What Is a Civilization?
A civilization is a complex society that develops a state, social stratification, urbanization, and symbolic systems of communication. These characteristics make a civilization different from other societies. This article explores the key features that distinguish a civilization. Once you’ve mastered this definition, you’ll be able to understand civilization’s importance to humankind.
Early civilizations were based on a common belief in gods and the importance of rituals that pleased these deities. Priests supervised these rituals and had special powers. They were also considered divine by the rulers. This created an elite ruling class and allowed the rulers to maintain standing armies of warriors, as needed. In turn, the population grew to include landless peasants and migrants from arid areas who developed as independent craftspeople.
Civilization is a complex concept that is difficult to define. Some experts disagree on what constitutes a civilization. Some people consider the Niger River Valley people to be “civilized” because they achieved urbanization, agricultural surplus, and some specialization of labor. But they didn’t develop political structures, strong social hierarchies, or written languages. Ultimately, civilization is a shared way of thinking about the world and its place in it. It includes art, literature, drama, and a wide range of cultural happenings.
Many early civilizations developed in cities. This allowed large populations to gather and share resources. Many of these cities had temples and pyramids, which were used for religious rituals. Eventually, these cities became the center of a civilization, and shared institutions made people feel united and specialized. The birth of written literature and writing helped people develop their ideas.
Early river valley civilizations developed independently, but were based on the agricultural revolution of the Neolithic age, which led to the development of cities. These civilizations include Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, and China. The Indus Valley Civilization, however, did not begin to build great cities until the Mature Harappan Period.
Modern civilizations are much more diverse than they were before. There are many ancient civilizations that have not yet been recognized. For example, the African Kingdom of Zimbabwe, which had a capital from 1100 to 1550, is often overlooked. Other West African kingdoms have also been overlooked for centuries because they did not meet the traditional definition of a civilization. As more research is made available, more information about these civilizations will become public. In addition, modern scholars are rejecting the nationalist and racial narratives that have been prevalent for centuries. This evolution of the definition of civilization makes it more inclusive.
Civilizations have evolved in many ways, including religion, the arts, and material culture. They have also developed in the fields of science and technology.