The Rise of Civilizations summary and study guide



The Rise of Civilizations summary and study guide


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The Rise of Civilizations summary and study guide

The Rise of Civilizations


Common Core SS Standards addressed throughout the reading packet:

  • 6H.1.3  Use primary and secondary sources to interpret various historical perspectives.
  • 6H.2.3  Explain how innovation and/or technology transformed civilizations, societies and regions over time (e.g., agricultural technology, weaponry, transportation and communication).
  • 6G.1.1  Explain how the physical features and human characteristics of a place influenced the development of civilizations, societies and regions (e.g., location near rivers and natural barriers, trading practices and spread of culture).
  • 6G.1.2  Explain the factors that influenced the movement of people, goods, and ideas and the effects of that movement on societies and regions over time (e.g., scarcity of resources, conquests, desire for wealth, disease and trade).
  • 6G.2.1 Use maps, charts, graphs, geographic data and available technology tools to draw conclusions about the emergence, expansion and decline of civilizations, societies and regions
  • 6E.1.2 Explain how quality of life is impacted by economic choices of civilizations, societies and regions

Common Core Reading Standards addressed throughout the reading packet:

  • Locate and cite details, State main ideas and summarize.
  • Determine meanings of words and phrases.
  • Determine how information is presented (sequentially, comparatively, etc.).
  • Integrate and analyze visuals (maps, charts, pictures) etc. with text.

Common Core Writing Standards addressed throughout the reading packet:

  • Produce clear and coherent writing appropriate for the task.
  • Use technology and internet to produce writing.
  • Informative and Explanatory Writing in the context of SS

The Rise of Civilizations
Objectives: SWBAT define civilization.  SWBAT evaluate how the specialization of labor and the beginning of trade led to the growth of towns and cities. 

As mankind began to develop more complex ways of life cities began to increase in size. These societies are known today as civilizations. A civilization is a nation or people that share a common culture, common laws, and a common economy.  Very often they also share a common faith or religion.


Specialization of Labor

For tens of thousands of years, mankind survived by doing whatever they could to find food and shelter for themselves and their families. A clan of individuals had to do all the tasks necessary for life, including hunting, dressing kills, gathering, making tools, and making shelters.
As societies became larger and more complex, people began to specialize in different types of jobs. It was no longer necessary for one individual to learn how to do every kind of work. Instead, one person could specialize in making pottery, while another could specialize in weaving cloth.  People now had careers to make a living.  Coins or other commodities were traded for items they did not make themselves.  People lived in closer proximity to one another leading to the birth of towns and cities.

Trade Developed
As civilizations grew and became more advanced, the demand for certain products, such as copper and tin increased. People began to desire products that were not available in their own lands, such as exotic spices, grains, animals, metals, etc. At first, trade was simple. Individuals traded goods amongst one another within their own community or with neighboring communities. However, within a few short centuries, complex long distance trading routes developed.
Specialized traders known as merchants organized caravans that covered distances of thousands of miles, bringing the goods and products of one society to trade them for goods and products from another society.
Essential Questions:

  1. What is civilization and what are its components?
  2. How do you think the specialization of labor and increased trade led to the growth of towns and cities?

Other Questions:

  1. Which statement could be inferred according to the passage?
  1. Trade led to people going back to a hunter-gatherer society.
  2. The life of a hunter-gatherer was easy.
  3. Trade increased with the availability of more resources and better roads.
  4. Stone tools were better than metal tools.

Directions- Now write one question and answer of your own for each paragraph.
Ancient Trade Routes Develop
Objectives: SWBAT determine how trade developed amongst civilizations.  SWBAT formulate a conclusion explaining how the economic concept of supply and demand led to increased trade.  SWBAT draw conclusions about where cities sprang up

