Among the world’s most greatest and first great civilisations was Ancient Egypt. Through modern day research and knowledge we have come to realise to a great extent the flourishing culture and richness of the state that was began in 3100BC. The civilisation continued to flourish for about 2000 years before it descended into eventual mediocrity.
Throughout its rich history the state was primarily based upon the Nile Delta and its supplementary rivers for its wealth and resources and this state has continued into the modern world where 95% of the population in modern Egypt is centred along the Banks of the Nile. The Nile River was the principle source of essential water and resources as the rest of Egypt was a largely desert with tiny pockets of insufficient oasis’s here and there. Even the actual establishment of Egypt took place when King Manes who ruled from the capital of Memphis, united the kingdoms of Lower and Upper Egypt.
The great Herodotus once described the existence of such rich life in Egypt as “The Gift Of The Nile”, and how true his words are. The Nile which originates in the mountainous regions of current day Ethiopia and cuts across Sudan and flows through Egypt itself for about 1000 km and then dips into the Mediterranean Sea.
The annual flooding of the Nile Valley resulted in a thin strip of fertile land developing along the banks which was coined the term “kemet” meaning black land by the Egyptians due to the colour of the fertile alluvial soil. That combined with the huge proportions of natural nutrients deposited by the seasonal rainfall results in rich yields every year. The desert thus became ground for merely the occasional forage for minerals, gemstones and metals.
Generally the staple crops where wheat, barley and flax and thus the principal diet of cereals as well. With agriculture as the primary food source and key revenue area for the Pharaoh, unique irrigation canal systems were developed and highly maintained during this time. Some of these structures exist to this day. They also grew fruits and vegetables and raised cattle. The fact that Nile passed through the nearly by Sinai Peninsula meant that the Egyptians had a rare commodity that other civilisations did not enjoy easy access to rich minerals such as copper gold, limestone, and granite. Thus, it was upon these materials that the fundamental architecture of Egyptian buildings was based as well. The need to access such materials led to the Egyptians inventing her own boats and ships that eventually travelled up far as much as the Mediterranean and thus established trade links with neighbours. Egypt thus with its vast resources became an important port of call for barter trading.
One of the earliest civilisations in the world, the primary motivation factor for the massive success of Sumerians was the rich river valleys and farmlands that they were blessed with. Located in southern Mesopotamia (merger area of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers before emptying out into the Persian Gulf), the Sumerians were unfortunate not to have many natural resources. However, of the countless advances attributed to them, it is the tough lack of prevalent natural resources that led to the Sumerians developing a complex system of controlling floods via dikes and dams and irrigation systems for their summer fields. The Sumerian population along the banks of the Rivers existed as city-states, warring with each other, nevertheless they were rich from good food production, manufacturing and trading. The principal crops were Wheat, Barley, Peas, onions, turnips and dates. Along with rearing cattle and sheep they also look to the river a primary food source. Fishing and hunting of wildfowl was also prevalent.
In terms of architecture too, they looked to water for creation of sun-dried mud bricks as principal building materials. However for all the prosperity that the Sumerians enjoyed it is now known it is that which brought about their end as it attracted aggressive neighbours such as Babylonia. Other than being the First Civilisation to develop the first irrigation system and dikes to control natural flooding which still forms the basis for today’s agricultural systems as well, the Sumerians were also noted for the invention of the wheel for transport, pottery making and invention of writing. Their writing consisted of stylish pictograms representing words. The Sumerians were also among the first people to use boats. They designed several first designs of wooden boats for trading and transportation purposes. This was put to good use for trading in the waterways of the river delta. Eventually though, trade expanded as far as with the people of Anatolia and the Mediterranean coastal areas and in the Persian Gulf where trades links were forged with civilisations as far away as India. Furthermore, Sumerians are much noted for their mathematical prowess and invention of the system of democracy, which again forms the basis, somewhat for today’s structure.
Descending from the mighty Phoenician civilisation, the Carthage Empire was a force in the Mediterranean Sea and nearby coastal areas. Founded in 9th century BC Carthage soon developed into a juggernaught both on land and sea. The great city is located near current day Tunis in Tunisia. Founded by the legendary Dido, its initial role was that of a trading outpost. The city was blessed with two excellent harbours connected by a massive fortress, which was virtually impregnable. Stretching from the tire North African Coast to the Atlantic Ocean and Sicily at one time, the maritime power of the Carthaginians enable them to expand their settlements as well as influence. The first development of commercialised trading enterprises was under Carthage. Gold and silver and lead were mined and exported. Carthage was continually in war thought its history with either the city-states of Greece or Rome for about 150 years. Carthaginians developed the first ballista and catapult based war ships in the history of mankind. Among the battles between Carthage and Rome were the 2 great Punic Wars. During which, Carthage let by its brilliant generals dominated the mighty Romans in sea battles before the Romans studied and stole Carthage ship plans and then modelled new ships on them to eventually defeat them. In the second war, Carthage very nearly took Rome itself, with the general Hannibal a few miles from Rome when he was called back to help defend the mainland.
Located on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Phoenicia was a coalition of dominant city-state groups.
Although, Phoenicia existed for a limited time period till about 1800 BC before it was invaded and made a settlement
for Egypt. Eventually later in 1100 BC, the Phoenicians gain independence and under independent rule thrived. They
established themselves as the greatest traders and sailors the world has ever seen, the shipping fleets travelled
every corner of the Mediterranean and went as far out as the Atlantic Ocean. Such was the skill of their sailors that,
foreign nations were employing them as crew for their own trading and exploratory purposes. The city kingdoms
fleets founded many valuable trading settlements such as the power of Carthage and Utica, Rhodes and Cyprus.
Among its crucial contributions to the human race are the invention of the alphabet and the inventions of glass and a
systemic industry for textiles and dyes.
If a Civilisation could lay claim to its entire glory and even discovery to having a river it is the Indus Valley civilisation. Located in current day Pakistan and India, the Indus Valley civilisation was one of the very first civilisations on the planet. Located along the Indus River Delta and lower tributaries, which led into the Arabian Sea, it is the first complex social structured and civilised human kind. Considering the fact that the settlements were semi-arid, the primary economical activity was agriculture with a subsistence economy. Primary crops were wheat and barely, mustard and peas. Cotton was grown for commercial purposes as well. The regular flooding of the valley ensured soil rich in nutrients and the need to harness this paved way for the first canal irrigation system in the world. Natural minerals such as copper and bronze were abundant. Through massive developments in shipping, communication was established with Mesopotamia and Egypt and barter trade was engaged. On a religious level as well, most rituals involved water as a symbol of purity and life. The world’s first advanced drainage and filtration system was also developed here.