The Tigris-Euphrates River Valley in modern Iraq; the Nile River Valley in Egypt; the Indus River Valley in contemporary Pakistan; and China's Huang Ho River Valley are the four great hearths. Each flourished in its hearth before spreading to other locations. These were the center of civilization for many reasons: because of their natural resources, such as gold, silver, copper, iron, limestone, salt, petroleum, and natural gas; their location on major trade routes between Europe, Asia, and Africa; or simply because they were inhabited by civilized people.
Each of these regions had its advantages and disadvantages. China was a large country with multiple ethnic groups, so it lacked the small scale industry that developed in some other regions. But it did have a sophisticated writing system which allowed records to be kept over long periods. The Egyptians invented paper around 3000 B.C., which is much later than most other countries. It shows how advanced they were at this time.
China and Egypt were both part of the ancient world, while Europe and India were not yet connected. This means that people in these regions didn't know about each other's inventions or discoveries. However, once Europe and India started trading with each other and with America, this all changed. Then, everything became available in different parts of the world.
Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and the Indus Valley, the Wei-Huang Valley, the Ganges Valley, Mesoamerica, West Africa, and Andean America are the seven initial cultural hearths. All but the last two were in Europe or North America.
The New World was discovered by Europeans, who named it after themselves (i.e., "New Spain" or "New France"). Before the European discovery of the new world, many cultures had developed there including the Olmecs, Zapotecs, and Maya. These three cultures were among the first known civilizations.
Other early civilizations include those of Egypt, Iran, India, and China. Each of these had several cities that were once comparable in size to modern countries like Mexico or Peru. But none survived for as long as any of the civilizations mentioned above.
In addition to these eight ancient civilizations, some scholars add a ninth: Australia. However, this comparison is not widely accepted by historians because Australia wasn't known to exist during most of the ancient world's history.
As for the modern world economy, it's difficult to say which country has the most advanced culture because many nations have now become industrialized. But since Japan and Germany emerged as two major powers at the end of the 19th century, they can be considered rivals.
Historical Cultural Hearths Mesopotamia, the Nile Valley and the Indus Valley, the Wei-Huang Valley, the Ganges Valley, Mesoamerica, West Africa, and Andean America are the seven initial cultural hearths. These areas produced most of the ancient world's major art forms and technologies. They also contain a high percentage of ancient remains, indicating that these regions were important centers of civilization.
The seven historical cultural hearth are labeled in red on the map below. The locations of some important early cities are indicated by small black dots.
Even though many other places have contributed to civilization, only these seven regions developed cultures distinct from their neighboring societies. These differences can be seen in their arts, architecture, technology, farming practices, and even language. Civilizations were founded around 1800 B.C. in Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Nile River Valley, the Yellow River and Yangtze River Valleys in China, the Amazon Basin in South America, and in Mexico and Central America.
Most scholars believe that these civilizations emerged through the gradual evolution of local peoples, but others think that they were brought together by immigrants from outside Asia. Either way, they formed large, complex societies based on agriculture that included millions of people.
As time passed, these first civilizations grew in power until they began to fight each other for territory.
Mesopotamia, the Nile River Valley, and the Wei-Huang River Valley are examples of ancient cultural hearths. Modern scholars often use these terms to describe regions that had significant influence on culture across large parts of the world. These regions include:
Biblical Israel - the Holy Land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River
Anatolia - modern-day Turkey
Indo-China - modern-day Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos
The Indian Subcontinent - includes India and Pakistan
The Middle East - refers to areas where Arab cultures have long been dominant, including countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Yemen
Africa - refers to the huge continent with countries like Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, and Morocco
The Americas - refers to the western part of North America and South America which share a common culture influenced by Europeans.
In addition to these regions, some scholars include Australia in the Asian cultural heartland. Others place Latin America as part of the African cultural heartland.
The valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in the Near East, the Nile in northeastern Africa, the Indus River in South Asia, the Huang He (Yellow River) in China, and the major rivers of Europe were also cultural hearths that developed in tandem, beginning with agricultural and industrial innovations. Many regions of the world are lacking natural resources such as oil or coal, but have instead created wealth from land that is fertile for agriculture or has good soil quality. These include most of North America, most of Australia, parts of South America, and much of Europe.
Cultural hearths are areas where communities develop similar cultures over time, based on their interactions with one another and the resources they can access. As these communities evolve, they sometimes contact other societies who may have different values and practices, leading to exchanges of ideas and materials which all parties benefit from. Cultural hearths remain important even after a region becomes technologically advanced, because they provide incentives for people to stay in place rather than move to more prosperous locations. In fact, studies have shown that people tend to migrate away from culturally rich environments toward those that don't provide enough advantage to justify staying in one location long-term.
There are several cultural hearsths in Africa including: the African Great Lakes region, which includes Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; the Sahara Desert region, which includes Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia; and South Africa.
Identify the four great ancient culture hearths (Mesopotamia-Tigris, Indus Valley-Indus, Nile River Valley-Nile, and Hueng-Ho-Yellow River). What geographical attribute was shared by the majority of the early cultural hearths? What is unique about each cultural heart?
The first civilizations were located in the river valleys because they provided easy access to food and materials needed for survival. The flood plains along these rivers contained many fertile acres where crops could be grown year round. These same attributes that made river valleys such attractive places to live also made them vulnerable to invasion from outside forces. If invaders captured or destroyed the only form of transportation, then the valley would be cut off from much needed supplies.
Mesopotamia was one of the most advanced cultures of its time. It covered an area of about 180,000 square miles with a population of approximately five million people. Mesopotamia's civilization arose around 5500 B.C. and lasted until about 300 B.C. When writing was developed, it became a very important part of everyday life. Math, science, business, government administration; all were conducted through written documents.
Mesopotamians built their cities on high ground so they would have good views of the surrounding countryside as well as protection from the elements. Their city gates were usually made of wood but sometimes stone.