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First cities

Farmers below the walls of Jericho A society in which people live in towns, where many of them work as craftsmen, scribes, builders, merchants and other occupations, is described as a civilization. The first civilizations grew up in the Middle East, India, China and Egypt. The most ancient cities were founded in the Fertile Crescent, a band of good farming land stretching from Egypt up the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea to southern Turkey and down to the Persian Gulf. Among the oldest of them all was a place called Jericho, in the modern-day West Bank.

From villagers to townspeople

A market in a town in ancient EgyptOnce people settled down in farming villages, many things became possible. It was not necessary for everyone to spend their time getting food. Farmers provided the food while some people did other work. They became builders and craftsmen, merchants and soldiers, teachers and priests. Civilization had arrived. Town life first began in the Middle East, the countries around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea. Some grew larger, with walls, towers and homes made of mud-bricks. They were the first cities. 
The Battle of Jericho, as described in the Bible, may actually have taken place in c.1400 BC.


Huaricanga in Peru was the earliest city in the Americas. It was built from around 3500 BC by the Norte Chico civilization.

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