Last Updated 03 Mar 2020

River Valley Civilizations

Category Civilization
Essay type Research
Words 626 (2 pages)
Views 313
Approximately 5000 years ago the first complex, politically centralized civilizations began to form independently along numerous river valleys throughout parts of Asia and Africa. These civilizations were the building blocks for organization of human economic, political, religious, and social practices. Although the cultures of both Ancient Egypt and Shang China River Valley Civilizations share geographic, religious, and political similarities, the cultures are vastly different when social characteristics and economic trade are taken into consideration.

Both Ancient Egypt and Shang China both developed closely to major rivers. The Ancient Egyptian River Valley Civilization was located along the Nile River which helped to provide a reliable source of water for farming. The Nile River current runs north-allowing movement along the river, and the winds blow from the north allowing sailing vessels to travel against the current. It was easy to travel and interact along the Nile. When the Nile would flood, it would naturally fertilize the surround soil with nutrient deposits that gathered within the river.

The same thing would occur with the Yellow and Yangzi Rivers, which were located near the Shang China civilization. This is why both civilizations flourished when it came to crop production. Near the Yangzi River, however, people had to work harder at flood control and irrigation. It is said that perhaps this stimulated a greater effort at organization. Both Ancient Egypt and Shang China were both ruled by kings, too. In Ancient Egypt, they believed that the pharaoh had all the power and influence over his people.

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He was considered to be divine, stood above the priests, and was the only individual who had direct contact with the gods. This is similar to how the emperor was looked at in Shang China, where he was seen as a chief priest, and he had an administrative bureaucracy, with councilors, lesser priests and diviners. Emperors and aristocrats had splendid homes with walls of pounded earth or earthen bricks while common people continued to live in their pit homes of earlier times much like how the Ancient Egyptian pharaohs were built high class pyramid tombs after they became diseased.

In both civilizations, the king figure was highly important and very much valued. They were often showered with gifts. However, unlike Ancient Egypt, women had no rights in Shang China. Women held many of the same rights as the men in Egypt. Women were allowed to own their own land and to share equal property with their husband once they married. On the other hand, in Shang China, the oldest member of the family controlled the family’s property and made the important decisions. Women were inferior expected to obey fathers, husbands and then later their sons.

Each women may have had between 13 and 16 marriages arranged marriages without any ability to protest it, and only by bearing sons could she improve her status. Shang China used items such as wheat, mullet, and silk, for trade, where metals were more common for trade in Ancient Egypt. The Silk Road was used to open trade between Ancient China and Rome. People in China were the first to master the development of silk and they did so by raising silk worms and then collecting the silky web that they formed.

They then weaved the web together to form a more substantial material. Wheat and mullet were also common edible items used for trade in Shang China because they had suitable temperate weather along with forested land. Using metals in trade was important for Ancient Egyptians because it was plentiful and could be made into an assortment of items from weapons to tools. Egyptians did not harvest the same type of grains as those in Shang China because they had too much of a dry climate that did not allow crops such as those to thrive.

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