Cultural diffusion is the spreading of cultural items and beliefs from one group of people to another. Historically this occurred as a result of war, trade, intermarriages and various social activities. Other the years, different activities such as sports have assisted in the spread of cultural diffusion.
There are mainly two types of cultural diffusion; direct cultural diffusion and forced diffusion. The difference between the two is that direct diffusion is voluntary and either group is not bid to accept the change. On the other hand forced diffusion also known as expansion diffusion occurs when one group is more superior at the time and forces the other to change or assimilate the there culture. Both types of cultural diffusion have had major contributions in history in relation to social, economic and political sectors. Forced culture diffusion was more common in the early when colonialism was wide spread and migration was more rapid. A good example of forced or expansion cultural diffusion is the settling of Spanish in 16th and 17th centuries on American lands which later forced most American to convert to Roman Catholicism. However, irrespective of the type of cultural diffusion history shows over the years the effect or results achieved are quite similar.
Most developments noted in most countries relate to agricultural, technological, social or economic sectors. All of these sectors strongly relate to cultural diffusion because it has over the years influenced agricultural stage, industrialization, technological regimes and even political stability that called for democracy. Cultural diffusion involve exchanging tools, beliefs and even ideas such as metal which could be improved to be weapons or even tools in agriculture. Beliefs that helped change lives of societies to civilization and even improve living standards. Its worth noting that cultural traits themselves do not assist in development but the variation is respective strengths of groups in cultural assimilation and diffusion dictate the heterogeneity further becoming instruments of economic development.
The four ancient river valley civilizations are a perfect example of the effect and achievement of cultural diffusion. The four ancient river valley civilizations refers to the Egyptian, Tigris- Euphrates, Huang He (yellow River) and Indus civilizations. These were noted in Egypt, India, China and Mesopotamia over the years beginning in 300 BCE on wards but flowering more in 1900 BCE. The Indus valley civilization was the first and was as a result of cultural diffusion through trade among the countries along Indus River. This was closely followed by the civilization in China which according to historical records it began as early as 16th century. Where by the Chinese turtle shells with markings reminiscent from shang dynasty. These interactions with countries along the yellow river valley saw China be one of the worlds strongest over the years. Ancient Egyptian closely followed in civilization and economic development, considering they were located in the north eastern part of Africa they were able to trade with other groups from eastern dessert, Red sea coastlines and Penninsula dessert. In that light, the four river valley civilization was the beginning of civilization. The four early river civilizations assisted in providing the model of civilization. This is where languages were developed, writing types began, and agriculture was first practiced and besides communities started.
Cultural diffusion was noted the four river civilization, as people gathered due to dwindling opportunity there arose need for food thus hunting and gathering was adopted and the need to accumulate food was essential. Since some groups had metal while others provided pieces land farming was made easier. Trade could ensure that people without metal but had land could gain from the trade and thus get metal to made farming tools. Further due to better agricultural methods and grater food production more people could now live in a small area. As an example the Chinese started to farm rice in large scale through trade with the Asian countries along the Pearl River valley of China. Large numbers of phytoliths started to farm rice thus resulting to better living standards and enhanced trade.
Farming and husbandry were the main activities in most countries in the early years but with the various skills and expertise the activities were enhanced to the industrialization and agriculture we have today in the modern society. For instance, the floods on most rivers in the four river civilization were better utilized to improve agriculture that also improved economic status of different groups. The sundial that was the idea of the Egyptian assisted in knowledge of those that interacted with them and they also gained from the spear Greeks to improve security and make art that was also fro trade.
With that analysis its evidence that the four early civilizations developed as a result of technology growth and food storage they gained through improved agriculture. Channeling water and developing laws to enhance peace and prosperity were also major key factors. Socioeconomic classes, astronomical calendars and writing also played a major factor in these civilization stages. All these factors were enhanced through interaction and diffusion of cultures thus tapping civilization as we know it today.