River Valley Civilizations and Today

River Valley Civilizations and Today

Some people say, history repeats itself
and that you can see the reflections of the past every day. Sounds nice doesn’t it? Makes
it all seem to matter so much but most things you learn your
history class seem to have absolutely no effect on
what you will do today, or tomorrow, or ever. They aren’t wrong, the people who say the past
is all around said that permeates our society, that’s
why they make you take history every single year. Your history class is
more than the facts you memorize or even the cool crazy stories your teachers
tell you because those things will never repeat and you will never see them in your life.
Above all else, your history class do you have think
bigger because the bigger you think, the more
globally, the more you think about the themes of the
facts and stories, the more you’ll see history as a strange cycle. You’ll understand the directions in the
future. The bigger you think, the more the past seems to affect today,
and tomorrow, and forever. Let’s start small and get bigger bit by bit. I want to go
back to the time before the nations we know today existed because that can be the hardest to
relate to modern life. at the birth of civilization and for
centuries after the environment played a huge role in
the locations where civilizations arose. Many began in river valleys where there
was enough water to grow crops. The only thing is not all river valleys are
created equal. The different environments had a huge impact on
how each civilization developed. Egypt, for example, lived along the Nile
River which flowed regularly and flooded
predictably. This made irrigation simpler. The soil
was very fertile and crops grow easily. For Egyptians food
was abundant and the environment provided for their
basic needs. Including, safety, as a civilization was protected by
mountains sea and deserts. Attacks were infrequent leading to not only the longevity of the civilization but also their beliefs. Egyptian theology was polytheistic and the population believed in gods who were
stable in nature. The deities were as reliable as the
environment they were believed to control. Like many polytheistic religions the
gods were tied to natural phenomenon such as the rising of the sun or thunderstorms.
Egyptians also believed in a rich afterlife that would be a continuation of the
prosperity of life in our society. The complex beliefs of the afterlife,
lead early Egyptians to preserve pharaohs’ bodies and place them
with what they the person had enjoyed in life. The environment had a major impact on
not only the theology of the civilization but the
government structure as well. The order and care taken with the
transition between life and the afterlife reflected order
with which the civilization was run. The parallels between religion and the
centralized government structure had a lot to do with how tied religion
was to government. The order and predictability of the
environment was seen as the gods’ work and the pharaoh, who was
seen to be divine was expected to act as the gods did with
predictability and order. While Egypt was protected from
invaders, later pharaohs were interested in expanding
Egyptian society so weapons were created. In contrast the Indus River Valley Civilization
which resided in modern day India was highly protected as well and rarely if ever saw attack. The civilization saw no
reason to create weaponry. This may have been the eventual downfall
of the civilization though the circumstances of the fall are still
unclear. We see again how the environment
affected how ancient river valley civilizations lived.
Mesopotamian civilization was based on their environment as well, though their environment was far from
the predictability and protection of Egypt and the Indus River Valley. The
Tigris and Euphrates rivers were anything but predictable are prone to
often violent flooding. the deities of Mesopotamian religion were
viewed as fickle and as unpredictable as those
rivers. Large irrigation projects were required to control the rivers and to maintain civilization’s food
surplus. These projects became the first major engineering feats in history. one of the
main characteristics of Mesopotamian society, that distinguish that from the
others, is that with each change in power the
structure of society and government also changed almost completely. This steamed
from the relatively unprotected nature of Mesopotamia. Attacks
were common and when they occurred new governments were set up. It’s no
surprise that our concept of empires began in Mesopotamia because
invaders who settle into conquered civilizations tend to refuse to remain in those specific
cities. Now let’s think bigger we know the
environment had a huge role in ancient river valley civilizations but you may ask what else they had to
influence their society. This is a perfectly good enough question
but my question is: what future societies were based on the environment? I can
think of a couple examples. Perhaps the beliefs of those fighting
in the US Civil War. After all, the South’s economy was based on
large plantations because they had the climate grow mass
production crops. Perhaps the progression a Russian
culture and politics. Russia does after all span the gap
between Europe and Asia making it never really apart either and a cold winter may make them nearly
unconquerable so change usually comes from within. I think perhaps we stumbled upon
historical theme! We thought bigger and now we can see
history in our own lives not in any one person or thing but as a theme once we see it there is one final
question: how is our environment affecting us?

6 thoughts on “River Valley Civilizations and Today

  1. This video explains thoroughly so many of the aspects of the ancient civilizations, and it does it with so much humor! Great vid!

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