A civilization is a social or political group of people who have an advanced level of culture and industry. It is also a society with an effective government, a high level of science and technology, and a highly developed written language. Historically, civilization began in the Indus Valley region, now Pakistan and India. However, it can be defined for any group of humans that has an urbanization, an established writing system, and a division of labor.
There is much debate about how civilization originated. Some historians believe that the term first emerged in the mid-18th century, when the word was used to describe any society that had developed a writing system. Other historians argue that the word comes from the Latin term civilis, which means “citizen”.
Civilization is typically associated with a higher social and economic status. In the past, civilized people often used religion to justify their actions and to legitimize their position in society. As people moved from a communal way of life to a more centralized system, there was a rise in class stratification based on control of production and ownership of resources.
The first true civilizations were cities-states. These settlements grew briskly around 3300 B.C. and became particularly busy after that. These city-states were ruled by ensis, or leaders. These leaders probably had authority over local irrigation systems and the food that their communities produced. Eventually, these city-states transformed into more complex societies.
At the beginning of civilization, humans lived in hunter-gatherer communities. They studied the movements of the Sun and Moon, and developed a number of useful technologies. They made use of plants and minerals, and invented tools such as pottery and writing. Their knowledge and skills in these areas contributed to their ingenuity and their ability to build sophisticated temples and palaces.
People built cities in the Indus Valley, as well as in other parts of the Middle East and Central America. Eventually, they created a number of highly complex social structures, including class systems and a system of government. One of the early outgrowths of agriculture was mathematics, which was the basis for later science.
People also devoted themselves to art, philosophy, and politics. These activities were carried out in an effort to increase wealth. The surpluses that were generated by this method of farming were resold in trade to other communities. This enabled the formation of an aristocracy.
In the 19th century, the word imperialism gained a wide range of applications. Those who advocated the term often used it as a way of describing a society that was more advanced than the tribes that inhabited it. But today, it is considered narrow-minded.
Civilizations are usually described as being a result of a combination of material dominance, conquest, and social dominance. Initially, they are a result of social competition, but in the end, they can form into one multi-ethnic empire. Although some cultures are able to retain stability for a while, there is always a possibility that they will be overtaken by a new, more advanced civilization.