Chapter_1 - GS 1003 World Civilization Chapter 1 THE...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–19. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
Background image of page 17

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 18
Background image of page 19
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: GS 1003 World Civilization Chapter 1 THE EARLIEST BEGINNINGS As we turn to the past itself. . . we might well begin with a pious tribute to our nameless lpreliterate] ancestors, who by inconceivably arduous and ingenious effort succeeded in establishing a human race. They made the crucial discoveries and inventions, such as the tool, the seed, and the domesticated animal; their development ofagriailture. the “neolithic rev- olution" that introduced a settled economy, was perhaps the greatest stride forward that man has ever taken, They created the marvelous in— strument of language, which enabled man to discover his humanity, and eventually to disguise it. They laid the foundations of civilization: its eco- nomic, political, and social life, and its artistic, ethical, and religious tradi— tions. Indeed? our "savage" ancestors are still very near to us, and not merely in our capacity for savagery. —Herbert]. Muller, The Uses ofthe Past 1. THE NATURE OF HISTORY atherine Morland, the heroine ofjane Austen’s novel North- anger Abbey, complained that history “tells me nothing that does not either vex or weary me. The quarrels of popes and kings, with wars or pestilences in every page; the men all so good for nothing, and hardly any women at all, it is very tiresome.” Although jane Austen’s heroine said this around 1800, she might have lodged the same complaint until quite recently, for until deep into the twen— tieth century most historians considered history to be little more than “past politics”—and a dry chronicle of past politics at that. The con- tent of history was restricted primarily to battles and treaties, the per- sonalities and politics of statesmen, the laws and decrees of rulers. But important as such data are, they by no means constitute the whole substance of history. Especially within the last few decades historians have come to recognize that history comprises a record ofpast human activities in every sphere—not just political developments, but also social, economic, and intellectual ones. Women as well as men, the ruled as well as the rulers, the poor as well as the rich, are part of his— History more than battle: and treaties The Earliest Beginnings New liisloriral methods .N'eressilyjbr studying past on its own terms The SU-Cdlled prehistorir (’74 tory. So too are the social and economic institutions that men and women have created and that in turn have shaped their lives: family and social class; manorialism and city life; capitalism and indus- trialism. Ideas and attitudes too, not just of intellectuals but also of people whose lives may have been virtually untouched by “great books,” are all part of the historian’s concern. And, most important, history includes an inquiry into the causes of events and patterns of human organization and ideas—a search for the forces that impelled humanity toward its great undertakings, and the reasons for its suc- cesses and failures As historians have extended the compass of their work, they have also equipped themselves with new methods and tools, the better to practice their craft. No longer do historians merely pore over the same old chronicles and documents to ask whether Charles the Fat was at lngelheim or Lustnau on July I, 887. To introduce the evidence ofsta— tistics they learn the methods of the computer scientist. To interpret the effect of a rise in the cost of living, they study economics. To deduce marriage patterns or evaluate the effect upon an entire popula- tion of wars and plagues, they master the skills of the demographer. To explore the phenomena ofcave—dwelling or modern urbanization, they become archeologists, studying fossil remains, fragments of pots, or modern city landscapes. To underStand the motives of the m’en and women who have made history, they draw on the insights of social psychologists and cultural anthropologists. To illuminate the lives ofthe poor and ofthose who have left few written records, they look for other cultural remains—folk songs, for example, and the traditions embodied in oral history. Perhaps the most important lesson historians have learned is that they must no longer condescend to the past, no longer assume that their civilization is worthier than those that have come before. History is primarily the study ofchange over time, but that does not mean that it is a tale of uninterrupted progress from past to present or that all change was ordained to produce our own modern world. Those who write history and those who study it must look to see how one event led to another and how the entire past is prologue to the present, but they must also appreciate the past on its own terms, examining it, so far as possible, through the eyes and with the minds of those who lived it. 2. HISTORY AND PREHISTORY It is the custom among many historians to distinguish between his—- toric and prehistoric periods in the evolution ofhuman society. By the former they mean history based "upon written records. By the latter they mean the record of human achievement before the invention of writing. But this distinction is not altogether satisfactory because it implies that human accomplishments before they were recorded in characters representing words or concepts were not important. On the contrary, however, many of the greatest accomplishments of human technology, and even of social and political systems, were laid before people could write a word. It is preferable, therefore, that the whole period of human life on earth be regarded as historic, and that the era before__tl_1e invention of writing bedesignated'by a term such as “pref 7 literate}: The. records. of preliterate societies are, of course, not books and documents, but tools, weapons, fossils, utensils, paintings, and fragments ofjewelry and ornamentation.