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Word Count: 753
The geographical characteristics of Mesopotamia and Egypt heavily influenced the ancient civilizations that grew there Since these ancient civilizations were agriculturally-dependent it is clear that abundant fresh water would be important Not as obvious but also influential are the degree of natural resources and absence or presence of natural barriers Water Most important to early civilizations was the water supply It is no accident that the great ancient cradles of civilization are centered on rivers or river valleys The Sumerians were based along the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers and their tributaries For centuries and even in modern times Egyptians lives have revolved around the Nile river Roots of the Indian civilization were based on the Indus river and ancient Chinese centered their culture on the Yellow river Not only were rivers used for irrigating crops and daily water needs washing cooking bathing but societies also relied on the rivers for communication and transportation Rivers were the major highways in these areas In Mesopotamia the rivers provided fish to eat and reeds and clay for building materials since there was no stone in the area The rivers were not always a blessing In Mesopotamia at times floodwaters would destroy large areas of civilization The Tigris river was turbulent and unsuitable for traffic Sediments from the Tigris and the Euphrates filled in many areas that may have served as ports In addition the rivers frequently changed course forcing settlements to move This unstable environment isolated towns and made communication between them difficult Unification efforts were often resisted and led to warfare Though the Nile was relatively tame Egyptian life was so dependent on its cyclical rhythm that many of their religious beliefs and worship ceremonies referenced it Navigation on the Nile was easy and led to heavy trading along its shores To control the annual floodwaters communities had to work together to build dams flood basins and irrigation channels over large
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