Human civilization is the complex society that people have created ever since the Agricultural Revolution allowed them to create specialized labor and live in urban settings. Civilizations are also characterized by social hierarchy, symbolic communication (writing), and mastery over the physical environment. Later, the term “civilization” would be used by advanced human societies to distinguish advanced (Industrial European) cultures from less technological “barbarian” cultures.
Human civilizations emerged in the waning days of the Neolithic period, as people emerged out of subsistence living. Civilization emerged in several areas around the globe around the same time, in the Fertile Crescent of the Near East, along the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, in southern Asia along the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers, and in Central Mexico.
By the Bronze Age, civilizations had emerged in the Indus River Valley in modern-day Pakistan, Ancient Egypt, and in Mesopotamia. These constituted some of the earliest empires, large, militarily ruled kingdoms. The later Bronze Age witnessed the rise of the first civilizations in Greece, the Minoans and Mycenaean.
While humans continue to live in a civilization, most of the human “civilizations” that have existed in history have undergone a process of rise, height, and collapse. There are numerous theories as to why civilizations collapse, but all eventually do.