Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic
The importance of economic surplus
Nomadic vs. Sedentary Society: the Agricultural Revolution
Last time we discussed the idea of Civilization – not just as an ethical notion.
told you that “civilization” is based on the Latin term “civitas”, which means city.
It is a
subset of the idea of culture.
All the activities, beliefs, institutions and practices of any
community of human beings constitute their culture.
But there are many societies who
only produce enough necessities of life to survive.
It is when a society begins to produce
a surplus of necessities, especially food, that it becomes possible for some people to
specialize in activities other than producing necessities.
“Civilization,” in the broadest
sense, is what these specialized people do – whether political leadership, warfare, art,
intellectual life, religion, etc.
The city is where the people go who are no longer
How did the first cities emerge?
Beginning around 10,000 BC, wandering tribes of hunter-gatherers began the
Initially, they were nomadic, meaning that they moved from
place to place searching for food.
But at this time, they began to plant seeds in suitable
areas, so that it would be there for them when they migrated back, thus making it easier
to find food.
Eventually, they started to stay longer in the areas where the seeds grew
best, remaining for a season or so, and finally, as they mastered the art of growing grain,
to stay there permanently, becoming sedentary rather than nomadic.