From Village To City
Over the years of history, there have been many
civilizations. We will look at the earliest of all
civilizations known to man. From Village to City began in
8000BC and spanned all the way into 3000BC. Throughout this
report we will look at the 6 key features of this
civilization as outlined in our classroom discussions, and
hope to convey what we have learned in a useful, and
interesting way. The development of a city:
The first city to be built was Jericho, in the Middle East
Map: This map is a picture of what the division of land
would have looked like in those times. Clearly identified
here, it is possible to see Babylon, Ur, and Eridu. ©
Microsoft Encarta '95. (Appendix 1). Sumer at this time
evolved into the largest city-state, established by a
people known as the Ubaidians. The development of the city,
allowed for rapid population growth due to the abundance of
food. Sheep, goat and pigs had been originally domesticated
for use as food, not as sources of clothing. The main
economic activity during this time was trade and barter.
Obsidian, a volcanic glass was fashioned into razor sharp
tools and weapons. It was also used as trade. People who
lived near Obsidian deposits often risked their lives to
collect it and eventually barter it off for food or money.
Obsidian comes from volcanoes and was a kind of glass, the
only of the times. The value of Obsidian was great, and so
therefore was the supply and demand. Salt, ore, copper, and
soapstone were accepted trade materials around 8000BC. Most
of the Village to City civilization took place during the
copper age, when copper was mined and used for many
purposes. Trade developed between different cities,
Jericho, Sumer, Adab, Eridu, Isin, Kish, Kullab, Lagash,
Larsa, Nippur and Ur. Most of the trade consisted of
livestock and other things such as weapons and food.
Sumerians constructed large temples called Ziggurats. These
temples were the focal point of religious activities in
towns. They were made of sun-dried mud bricks that eroded
easily. Not many of these remain today.
Near 4000BC, urban societies included, farmers, herders,
merchants, artisans, priests, debtors, creditors and social
leaders. Economic authority in that time took the form of
tax collection, creditors and debtors. Civil authority was
created with the use of Hammurabi code. Hammurabi Code is
in a way the articulation of values. It reflects the way
they believed that matters should be handled from their
times. This code is a collection of the laws and edicts of
the Babylonian King Hammurabi. King Hammurabi's code covers
everything from loans, deposits and personal injury to
domestic property and family rights. It contains no laws
for religion, but the criminal law is comparable to the
Semitic law of "an eye for an eye." This code was
particularly humane for its time. However, remnants of King
Hammurabi's Code of Laws are still present in today's
society. Many people believe that the Capital Punishment
controversy dates back to King Hammurabi. Capital
Punishment has been outlawed in Canada, however it is still
in effect as the main source of deterrence and for cleaning
up the streets in many countries i.e. the U.S.A. (in some
states). Division of Labor:
Since there had been farmers, merchants, etc., a division
of labour was present. As fore said, there were many job
roles that had to be fulfilled, for the society to
function. There was no real specific information regarding
the use of gender roles. However, there were certain roles
that were male only, such as hunter and farmer, and other
that were designated for females; namingly cooking and
cleaning. Class structure developed as the cities grew
larger. Leaders and civil authority were in a higher class
than that of the regular citizens. In this time period also
there was slavery. Slaves, to which later became more
commonly known as 'Serfs'. Development of Writing: Cuneus:
Given above is some text which has been written in the form
of Cuneus. It is engraved in a stone tablet as they had not
discovered paper. © Microsoft Encarta '95. (Appendix 2).
The first form of writing known, was cuneiform. In
cuneiform each symbol represented a word. This writing was
developed around 3000BC, and lasted until the 1st century.
With this development it allowed for the continuity in
beliefs and helped keep business and legal records.
The same writing gave us a very good insight into their
culture, and way of life today. Cuneus, Latin for wedge,
was given this name because the symbols appear wedge
shaped. This writing has been found on clay, stone, metals
and wax. Earlier forms of these were pictographs, but this
became too difficult, which led to the use of lines
instead. Cuneiform also helped with the continuity of
traditions, and passing on of heritage. Art: Urn: This Urn
clearly shows the importance that art played in their
lives. By this time period they had already invented the
potters wheel. © Microsoft Encarta '95. (Appendix 3).
Art was very popular during these times. This terra-cotta
urn demonstrated that this culture enjoyed arts as an
entertainment, use for burial or as barter. Architecture
was demonstrated with the early construction of Ziggurats.
House walls were plastered and sometimes painted. These
same Ziggurats were used for worshipping in, and was
considered a sacred place.
Technological Advancements: The Wheel: The artifacts above
are the actual first wheels that were ever invented. After
the first' wheels came more advanced theories. © Microsoft
Encarta '95. (Appendix 4).
The wheel originated in early Mesopotamia around 3000BC. It
was a great technological achievement. This allowed for
easier travel as the wheeled cart replaced the wedge as a
means of transport. Also, with the invention of the wheel
came a wider trade area, increasing a civilizations reach
into other areas. Seen here in the above picture, are some
of the earliest models of the wheel known to man. The very
first wheel that was constructed was made with the use of
ball bearings on the inner portion of the wheel, which is
actually a quite advanced theory. Ball bearings are
commonly used today for many things. Also, Grass was
harvested for seeds, with a sickle made up of flint blades
set into wood. Obsidian was fashioned into sharp arrowheads
and weapons. Rocks were used to crush grain for baking, and
hammers were used to construct buildings. All theses tools
allowed for better harvests and shaping of the environment.
The Environmental Impact:
Tools: Given in this picture are many of the early tools
used for cultivating, farming, and grinding wheat. ©
Microsoft Encarta '95. (Appendix 5).
Village to City populations affected the environment
negatively. They over-cultivated the land, when they
discovered harvesting. In some cases this was so severe,
that it instigated the process of desertification. Since
the technological level was not as sophisticated as other
civilizations, the environment was not polluted, just
over-used. This ultimately led to the downfall of some
cities. It became increasingly harder to grow because the
land was tired and could no longer produce the proper
vitamins the plants needed to survive. Some cultures had to
rely solely on the barter system and livestock reproduction
for food. Conclusion:
Many aspects of the Village to City civilization can be
found still in today's modern society. One of the most
valuable inventions was the wheel, presently we see wheels
everywhere. We would not have cars, planes, computers,
literally anything can be derived from these early
ancestors. The people in that time made many important
discoveries, many of which are being used to date.
Furthermore, if it weren't for the advancements that were
made up from our ancestors of long ago, we no doubt not be
where we are today. We must ask ourselves, when they
invented, did they comprehend the repercussions of their
developments? In other words, did they realize that they
were changing history as we know it forever. If it were not
for these early inventors surely we would not be as
advanced as we are now.
1. Davis, M. Dale. Civilizations in History. Toronto: Oxford
University Press Canada ©, 1947.
2. Brown, Dale and Edmond White. The First of Men. 2nd
Time-Life Books © 1973.
3. Aiello, Leslie. The Origins of Man. 2nd Edition.
Prentice-Hall Books ©, 1982.
4. Gibson, Dwight L., Terry G. Murphy, Fredrick E. Jarman
Grant. All About Law. 3rd Edition. Toronto: John Wiley &
Sons Canada ©,
5. "Sumerian Civilization", and "Sumerian Culture".
CD-ROM. Micromedia. ©,
6. Haberman, Arthur and Ian Hundey. Civilizations. Toronto:
Books ©, 1993.