Gobekli Tepe (04:29)
Civilization and cities are connected. Archaeologist Jens Notroff believes a 12,000 year old site was a gathering place for rituals and cultural exchanges among hunter-gatherers. Monumental pillar carvings may represent ancestors.
Sociability and Cultural Evolution (03:12)
Monumental pillar carvings at Gobekli Tepe were cooperatively installed, representing a basic social urge among hunter-gatherers. In Tokyo, evolutionary psychologist Michael Muthukrishna believes being together is the primary way to transmit knowledge and information.
Agricultural Revolution (03:37)
Cities require a reliable food supply. Approximately 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherers near Gobekli Tepe begin domesticating wheat, facilitating the development of civilization.
Asikli Höyük (03:04)
Archaeologist Mihriban Ozbasaran leads an excavation of an early farming village. Older layers reveal the beginnings of livestock domestication and an ancient wheat variety.
Early Permanent Dwellings (03:52)
View the evolution of subterranean roundhouses to mud block buildings at Asikli Höyük. Buildings are entered from the roof; inhabitants bury their dead beneath the floor. Public buildings and roasting pits suggest an egalitarian society.
Early Farming Challenges (05:28)
Wheat diets are less nutritious than the hunter-gatherer diet. Archaeologist Brenna Hassett identifies poor dental hygiene, short stature, and arthritis and back injuries among Asikli Höyük skeletons. Villagers had children more frequently, increasing the population and leading to civilization.
The transition to farming allows people to focus on one job. Muthukrishna uses food as an example of cultural and economic specialization—specialization divides groups into social classes.
Arslantepe Archaeological Site (04:42)
Archaeologist Marcella Frangipane discovers evidence of a ruling elite 5,500 years ago. They build the first palace in history and control labor; commoners pay taxes and are banned from religious rituals. Wall paintings feature anthropomorphic figures with exaggerated eyes.
Embryonic Dictatorship (02:40)
A throne room suggests a ruling elite held audiences with commoners at Arslantepe. Burn marks on the palace walls provide evidence of a revolt.
Creating a Social Glue (01:57)
Civilizations must balance inequality with a contribution to society; city residents must believe they are part of a common entity.
Sumerian City of Ur (03:34)
Archaeologist Jeff Rose visits the ancient Mesopotamian city with 65,000 residents at its peak. It is located in a fertile valley with cereal grains to fuel the workforce.
Mesopotamian Middle Class and Innovations (06:25)
Archaeologist Elizabeth Stone believes Ur's society enjoyed a decent living standard. Clay documents show private ownership and civic participation, despite a monarchy. Learn about writing, mathematical and temporal inventions.
Urban Brain Analogy (03:44)
Ur's form of civilization travels to Europe and Asia. Cities lead to a technological explosion; residents and social networks in megacities function as a single entity.
Credits: First Civilizations: Part 3 (00:31)
Credits: First Civilizations: Part 3
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