Early River Civilizations - Lancaster Central School District

Unit 1
Admit Slip- 9/29
• What do you think of when you hear the word Egypt?
Neolithic Revolution
• Hunting and gathering were replaced by agriculture and
domesticating animals as primary means to obtain food.
• Established permanent settlements which resulted in the
formation of the world’s first civilizations.
• The first civilizations developed along river valleys.
• The rich, fertile soil of river valleys helped these civilizations
• Civilization can be defined as a community characterized by
elements such as a system of writing, development of social
classes, and cities.
Ancient Egypt- Where?
• Since most of Egypt is a desert, people settled along the
Nile River.
The Nile provided water for drinking and for irrigation of
crops (farming).
Yearly floods soaked the land and left rich deposits of
fertile soil called silt.
Egyptians settled along the Nile Valley and used the fertile
soil to grow a surplus of crops.
The Nile River also served as highway for trading goods
Nile River Valley
• The Nile stretches over 4,100
miles, making it the world’s
longest river
• Every year in July, rains and
melting snow from the
mountains of east Africa
caused the Nile to rise over
its banks
• When the river receded, it left
behind a rich deposit of fertile
black mud (silt)
• Nile Delta- formed at the
mouth of the Nile River
Egyptian Religion
• Egyptians were polytheistic, with their chief god being
Amon-Re, also known as the sun god.
Osiris was the god of the Nile, who controlled the annual
floods that would make the land fertile for farming.
The Egyptians also believed in a host of other gods who
served specific functions.
The cornerstone of the Egyptian faith was a belief in life
after death.
Egyptians prepared their dead for the afterlife through a
preservation process known as mummification.
• First, they draw out the brains through the nostrils with an iron
hook… Then with a sharp stone they make an incision in the
side, and take out all the bowels… Then, having filled the belly
with pure myrrh, cassia, and other perfumes, they sew it up
again; and when they have done this they steep it in natron [a
mineral salt], leaving it for 70 days… At the end of 70 days,
they wash the corpse, and wrap the body in bandages of
waxen cloth.
• 1.) What is the process being described in the passage?
• 2.) What connection can you make with this process to modern
Mummification Website
• http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/mummies/story/main.html
Egyptian Government
• The Egyptian ruler was called a pharaoh.
• Egyptians believed that the pharaoh was both a god and
a king.
• When pharaohs died, they were buried in pyramids, which
took enormous planning and organization to built.
• Mummies were buried with prized possessions for use in
the afterlife.
Egyptian Society
• Egyptian society was divided into classes.
• The pharaoh held the highest position in society.
Egyptian Contributions
• Egyptians made many contributions in both science and
The process of mummification helped them learn about
the human body, allowing them to diagnose many
illnesses and perform surgery.
Egyptians developed a calendar, similar to the one we
use today.
Egyptians developed their own system of picture writing
called hieroglyphics.
Egyptian temples and monuments, as well as pyramids,
survived thousands of years.
Exit Slip
• What was mummification and why was this a sacred ritual
among the Egyptians?
• Name one contribution that the Egyptians developed that
we use today.
• What was the name of the river in Egypt that people lived
by? Why did they choose to live there?
Admit Slip 9/18
• What do you think the function of this building was?
Mesopotamia- “Land Between the Rivers”
• Mesopotamia is located northeast of where the Egyptian
civilization settled.
Mesopotamia is located in an area known as the Fertile
This crescent shaped region of fertile farmland is located
in between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
Like the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers would
overflow and enrich the soil with nutrients ideal for
The lack of geographic features in the Fertile Crescent
allowed frequent invasions.
Due to Mesopotamia being open, cultural diffusion took
place between many cultures.
-Tigris and Euphrates
River provide fertile land
for farming (Fertile
- The rivers flooded once
a year providing
Mesopotamians with
ideal soil called silt
- Although the rivers
provided fertile soil, the
flooding was
unpredictable and
caused much
destruction to both crops
and villages
Mesopotamian Religion
• Sumer
• The first civilization in Mesopotamia was called Sumer.
• Sumerians were polytheistic, meaning they believed in many gods.
• Many of these gods and goddesses were believed to have
human characteristics.
Most of the gods were tied to the forces of nature.
The largest building in the civilization were pyramid-like temples
called ziggurats.
Ziggurats had steps that people could climb to reach the shrine
of the civilization’s chief god.
Ancient Sumerians believed it was their duty to make sure that
the gods were happy.
Government and Social Structure
• Each civilization located in Mesopotamia (city-state) had
their own hereditary ruler, who was seen as the chief
servant of the gods.
• Priests and rulers shared control.