__These, commonly known. as “artifacts,’.’ are often almost as valuable as the written word in pro- viding knowledge ofa people’s deeds and modes ofliving. “The entire span of human history can be divided roughly into two periods, the Age of Stone and the Age of Metals. The former is roughly coterminous with the Preliterate Age, or the period before the invention of writing. The latter coincides roughly with the period of history based upon written records. The Preliterate Age covered all but the smallest fraction of humanity’s existence and did not come to an end until about 3500 B.C., although some Stone Age cultures per- sisted after that time and a few tribes still exist in remote areas. The Age of Metals practically coincides with the history of civilized na- tions. The Age of Stone is subdivided into the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age, and the Neolithic, or New Stone Age. Each takes its name from the type of stone tools and weapons manufactured during the period. Thus during the greater part of the Paleolithic Age imple- ments were commonly made by chipping pieces off a large stone or flint and using the core that remained as a hand ax or “fist hatchet." Toward the end ofthe period the chips themselves were used as knives or'speatheads, and the core thrown away. The Neolithic Age wit- ' nessed the supplanting of chipped stone tools by implements made by grinding and polishing stone. 3. THE CULTURE OF THE EARLIER PALEOLITHlC PEOPLES The Paleolithic period can be dated from roughly 2.000.000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C. It is commonly divided into two stages, an earlier and a later one. The earlier Paleolithic period was vastly the longer of the two, covering about 99 percent of the entire Old Stone Age. During this time at least four species of humanlike creatures inhabited the earth. Momentous discoveries pertaining to the earliest of these have been made very recently by scientific teams working in East Africa. In 1961, the anthropologistjonathan Leakey uncovered in Tanzania parts The Culture ofthe Earlier Paleolithir Peoples Fist Hatrhet Homo habilis java Man The Skull (left) ofa Young Woman ofrhe Species Homo habilis, believed to have lived in Tanzania, East Africa, about 1,750,000 years ago. On the right is the skull ofa present-day African. ThOugh Homo habilis was smaller than a pygmy. the brain casing was shaped like that of modern humans. .‘ of a skull that was about i.8 million years old, far older than any humanlike skull previously known. (Chemical tests such as the Carbon-i4 method or the potassium—argon method are used in deter— mining the age ofthe geological strata in which bones are found and sometimes the age ofthe bones themselves.) Then, in 1972, a team led by Jonathan’s brother Richard discovered in Kenya 3 similar and nearly complete skull that was more than 2 million'years old. The" species which left behind these remains has been named Homo habilis, or “man having ability." Homo habilis may be counted as a true ances— tor ofmodern man because he walked erect, possessed a brain that was larger than that of any apes, and was intelligent enough to use tools. Of course, his tools were extremely primitive. For the most part they consisted of objects taken from nature: bones of animals, limbs from trees, and chunks of stone, perhaps broken or crudely chipped. But they allowed Homo habilis to survive in times of food shortage as a hunter rather than as a food gatherer or forager. It must not be thought that reliance on hunting led these earliest ancestors to kill each other. Quite to the contrary, their survival depended upon coopera— tion. Most likely only after the development of agriculture and herding—more than a million years later—did humans start warring with each other for the possession of territory. The cooperation neces— sary in hunting made Homo habilis the first truly social creature and led toward the use oflanguage. Homo habilis was, therefore, clearly in the vanguard of the human race. Two subsequent inhabitants of the earlier Paleolithic period were java man and Peking man. Java man was long thought to be the oldest of humanlike creatures, but it is now generally agreed that the date of his origin was about 500,000 B.C. His skeletal remains were found on the island ofjava in 1891. The remains of Peking man were found in China between 1926 and 1930. Since the latter date, fragments of no fewer than thirty-two skeletons ofthe Peking type have been located, making possible a complete reconstruction of at least the head ofthis ancient species. Anthropologists generally agree that Peking man and Java man are ofapproximately the same antiquity, and that both prob— ably descended from the same ancestral type. During the last 25,000 years ofthe earlier Paleolithic period a fourth species ofancient man made an appearance. He was Neanderthal man, famous as an early caveman. Although first discovered a few years earlier at Gibraltar, Neanderthal man is named after a find of skeletal fragments in 1856 in the valley of the Neander, near Dusseldorf, in Germany. Since then numerous other discoveries have been made, in some cases complete skeletons, in such widely separated regions as Spain, Italy, Yugoslavia, Russia, and Israel. So closely did Neander- thal man resemblemodern man that he is classified as a member of the same species,_-_Homo sapiens. The resemblance, however, was by no means perfect. Neanderthalers, on the average, were only about five feet, four inches in height. They had receding chins and heavy eyebrow