What is a Civilization?
A civilization is a complex society with a political state, social stratification, and symbolic systems of communication. The characteristics of a civilization include a political system, the development of symbolic systems, and urbanization. These characteristics make a civilization special. In addition to its material culture, civilizations have developed symbolic systems of communication that are unique to a culture. The development of civilizations has impacted humankind and shaped human history and culture.
The term “civilization” is a result of the nineteenth century, when the concept of imperialism became popular. Today, it is used to describe a civilization, but it is considered a rather narrow-minded term. It can be argued that the term is appropriate only if used in its historical context.
A civilization may have originated in a few places and spread to encompass seven billion people today. In this case, civilization is characterized by writing, the state, cities, specialized labor, and social hierarchies. These are key developments that have contributed to the development of civilization. The first written language, cuneiform, was used for record-keeping in ancient Mesopotamia. A few centuries later, the Indus Valley Civilization was identified, which was followed by the discovery of Gobekli Tepe in 1964.
Human beings were primarily hunters and gatherers, but with the introduction of agriculture and animal domestication, a more reliable food source was created. Once the abundance of food became plentiful, people could settle in a location and become more sedentary. This resulted in urban civilizations with more people, distinctive architecture and art, and division of labor.
Although the definition of civilization is still controversial, the word has a lot of meanings. A civilization is an organized community of people with common interests. It can be characterized by shared values and beliefs, as well as the expression of these views in art, literature, and drama. Moreover, it can encompass many other cultural happenings.
Among other characteristics, a civilization can be characterized by the existence of social hierarchies, state-level political structures, and trade. In addition to these, a civilization may have many independent cities with a common culture. With agriculture, civilizations can expand exponentially. With more land to cultivate, people are more productive and have more time to develop arts, technology, and crafts.
Many early civilizations were united by religion. This system of beliefs and behaviors allowed people to share a common culture and foster mutual trust and respect. Some religions were closely connected to politics. Politicians often acted as religious leaders and used religion as a justification for their power. Ancient Egyptian pharaohs even practiced divine kingship and claimed to be human incarnations of the gods.
Different civilizations had different settlement patterns. Some civilizations favored a city lifestyle, while others favored a more rural lifestyle. In the medieval Europe, for example, there were very few economic classes. King and queens had huge amounts of money, while serfs had almost nothing. As a result, a merchant class developed.