Civilizations First Ancestors

Tanya K, Jephina M, Gayatri G, Yenisse G

The Nile River Valley Civilization


The Nile River Valley Civilization was an advanced, ancient civilization that was located around the Nile River in Northern Africa. This civilization, like many other civilizations had a form of writing known as hieroglyph. Hieroglyph, often referred to as hieroglyphics, is a form of ancient picture writing that was written on papyrus, an ancient form of paper made from papyrus plants which was found in marshy areas near the Nile. Hieroglyph came into existence after the Sumerians at about 3,000 B.C. Hieroglyphics could be read up to down, down to up, left to right, or right to left. This form of writing often took a long time to learn.

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The egyptians were very focused on bettering the afterlife for each person. They believed that even after death, people should carry on with activities before death. They believed they achieved this goal by painting on the walls of tombs. Pyramids served as tombs for pharaohs and their queens. It is believed that the structure of the pyramid symbolizes rays of sunlight coming from the sun. Another belief is that a narrow passageway that leads to the pharaohs chamber is a direct passageway for the pharaoh's soul to reach the heavens to be with the gods. Sphinxes, another great example of architecture, are monuments that symbolize pharaohs as being a cross between human and god. Sphinxes were also known to protect people from evil.


Similar to many ancient civilizations, Egyptians were polytheistic (believed in many gods). They had over a 100 gods, but only 29 are listed below.

-Amun:King of Gods

-Anubis:Watched over mummifying the dead

-Aten: form of sun god

-Atum:Creator god

-Bastet:a goddess that protected

-Bes: protected pregnant women, babies, and families

-Geb:the god of the earth

-Hapy:a god of flooding (flooding of the Nile was good)

-Hathor:goddess of love and joy

-Horus:god of sky

-Isis:protective goddess who used magic to help people in need

-Khepri:god of movement of sun, rebirth,and creation

-Khnum:creator god and a god of flooding

-Ma'at:goddess of truth, justice, harmony, and keeping things balanced

-Nephthys:goddess that protected the dead

-Nun: waters of chaos

-Nut:sky goddess

-Osiris: god of the dead, similar to the Greeks' hades

-Ptah: god of craftsmen

-Ra: sun god

-Ra-Horakhty: combinations of Ra and Horus

-Sekhmet: goddess of war

-Seshat: goddess of writing and measurement

-Seth: god of chaos

-Shu: god of air

-Sobek: god of the Nile

-Tawaret: goddess who protected women during pregnancy and childbirth

-Tefnut:goddess of moisture

-Thoth:god of writing and knowledge

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Social Structure

Like most ancient river valley civilizations, the Nile River Valley Civilization was organized into 6 different categories in terms of social structure. The pyramid looked something like this........

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Social Structure cont.

At the top we is pharaoh, the ruler of all people in the civilization.The pharaoh was considered to be between god and human therefore was worshiped by civilians. Below the pharaoh was the vizier, the highest ranking official under the pharaoh whose job was to supervise how the civilization was run. After the vizier was the nobles and the priests. Nobles were like pharaohs except that they ruled over a much smaller area of land than compared to the pharaoh. The primary job of priests was to keep they gods happy. Following the priests and the nobles were the scribes and the soldiers. The scribes were the only group of people that could read and write. Their job was to keep record of plants during harvest, soldiers in the army, and gifts given to god. Soldiers on the other hand, defended the society from outside attacks. These soldiers were awarded land for their services and were allowed to keep any riches from the enemies. The second to last on the pyramid was the craftsmen whose main job was to make pottery, jewelry, clothes, shoes, and statues. Craftsmen worked together in workshops. Finally towards the very bottom were the farmers and slaves. Farmers worked on pieces of land provided by nobles and pharaohs in exchange for house, food, and clothes. Slaves were prisoners captured at war and forced to work at houses of nobles or pharaohs or to work at quarries and/or temples.

Ancient Egypt - National Geographic

Mesopotamia River Valley Civilization


  • Akkadian empire: in the city of Akkad
  • Sumerian empire: Built cities along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The largest city built was Ur and had a population of around 24,000
  • Assyrian empire: settled in northern Mesopotamia and the plains of Nineveh and Hakkari
  • Babylonian empire: Setteled in southern mesopotamia and Hillah, Babil Governorte, and Iraq. Babylon was s walled city with gates designed with dragons and bulls in honor of the god Marduk.

Government & Social Structure

Most of the early civilizations were monarchies ( ruled by a monarch).

Akkadian empire: ruled by Sargon of Akkad in 2334 B.C.

Sumerian empire: Ruled by a king but had a mix of democracy because elected officials were chosen to serve in the Assembly and also rule the people.

Babylonian empire: Ruled by King Hummurabi. Babylonian culture was based on law. King Hummurabi wrote the law and made sure everybody equally obeyed.