ridges. Although their’foreheads sloped back and their brain _i cases were low—vaulted, their average cranial capacity was slightly greater than that of modern Caucasians. What this may have signified withrespect to their intelligence cannot be determined. U _ U _ ' Although we know little about Neanderthal culture, it-is certain that Neanderthalers progressed far beyond the apes, above all because the ad the ca acit for s eech which enabled them to communicate with their fellows and to pass on what they had learned to succeeding generations. In addition they had some ability to think in the abstract, as evidenced by their burial oftheir dead with objects intended for use in an afterlife. The Neanderthalers also progressed beyond Homo habilis by fashioning their own' tools instead ofju'st using the ones they found. They discovered that stones could be chipped in such a way as to give them cutting edges. Thus were developed spearheads, borers, and much superior knives and scrapers. Indications have been foundalso ofa degree of advancement in nonmaterial culture. In the entrances to caves where Neanderthalers lived, or at least took refuge, evidence has been discovered 0fflint-Working floors and stone hearths where huge fires appear to have been made. These would suggest the originSof cooperative group life and possibly the crude beginnings of social institutions. The Cullure oflhe Earlier Paleolithic Peoples Peking Man Neanderthal Man Accomplishments of earlier Paleolithir peoples The Earliest Beginnings Cro-Magnon Man Later Paleolithic Fishhoole 4.. LATER PALEOLITHIC CULTURE About 30,000 Bc. the culture of the Old Stone Age passed to the latei Paleolithic stage. This period lasted for only about two hundred cen- turies, or from 30,000 to 10,000 B.C. A new and superior type of human being dominated the earth in this time. Biologically these peo— ples were closely related to modern humans. Their foremost predeces— sors, Neanderthal men, had ceased to exist as a distinct variety. What became of the Neanderthalers is not known. The name used to designate the prevailing breed of later Paleolithic humans is Cro—Magnon, from the Cro—Magnon cave in southern France where some of the most typical remains were discovered. These people lived by hunting reindeer, bison, and mammoths, which freely roamed through southern Europe and Asia because the climate, dominated by glaciers, was very cold. The CrmMagnon people were tall, broad-shouldered, and walked erect, the males averaging over six feet. They had high foreheads, well-developed chins, and a cranial ca— pacity about equal to the modern average. The heavy eyebrows so typical of earlier species were absent. Whether Cro—Magnon men left any survivors is a debatable question. They do not seem to have been exterminated but appear to have been driven into mountainous regions and to have been ultimately absorbed into other breeds. Later Paleolithic culture was markedly more advanced than that which had gone before. Not only were tools and implements better made, they existed in greater variety. They were not fashioned merely from flakes of stone and an occasional shaft of bone; other materials were used in abundance, particularly reindeer horn and ivory. Ex— amples 0fthe more complicated tools included the fishhook, the har- poon, and, at the very end of the pe_ri0d,~the'bow and arrow. That later Paleolithic people wore clothing is indicated by the fact that they invented the needle (made out ofbone). They did not know how to weave cloth, but animal skins sewn together proved a satisfactory substitute. It is-certain that they cooked their food, for enormous hearths, evidently used for roasting meat, have been discovered. In the vicinity of one at Solutré, in southern France, was a mass of charred bones, estimated to contain the remains ofa hundred thousand large animals. Although Cro—Magnon people built no houses, except a few simple huts in regions‘where natural shelters did not abound, their life was not wholly nomadic. Evidence found in caves that served as homes indicate that they must have been used, seaSOnally at least, for years at a time. With respect to nonmaterial elements there are also indications that later Paleolithic culture represented a marked advancement. Group life became more highlyg‘organized than ever before. The profusion of charred bones at Solutré and elsewhere probably indicates cooperative enterprise in the hunt and sharing of the results in community feasts. The amazing workmanship displayed in tools and weapons and highly developed techniques in the arts scarcely could have been achieved without some division oflabor. It appears certain, therefore, that later Paleolithic communities included professiOnal artists and skilled craftsmen. In order to acquire such talents, certain members of the communities must have gone through long periods of training and given all their time to the practice of their specialties. Substantial proof exists that the Cro—Magnons had highly devel- oped notions of a world with supernatural aspects. They bestowed more care upon the bodies of the dead than did the Neanderthalers, painting the corpses, folding the arms over the heart, and depositing pendants, necklaces, and richly carved weapons in the graves. The Cro—Magnons also formulated an elaborate system of sympathetic magic designed to increase their food supply. Sympathetic magic is based upon the principle that imitating a desired result will bring about that result. Applying this principle, Cro—Magnon people Later Paleolithic ,Engraving and Sculpture. The two objects at the top and upper right are dart—throwers. At the lower right is the famous Venus of Willen- dorf. Later Paleolithic Culture Sympathetic magic The Earliest Beginnings ( J L.ufl;,,_<.'