RIVER – The Spine of Civilization – Space-Elements


RIVER – The Spine of Civilization

RIVER – The Spine of Civilization

Each day brings back a story from our past to feature an opportunity to turn our mind and heart with a reflected question. One more story got featured from my past and I recalled my primary school education days when the question appeared in an examination. We were asked to connect the matrix of cities and the rivers, that flow through the city or on the basin on which the city flourished. The intention of that exercise was to make us aware and to reflect the influence of rivers on the development of civilization in all facets. But we were busy obtaining passing marks.

We never wondered why some of the largest and most influential cities flourish where they are? Now it is essential to answer the question and to know the reasons for settlements of cities on the banks of rivers. The relationship between human settlement and the river was found through a denser human population with increased proximity to rivers. Co-evolution of humans and water resources was moved closer to rivers in pre-industrial periods demonstrating the dynamics of human reliance on rivers for trade, transport, and sustainable lifestyle by adopting quick approachable resources.

Historically, roads construction was an expensive investment and that usually were only constructed to connect limited land trade routes and cities. An average traveling on land was approximate 5 miles per day and even then, one would need to be sure where to stop each night and be secure. Whereas, water transportation was very much faster than any land transportation. Using the tides, currents, and winds it was very easy to deliver great amounts of goods for trade with other coastal cities, which meant more money and trade goods for both settlements and allowed for cultural mixing.

Rivers had been an attractive feature when people choose a sustainable lifestyle. The human followed the courses of rivers during migration and was located in proximity to rivers when establishing settlements led by domestic and agricultural water supply. People learned that they could stay in one place and grow enough food to feed their community if they were near a water supply. The fertile land alongside the rivers benefited the faster growth of crops.
An irrigation water source was an important requirement, since most crops needed to be grown locally due to the non-preserving conditions of harvested crops. Animals can also be raised if there is enough food and water for them. These conditions helped the population of coastal cities to grow and expand faster than landlocked settlements. Settled humans can focus on the development of socio-economic activities, only when an immediate issue like food and water can get worked out easily. In this context, rivers had always been called the spine of civilization.
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