The 7 Characteristics of a Civilization Introduction

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The 7 Characteristics of a Civilization


  • Welcome to the birth of history! In this short unit, we will explore what a civilization is. Through the knowledge gained about civilizations, students will be able to analyze, explain, and eventually evaluate how each of the upcoming units fits or does not fit the classification of a civilization.


  • What is a civilization?
  • What are the 7 characteristics of a civilization?

What is a Civilization?

  • A civilization is an advanced state of human society. There are 7 characteristics that define a civilization.
  • Stable food supply - Social structure
  • System of government - Religious system
  • Highly developed culture - Advances in technology
  • Written language
  • Be careful to not associate civilization with civilized and everyone else as barbarians or primitives.

Stable Food Supply

  • Civilizations need a stable supply of food. Societies can only thrive with plenty of food.
  • Domesticating of animals and agriculture allowed civilizations to create a stable food supply.
  • Why is this important?
  • Agriculture/Domestication v Hunter/Gatherer

Social Structure

  • Civilizations have a complex organization, or social structure. This controlled through different jobs and social levels (or status).
  • Social pyramids example
        • Ruler
        • Landowners/priests/government officials
        • Common class (merchants, craftspeople, etc)
        • Slaves
  • What is the social structure pyramid at Parker?

System of Government

  • Civilizations need a well organized system of government to help direct people’s behavior and keep life orderly.
  • The government is in charge of enforcing laws, construction, leading the army, and distribution of food.
  • Every civilization has their own style of ruler
      • -Kings -President -Pope -Pharaoh -Senate -Oligarchy
  • How does the government help you?

Religious System

  • All civilizations need a religious system. This includes, set of beliefs, God(s), and place of worship.
  • As we progress through the year, we will see how religious views evolved over time.
  • What is religion’s role in society today?

Highly Developed Culture

  • All civilizations must have a highly developed culture including the arts, like painting, architecture, and music.
  • Culture is a way to show what a civilization values (important to them).
  • What is a piece of culture that is present in our lives?

Advances in Technology

  • All civilizations create new forms of technology (tools or inventions).
  • These advances prove that a civilization not only developed, but also provided contribution to surrounding area and future generations.
      • Remember Shutruk Nahunte
  • What is an advance in technology for the US?

Written Language

  • All civilizations must have a highly developed written language.
  • The beginning of history means the beginning of writing. The first known language was cuneiform, created by the Sumerians
  • An example of writing can also be pictographs
  • What would your life be like without any writing?

What is a Civilization?

  • Each of these steps is a valuable piece of a civilization.
  • Working in groups of 3, you will each have a poster for one of the key characters.

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