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Geography and the Development/Diffusion of Human Society

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Geography and the Development/Diffusion of Human Society
Veronica Morales
Western Governor’s University

Geography and environment plays a significant role in the development of early societies. The development of the early societies occurred as people from different regions interacted with one another as they shared and extend acquired knowledge. As a result, primitive people began to establish and populate regions of the ancient world forming structures of the early society. As societies expand, they form into civilization with sophisticated form of communications and development of technologies. Physical geography as well as natural resources can shape the cultures and societies around us. We know that early societies have adapted their ways of life for survival. The success or failure of the society can lead to expansion or downfall of a civilization. Environmental and geographic factors are known to contribute in the development of early civilizations such as Mesopotamia as well as the development of the United States through the process of diffusion from people and ideas over time.
In the early civilizations, the presence of water symbolized life. Mesopotamia was the birth of early civilization due to its significant geographical characteristics, the rivers. The accessibility to water source from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers provided the early civilization with the knowledge to bring forth dependable food source. Mesopotamia was located in between two rivers (Soomo, 2013a). The Tigris River, which is shorter compared to the Euphrates River, has deeper channels, which can accommodate more water. The Euphrates River begins in the mountain of the Eastern Turkey. It is longer compare to Tigris River; however, water loss occurs through evaporation due to its hot & dry climate. "The Tigris runs almost parallel with the Euphrates and together they form a great, agriculturally productive alluvial plain" (Hollar, 2011). The early society used this knowledge to create technology such as irrigation to control the overflow of water as they battle environmental challenges to grow food. Though the land itself it fruitful, Mesopotamia was built on a plain of mud and clay deposits because of the two rivers. With limited rainfall, hot, and dry climate, the water from the two rivers brought the gift of life to the land of Mesopotamia. The Sumerians were the first society to embark in the knowledge of irrigation through the creation of canals and ditches (Hollar, 2011). Consequently, the two rivers gave rise to the success of the early settlement of Mesopotamia. The Sumerians developed the earliest form of agriculture by controlling the abundance of water and used it to grow their food. Because of the bountifulness of their harvest and the success of their new technology, the early settlement created larger scale of irrigation work, which necessitates more people to maintain and work the land. Because of this favorable outcome, travelers became settlers and more villages were built in Mesopotamia, which in turn gave rise to its well-defined civilization through the development of cities, government, and power to control the irrigation system inspired by the two rivers. Naturally, water brought the travelers to settle in Mesopotamia. In this early civilization, the river was the key for survival.
History has proven that people will travel far to survive. We know that prior to settlement way of life, primitive societies were travelers and wonderers. As people traveled to different parts in the ancient world, ideas and concepts were diffused among the divergent societies and the exchange of knowledge took place. It is evident that early civilization shared knowledge in creating their technology. The invention of technology in the early civilization such as chariot came through the process of diffusion as people migrated from different regions over a period of time. Today, we portrayed chariots as war weapons; however, chariots were not always used as weapons of war. The origin of chariots came from Eurasia Steppe, which is a piece of land that ran from Hungary to china. The first idea of chariot came from "Civilized Middle East" (Plubins, 2013) in a form of a wheel development. Approximately 3100 BC, that same idea traveled all the way to Steppe. The settlers of Steppe were primarily herdsman. They tamed and trained horses to aid in daily activities such as hunting, plowing, and transporting. Around 2000 BC, the people of Steppe took the idea of the wheel and developed a chariot as ways to enhance their hunting skills. According to Plubins (2013), the majority of the hunting activities of the Steppe people occurred near Ural Mountains where the discoveries of historic chariots ware found. In 2000 BC, as trading and migration intensified through North and South Iran, the transmission of concept to utilize horses for transportation arrived in Mesopotamia all the way from Steppe. Over the next four centuries, the transmission of this knowledge continued to improved and developed into a weapon of war. In 2400 BC, the replication of chariots began to emerge in Mesopotamia as war chariots. As the replication process continued through out the neighboring region of Mesopotamia, the chariots were advancing in creation and purposed. From 1800 to 1294 BC, the chariots morphed into a preferred weapon of war in battles as well as contributed at times of seizures and expansions of kingdoms. The simple concept from Eurasia Steppe for enhancing skills to provide food became the advanced weapon of war overthrowing powers and expanding the early civilization beyond Mesopotamia. We have witness from the early civilization that the diffusion of ideas and concept as well as connection between variance of societies can lead to greater purposed in the advancement of life.
Historical findings proved that early humans have colonized because of geographical or environmental advantages; similarly, there are geographical factors that significantly affect the development of the United States. Two significant geographical factors are the Mississippi River in the east and the discovery of gold as natural resources in the west (Soomo, 2013b). The Mississippi river is located in the eastern side of the states. The river begins from the Northern Great Lakes reaching to the tip of New Orleans, into the Southern Gulf, separating the country into two, east and west. Although, the rivers separated the country in half, the Mississippi River became waterways connecting the Northern as well North West territories (Smith, 2007). Missouri River is one of the water tributaries to the Mississippi river, which granted access to expand westward. The development of city such as St. Louis established the westward extension, creating major port for trading. The Mississippi River was the foundation and the heart of the country with its vast space and flourishing wealth, the river is the link for the traders and mariners of the Northeast states and the primary food supplier for the southern seaboard. However, the United States could not access the Mississippi River as ways to trade and expand without the success of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 (Turner, 1920). As a result of the treaty, additional states were purchased such as Florida and New Orleans. The treaty expanded the United States as additional states were added west of the Mississippi river over time. As people migrated into the west, it was evident that people were curious of what natural resources the land possessed. In 1848, James Marshall, who was a foreman at John Sutter’s Mill, discovered gold nuggets (California Historical Society, 2001). Gold is a precious metal that resists extreme weathering, usually found in an area where mountains formed from volcanic activity and supplied by abundance of water. According to the California Historical Society (2001), James Marshall was standing on the banks of the American River, on the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains when he discovered gold. The discovery of gold made the news that attracted many gold seekers from all over the world. This captivating news prompted the "Gold rush" era. The gold phenomenon continued on to 1850, as travelers from different nations made their ways to California. Travelers, which include mining companies, brought in more people to California approximately eighty thousand prospectors. For that reason, new path and transportations were developed. By land route, which created the "California-Oregon Trail" through the westward expansion from Missouri. Water travelers used the steamboats or sail ships through the tip of South America into California or through Panama into San Francisco (Soomo, 2013c). The discovery of gold created mass influx of migration on the promised of wealth. As a result, local residents sought chances to make their fortune serving the gold seekers by creating businesses. The development for housing also increased to accommodate the rise of population. Consequently, the influx of population created business opportunities as well as sustained economic development for capital as a result of gold. According to the California Historical Society (2001), "California’s population soared from less than 20,000 in 1846 to over 200,000 by the end of the 1850s.” The discovery of gold further contributed to the rapid westward expansion through the increased in population as well as new development of cities. Indeed, both geographical factors play a significant role in the development of United States, for with out the Mississippi River; there would not be pathways for connections to other Territories. The discovery of gold in the west resulted the "Gold rush” era, which assisted in the development and expansion of the State through growth in population.
As stated before, geographical and environmental factors played a great role in shaping the undeveloped civilizations. The early Mesopotamian were guided and shaped by their environment. They adapted and used the knowledge of river to flourish and became an advanced civilization. The early civilization of Mesopotamia developed irrigation and war chariots through the process of diffusion with connection of various cultures as a result of migration. The same result took place in the development of the United States. A country that was defined and arranged as it expanded through disparity among its people and societies. The people or societies were drawn and captivated by the land and its natural resources that attracted many for the promised of their well being. The Mississippi river united the eastern territory to the west; the discovery of gold in the west attracted multitude of people to further expand the state. Both events occurred as result of favorable geographical resources that people utilized to survive.

