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The analysis of the earliest civilizations allows one to see which particular factors played a significant role in people’s decision to settle and create a society. For example, both the region of the Indus Valley and the area near such bodies of water as the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers can be considered as cradles of early civilization. Nonetheless, while the history of these places reveals many similarities of people’s primitive lifestyles, the two communities which formed in those places had different characteristics as well.
The geography impacted people’s decisions substantially, giving the Chinese civilization opportunities for easy irrigation while taking away lives and land during devastating floods. The Indus River also provided the valley dwellers a place to raise crops. All described civilizations used natural resources to farm, raise animals and trade. However, while the artifacts from the Indus Valley suggest a peaceful and egalitarian community, the civilizations of the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers utilized a much more rigid government structure and military support for land acquisition.
Agriculture and Technology
First of all, it should be mentioned that the development of all early civilizations was closely connected to the existence of rivers which provided people with resources for centuries. These bodies of water supported people’s agriculture and animals, allowed them to bathe, and served as a way to reach other territories. The Indus Valley civilization used the river’s support to grow barley, the primary source of food for both animals and people (Bhat 107).
The Harappans (the earliest settlers of this region) domesticated some types of barley and used special devices to provide irrigation. The people working as farmers also possibly employed complex cropping techniques which allowed them to grow different vegetables and grains during multiple seasons. As for animals, the Indus populations grew zebu and aurochs which provided meat and other materials (Tignor et al. 56). In the civilizations which settled around the rivers in contemporary China, people grew crops as well, although the rice was another grain that was prevalent in the region along with wheat. Both cultures used technology for irrigation, but the design of other tools for farming is not clear.
Planning and Government Systems
The civilizations built their houses, villages, and cities according to the location of the river basins. In the Indus Valley, the found settlements suggest that the ancient communities had a system of building houses since their towns had a similar structure and form. Moreover, all houses were equipped with a primitive sewage system indicating that people had a lifestyle that provided all settlers with useful resources and benefits (Ghosh 48).
Most buildings had a toilet and a bath in a separate room from which the water would be flushed into a street drain. Furthermore, such large cities as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa potentially had large public baths and other shared structures for groups of people, implying that some levels of hierarchy existed (Tignor et al. 58). Other structures included granaries and warehouses; however, there existed no large temples or palaces. This suggests that the Indus populations did not have military-based governments.
Similarly, the civilizations of Yellow and Yangzi Basins had houses that were built to withstand the floods of the river (Kidder and Liu 1589). The findings also suggest that people lived in fairly urban cities and had government levels whose representatives ruled over small areas. The Yellow and Yangzi Basins flooded frequently, and city planning was an essential part of preserving the resources of the population (Kidder and Liu 1592). The population was guided by strong leaders who formed entire dynasties of aristocratic rulers.
Military and Protection
The Harappans’ cities had thick walls which potentially guarded them not only from floods but also from invaders or enemies. These protective constructions, nevertheless, do not indicate that the Indus populations had many military conflicts. Furthermore, there exists no evidence that such massive walls were used for protection from people, while it is clear that flooding water was one of the most dangerous threats to the community (Bhat 107).
Moreover, the system of houses discussed above suggests that the cities enjoyed a rather peaceful life where all people had similar living conditions. It is possible that the cities ruled and, therefore, defended themselves separated from each other. In a contrast, Chinese territories were a subject of conflicts among the leading warlords. Moreover, people living near the Yellow River used its waters to flood and sabotage rival states (Tignor et al. 57). This was a military tactic that allowed the local landowners to compete for power. The opportunity to trade with other cultures also made the river a place of military action.
The ancient civilizations of the Indus Valley and Yellow and Yangzi Basins had many similarities and differences. All populations used river water as a resource for farming, employing irrigation tools for crops. The Indus populations had barley and wheat, and the Chinese peoples had wheat and rice as their plants. The communities also used various materials to protect themselves from floods – all rivers were dangerous to live near them.
The city structure of the Indus peoples suggests that the settlers had a peaceful and productive life. The people living in the territories near the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers, on the other hand, engaged in military action to gain power over nearby areas.
Bhat, Aashaq Hussain. “The Indus Valley Civilization.” International Journal of Research and Review, vol. 4, no. 7, 2017, pp. 106-109.
Ghosh, Amal Kumar. “Riverine Environment and Human Habitation–Ancient Instances.” International Journal of Humanities & Social Science Studies, vol. IV, no. I, 2017, pp. 44-51.
Kidder, Tristram R., and Haiwang Liu. “Bridging Theoretical Gaps in Geoarchaeology: Archaeology, Geoarchaeology, and History in the Yellow River Valley, China.” Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences, vol. 9, no. 8, 2017, pp. 1585-1602.
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Tignor, Robert, et al. Worlds Together, Worlds Apart. 5th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.