As the ancient world began to settle into organized communities, people began to trade. At first, trading was done with nearby villages. Two things led to the growth and development of trade with groups of people farther away. The domestication (training and control) of animals such as camels, donkeys and horses made it possible to travel longer distances. People also learned to navigate ships down rivers and along sea coasts. Merchants could travel through waterways. These two developments allowed people to travel to new and exciting places, bringing strange new products home to their families and villages.
Slowly, longer and longer trade routes were developed. Major routes had several smaller routes branching off of them, creating a network of roadways. Beginning in 1000 BC, several societies had established trade with other countries or areas. The earliest routes known to us at this point include Arabia, Southeast Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The importance of some goods such as frankincense and myrrh, which were only available in Arabia, made kingdoms strong. These plants had medicinal qualities and they were also burned as incense in numerous religious ceremonies.  As their trade grew, so did their power in regions far beyond their boundaries. In the case of Arabia and their precious resins, not a temple or wealthy household existed in the ancient world that did not trade to gain frankincense and myrrh. Cyprus prospered from their production of copper. Egypt traded valuable papyrus and wool. Cedar and dyes produced by Phoenicia became important trade goods, and China gained power by their trade of jade, spices and silk. Even Britain, hundreds or thousands of miles from its trade partners, became important for their production of tin.
But areas rich in resources were not the only ones to grow rich. Merchants kept a great amount of the profit to cover the cost of their caravans and the danger they undertook along the way. Towns sprang up along the routes, providing these men with shelter and food for them and their pack animals. Cities and towns that did not participate in trading soon fell by the wayside and turned to ghost towns.
Long-range trading was saved for expensive and unusual items. No one was willing to go to the time and expense of transporting goods that could be found locally. Because routes were created for trade with specific places to gain specific goods, the trade routes often had the name of the item they supplied. The Silk Route ran from China to Western Asia and the Mediterranean area. The Spice Route brought rare and wonderful spices from South Asia. Many of these routes became roads and allowed the spread of ideas, religions and culture. Armies also used these routes to conquer what started as trade partners.
Trading was not easy. Camels, the primary animal used to transport goods, average 25 miles (40km) per day at a leisurely walking speed. The Silk Road was 2485 miles (4000km) long. If a caravan was formed to travel from one end of the Silk Road to the other, it would take just over a year to complete the journey. Along the way, merchants faced bad weather, injury or illness and robbers. Even with all of the dangers, trading was worth it. It created a network of roads, spread culture and religion and created prosperous cities. Trade routes changed the face of the world forever.
Essential Questions:

  1. What two major factors led to the growth of trade amongst civilizations?
  2. How did the availability of certain goods affect trade? (Explain supply and demand theory)
  3. Why do you think towns and cities sprang up along trade routes?


Other Questions:

  1. Name 3 important item people traded for.
  2. What was the Silk Route?  What was the Spice Route?
  3. Name 2 factors that made trade difficult.
  4. The following statement is a claim (argument).  Write 2 or 3 sentences explaining whether or not you agree with it.

 “Trading was important for the growth of civilizations.”
Directions- Now write one question and answer of your own for each paragraph.

The Development of Written Language
Objectives: SWBAT provide explanations of how/why written language developed.  SWBAT name the earliest forms of writing and ID who developed it.

As cultures became more complex and evolved, they needed to keep records about their societies. Priests began to record who had donated religious offerings. Traders and merchants recorded their transactions. Leaders recorded their victories in battle, made maps and wrote laws for their people to follow.
Written language began as pictures known as glyphs. These glyphs represented objects and ideas. Over many thousands of years these glyphs have evolved becoming the letters that we use today.


Writing appears to have developed in several cultures at more or less the same time several thousand years ago. Writing began as pictures or pictograms of everyday items or events such as a man throwing a spear at an animal. Originally people made pictograms by either drawing or pressing shapes onto pieces of wet clay. Gradually the pictograms developed into representations of ideas.
Examples of early writing, which have been dated to about 3500 B.C., have been found in Pakistan at the site of Harappa. Harappa was at that time a large city in the Indus Valley. Even to this day, archaeologists have not deciphered the writing.  However, early writing in Egypt and Mesopotamia (Iraq today) has been deciphered. These two cultures clearly traded grain, land, and animals. As Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, and ancient India traded with each other, it is possible that the idea of writing could have spread between them. Mesopotamia was part of the Sumerian culture. Their early writing has become known as cuneiform (wedge-shaped) due to its style.



In Egypt, one of the oldest examples of a pictogram is the name of a Pharoah, possibly written in about 3400 B.C. These ancient Egyptian symbols are called hieroglyphs and are thought to have developed from cuneiform symbols. Gradually a hieroglyph representing a particular word came to represent just the sound of the first letter of that word. For example, the hieroglyph for water was pronounced ‘nu’. The symbol came to stand for the sound ‘n’. This is believed to be the beginning of a written alphabet, or the system of having one symbol for one sound. Cuneiform only had symbols for the consonants and none for the vowels.

The written languages of the eastern world, such as Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese, all come from Chinese. Early Chinese writing examples are on tortoise shells and animal bones dating from the Shang Dynasty (17th-11th century B.C.) but are already quite developed. It is therefore believed that Chinese writing might have begun more than 5,000 years ago, and, according to some archaeologists, even earlier than that, possibly as much as 8,000 years ago. The Chinese written language does not have an alphabet like the western world, but uses characters. These characters have parts that can represent one or more syllables, meaning, objects, pronunciation or ideas
Chinese Character Writing


Essential Questions:

  1. Why was there a need for written language?
  2. What were the earliest forms of written language and who developed them?

Directions- Now write one question and answer of your own for each paragraph.
Activity- With a partner, create your own story using pictograms.


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The Rise of Civilizations summary and study guide