Civilization. A global perspective on the past

| February 3, 2014

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Please use this book Traditions and Encounters – A global perspective on the past fifth edition Jerry H. Bentley and Herbert F. Ziegler Please post your thesis sentence before your answer and then again in your answer. When looking at past civilizations we find ourselves asking the crucial question in World History – was the overall development of a civilization functional or cultural? Functional implies that a civilization’s response was based primarily on solving a problem. Cultural solutions are based more upon how a society understands the world (“World View”) and are often theological in nature. Functional development implies universal solutions to similar problems, while cultural development argues for diversity in the development of civilizations. So for this week, post an initial message in which you argue that most overall (start to finish) development in Ancient civilizations has been functional (to meet a specific problem, without much broader meaning, and simply a logical solution) or support the argument that development in Ancient civilizations has been generally cultural (rooted in how civilizations understood the world, more about meaning rather than function, and at times not the most efficient solution). Use one of the major civilizations we have examined from Weeks use ( Mesopotamia) as proof for your answer. For example, if you select to support the idea that civilization development was functional, then use one of the civilizations we have looked at to show what a functional civilization would be like. Function vs Culture.doc (38KB) Ancient China Chapter 5.doc (48KB) Ancient Americas Chapters 6 and 21.doc (64.5KB) Ancient India Chapter 4.doc (43KB) Please post your thesis sentence before your answer and then again in your answer. Use only course materials in your work in this course (both discussions and papers). The reason for this the outside source you used was talking about a completely different era of history than we are looking at. EXAMPLE Please use this book only no source or APA but write it History not so much of your own word but History – please write more professional as a real History about History no so much of your own word but real history please Please use this book Bentley, J., Ziegler, H. (2011) Traditions and encounters: A global perspective on the past (5th ed.). New York, NY. Online Readings for Chapter 2: 1. Gilgamesh Flood Epic: http://www.mircea-eliade.com/from-primitives-to-zen/073.html 2. Gilgamesh Immortality: http://www.mircea-eliade.com/from-primitives-to-zen/159.html 3. Hammurabi’s Code: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/hamcode.html 4. The Advice of an Akkadian Father to His Son, c. 2200 BCE: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/2200akkad-father.html 5. The Babylonian Creation Myth: http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/BabylonianCreation.html 6. Genesis Creation Myth: http://www.thenagain.info/Classes/Sources/Genesis1.html Ancient Africa Chapter 3.doc (51KB) Note edited by Jeffrey Glasco on 10/10/2012 03:40PM Prehistory and Mesopotamia Chapters 1 & 2.doc (57KB) The development of civilizations was made possible by the development of stationary agriculture, that is growing plants in the ground and herding livestock in a central place (in contrast to nomadic herding). What that did was to produce more food than hunting and gathering (what pre-historic people did). The extra food allowed for specialization of labor (not everyone has to be a hunter-gatherer). Some of those non-farmers could then live in cities (not in farms). That created urbanization and all this together started early civilizations. Really, the most important development in human history has been the transformation from hunter-gatherers to stationary agriculturalists. Mesopotamia: This was one of the earliest civilizations to develop with a general start date of around 6,000 BCE. One of the most important points to consider is the significance of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in the development of Mesopotamian civilization. Without this source of water and high quality farmland, no civilization would have developed in this region. Also, note the importance of these rivers and their unpredictable flooding on Mesopotamian “world view.” The chaos that came with the unpredictable nature of flooding, along with the harsh physical environment that surrounded the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, developed into a Mesopotamian take on the world and humankind as quite pessimistic. Mesopotamian civilization made some major advances in both mathematics and social organization; the later seen in Hammurabi’s legal code. This was necessary as the Mesopotamians needed to order and organize their civilization as it grew. Hammurabi’s Code offered a framework for social interaction that offered rights to the poor, but still valued the lives of the wealthy a bit more. The Mesopotamians did not believe in an afterlife of either rewards or punishment. Instead, they believed that after death, you existed for eternity in the “House of Dust,” an existence without meaning or value. That did encourage them to focus their theological energies on the worldly life of the hear and now. They felt the gods rewarded good people in their material life, rather than after death. Mesopotamian Successor States: After the collapse of the Mesopotamian state in the Old Babylonian Period (1600 BCE), the Assyrians became the dominate force in the region. They were militarily advanced and used iron weapons and war chariots. Despite basing their government on the model of Hammurabi, they collapsed by 612 BCE due to internal unrest and external forces. They were succeeded by the New Babylonian Empire (the Chaldeans) whose reign was dominated by the effective King Nebuchadnezzar (r. 605 to 562 BCE). Nebuchadnezzar restored Mesopotamia, building the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his wife. Once he died, Mesopotamia fell back into small cities states. Other Civilizations in the Region: The Hebrews were a smaller civilization who lived in what is modern Palestine/Israel. Technically, a Hebrew is one who spoke the ancient Hebrew language, while Israelites were Hebrews who lived in Palestine and Jews were Hebrews who lived in the Kingdom of Judea. The ancient Hebrews interacted with the Mesopotamians; for example the ancient Hebrew story of Abraham tells that he was from the Sumerian city of Ur and later migrated to Palestine (@1850 BCE). Historians also argue that many Mesopotamian stories, like that of the great flood, were brought into Hebrew culture through interactions with the Mesopotamian. Two major Hebrew kingdoms (Israel and Judea) existed until their defeat by the Assyrians. The Hebrews’ eventual development (at first they believed in many gods) was influential in later monotheistic religions like Islam and Christianity. To the north of the Hebrews were the Phoenicians, who lived in what is now modern Lebanon. They spoke a Semitic language and were most likely Greeks. While we know them as Phoenicians, they called themselves Canaanites and their state was called Canaan. Unlike other military empires, the Phoenicians were a commercial empire that developed a vast trading network that extended as far as Celtic England and West Africa. As merchants, the Phoenicians needed to record many facts, which helped encourage them to develop a basic alphabet by 1500 BCE. Their alphabet had no vowels, but the Greeks added in vowels and through the Romans, this alphabet became the standard alphabet used in Western Europe. Chapter 3 Early African Socities and the Bantu Migrations (Egypt): Online Readings for Chapter Three (Egypt): 1. Hymn to the Nile: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/hymn-nile.html 2. Pyramid Construction: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pyramid/explore/ 3. The Dead Pharaoh Ascends to Heaven:http://www.mircea-eliade.com/from-primitives-to-zen/166.html 4. Herodotus: Mummification, from The Histories: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/herodotus-mummies.html 5. Egyptian Love Poetry: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/2000egypt-love.html The second oldest civilization in the area, Egypt, reached civilization status a
