There are reports that state that anatomically modern humans started existing about 200,000 years ago. Not much is known about the first human civilizations which appeared on the planet thousands of years ago. However, it is apparent that for humans to survive, civilization is necessary. Needless to say, the term civilization has a contested definition. So what exactly is civilization?
What is Civilization?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “civilization” is about “a relatively high level of cultural and technological development.” This is the term used to describe the cultural characteristics of a human settlement at a particular time or place. Most of the human knowledge and teachings are collections of learnings of people from different civilizations.
Some of the most notable civilizations that existed in the past are the Roman Empire, Ancient Egypt, the Chinese Empire, and the Mesopotamian Civilization. Although the list might feel a “list of the greatest empires” instead, a government is just one of the major characteristics of a civilization. Here are the ten major criteria that define what civilization is.
10 main characteristics of a civilization
1. A ruling government exists
Once a human settlement started growing, the population needs to establish a government. The two major tasks of a government are to establish laws and maintain the order of its constituents. Without a governing force, civilization is not possible, as there will be no one that can regulate human activity into civilization growth. In earlier times, the person or the family that can maintain food supply and defend the people were the government. In modern times, the rule of the government is much more than that.
2. Religious development
Religion is a system of faith and worship that attempts to answer and explain forces of nature which humans cannot fathom alone. Religious development is not specifically just about the God or Gods a population follows. Instead, it is more about a population’s way of living life and the practices they do for their beliefs. For thousands of years, religion affected cultures and the value of their followers. From artworks to moral beliefs, religion affects a lot in our lives.
3. Social structure
Social structure is a term given to describe the framework of people’s roles in society. It is a social arrangement affected by the environment, as well as the personal actions of an individual. During the early formation of civilizations, there are different kinds of roles in society: artisans, farmers, warriors, priests and shamans, and more. At present, the term is more complicated. Nevertheless, without a social structure, society will not function properly.
4. Advanced cities with bodies of water
Nowadays, human settlement can exist almost anywhere with the help of planning and development. However, during the early formation of civilizations, a city cannot exist without a body of water. Small settlements can only turn into cities if there is water that can sustain human activities (such as farming, cleaning, getting food, etc.). Bodies of water are also used for trading goods and information with other cities. Since cities are the centers of populations, this is where most cultural characteristics emerge.
5. There are languages and writings.
Language is necessary to communicate a thought, command, and information. To start a new civilization, a writing system is essential for record-keeping, lawmaking, and creative expressions. Most early civilizations keep their trades and food records via characters, letters, and words understood universally. There are other civilizations, such as the Inca in Peru, who trained people to memorize important records. As of now, the English alphabet is a universally used writing system in the world.
6. Development of artistic activities
What separates humans from other species on Earth is its appreciation of art. Humans are the only species that can make, interpret, and appreciate art in the world. We use it for self-expression, preserving culture, and sharing of ideas. Practically, art is used for architectural function, such as building better buildings: both building integrity and aesthetics.
7. Education and literacy
A population needs to be literate to understand the language, the writing system, and the artistic activities. This means that individuals should be able to read and write using the most common shared communication used. Most functions of civilization, such as the laws of the land, would be difficult to communicate without the use of the writing system.
Education is the way of conveying experience and knowledge from one generation to another. During the early times, education was given by intellectual elites such as shamans, priests, and more. Currently, education is provided by educational institutions all around the world.
8. Job specification
How can you make any progress when you do all the work that you need to do to survive? Job specialization answers this problem and enables a city to grow and sustain itself by training specialized workers who can do the job more efficiently. One group would provide the food for the whole settlement, while other groups would provide the clothes needed.
9. Public works
Public works are benefits that can be used by all people in the population, regardless of their contribution. These structures include roads, post offices, dams, and even simple street lighting during the night. The benefits of public works and goods help in keeping the population order.
10. Food source and trading systems
And last but not least, a food source that can be cultivated is necessary to start a civilization. Once the food cultivation process is established, a city can trade with other cities to supplement resources that cannot be found in their current area.
What are the 7 characteristics of a civilization?
- Stable food supply.
- Social structure.
- System of government.
- Religious system.
- Highly developed culture.
- Advances in technology.
- Highly developed written language.
What are the 10 characteristics of a civilization?
What are the 8 characteristics of civilization?
- Advanced Cities. As farmers settled in the fertile river valley, they began to grow surplus or extra food.
- Organized Central Government.
- Complex Religions.
- Job Specialization.
- Social Classes.
- Art and Architecture.
- Public Works.
What are the five characteristics of human civilization?
What are the 9 characteristics of civilization?
What is the most important characteristic of civilization?
What are the common features of these four civilizations?
What is the first sign of civilization?
What are the 6 major early civilizations?
- Sumer (Mesopotamia)
- Norte Chico (Mexico)
- Olmec (Mexico)
- Indus Valley (Pakistan)
What are the four earliest civilizations?
What are the 3 earliest civilizations?
What are the 5 ancient civilizations?
Which is oldest civilization?
What is the longest civilization?
What is the oldest country?
What are the 10 oldest countries?
What is the first language in the world?
What is oldest city in the world?
What are the 5 oldest cities in the world?
A small city with a population of 20,000 people, Jericho, which is located in the Palestine Territories, is believed to be the oldest city in the world. Indeed, some of the earliest archeological evidence from the area dates back 11,000 years.