Development of agriculture (farming) to the point where farmers are able to produce a surplus (more than you need) of food that will not be needed for their own families. In order to develop agriculture to this point, farmers must be capable of using techniques such as crop rotation, use of animal power, and/or irrigation.
A major part of the population does not spend most of their time producing food. They can go into other occupations and trade for or buy the food they need. This is called "specialization of labor." It is possible because of the food surplus described above.
The gathering of people into permanent settlements, called cities. Non-civilized people lead a nomadic (wandering) life.
Some form of government headed by a chieftain or ruling family. Political power is mostly in the cities.
The establishment of organized religion and education rather than simply the following of traditions of ancestors.
Trade and the use of money.
Development of a system of writing and record keeping.
The first civilization was that of the Sumerians who became an urban society around 3500 BC.
What do you think urban means?
About how long ago did Sumer's urban society begin?
Sumer may very well be the first civilization in the world. From its beginnings as a collection of farming villages around 5000 BCE and its final collapse around 2000 BCE, the Sumerians developed a religion and a society which influenced both their neighbors and their conquerors.
Do you know the meaning of BCE? If not, look for clues to bring you close to the meaning.
Sumerian cuneiform, the earliest written language, was borrowed by the Babylonians, who also took many of their religious beliefs. Sumer was a collection of city states around the Lower Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now southern Iraq. Each of these cities had individual rulers. The leader of the most powerful city could have been considered the king of the region.
Sumer had a thriving agriculture and trade industry. Herds of sheep and goats and farms of grains and vegetables were held both by the temples and private citizens. Ships traveled up and down the river and throughout the Persian gulf, carrying pottery and other goods and bringing back fruits and various raw materials from across the region, including cedars from the Levant.
Sumer was one of the first literate civilizations leaving many records of business transactions, and lessons from schools. They had strong armies, which with their chariots and phalanxes kept control over their less civilized neighbors. Perhaps the most lasting cultural remnants of the Sumerians though, can be found in their religion.
Gilgamesh, one of the few surviving Mesopotamian legends (c. 2700 B.C.), is about the fear of death and the search for immortality. When Gilgamesh's friend Enkidu dies, Gilgamesh is so revolted by his physical decay that he seeks the secret of immortality. He wants a Body without Organs, one that does not die or rot or stink. After a long journey, he meets Utnapishtim, a man who has been granted immortality by the gods. Utnapishtim rescued all living things by gathering them into an ark so that they survived the Flood, and for this the gods blessed him.
What name do our biblical stories give for Utnapishtim?