round 4,800 BCE. Like Mesopotamia, water and superior farmland helped the development of the Egyptian civilization. In the case of Egypt, it is the Nile River which becomes the backbone of agricultural production. This is an important point to consider – how significant is geography in civilization development? Unlike the Tigris and Euphrates, the Nile is a more predictable waterway. The result is that a much more stable and optimistic civilization develops in Egypt. In many ways, the Egyptians achieve greater levels of development: highly stratified but not rigid class structure, greater equality for women, a well developed state run system of commerce and industry, some levels of international trade, complex theological beliefs, advanced literature, and practical levels of expertise in mathematics. Probably the best known, at least popularly, aspect of Egyptian civilization was their theology, due to their rulers’ pyramid building and mummification program. The pyramids served two functions. First, while being built, they acted to support and glorify the current rulers of Egypt. Secondly, they acted as a giant public works project which probably employed thousands of workers; the pyramids were not built by slaves, but instead skilled craftsmen. Coupled with the mummification program, Egyptian rulers were working to prepare themselves for their spiritual afterlives. The Book of the Dead (The Great Hymn to Aten, B&Z, 64) provides up with an understanding of Egyptian theology, including their necessity for a soul free of sin. Think about Egyptian theology in comparison to the lack of interest the Mesopotamian had in an afterlife (see Epic of Gilgamesh, from online readings in Week 1). Chapter 3 Early African Societies and the Bantu Migrations (Bantu Africa): One of the first things you will probably notice is that there has never been a single giant empire that ruled over the majority of the African continent. There was never an African “Rome.” So does that mean we can’t discuss African civilization as there is no continental Africa government? To be fair, first compare the size of Africa to Europe. About three or four Europe’s would fit into Africa. I find the key focus for African civilization not to be the various empires, but instead the general cultural patterns that existed throughout many parts of Africa. Thus, African civilization was not defined by a political or theological definition but by general cultural patterns. This stands in great contrasts to Europe’s political definitions or the Islamic World’s theological boundaries. The most important definition of African civilization is its focus on the family and kinship relations. Africans identified themselves by family rather than political or theological identities like other parts of the world, but the African family identity was far more inclusive than the nuclear family (parents and children) that we have become accustomed to in the modern Western world. Instead, African families were thought of in very broad kinship relations that included grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Usually, kinship followed a single parent, either your father’s (patrilineal, about 85% of the time) or your mother’s (matrilineal, about 15% of the time). This meant that in a patrilineal system, your mother had left her family and came to join your father’s. Additionally, your family duties would primarily be to your father’s rather than your mother’s family. Marriages were primarily about linking families together instead of romantic attraction. From the family grew the larger African social organizations and identities. Larger family organizations developed into clans, an individual’s extended family system in which all members were linked by a common ancestor. Clans would then combine to form villages and larger kingdoms. Additionally, secret societies existed (and still do) which wielded all sorts of power in African societies. African societies tend to be decentralized in terms of power, with many groups, including women, having influence over political and social decisions, rather than a few or a single individual as found in other civilizations. The Africans’ value on community also influenced other aspects of their civilization as well. Economics were based on the family and community instead of the individual. Most of African economics were agriculturally based, and the land was considered to be owned by the community (often a village or clan) rather than individuals or nuclear families. Additionally, indigenous African religions reflected the importance of the family and community. In general religious beliefs centered on ancestor worship and other spirits, which reinforced the need for communal harmony. Thus, the most important aspect of African civilization is not a single great empire or the development of a world religion, but rather the emphasis on the family, which drives most aspects of African civilization. Thus, African history must be examined on a different level than we have commonly used for other civilizations. We won’t find a great continental-wide political empire such as the Roman or Mongol empires in Africa. We also won’t find an all encompassing religion such as Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam. Instead, to understand African civilization, it is first essential to understand how the family was the root of that civilization. Marion, Use only course materials in your work in this course (both discussions and papers). The reason for this the outside source you used was talking about a completely different era of history than we are looking at. You noted that, “The key factor that led to this significant difference or inequality is religion. Egypt is known to be a Muslim state; therefore, any person who belonged to another religion was considered an outcast. Those who acquired property in a significant way and just way are the Muslims. It was extremely difficult for Christians to acquire any properties at all. Therefore, they were left poor which is a low class lifestyle.” The problem with that is we haven’t gotten to Islam or Christianity yet, we are talking about pre-Christian and pre-Muslim Egypt. Also the fact you have stated is not correct. So use the course materials as I have reviewed all of them and they are factually correct and they will relate to the correct periods of history we are looking at in each week.
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