Part 1 of Dr. TEK's Lecture Series: The Birth of Civilization
We are often taught in High School history classes that Mesopotamia is the origin of civilization. Well that all depends on how you define civilization in fact. Just because someone lives a nomadic lifestyle does that make them less civilized than someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle? The truth of the matter is that Mesopotamia is not the place that human kind originated, as archaeological evidence points out at the time period there were many different and rapidly advancing cultures spread out from all over the Middle East (and as far north as Europe). They traded with each other, and some evidence points out that they may have even been farming. So the one thing left remaining, that would make Mesopotamia the "Cradle of Civilization" is writing. This is where true writing is developed. I say true writing, because early "picture writing" such as cave drawings during the Neolithic period are considered a form of proto-writing. The earliest accredited writing system is the Sumerian Cuneiform script which emerged around 3400BC. Closely followed by the Egyptian Hieroglyphic system around 3300-3200BC. I break at this point to show you some maps so you know what we are dealing with, and don't get lost.
Here we have a map showing the area known as Mesopotamia (the area shaded green).You can distinctly see the five major areas Sumer, Akkad, Assyria, Phoenicia, and Palestine. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers were extremely important to these people as they are what causes the region to be known as the "Fertile Crescent".
And this map here shows proposed trade routes from the same period. As you can see, people were traveling, exploring, and sharing their culture already.
What makes this so important is that as these people traveled, not only did they trade in goods and culture, they introduced people to writing. So now they had a clear, and more potent, way of recording their history. It is interesting to note that there was not a lot of idealistic writing until later on in history. The main focus of early writings is the history of a culture, it's peoples, and their god or gods. They now had a way to inscribe their beliefs into written word, so that all could see it, even us thousands of years afterward.