In general, human civilizations flourished in the vast valleys of major river systems, however due to the requirement for irrigation from flood events (the Nile), small canals/dits (the Euphrates), or ground water (lift irrigation across South Asia and China), so every valley was occupied by a succession of enclaves. Urbanism is only conceivable if the land can sustain a large population per unit area, because it necessitates the concentrating of people in crowded settlements instead of an even spread throughout the terrain. Technologies that allow bulky food grain to be transported to non-farming people living in urban centers are also required. In Egypt, the Nile was the only way to get around the confined valley. Wind and river current energy were both freely accessible. The Euphrates was also used for a vast lot of transportation in Mesopotamia, and city temples employed a huge number of boatmen. The Indus, like the Nile, is a navigable river, yet there is evidence of wheeled vehicles here, as well as in Mesopotamia. There were other pack animals, such as the donkey in Egypt and Mesopotamia, as well as the ox in India.
The rise of cities, on the other hand, was not unavoidable. Only when multiple people are engaged in non-food producing vocations like as metallurgy, seal carving, administration, servicing the temples, trading, and so on, can city life and clustering make sense. (Agriculture, on the other hand, does not benefit from geographical grouping.) Producers of non-essential commodities were mostly reliant on monarchs or temples throughout the Bronze Age. A non-laboring governing class guaranteed not only law and order, but also the administrative framework needed to arrange the division of labour. The governing class required the people’s labour, if not a token tribute as well. This type of overarching administrative and regulatory framework relied on record-keeping (writing) and calendar-keeping mechanisms. The skilled seal cutter, for example, could count on his supplies of stone and bronze tools, as well as his daily necessities of pottery and food, in this type of civilization.
As a result, we discover that the city was not simply a denser and greater colony than the villages that fed and fueled it. It also existed as a social entity distinct from the village community or tribe. People had been bound together by inter – dependence and functional collaboration, not by kinship ties as it does in tribal societal system, nor by , tradition, custom, and beliefs as co-residents of a village community (community ties would have remained to some extent, but they would not have characterised urban society), but by inter – dependence and functional collaboration. Individuals who were more specialised relied more on suprahousehold organising methods and less on face-to-face community relationships. The city was a population bound together by law and coordination, rather than a collection of various tribes and clans. This is why there is a natural link between the arrival of cities and the establishment of elite-ruled regimes or societies. In a nutshell, rulers play a critical role in societal evolution. This is also why writing frequently emerges when cities and states do.
Sumer was by far the most developed of all areas. Mesopotamian literature and art had a distinctly urban aesthetic. The temple and the palace, with their impressive architecture and extremely complicated record keeping, constituted urban institutions. The carvings of cylinder seals, which were inextricably linked to city life, was among the most talented of its trades (possibly a figurative art). These seals were applied to newly inscribed cuneiform tablets or the clay sealings of packages and vessels. Because urban interactions were generally impersonal and between persons who were not connected or intimately acquainted, such effects on communications, documents, and commodity containers were necessary.
Temples were built on a tripartite layout in the beginning, with a large central hall ending in a pedestal for the deity’s statue flanked by an aisle on either side. The Mesopotamian temple was later built on the design of a home, with a main courtyard that is open to the sky, maybe due to an expansion in the scope of its operations. And, maybe because a priesthood now stood between worshipers and their gods, one was no longer confronted with the cult statues while entering the temples. Instead, there was indirect entrance via courtyards, antechambers, and a curved approach axis. The temple’s characteristic architectural element, buttressed and recessed exterior walls, remained throughout. Due to a scarcity of suitable woods and stones in the area, architects were forced to make the most of mud bricks. Brick temple façade were given a play of light and shadow by spaced evenly niches and extensions, a feature that no secular edifice had.
We’ve already said that city growth is not inevitable. It was also not very gradual, as Mesopotamia’s colonisation history demonstrates. The departure of countless minor settlements for Uruk, at the beginning of the Early Dynastic period (the earliest Mesopotamian written tablets, as well as visible cylinder seals and gigantic temple construction) was more important than the local increase of its own inhabitants over the ages. Disputes between villages (described in Unit 6) may have resulted in militarization and population clustering behind protected city walls, under the reign of newly-emerged monarchs, as one rationale for such population changes. People are undoubtedly safer in walled and huge communities than in little villages strewn over the terrain. So that’s the backstory of Mesopotamia’s “city state.”
Mohenjo-daro is the most important city in terms of urban archaeology. (Because Harappan towns were rarely populated in later eras, significant excavations were feasible.) Because they were unusually skillfully constructed, the walls of Mohenjo-daro still stand several feet high. Despite the lack of written evidence of kings and dynasties, citadels were erected at Dholavira, Kalibangan, and other Harappan towns, nearly invariably on elevated land, to house public structures and aristocratic houses. The Great Bath and the storage building, a big dwelling with a fenestrated courtyard, and a hall so vast that its roof was sustained by brick columns were all found on the Mohenjo-daro fortress. There were ceremonial buildings and aristocratic residential structures on the Kalibangan citadel. The fact that many Harappan citadels had peripheral walls suggests that the rulers needed to be protected against the governed who resided “downtown”. Numerous craft work loci have already been discovered because to the potential for thorough excavation. We know that shell cutting, bead making, seal carving, metallurgy, pottery manufacture, and other crafts were found in settlements large and small, almost as if our concept of urban entres has to be revised. However, if we believe that Bronze-Age craft production and distribution were elite-organized, we may see why some industries (particularly those that reduced weight) were positioned near the source of raw material and/or fuel, whereas others were located where demand was highest. Households at Mohenjo-daro relied on water from numbers of wells built within the city; well chambers were frequently located near the doors of multi-room dwellings constructed around one or more courtyard. The fact that the artefacts and leftovers left behind in the buildings reveal that activities—shell cutting, bead manufacturing, seal carving, and so on— differed from place to place, even within the same neighbourhood, is very intriguing.
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