Let us now examine the factors that led to the growth of the early civilizations. After a look at the maps, we see that the first civilizations did not emerge in those regions where the first farming began. Moreover, if farming began by 5000 B.C. in northwestern India, it was not until 2600 B.C.-twenty four centuries later that the Indus valley civilisation emerged. Thus History of India, Agriculture cannot be assumed to be the only 'causes' of civilization. Also, many early and late agricultural societies in the world did not develop into civilizations. But one can also confidently assert that no civilisation could emerge in a hunting gathering society, without sedentism, without permanently organized communities, and above all, without storable food. We all know that rice and wheat can be kept for years whereas meat and fruit rot within days. We shall discuss the importance of storable food and its relationship to the growth of the Indus valley civilisation a little later.
Civilisation represents a stage in history when several tribal communities are united into a political and economic order, i.e. when political and economic relationship cut across tribal boundaries. Such processes come from a ruler at the centre, whose officers carry out his orders which all are obliged to obey. This is very different from the structuring of community life around kin relationships. Here, we are not discussing the various theories about the origin of the ruler or king as a political institution. Suffice to say is that the political actions of the ruler (king) at the centre are effective because they are backed by force of social acceptance. People would not obey a command to join the army or build a palace for the king or surrender rent from their harvest to the king's officers unless they agreed to it or they had no choice. Rulers thus have the power to organize trade, raise armies, or sponsor craft production. This gives rise to much movement of people and goods through the ruler's territory. In the civilizations of the Nile, Euphrates and Indus, cities ('urban centers’) emerged. In urban centres many people were engaged in non-food-producing occupations like administration, craft or scribal work, trade, or as professional priests. Now, seal cutters or scribes did not produce food but they did consume it. So there had to be a regular supply of food which was met by the villages.
In such a society rulers will not be able to function and cities will not survive unless food is imperishable. Also, the cost of transportation between village and city must be low. For example, if a team of six oxen or donkeys transport 1000 kg of grain between a village and a city, but it costs 1005 kg to feed the animals and their drivers during the journey, it would effect the city economy adversely. Thus, we find that civilizations cannot develop unless there is (a) a reliable agricultural base, and (b) easy transportation provided by nature. A quick glance at maps will show you that the three civilizations we will study are located in relatively flat valleys crossed by large river systems. Water transport was in ancient times much cheaper than land transport. This was because boats sailed with the energy of winds in river.
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