The Neolithic Revolution is characterized by the domestication of plants and animals. The necessity of tending to flocks and crops first led to humans settling in one place and creating villages, which in turn led to the necessity for some sort of government.
Neolithic civilizations first appeared in river valleys, where the soil was soft and fertile due to annual flooding. People who settled in these flood plains clustered together for assistance and protection, creating the first towns. Gradually, they learned to share labor, to create irrigation systems and to stock food.
Governments and religious structures also sprang up as these primitive civilizations sought greater control over their lives. They took charge of communal duties like the storage of grain, determining when to plant crops and planning irrigation systems. A governmental organization gave them the ability to build megalithic structures like Stonehenge, and to divide labor for efficiency.
Some cultures developed pottery during the Neolithic period, although in Japan and a few other places pottery was developed prior to agriculture. The Neolithic age started at different times in different parts of the world. In the Near East, it began around 9000 B.C., but in Northern Europe, it did not begin until about 4000 B.C. The end of the Neolithic is marked by the development of bronze tools.