• Rulers were expected to collect taxes and enforce laws.
Social Class:
-Distinct social classes
• Since there were little to no geographic barriers
surrounding Mesopotamia, Sumer thrived in trading with
other civilizations.
• Sumerians traded with civilizations as far away as Egypt
and India.
• Built the first wheeled vehicles
• Had irrigation systems, dikes, and canals to
provide protection from floods as well as water for
• Sumerians invented early form of wedge-shaped
writing called cuneiform
• Cuneiform was formed by pressing a pen-like
instrument into wet clay tablets
• Sumerians also developed algebra and geometry
Other Civilizations of the Fertile Crescent
• Strong military civilization that conquered all of Fertile Crescent
• When the Assyrian empire collapsed, all the people of the Middle
East were united by the Persians under Darius.
• Darius divided his empire into provinces and built roads.
• Babylon was ruled by a powerful ruler named Hammurabi.
• Hammurabi was best known for his set of written laws, known as
the Code of Hammurabi.
• This was the first major collection of written laws in history.
• The punishments were severe, and often favored the upper class.
• “Eye for an Eye”
• http://www.ushistory.org/civ/4c.asp
Indus River Valley- Admit Slip
• What do you notice
about the layout of this
particular civilization?
• What does this tell you
about this particular
• What connections can
you make to modern
Indus River Valley- Geography
• Like the civilizations that developed in Egypt and
Mesopotamia, Indian civilization evolved in a fertile river
India is a peninsula, meaning it is surrounded by water on
three sides, but is connected to a mainland.
This peninsula is home to many mountains, which have
limited the India’s contact with other cultures.
Winds called monsoons bring rain every summer, which
would help the Indus River overflow and enrich the
surrounding land.
When there was not enough rain, people could not grow
When there was too much rain, rivers rose and caused
deadly floods.
Indus River Valley- Geography
• Framed by the Indus and
Ganges Rivers
• Worlds tallest mountains to
north (Himalayas) and
large desert to east (Thar)
helped protect this
• Monsoons, however would
bring cycles of extremely
wet or dry weather making
agriculture a daunting task
Indus Society
• Two main cities of this civilization were Harappa and Mohenjo•
Cities and roads were organized in a grid-like pattern.
Cities were built on platforms to combat monsoons
Indus Civilizations developed sewage systems to transport
Civilization was based on a theocracy,- civilization run by
religious leaders.
Religion was closely tied to animals and modern Hindu culture
Individuals often prayed for good harvests, and moderate
Trade between Afghanistan and Persia
Aryan Invasion
• By 1750, the Indus River Valley civilizations began to
• A group of nomadic warrior called Aryans conquered the
area that was once the Indus River Valley.
Admit Slip
• What were some of the advanced developments we
discussed in class about Indus River Valley Civilization?
• Which invention do you believe was the most important?
Why do you think this?
Ancient China
• Yellow River and
Yangtze River framed
the early civilizations of
• The Yellow River would
overflow, and create
yellow silt along its
banks (loess) ideal for
• The flooding of the
Yellow River was also
unpredictable, causing it
to be called “China’s
Government and Social Structure
• Dynasties, or ruling families ruled over ancient China.
• The first dynasty was known as the Shang Dynasty.
• Ancient Chinese government was more similar to the
government in the Indus River Civilization (small kingdoms),
rather that the centralized government run by the pharaoh in
Chinese society had a strict social class structure similar to the
other civilizations we have studied thus far.
Wealth was determined by how much land you had.
A class of noble warriors owned the land.
Merchants and craftspeople earned a living in the middle class.
Most people were peasants and lived in small farming villages.
• The Shang people prayed to many gods and nature spirits
The Chinese looked to their dead ancestors to
communicate with the gods.
It was thought that the ancestors would convince the gods
to help the living by offering sacrifices of food and other
Chinese also believed that the universe was held in
delicate balance between two forces, the yin and the
When these two forces were in balance, peace and
prosperity would result.
Chinese Contributions
• One of the most important achievements in China was the
written language.
• The ancient Chinese used a system of writing that
included both pictographs (drawings of objects) and
ideographs (drawings of thoughts and ideas).Because the
Chinese writing system consisted of tens of thousands of
characters, only the upper classes had the time to learn to
read and write.
Oracle Bones used to predict the future
Admit Slip
• What is a geographic feature?
• What are the geographic features discussed in class
relating to the river civilizations we studied?
• How can geographic features determine where people
Admit Slip
• Take 5 minutes to review your geographic locations from
• Be ready to defend your opinion on what location you
would live in if you were choosing to start your own
• What would you rather prefer?........protection or steady
food supply?

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