<< Back to Lessons Index

7th Grade Social Studies / Lesson 6 - Beginning of Civilizations

What will we be learning in this unit?
  • How did the first cities emerge?
  • What are the basic features of a civilization?
  • How do cultures spread and change?


 The Rise of Cities
  • The first cities emerged after farmers began growing extra food which helped the population to grow.
  • Cities grew along the riverbed because its source of water and because animals would drink from the river so they were easy to catch.
  • Cities in America emerged as religious centers.


Features of a Civilization
  • Organized Governments- someone to rule over the city and make decisions.
  • Complex religions.
  • Job Specialization- craft workers, bricklayers, merchants, singers, etc.
  • Social Classes- People were ranked according to their job.
  • Arts and Architecture.
  • Public Works- irrigation projects, roads, bridges, defensive walls
  • System of writing.


Spread of Civilizations
  • As cities grew more powerful, it looked to expand beyond its borders. This is what began the city-states which are political units that include a city and its surrounding lands and villages.
  • Soon, empires started. An empire is a group of states controlled by one ruler. Although the people being conquered were not treated great,empires created a common bond among people in the empire


Interaction among people
  • Cultural Diffusion- the spread of ideas, customs, and technologies from one people to another. This happens through migration, trade and warfare.
    • Migration-when famine, draught, or other disaster led to migration with others who lived differently
    • Trade introduced people to new goods or better methods of producing items
    • Warfare- winning armies would bring their way of life to the cities conquered.