.,,u y" 3 t Significance oflarer Paleolithir art painted murals on the walls oftheir caves depicting, for example, the capture of reindeer in the hunt. At other times they fashioned clay models of the bison or mammoth and mutilated them with dart thrusts. The purpose of such representation was probably to facilitate the results portrayed and thereby to increase the hunter’s success and make easier the struggle for existence. Possibly incantations or cere- monies accompanied the making of these pictures or images, and it is likely that the work of producing them was carried on while the actual hunt was in progress. In fact, the supreme achievement of the Cro—Magnon people was their art—an achievement so original and resplendent that it ought to be counted among the Seven Wonders of the World. Nothing else il— lustrates so well the great gulf between their culture and that of their predecessors. Later Paleolithic art included nearly every branch that the material culture of the time made possible. Sculpture, painting, and carving were all represented. The ceramic arts and architecture were lacking; pottery had not yet been invented; and the only build- ings erected were of simple design. The Cro—Magnon art par ex— cellence was cave painting. On cave walls were exhibited the greatest number and variety oftheir talents—their discrimination in the use of color, their meticulous attention to detail. their capacity for the em— ployment of scale in depicting a group, and above all, their genius for imitating natural detail. Especially noteworthy was their skill in repre— senting movement. Almost all of the murals depict animals run— ning, leaping, chewing their cud, or facing the hunter at bay. Ingen— iOus devices were often employed to give the impression of motion. Chief among them was the drawing of additional outlines to indicate the areas in which the legs or the head of the animal had moved. The scheme was so shrewdly executed that no appearance whatever of artificiality resulted. , Cave painting throws a flood oflight on many problems relating to primitive 'mentalities. To a certain extent Cro¥Magnon art was undoubtedly an expression of a true aesthetic sense. Cro-Magnon. people did Obviously delight in a graceful line or symmetrical pattern or brilliant color. The fact that they painted and tattooed their bodies and wore ornaments gives evidence of this. But their chief works of, art can scarcely'have been produced primarily for the sake of creating. beautiful objects. Such an interpretation must be excluded for several reasons. To begin with, the best of the paintings and drawings are usually to be found on the walls and ceilings of the darkest and most inaccessible parts of the caves. The gallery of paintings at Niaux, for instance, is more than half a mile from the entrance of the cave. No one could see the artists’ creations except in the imperfect light of torches or primitive lamps, which must have smoked and sputtered badly, for the only illuminating fluid available was animal fat. Fur- thermore, there is evidence that Cro—Magnon people were largely indifferent to their murals after they were finished. Numerous exam— realism of Cro-Magnon art. On the right, a view ofthe entrance to the caves. ples have been found of paintings or drawings superimposed upon earlier ones of the same or of different types. Evidently the important thing was not the finished work itself, but the act of making it. The real purpose of nearly all Cro—Magnon art was apparently not to delight the senses but.to increase the supply of animals useful for food. The artist was nOt an aesthete but a magician. and art was a form of magic designed to promote the hunter’s SUCCess. In this pur- pose lay its chief significance and the foundation of most ofits special qualities. It suggests, for example, the'real reason why game animals ' were almost the exclusive subjects of the great murals and why plant life and inanimate objects were seldom represented. lt aids us in un- derstanding the Cro-Magnons’ neglect of finished paintings and the ' predominant interest in the process ofmaking them. The placing ofthe art in the most inaccessible part of the cave is further proof ofa re- ligious motivation on the part of the artist—the art then becomes secreted in a sacred place. " Later Paleolithic culture ended around 10,000 B.C. because ofa dis- appearance ofthe food supply. As the last glacier retreated north, the climate of southern Europe became too warm for the reindeer, and they gradually migrated to the shores of the Baltic. The mammoth, whether for the same or for different reasons, became extinct. Cro- Magnon people probably followed ‘the reindeer northward, but any later cultural achievements remain unknown to us. An an aid in the struggle fur existenre The end qflater Paleolithir (ulrure ors, these paintings have maintained their haunting vividness for some 15,000 years. (Ralph Morse/Life Picture Service) \ The Earliest Beginnings The meaning (Jthe term Neolithic The varying dates of the Neolithic stage The Neolithit revolution 5. NEOLITHIC CULTURE From roughly 10,000 B.C. to roughly 5000 B.C., varying very much according to location, ensued the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age. This was a transitional period in which peoples became more seden- tary and found new sources of food, such as shellfish and edible grasses, now that most of the world was freed from ice. The Meso- lithic stage was succeeded by the Neolithic, or New Stone Age. This nameis applied because stone weapons and tools were now generally made by grinding and polishing instead ofby chipping or fracturing as in the preceding periods. The bearers of Neolithic culture were new Varieties of modern peoples who poured into southern Europe from Asia. Since no evidence exists oftheir later extermination or wholesale migration, they must be regarded as the immediate ancestors of most ofthe peoples now living in Europe. It is impossible to fix exact dates for the Neolithic period because different peoples passed through the Neolithic stage ofdevelopment at different rates in different areas. Exciting recent archeological discov- eries on the west bank ofthejordan River give evidence of Neolithic settlements in their earliest forms around 7500 B.C. Fully developed Neolithic culture existed in Mesopotamia and Egypt by 5000 B.