8 Features of Advanced Civilization


This consists of eight aspects of civilization that historians use to distinguish between the oldest civilizations and what came before. Scholars measure how advanced a society is by examining the traits of the civilization using these eight features.


The Eight Features:

Complex Religion
This demonstrates that there was an existing belief system in this society. Many ancient peoples believed in polytheistic religions.

Writing System
An advanced civilization must have some way of recording its history. Early writing systems commonly consisted of pictures.

Organized Government
With larger populations of people living in closer space, having a way to manage and protect citizens became important. As civilizations developed, the need for a ruler, laws and common structures grew.

Public Works
Advanced civilizations have structures in place to help their citizens. These can range from a system of roads to a formal educational system.

Job Specialization
In advanced civilizations, people were not able to provide entirely for themselves—specific jobs were created and people began to focus on mastering specific skills. For example, agrarian societies in which all citizens were farmers would not fit under this aspect of advanced civilization.

Social Classes
People began to be ranked in classes, often according to their jobs. Usually, religious leaders (like priests) and the nobility were at the top, with peasants at the bottom.

Advanced civilizations have urban areas with large populations of citizens living close together. Often these areas are centers for government and public works.

Art and Architecture
In early civilizations, art and architecture often reflected the religious beliefs of the society. Temples, palaces, and even tombs were sites of artistic creativity.

Examples of Advanced Civilizations

Egypt, which developed around 3100 BCE, is one example of an advanced civilization. Hieroglyphics, pyramid tombs and the complex polytheistic religion, which focused on the sun god (Ra), are three elements of Egyptian society that highlight the advanced nature of this River Valley society.

The Classical Period in Greece highlights the artistic and political elements of civilization as well as the development of strong, independent city-states.

Like Egypt in North Africa, Mesopotamia formed in a River Valley—between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Mesopotamia was home to a strong central government, the first written laws, and cuneiform—a pictograph writing system. Science and technology advances were also made in Mesopotamia.

Related Topics

Neolithic Revolution
Hammurabi's Code

Regents Themes

  • Belief Systems
  • Human and Physical Geography
  • Power
  • Cultural and Intellectual Life
  • Political Systems

Further Readings

Regents Prep: This is a great resource for further reading about Global history.


Class Notes: 9/5/2008
Goldberg, S. & Judith Clark DuPre. Brief Review for Global History & Geography (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2006).