Civilization In Culture of Prehistoric Hunting and Gathering Societies

What factors contributed to the development of civilization from the culture of prehistoric hunting and gathering societies?

Archeology traces the origins of the first human beings to East Africa more than two million years ago. The Paleolithic period covers approximately 99% of human history. Therefore, the study of the Paleolithic society helps in determining the physiological and intellectual of man. The Paleolithic society was a hunter and gatherer society. The hunting and gathering had a significant different economic system compared to the current system. In addition, there were differences which were based on gender. The Paleolithic man advanced until it reached the most advanced human species, the Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens migrated to the Middle East and then migrated into Europe. They finally migrated to the Americas. Over time, Homo sapiens learned how to make and use tools from bone, stone, and wood. This enabled them to shift from their hunting and gathering practices to other activities such as agriculture. Humans started practicing agriculture at about 10,000 B.C. Their ability to make improved tools enabled to practice agriculture. Agriculture led to fundamental changes in their way of life. It provided them with a dependable source of food, which enabled them to stay in one place. It also enabled them to develop improved tool making techniques, which improved their agricultural output. It also enabled various people to specialize in certain types of work. This led to the emergence of new elaborate political and cultural practices. This gradually led to the current civilization.[1]

What were the centers of early civilizations and what characteristics did they share?

The earliest civilizations may be classified into five categories. These include the Mesopotamian civilization, the Egyptian civilization, Minoan civilization, Indus River civilization, and North China civilization. The Mesopotamian civilization is the earliest civilization. It occurred on the Tigris Euphrates River at about 4000 B.C. Some of the earliest forms of agriculture may be traced to this civilization. The Egyptian civilization occurred along the River Nile at about 3,500 B.C. The Minoan Civilization occurred on the Island of Crete about 2,300 B.C.[2] The Indus River civilization occurred along the Indus River at about 2,300 B.C. Finally, the North China civilization occurred in north China about 2,200 B.C. Agriculture and art were some of the major characteristics of these civilizations. People settled in fertile river valleys, which enabled them to practice agriculture. These civilizations also led to the development of religion. People migrated from these regions to neighboring regions while continuing to practice the cultures of the original civilization centers. In fact, some early centers of civilization continue to shape the cultures of various regions in the contemporary world. The Indus River civilization continues to shape the Indic culture. The Islamic culture is influenced by the Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilization.[3] On the other hand, the North China civilization continues to influence the Sino-Japanese culture.

What are the chief features of a civilization in your opinion?

Job specialization is one of the major features of a civilization. Civilization broke down various jobs into small parts, which enabled people to specialize in certain jobs. Artisans and craftsmen were the earliest skilled workers. A civilization is also characterized by settlements, which mater grew to become cities. A civilization should have surplus agricultural output. This enables certain people to engage in agricultural activities whereas other people engage in other activities. A civilization also has a well organized central government. The government helps in managing the food supply and managing other systems that are needed in the cities. A civilization should also have a complex religion. The religion should have shared beliefs, rules and goals. Art and architecture are also features of a civilization. They help in articulating the beliefs and values of the civilization.


[1] Philip Adler and Randall Pouwels, World Civilizations, (Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2005), 8.

[2] Adler and Pouwels, Civilization, 80

[3]Josef W. Meri, Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia, (London: Routledge 2015), 745.

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