A civilization is a society with a complex division of labor and a hierarchy of social institutions. These institutions are interrelated, and the class structure in a civilization is based on the ownership and control of resources. It also has a centralized government and a privileged ruling class. It also has a national religious or priestly class.
The term civilization first entered the English language around the mid-18th century. Originally, it meant a way of thinking that was common to a group of people. During this time, people were inclined to see people from less-developed regions as barbarians and inferior to those in developed areas. Despite this stance, the 18th-century social theory of civilization held that civilization was the ideal state for mankind. Only those who had achieved this state could truly understand what it meant to be civilized.
Civilization did not come out of the mists of time, nor did it grow along a single path, but rather through many paths. Today, we can find the traces of civilization all around us. The development of cities, writing, specialized labor, and a state are all hallmarks of civilization. Despite the fact that civilizations began in small communities, the development of civilizations was not the same everywhere. In fact, some civilizations started and ended without ever becoming civilized.
External pressures can also cause civilizations to gradually fade away over time. For example, Ancient Egypt suffered from a long-standing conflict with other cultures. Eventually, it became part of the Roman Empire, but was constantly hampered by conflict and rivalry. It was also influenced by the powerful forces of Islam and Christianity, which ultimately led to the eradication of its polytheistic religion and hieroglyphics.
Power was distributed through hierarchical structures, and the leaders had great power. People were also divided into classes, and in many cases, people were enslaved. They were divided into upper and lower classes, and a lower class performed less specialized work. This led to the development of craftspeople and independent craftspeople.
Early civilizations shared many characteristics. Most of them evolved out of agrarian communities. This provided the food they needed for their cities. With cities came social hierarchies based on gender, wealth, and division of labor. Some civilizations developed powerful states with armies, which needed taxes to fund them. These civilizations were more likely to have specialized roles and a high level of technology.
Ancient civilizations tended to be located near rivers. For example, Mesopotamia, which is located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Iraq, developed around 4500 bce. Similarly, ancient Egypt was founded along the Nile River around 2925 bce, and the Indus River civilization, located near the present-day border of India and Pakistan, developed around 2500 bce. And China developed during the 1700s bce along the banks of the Huang He or Yellow River.
The Sumerians developed a cuneiform writing system that recorded information on clay tablets. They also had scribes who maintained records of important information.