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Gordon Childe defined the development of civilization as the result of two successive revolutions: the Neolithic Revolution, triggering the development of settled communities, and the Urban Revolution, which enhanced tendencies towards dense settlements, specialized occupational groups, social classes, exploitation of surpluses, monumental public buildings and writing.
Few of those conditions, however, are unchallenged by the records: dense settlements were not attested in Egypt's Old Kingdom and were absent in the Maya area; the Incas lacked writing altogether; and often monumental architecture preceded any indication of village settlement.
It is quite possible that the later Sumerian pantheon was modeled upon this political structure.
Uruk trade networks started to expand to other parts of Mesopotamia and as far as North Caucasus, and strong signs of governmental organization and social stratification began to emerge leading to the Early Dynastic Period (c. The Jemdet Nasr period, which is generally dated from 3100–2900 BC and succeeds the Uruk period, is known as one of the formative stages in the development of the cuneiform script.
The civilizations that emerged around these rivers are among the earliest known non-nomadic agrarian societies.
It is because of this that the Fertile Crescent region, and Mesopotamia in particular, are often referred to as the cradle of civilization.
The first cities to house several tens of thousands were Memphis and Uruk, by the 31st century BC (see Historical urban community sizes).
It was during the Ubaid period that the movement towards urbanization began.
Agriculture and animal husbandry were widely practiced in sedentary communities, particularly in Northern Mesopotamia, and intensive irrigated hydraulic agriculture began to be practiced in the south.
Around 10,200 BC the first fully developed Neolithic cultures belonging to the phases Pre-Pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) and Pre-Pottery Neolithic B (7600 to 6000 BC) appeared in the Fertile Crescent and from there spread eastwards and westwards.
In Mesopotamia, the convergence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers produced rich fertile soil and a supply of water for irrigation.
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"Sedentary" and "nomadic" communities continued to interact considerably; they were not strictly divided among widely different cultural groups.