References
Hollar, S. (2011). Ancient Civilizations: Mesopotamia. [Ebrary book]. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/westerngovernors/docDetail.action?docID=10476197&page=11
Plubins, R.Q. (2013). Chariot. Retrieved from http://www.ancient.eu.com/chariot/
Smith, TR. (2007). River of Dreams: Imagining Mississippi before Mark Twain.
[Ebrary book] retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com/lib/westerngovernors/docDetail.action?docID=10453811&page=14
Soomo. (2013a). Mesopotamia [Learning Resource]. Retrieved from http://courses.soomopublishing.com/context/e3bd8295-a4e0-4517-a72c-2e2e6ed5af5a/tocs/51db14842e0b830002000001/chapters/51db149e2e0b8300020001ed/assignments/51dd94375dbc824a7d000042 Soomo. (2013b). The Mississippi River [Leaning Resource]. Retrieved from http://courses.soomopublishing.com/context/d26094c6-de48-423f-a776-65cf6edaa9fe/tocs/51db14842e0b830002000001/chapters/51dda84af740963fd3000248/assignments/51dda86df74096457e0000ff Soomo. (2013c). The Gold Rush. [Learning Resource]. Retrieved from http://courses.soomopublishing.com/context/d26094c6-de48-423f-a776-65cf6edaa9fe/tocs/51db14842e0b830002000001/chapters/51dda84af740963fd3000248/assignments/51dda880e190ac7c46000180 The California Historical Society. (2001). The California Gold Rush: History through the collections series, part 1 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.californiahistoricalsociety.org/research/pdf/California_Gold_Rush.pdf
Turner, F.J (1920). The Significance of the Mississippi Valley in American History 1. Retrieved from http://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper/turner/chapter6.html

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