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The earliest civilizations developed between 4000 and 3000 BCE, when the rise of agriculture and trade allowed people to have food and economic stability. Civilizations first appeared in Mesopotamia and later in Egypt, then in the Indus Valley by about 2500 BCE, in China by about 1500 BCE and in Central America (what is now Mexico) by about 1200 BCE. All civilizations have certain characteristics. These include large population centres, monumental architecture and unique art styles, shared communication strategies, systems for administering territories, a complex division of labour and the division of people into social and economic classes.

Let’s find out some fun facts about the civilizations!!!

MAYA CIVILIZATION: 

They were chocolate eaters

Over 3500 years ago, the Olmecs of Mesoamerica became probably the first to realize that with some additional work, you could consume chocolate, but the Maya turned it into an art form. Archaeological evidence suggests the Maya were processing cacao at least 2600 years ago. Anyway, the drink they produced was not anything like the hot chocolate we drink today. The Maya would mix cacao with water, honey, chili peppers, cornmeal, and other ingredients to make a foamy, spicy drink. Maya art and hieroglyphs suggest drinking cacao was an important part of celebrations and rituals.

Their calendar, while complex, did not predict the end of the world

There was a lot of talk, as the common belief was that what predicted by the Maya calendar would come on December 21, 2012. The date came and went and the apocalypse never materialized. December 21, 2012, in fact, just happened to coincide with the end of a full cycle of 5125 years in the Maya’s so-called Long Count calendar. This calendar was impressive because it used zero as a placeholder (one of the earliest uses of zero as a mathematical concept in history). 

They may have domesticated turkeys 

Nowadays turkey is a symbol of American Thanksgiving, but It is believed that turkeys may have first been domesticated by the Maya. Turkeys were not just used for food; the Maya also used the birds’ parts like bones and feathers to create fans, tools, and musical instruments. Mexican turkey bones dating to the Preclassic Maya period were discovered at the archaeological site of El Mirador in Guatemala. This location was well outside of the species’ range in the wild, leading archaeologists to conclude that the Maya had domesticated turkeys by this point.

SUMERIAN CIVILIZATION: 

The Sumerian city-states were often at war with one another

“Even though they shared a common language and cultural traditions, the Sumerian city-states engaged in near-constant wars that resulted in several different dynasties and kingships. The first of these conflicts known to history concerns King Eannatum of Lagash, who defeated the rival city-state of Umma in a border dispute sometime around 2450 B.C. To commemorate his victory, Eannatum constructed the so-called “Stele of the Vultures,” a grisly limestone monument that depicts birds feasting on the flesh of his fallen enemies. Under Eannatum, Lagash went on to conquer the whole of Sumer, but it was just one of several city-states that held sway over Mesopotamia during its history. The infighting led to several military advancements—the Sumerians may have invented the phalanx formation and siege warfare—but it also left them vulnerable to invasions by outside forces. During the latter stages of their history, they were attacked or conquered by the Elamites, Akkadians and Gutians”. 

(https://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-ancient-sumerians). 

The Sumerians were famously fond of beer

Archaeologists have found evidence of Mesopotamian beer-making dating back to the fourth millennium B.C. The Sumerians prized their beer for its nutrient-rich ingredients and hailed it as the key to a “joyful heart and a contented liver.” 

Sumerian mathematics and measurements are still used today.

“The origins of the sixty-second minute and sixty-minute hour can be traced all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. In the same way that modern mathematics is a decimal system based on the number ten, the Sumerians mainly used a sexigesimal structure that was based around groupings of 60. This easily divisible number system was later adopted by the ancient Babylonians, who used it make astronomical calculations on the lengths of the months and the year. Base-60 eventually fell out of use, but its legacy still lives on in the measurements of the both hour and the minute. Other remnants of the Sumerian sexigesimal system have survived in the form of spatial measurements such as the 360 degrees in a circle and the 12 inches in a foot”.

(https://www.history.com/news/9-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-ancient-sumerians)