(:., but the culture was not well established in Europe until about 3000 B.C. By the second millennium B.C. it had taken hold as far south as the rain forests ofequatorial Africa. There is also variation in the dates of its ending. It was superseded in Mesopotamia and Egypt by the first literate civilizations around 3500 B.C., but except on the island of Crete it did not come to an end anywhere in Europe before 2000, and in northern Europe much later still. In a few regions of the-World it has- not ended yet. The peoples of some islands ofthe Pacific, the Arctic regions of North America, thejungles of Brazil, and isolated pockets in sub—Saharan Africa are still in the Neolithic culture stage except fear a few customs acquired from explorers and missionaries. . In many respects the New Stone Age was the most significant infithe history of the world thus far. The level of material progress rose to new heights. Neolithic peoples had a better mastery of their environ- ment than any of their predecessors. They were less likely to perish ‘ from a shift in climatic conditions or from the failure of some part of their food supply. This decided advantage was the result primarily of the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals. Whereas all of the peoples who had lived heretofore were mere food—' gatherers, Neolithic peoples were food-producers. Tilling the soil and keeping flocks and herds provided them with much more dependable food resources and at times even yielded them a surplus. The develop- ment of agriculture, one of the most important of all transitions in human history, promoted a settled existence and made possible an increase in population. Such were the elements ofa great social and economic revolution whose importance it would be difficult to exag— gerate. 11 The new culture also derives significance from the fact that it was the first to be distributed over the entire world. Although some earlier cultures, especiallyq‘those of the Neanderthalers and Cro—Magnons, were widely dispersed, they were confined chiefly to the accessible The wide diffusion ofthe mainland areas of the Old World. Neolithic culture penetrated into letrhtr tullm't’ every habitable area of the earth’s surface—from Arctic wastes to the jungles of the tropics. Neolithic peoples apparently made their way from a number of centers of origin to every region of both hemi- spheres. They traveled enormous distances by water as well as by land, and eventually occupied every major island of the oceans, no matter how remote. Migration over long distances was not the only example of Neo~ lithic achievements. Neolithic peoples developed the arts of knitting and weaving. They made the first pottery and knew how to produce New tools and ierhniral fire by friction. They built houses of wood and sun-dried mud. To- Skills ward the end of the period they discovered the possibilities of metals, and a few implements of copper and gold were added to their stock. Since nothing was yet known ofthe arts of smelting and refining, the use of metals was limited to the more malleable ones occasionally found in the pure state in the form of nuggetsfi“ '. ‘ But the real foundations of Neolithic culture were the domestica- tion of animals and the development of agriculture, for these advances above all made possible a settled mode of existence and the growth of The domestitalion of villages and social institutions. The first animal to be domesticated is animals generally thought to have been the dog, on the assumption that he Nt’o/ithit Culture Activities Around a Neolithic Dwelling. This model repre- sents part ofa Neolithic vil- lage that was located at Trol- debjerg, Denmark, about 2700 B.C. Note the hunters, the wood-gatherer, the pot- ter. the weaver, the grainéfl. grinder, and the carver. 12 The Earliest Beginnings Neolithit Flint Sitkles The beginning of agrirulture The nature ofinsrirurions Thefamily would be continually hanging around the hunter’s camp to pick up bones and scraps of meat. Eventually it would be discovered that he could be put to use in hunting, or possibly in guarding the camp. After achieving success in domesticating the dog, Neolithic peoples would logically turn their attention to other animals, especially those used for food. Before the period ended, at least five species—the cow, the dog, the goat, the sheep, and the pig—had been made to serve their needs. The exact spot where agriculture originated has never been deter- mined. All we know is that wild grasses resembling modem cereal grains have been found in a number of places. Types of wheat grow wild in the Near East and southern Russia. Wild ancestors of barley have been reported in North Africa, the Near East, and central Asia. Though it is probable that these were the first crops of Neolithic agri— culture, they were by no means the only ones. Millet, vegetables, and numerous fruits were also grown. Flax was cultivated in the Eastern Hemisphere for its textile fiber, and in some localities the growing of the poppy for opium had already begun. In the Western Hemisphere maize (Indian corn) was the only cereal, but the American Indians cultivated numerous other crops, including tobacco, beans, squashes, tomatoes, and potatoes. The most important consequence of Neplithic settled life was the development oflasting institutions. An institution may be defined as