Water and Civilizations

Water is one of our basic needs. Without water, there would be no food or animals. We need water to live. Water is used for our food, in our work, for sanitation and for our livelihood. Most countries’ source of economic growth is through agriculture. We need water for agriculture. Water makes plants alive and keeps them healthy. Thousands of years ago, almost all recorded civilizations started near water sources like rivers and lakes. For some ancient civilization, their wealth and power depends on how they can control water. An example is the Mayan civilization in Yucatan Peninsula. The ancient Mayan civilization flourished in Central America from about 2600 BC and had been much talked about in recent times because of the timeline in the calendar they had created. Once the civilization was established, it went on to prosper and became one of the most sophisticated civilizations with a population of about 19 million at its peak. The Mayan culture reached its peak between 250CE and 900CE. By 700CE, the Mayans had already devised their own way of writing which they used to create their own solar calendars carved in the stones. The Mayan culture collapsed because their Holy Lord lost his authority. The authority of their Holy Lord depends on his ability to control water. The Mayans suffered series of drought that corresponded to decline of Mayan culture. Their Holy Lord was not able to sustain water for his constituents. In Southeast Asia, the Khmer culture in Cambodia built a reservoir surrounding the Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat was built in the first half of the 12th century. Estimated construction time of the temple is 30 years by King Suryavarman II, dedicated to Vishnu, replica of Angkor Thom style of art. Wat is the Khmer name for temple, which was probably added to “Angkor” when it became a Theravada Buddhist monument. It is believed that the reservoir was built to catch the monsoon water that will be used to irrigate in dry season.

Some civilizations started near rivers like the Mesopotamian civilization in Tigris−Euphrates river system, Indus civilization in the Indus River and Ancient Egypt civilization near Nile River in Africa. Africa is one of the seven continents of the world. It is so big that you can fit India, China and the United States in it. African history was preserved via oral tradition than written tradition. The West Africa’s first empire is Ghana. People in Ghana are the first Muslims in West Africa. Ghana rose and fell and it was replaced by Mali. Mali was ruled by Mansa Musa, a rich devoted Muslim. Mansa Musa went to Mecca in 1324 with 100 camel loads of gold. He became famous because of his wealth. Because of this, as he travelled the world a lot of people believed that Africa was a land of gold. The Islaminization of Western Africa started when Berbers traded with West Africans. Berbers were Islam. Islam existed between the routes of North and West Africa. First converts of were traders. Traders benefited from having religious and commercial connection for their trading. Kings followed the traders. The religion of most elites is Islam.

Aside from rivers, some civilizations started in seas. An example is the Ancient Greek civilization. It is an example of a maritime civilization. It is surrounded by the Ionian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, and the Black Sea. In 3000 BCE, the first civilization in Greece was established in the island of Crete. A group of Indo-European from the steppes of Eurasia built the Mycenaean culture in 2000 BCE in the island of Peloponnesus in south-west part of Greece. The Mycenaeans participated in the one of the most important events in Greek mythology, Trojan War. One of the roots of Trojan War was the economical competition between the city of Mycenae and Troy. Troy is a rich city located in Turkey. The Persian Achaemenid Dynasty who was founded by King Cyrus the Great made war on the Greek city-states. It was the Persian war. This war started when Athens supported the Ionian Greeks who were rebelling against the Persians in Anatolia. Herodotus, a Greek historian, wrote a book about the Persian war. In the book The Persian Wars your impressions towards the Persians will be affected. In some instances, even though you truly analyze that Persians are not that really bad it is stated in the book that they are the villains. This is because of historical bias. Herodotus is a Greek historian. He will take the side of the Greeks.

Another example of a civilization started in rivers is the Roman Empire. The city of Rome was established by Remus and Romolus. During the Medieval Ages, Catholic popes have almost the same power as the king. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Catholic Church dominated the power of the rulers of the empire and influenced a lot of Romans. Papal States in Europe were founded. Catholic Pope started to rule cities. During Charlemagne’s time he collaborated with popes to spread Christianity and Catholicism in his whole empire. Because of his relationship with the Catholic Church and popes support him, his empire was called the Holy Roman Empire. In the time of the Holy Roman Empire, there is an agreement between the government and the church, both sides acknowledge the power of each other in ruling the empire. I think this is one of the reasons and factors why the Holy Roman Empire succeeded. It is important that both sides agree and support each other because they have both huge influences to people. If they unite, people will unite also. Roman Empire is spreading Christianity. They are following the Catholic Church but were believed that it was the Romans who killed Jesus. They did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah and they even despised Him.

In 793 AD to 1066 AD the Vikings raided Europe. Vikings were Germanic people from the Scandinavian Peninsula. They sailed around the Atlantic and Baltic Regions and raided for gold and traded for goods. The Vikings established their territory, Danelaw, in England. History was shaped by those who wrote them. Some of the writings about the Vikings were written by people who were raided by them. People only remember about the barbaric attacks of the Vikings and not the real lesson. When we are studying about history we should not only think about the facts but also we should try to know what the real lesson is.