Urban civilizations in the Bronze Age

The Bronze Age is known for the development and collapse of many civilizations. Some of them have made an outstanding contribution to the flourish of many contemporary cultures. The basic difference between these civilizations is that some of them continued exciting after the Bronze Age and some of them vanished to the obscurity. It goes without saying that there are certain factors that tremendously catalyzed the process of decline.

The civilization of Mesopotamia (before 2000 BCE), the Indus Valley and the Chavin civilization can become subjects of the analyses of the factors that lead to their development or decline.

The Chavin civilization in Peru existed from 900B.C. to 200 B.C. and had three phases of settlement: the Uraburriu phase, the Chakinani phase and the Janabarriu phase. During these phases the Chavin culture experienced many changes that lead to its collapse (Fernandez-Armesto, 2006, p.308). The Chavin civilization produced pieces of art and demonstrated the ability of primary urban planning: the old building structures were covered by new better ones that could house more people. One other important factor that lead to it blossom in the second phase is that it actually became a ceremonial center with routes from all over Peru. As a consequence a lot of temples were built. The population of Chavin was constantly growing and eventually lead to an extreme overpopulation. Such over population resulted in the phenomenon of people settling on top of the structures that used to be important for the religion. So, in other words a cultural devaluation occurred (Howe, 2003, p.53). The religious integrity disappeared as a result of the fact that the Chavin civilization did not have a corresponding solid social structure and no actual political ruling. They did not actually have urban societies and no system of writing, which eventually lead to the impossibility to transfer experience from generation to generation. The disappearance of the Chavin culture was just a matter of time due to the fact that it was an obstacle to the urban development and construction of cities.

On the contrary, Mesopotamia (before 2000 BCE)  and the Indus Valley civilization did not just exist for a significant time, but also made a start for the development of the further cultures through the transfer of their cultural, political and social experience (Silver, 2007, p.90). The Bronze Age Mesopotamia stimulated the formation of urban societies and developed a complex social system. It was the civilization that was the first to invent writing in the region. It had a solid political structure with a ruling dynasty, taxes and even slaves that could work, and with their assets eventually buy themselves out of slavery (Fernandez-Armesto, 2006, p.220). The governing class also took a part of the taxes and spread them among those who were in need. All these facts resemble a contemporary society. The Sumerian city-states, the Akkadian Empire and the Third dynasty of Ur possessed the characteristics of a developed society. This is why Mesopotamia is considered to be the cradle of the civilization. The reason the collapse of Mesopotamia occurred is due to the invasion that it subsequently suffered from Islamic conquest. Also the land became infertile due to the improper irrigation.

The Indus Valley civilization is known as the Harappan civilization named after the phase of it blossom. First it implemented village cultures and than in the Early Harappan phase appeared centers of urban communities. The Indus Valley performed an advanced urban planning and also introduced municipal government which developed science, trade, transportation and created a writing system. The Indus Valley experienced a collapse due to Aryan invasion and a climate change. Its contribution is very similar to the contribution of Mesopotamia and as a consequence both of these civilizations left a vital legacy which is important till nowadays.

Therefore, the reason the Chavin civilization vanished entirely and the legacy of Mesopotamia and Indus Valley is still vital nowadays is because the development Mesopotamia and Indus valley included such factors as:

1. having  writing system to transfer experience;

2. having a complex social system;

3. having political and municipal governments;

4. creation of urban communities.

This is what makes the differences between the Chavin civilization that is forgotten and the Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley civilizations that strong appreciated even nowadays.

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