a combination of group beliefs and activities organized in a relatively permanent fashion for the purpose of fiilfilling some group need. It ordinarily includes a body of customs and traditions, a code of rules and standards, and physical extensions such as buildings, punitive devices, and facilities for communication and indoctrination. Since humans are social beings, some of these elements probably existed from earliest times, but institutions in their fully developed form seem to have been an achievement of the Neolithic Age. One ofthe most ancient ofhuman institutions is the family. Sociol— ogists do not agree upon how it should be defined. Historically, how- ever, the family has always meant a more or less permanent unit com— posed of parents and their offspring, which serves the purposes of care of the young, division of labor, acquisition and transmission of prop— erty, and preservation and transmission of beliefs and customs. The family is not now, and never has been, exclusively biologiCal in char— acter. Like most institutions, it has evolved through a long period of changing conventions which have given it a variety of functions and forms. No doubt there were primitive families in Paleolithic times, but we know practically nothing about them and they probably were not very stable. In Neolithic times the family clearly emerges and ap- pears to have been dominated by the male patriarch who had one or more wives depending upon region. A second institution known earlier but developed in more complex form by Neolithic peoples was religion. On account of its infinite 13 variations, it is hard to define, but perhaps the following would be ac- cepted as an accurate definition of the institution in at least its basic character: “Religion is everywhere an expression in one form or an— other ofa sense of dependence on a power outside ourselves, a power which we may speak of as a spiritual or moral power."1 Modern an- thropologists emphasize the fact that early religion was not so much a matter of belief as a matter of rites. For the most part, the rites came first; the myths, dogmas, and theologies were later rationalizations. Primitive people were universally dependent upon nature—on the regular succession of the seasons, on the rain falling when it should, on the growth of plants and the reproduction of animals. Unless they performed sacrifices and rites these natural phenomena, according to this notion, would not occur. For this reason they developed rainmak- ing ceremonies in which water was sprinkled on ears ofcorn to imitate the falling ofthe rain. The members ofa whole village or even a whole tribe would attire themselves in animal skins and mimic the habits and activities of some species they depended upon for food. They ap- parently had an idea that by imitating the life pattern of the species they were helping to guarantee its continuance. v Still another of the great institutions to be developed by Neolithic peoples was the state. This may be defined as an organized society oc- cupying a Specific territory and possessing an authoritative govern— ment independent of external control. The essence of the state is the power to make and administer laws and to preserve social order by punishing people for infractions ofthose laws. Except in time of crisis the state does not exist in a very large propOrtion of preliterate socie- ties—a fact which probably indicates that it originated rather late in the Neolithic culture stage. . . The major explanation for the development ofstates in the Neolithic period lies in the development of agriculture“ In areas such as the Nile valley, where a large p0pulation lived by cultivating intensively a lim- ited area of fertile soil, a high degree of social Organization was abso- lutely essential. Ancient customs would not suffice for the definition of rights and duties in such a society, with its high standard of living, its unequal distribution of wealth, and its wide scope for the clash of personal interests. New measures of social control would become nec- essary, which could scarcely be achieved in any ~other way than by set— ting up a government of sovereign authority and submitting to it; in other words, by establishing a state. 6. FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FORrTl-‘IE ORIGIN AND GROWTH OF CIVILIZATIONS Sometime around 3500 B.C. the earliest civilizations emerged out of Neolithic culture. We may say that civilization is a stage in human his- ‘ A. R. Radcliffe-Brown. Structure arid Funrtion in Primitive Soriety, p. 157. 14 Origin and Growth Fartors Primitive religion; rites and ceremonies The state: definition ‘ _ Role ofagritulture in the origin of states The Earliest Beginnings The meaning of civilization Ceographir theories: the climatic hypothesis Euidenre infauor ofthe (limatir hypothesis torical development when writing is used to a considerable. extent; some progress has been made in the arts and sciences; and political, social, and economic institutions have developed sufficiently to con- quer at least some ofthe problems oforder, security, and efficiency in a complex society. What causes contributed to the rise of civilizations? What factors account for their growth? Why do some civilizations reach much higher levels of development than others? Inquiry into these questions is one of the chiefpursuits of historians and social sci- entists. Some decide that factors of geography are most important. Others stress economic resources,» food supply, contact with older civilizations, and so on. Usually a variety of causes is acknowledged, but one is commonly singled out by historians as deserving special emphasis. Probably the most popular ofthe theories accounting for the rise of advanced cultures are those which come under the heading ofgeogra— phy. Prominent among them is the