The Sumerian religion influenced the Akkadian, Assyrian, and Babylonian religions and Mesopotamian mythology as a whole. Their gods and mythologies are still present in some of the other early civilization religions and share some of the same characteristics.

  • An- Sumerian, Anu- Akkadian/Assyrian: god of heaven
  • Enlil-Sumerian: god of the air
  • Enki-Sumerian, Ea- Akkadian: god of freshwater and knowledge
  • Ereshkigal-Sumerian: goddess of the underworld
  • Inanna- Sumerian, Ishtar- Akkadian: goddess of warfare and female fertility
  • Ninhursag-Sumerian: goddess of earth
  • Nanna-Sumerian: god of the moon
  • Utu-Sumerian, Shamash- Akkadian: god of the sun
  • Marduk- Babylonian: sun god of Babylon
  • Ashur- Assyrian: head of assyrian pantheon


The Mesopotamian civilizations formed the earliest known system for writing known as cuneiform. Cuneiform is a system of "wedge-shaped" marks on clay tablets. The Sumerians were the earliest ancient civilizations to use cuneiform as a written language around the late 4th millennium BC. Soon other Mesopotamian civilizations such as the Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians began to adopt the practice of cuneiform. Cuneiform is read through individual symbols representing syllables and vowels.

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Ancient Mesopotamian art has survived since the hunter-gatherer stage during many ancient civilizations. The majority of the art was in forms of sculptures in stone and clay. Very little paintings had been recovered. During the Assyrian period a different style of art formed, reliefs in stone or clay forming objects and stories of battles in great detail.

Indus Valley Civilization


They were marvelous craftsmen, skilled in pottery, weaving, and metal working. The metal they used didn't come from the Indus Valley, meaning it had to be imported.


Harrapa and aryans' religion (vedism) "inspired the current practiced religion, Hinduism.

They are polytheistic. A mother goddess, the source of creation, seems to be widely honored. They also worshipped sacred animals including the bull.

They made clay figurines if animals, men, and women that were used in special rituals. Buried the dead in wooden coffins along with many pottery vessels that were filled with food for afterlife. No royal burials have been found.


There's no recited information on the Indus River valley civilization politics. Archeology can assume that the government was: well organized, powerful leaders(priest-king), government promoted skills mathematics and surveying to lay out the cities.


From 2600bc to 1700bc a vast number of settlements were built on the banks of the Indus River valley.

Regions covered 1.25 million kilometers of which today is known as Afghanistan, Pakistan and northwestern India.

Two main cities Harappa and mohenjo-daro, they were dominated by huge hills, fortress, it temples. They were analyzed before establishment. The houses had outstanding modern plumbing systems with baths, drains, and water chutes. They occasionally experienced monsoons and droughts.


Most Indus Valley writing was probably to do with trade, government or religion. People wrote the first line from right to left, the second line from left to right, and so on. Indus Valley writing used at least 400 picture-signs (they were not letters, as in our alphabet). But the longest bit of writing found has only 26 characters. No one knows what language the Indus people spoke, and no one has yet been able to read their writing. There are no Indus Valley books, no laws carved in stone, no stories about kings and battles. It seems that Indus writing changed little over hundreds of years. Unlike English. English writing has changed so much that it's not easy to read something that was written in 1066! Some experts think the Indus language may have been similar to Tamil, which is spoken today by people in southern India and Sri Lanka.

Yellow Valley Civilization

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  • Shang Dynasty: Anyang, Great City Shang, Ao,
  • Zhou Dynasty: Wangcheng, Doumenzhen, Luoyang, Haoching, Zhangjiapo

Government & Social Structure

Monarchy was present during the reign of both the Shang and Zhou Dynasties.

Social structure was....

  • Headed by the King, who divided his kingdom into various territories ruled by aristocratic warlords
  • Noblewoman held a considerable status
  • In families, the father is in charge and the mother has a subordinate position


Complex religious beliefs... gods, nature spirits, yin and yang ( Polytheism )

●Only Kings could contact the gods

●Created temples and shrines

●Believed in the afterlife

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P’an ku (mythical Chinese ancestor)

Spent 18,000 years creating the universe. He was born of the Cosmic Egg and separated ying and yang into the sky and earth. During this period of time, he received help from a dragon, unicorn, phoenix and tortoise, and from his body lice came humans.


Art had intricate designs.. most prized materials included bronze and jade. Iron was eventually used as well.

They had a secret method of producing silk and ceramic production advanced during the Shang Dynasty.


●Pictograms and ideograms

●Several writings and books were created during the Zhou Dynasty, but many were destroyed by the first Chinese Empire

●“Book of History” holds actual history of the Zhou

●Wrote on shells and tortoise shells