math from the Egyptians then later developed and improved upon what the Egyptian achieved.

3000 BC appears to have been a critical time for the development of technology, especially metal making. The Egyptians as well as the Mesopotamians independently discovered that by mixing a small quantity of tin ore with copper ores they could make bronze which is harder and more durable. This set off a chain of connected innovations that could not have happened without the primary discovery.

Ancient Civilizations: Mesopotamia

Ancient Civilizations like Ancient Mesopotamia, centered in present-day Iraq, occupies a unique place in the history of human culture. It is there, around 3400–3000 BC, that all the key elements of urban civilization first appear in one place: cities with monumental infrastructure and official bureaucracies overseeing agricultural, economic, and religious activities; the earliest known system of writing; and sophisticated architecture, arts, and technologies.

These developments were concentrated in southern Mesopotamia, where the dominant ethnic and linguistic group until about 2000 BC was the Sumerians, famous today for their hero-king Gilgamesh of Uruk, the treasures found in the Royal Tombs at Ur, and the strikingly beautiful statues of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.

By at least 2700 BC, the Sumerians lived alongside Akkadians, whose king Sargon established the first lasting Mesopotamian empire, and whose Semitic language evolved into the dialects of the Babylonians and Assyrians. It was those cultures, adapting and extending the Sumero-Akkadian heritage, that built the great cities of Babylon and Nineveh, famed for their towering ziggurats, temples, palaces, and city walls; composed evocative creation myths, epics, hymns, and poems; and laid the foundations for future mathematics and astronomy.

For some three thousand years, Ancient Civilizations like Mesopotamia remained the preeminent force in the Near East. In 539 BC, however, Cyrus the Great captured Babylon and incorporated Mesopotamia into the Persian Empire. Periods of Greek and Parthian rule followed, and by about AD 100 Mesopotamian culture had effectively come to an end.

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