One of the pitfalls of ancient history is assuming everything was the same way back when. It's difficult to be aware of all the areas where there has been change, but shorelines, climate, and trees are physical areas to look for change. Although mountains do gradually change, they are relatively stable -- except for volcanoes. A similarly stable element is tectonic plates, although the reason they were identified is precisely because they have moved. Nonetheless, it seems safe to this non-geologist to assume geologists know what they're saying when they say 13/15 ancient civilizations formed along fault lines.
In Did Rumbling Give Rise to Rome? (By David Malakoff
ScienceNOW Daily News
22 August 2008), Eric Force, a geologist, has theorized that psychological reasons may have been in play, as well as the rich soil and nearness of water. Of the 15 civilizations, the two that were not within 75 km of the plates in Europe and Asia, Egypt and China, lasted longer than the others.