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Unformatted text preview: SOME COMMON WAYS OF KNOWING (OR FORMING OPINIONS) ABOUT WHAT THE HUMAN PAST WAS LIKE 1) OUR OWN MEMORIES, OR INFORMATION REMEMBERED BY PEOPLE OLDER THAN WE ARE. 2) ORAL TRADITIONS PASSED DOWN OVER MANYGENERATIONS. 3) SYMBOLIC TEXTS: "ART" (SOME KIND OFNON-WRITTEN IMAGE THAT HAS A CULTURALLY DETERMINED MEANING). HISTORICAL INFORMATION(ANYTHING COMMITTED TO WRITING). 4) THE ASSUMPTION THAT THE PAST MUST RESEMBLE THE PRESENT IN SIGNIFICANT WAYS (E.G. LOOKING AT THE WAYS PEOPLE BEHAVE TODAY AS CLUES TO THE PAST. 5) MATERIAL REMAINS LEFT BEHIND BY ANCIENT PEOPLE. 6) EXPERIMENTAL ARCHAEOLOGY (RE-ENACTING ANCIENT BEHAVIORS). 7) BIOASSAYS---ESPECIALLY "BIOLOGICAL HISTORY"AS REFLECTED IN HUMAN DNA. 8) USING COMPUTERS TO MODEL WHAT THE PAST MIGHT HAVE BEEN LIKE. V. GORDON CHILDES CRITERIA FOR (CIVILIZATION) 1) CITIES-- LARGE, DENSE COMMUNITIESWITH DIFFERENT AND MORE COMPLEX FUNCTIONS THAN DEPENDENT RURALCOMMUNITIES. 2) OCCUPATIONAL SPETS WHO PROVIDE SPECIALIZED GOODS AND SERVICES RATHER THAN SIMPLY MAKING THEIR LIVING AS FOOD PRODUCERS. 3) SOCIAL CLASSES, AND ESPECIALLY A RULING CLASS THAT IS ECONOMICALLY AND POLITICALLY DOMINANT. 4) FOOD SURPLUSES THAT SUPPORT SPETS AND ELITES, AND THE PRESENCE OF ADMINISTRATIVE INSTITUTIONS TOEXTRACT THESE SURPLUSES FROM FOOD PRODUCERS AS TAXES OR OFFERINGS. 5) INCREASED IMPORTANCE OF RESIDENCE AND ECONOMIC INTERACTION AS OVERALL ORGANIZATIONAL PRINCIPLES IN SOCIETY,WITH REDUCED IMPORTANCE OF KINSHIP. 6) LONG-DISTANCE TRADE AND COMMERCE . 7) THE USE OF WRITING , AS WELL AS OTHER INTELLECTUAL ACHIEVEMENTS SUCH AS ARITHMETIC, ASTRONOMY, AND CALENDARS. 8) MONUMENTAL PUBLIC ARCHITECTURE , SUCH AS TEMPLES, PALACES, AND FORTIFICATIONS, BUILT BY THE ORGANIZED LABOR OF THE COMMUNITY. 9) DISTINCTIVE AND SOPHISTICATED ART STYLES THAT COMMUNICATE POLITICAL, ETHICAL, AND RELIGIOUS MESSAGES ESSENTIAL TO THE FUNCTIONING OF SOCIETY. Note that some of these things are more fundamental than others (e.g., not all ancient civilizations had cities, but all had social classes and occupational specialization). Some of them are fairly easy to document archaeologically (e.g., monumental architecture) but others (class structure) are not. Finally, some are not essential to the modern definition of civilization. Writing, for example, was used by the Aztecs and the Maya, but not by the Inka, who we would still regard as a very impressive civilization. Civilizations are: 1) Traditions of complex culture that cover large regions of the world and have great duration in time. Many independent political systems often make up a civilization. What they generally share to a high degree is a common Great Tradition of intellectual and aesthetic attainments, as manifested in philosophy, art, calendrics, writing, architecture, science, ideology, and religion. While these things change through time, there remains a strong continuity in the general tradition. For example, the ball game, human sacrifice, and specific gods endured over many centuries in Mesoamerica,...
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This note was uploaded on 07/23/2008 for the course ANTH 008 taught by Professor Webster,davidlee during the Spring '07 term at Pennsylvania State University, University Park.
- Spring '07