hypothesis of climate. The Cli- matic theory, advocated by such philosophers as Aristotle and Mon- tesquieu, received its most developed exposition in the writings of an American geographer, Ellsworth Huntington. Huntington acknowl- edged the importance of other factors, but he insisted that no nation, ancient or modern, rose to the highest cultural status except under the influence ofa climatic stimulus. He described the ideal climate as one in which the mean temperature seldom falls below 38 degrees or rises above 64 degrees Fahrenheit. But temperature is not alone important. Moisture is also essential, and the humidity should average about 75 percent. Finally, the weather must not be uniform: cyclonic storms, or ordinary storms resulting in weather changes from day to day, must have sufficient frequency and intensity to clear the atmosphere every once in a while and produce those sudden variations in temperature which seem to be necessary to exhilarate and revitalize human beings.2 Much can be- said in favor of the climatic hypothesis. Certainly some parts of the earth’s surface, under existing atmospheric condi— tions, could never give rise to a superior culture. They are either too hot, too humid, too cold, or too dry. Such is the case in regions beyond the Arctic Circle, the larger desert areas, and the rain forests of India, Central America, and Brazil. Evidence is available, moreover, to show that some of these places have not always existed under Cli- mate so ad'verseas that now prevalent. Desolate sections of Asia, Africa. and America contain unmistakable traces of better days in the past. Here and there are the ruins of towns and cities where now the supply of water is totally inadequate, or which are entrapped by growths of dense foliage. Roads traverse deserts which at present are impassable, or come to an end at the mouth ofa jungle. The best-known evidences of the cultural importance of climatic change are thosc‘pcrtaining to the civilization of the Mayas. Mayan 2 Ellsworth Huntington. Civilization and Climate, 3d ed.. pp. 220—23. 15 civilization flourished in Guatemala, Honduras. and on the penjnsula of Yucatan in Mexico from about 400 to 1500 A.D. Numbered among its achievements were the making of paper, the perfection ofa solar calendar, and the development ofa system of writing partly phonetic. Great cities were built; marked progress was made in astronomy; and sculpture and architecture reached advanced levels. At present most of the civilization is in ruins. No doubt many factors conspired to pro- duce its end, including deadly wars between tribes, but climatic change was also probably involved. The remains of most ofthe great Mayan cities are now surrounded byjungles, where malaria is prevalent and agriculture difficult. That the Mayan civilization or any other could have grown to maturity under present-day conditions is hard to believe. Related to the climatic hypothesis isgtheisoil-exhaustion theory. A group ofmodern conservationists has advanced this theory as the pri- mary explanation of the decay and collapse ofthe great empires of the past and as a universal threat to the nations ofthe present. At best it is only a partial hypothesis, since it offers no theory ofthe birth or growth ofcivilizations. But its proponents seem to think that almost any envi— . ronment not ruined by humans is capable of nourishing a superior culture. The great deserts and barren areas of the earth, they maintain, are not natural but artificial, created by improper grazing and farming practices. Ecologists discover innumerable evidences of waste and neglect that have wrougl‘ft havoc in such areas as Mesopotamia, Pal- estine, Greece, ltaly, China, and Mexico. The mighty civilizations that once flourished in these countries were ultimately doomed by the fact that their soil would no longer provide sufficient food for the population. As a consequence, the more intelligent and enterprising citizens migrated elsewhere and left others to sink into stagnation and apathy: But the fate that overtook the latter was not of their making alone. The whole nation had been guilty of plundering the forests, mining the soil, and pasturing flocks on the land until the grass was eaten down to the very roots. Among the tragic results were floods alternating with droughts, since there were no longer any forests to regulate the run—off of rain or snow. At the same time, much of the top soil on the close-cropped or excessively cultivated hillsides was blown away or washed into the rivers to be carried eventually down to the sea. The damage done was irreparable, since about three hundred years are required to produce a single inch of topsoil. A recent hypothesis of the origin of civilizations is the British his— torian Arnold]. Toynbee‘s adversity theory. According to this, con- ditions ofhardship or adversity are the real causes which have brought superior cultures into existence. Such conditions constitute a (hal- Ienge which not only stimulates humans to try to overcome it but - generates additional energy for new achievements. The challenge may take the form of a desert, a jungle area, rugged topography, or a grudging soil. The Hebrews and Arabs were challenged by the first, _ the Indians of the Andes by the last. The challenge may also take the 16 Origin and Growth Factors The .