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Characteristics of Ancient Civilizations


The Great Wall of China, in winter

The Great Wall of China, in winter

Charlotte Hu

Archaeologists recognize that in some cases, in some places, at some times, simple societies for one reason and another morph into more and more complex societies, and some become civilizations. The reasons for this are quite controversial, but the characteristics of complexity recognized in ancient civilizations are pretty much agreed upon:

Not all of these characteristics necessarily have to be present for a particular cultural group to be considered a civilization, but all of them are considered evidence of relatively complex societies.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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