Walking like the Egyptians (and Sumerians)
The Egyptians and the Sumerians are given credit as being the first two major civilizations. The reason that societies popped up in these places (and almost all others) is that there is an abundance of water in the form of a river.
Egypt is grounded around the Nile River. The river itself is over 4,000 miles long and empties into the Mediterranean Sea. The banks of the Nile flooded predictably every year deposited minerals that crops loved. As early as 5,000 BCE there were small civilizations living along the Nile River. Egypt was unified by King Menes around 3,000 BCE. Among the Egyptians most important accomplishments are the 365 day calendar, the first detailed anatomy of the human body (thanks to their interest in mummies), and the Pyramids at Giza.
The Fertile Crescent and Egypt are the two civilizations highlighted in pink on the left.
Mesopotamia is located between the Tigris and the Euphrates. This is the land referred to as the Fertile Crescent. Unlike the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates did not flood reliably. The Sumerians who settled there got clever and created dams, ditches, and general flood control methods. This required a huge amount of coordination and was quite a feat. Their other accomplishments include the first system of writing (cuneiform), the invention of the wagon wheel and the 60-base number system. We still use 60-base in telling time today.
Lastly, the Babylonians came along after the Sumerians and made a significant contribution to the rule of law. Their greatest king, Hammurabi (reigned from 1792-1750BCE), created a uniform set of laws for the entire kingdom. Though the laws such as “eye for an eye” were quite harsh by today’s standards, Hammurabi’s Code took civilization much closer to equality before the law.