I recently spent a week in Mexico and was very impressed with the Mayan cultural artefacts in the Anthropological museum and the Teotihuacan pyramids. The Inca Olmec Maya & Aztec civilisations were amazing in their own ways and all had much superior technology to the Australian Aboriginals. Some left behind not just pyramids and cities but huge stone carvings and hieroglyphics and all sorts of art and agricultural science. I think farming was the key, especially the high yielding easily transportable grains like maize ( corn ) in the Mesoamerican region that allowed a surplus to be stored. This surplus freed some of the population from a traditional subsistence existence and could support a political & military & artisan class in large towns and cities.
So when you gaze open mouthed at the wonders of these civilisations keep in mind that many of the astounding structures built in those times were almost always constructed by slaves. Slaves were captured by armies that marched on grains like corn or wheat. Slaves were also sacrificed to the various gods of the times ( children aged 7 or 8 to the rain gods of the Aztecs ) and possibly were not so astounded by these heights of ‘ Civilisation ‘. Our scartrees and rock art might not be as impressive as the Mesoamerican achievements but the Aboriginal nation did not trade slaves or kill them to satisfy some religious mania.
So how are civilisations to be judged ? By the height of their pyramids or by the liberty equality & fraternity of their societies. By the amount of wealth amassed by the kings and rulers or by the sustainability of their environmental practices ? By the power and influence of a civilisation or by its longevity ?