It was around the 3rd millennium BC that prominent changes began to occur in the lifestyles of ancient peoples living in what is now known as the Middle East. This climax of change is commonly called the Neolithic Revolution. The revolution started around 3000 BC and lasted until 1000 BC approximately.

Prior to the third millennium BC, people led a primarily nomadic lifestyle. They hunted and gathered and did not lead a stable life in one location. But around 3000 BC they slowly became more settled. Animals were domesticated and crops were cultivated. Not surprisingly, this development took place quickest in a region known as the Fertile Crescent. The Fertile Crescent (also called Mesopotamia — “between rivers”), is located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The Tigris and Euphrates regularly flooded after sowing season, so it provided natural irrigation for crops. In fact, irrigation and levees were a big focus of the region in order to maintain potent crops. In Egypt, development occurred in an area known as the Nile Valley. The Nile was very important because it flooded northward into the lands now known as Sudan and Ethiopia every mid-summer. The flood waters eventually hit Egypt.

Neolithic Revolution, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Neolithic Revolution, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Neolithic Revolution brought about new materials in addition to crops. Pottery, weaving and metal working became commonplace. Metals were especially important to production. In 3000 BC, the emergence of Bronze came in handy for making tools and weapons. Iron succeeded Bronze, but it did receive widespread usage until much later. Aside from metals, civilizations also saw specialization in crops, a stronger social hierarchy and even organized communities. These communities grew from quaint villages to larger cities. Cities became centers of activities—commercial, administrative and religious. Speaking of religion, the third millennium BC marked the beginnings of temples with priests.