‘Mayan (iui'li'zalion The soil-exhaustion theory The adversity theory qf Arnold Toynbee The Earliest Beginnings Eeypl and Mesopotamia A limited area of fertile soil in the Nile valley A similar mnditiqnin ' Mesopotamia attempt to meet it. 7.AWHY THE EARLIEST CIVILIZATIONS BEGAN WHERE THEY DID alone played in Egypt. Indeed, Mesopotamia is simply an ancient Greek word for “between the rivers," alluding to the fact that the territory was defined by its position between the roughly parallel flow of the Tigris and Euphrates. Not only'was the soil of the region fertile, but 17 was the welding ofthe inhabitants into a compact society, under con- ditions that facilitated the interchange of ideas. As the population increased, the need for agencies of "social control became ever more urgent. Numbered among these were government, schools, legal and moral codes, and institutions for the production and distribution of wealth. At the same time conditions of living became more complex and artificial and necessitated the keeping of records ofthings accom- plished and the perfection of new techniques. Among the conse— quences were the invention ofwriting, the practice ofsmelting metals, the performance of mathematical operations, and the development of astronomy and the rudiments of physics. With these achievements the first great milestone ofcivilization was passed. Climatic influences also played their part in both regions. The at- mosphere of Egypt is dry and invigorating. Even the hottest days produce none ofthe oppressive discomfort which is often experienced during the summer seasons in more northern countries. The mean temperature in winter varies from 56 degrees Fahrenheit in the Nile Delta to 66 degrees in the valley above. The summer mean is 83 degrees and an occasional maximum of 122 is reached, but the nights are always cool and the humidity is extremely low. Except in the Delta, rainfall occurs in negligible quantities, but the deficiency of moisture is counteracted by the annual floods ofthe Nile from july to October. Also very significant from the historical standpoint is the total absence of malaria in Upper Egypt, while even in the coastal region it is practically unknown. The direction ofthe prevailing winds is likewise a favorable factor._ For more than three-quarters ofthe year the wind comes from the north, blowing against the force ofthe Nile current. The effect of this is to simplify immensely the problem of transportationuUpstream traffic, with the propulsion of the wind to counteract the force of the river, presents no greater difficulty than downstream traffic. In ancient times this circumstance must have been of enormous advantage in promoting communication among the Egyptian peoples stretched out along the length ofthe Nile. Climatic conditions in Mesopotamia do not seem to have been quite so favorable as in Egypt. The summer heat is more relentless; the humidity is somewhat higher; and tropical diseases take their toll. Nevertheless, the torrid winds from the Indian Ocean, while enervat— ing to human beings, blow over the valley at just the right season to ripen the fruit ofthe date palm. More than anything else the excellent yield of dates, the dietary staple of the Near East, encouraged the settlement of large numbers of people in the valley of the two rivers. Furthermore, the melting of the snows in the mountains ofthe north produced an annual flooding ofthe Babylonian plain similar to that in Egypt. The effect was to provide the soil with moisture and to cover it over with a layer of mud of unusual fertility. At the same time, it should be noted that water conditions in Mesopotamia were less dependable than in Egypt. Floods were sometimes catastrophic, a fac- tor which left its mark on the development of culture. a 18 Why Civilizations Began Where They Did Climatic advantages in Egypt Climarir influences in Mesopotamia Readings Uncertainty as to whith (ivilization was older .0 Reference: Most significant of all of the geographic influences, however, was the fact that the scanty rainfall in both regions provided a spur to ini- tiative and inventive skill. In spite of the yearly floods of the rivers there was insufficient moisture left in the soil to produce abundant harvests. A few weeks after the waters had receded, the earth was baked to a stony hardness. Irrigation was accordingly necessary if full advantage was to be taken of the richness of the soil. As a result, in both Egypt and Mesopotamia elaborate systems of dams and irriga- tion canals were constructed as long as five thousand years ago. The mathematical skill, engineering ability, and social cooperation neces— sary for the development of these projects were available for other uses and so fostered the achievement of civilization. Which ofthe two civilizations, the Egyptian or the Mesopotamian, was the older? Until recently most historians assumed that the Egyp- tian one took precedence. Between the two world wars of the twen- tieth century, however. facts were unearthed which seemed to prove a substantial Mesopotamian influence in the Nile valley as early as 3500 B.C. This influence was exemplified by the use ofcylinder seals, meth- ods of building construction, art motifs, and elements ofa-system of writing of undoubted Mesopotamian origin. That such achievements could have radiated into Egypt from the Tigris-Euphrates valley 'at so early a date indicated beyond doubt that the Mesopotamian civiliza- tion was one of vast antiquity. It did not necessarily prove, though. that it was older than the Egyptian because the achievements men- tioned were not taken over and copied slavishly. Instead, the Egyp— tians modified them radically to suit their own culture pattern. On the basis of this evidence. it would seem that the only. conclusion which can be safely drawn is that both civilizations were very old, and that to a large extent they developed concurrently. With them both we begin the story ofthe history of Western Civilizations. Burns, Edward McNall, et.al. World Civilization .' Their History and Their Culture. New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 1986. 19 ...
View Full Document

Page1 / 19

Chapter_1 - GS 1003 World Civilization Chapter 1 THE...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 19. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online