A Comparison of Ancient Civilizations Egypt, Greece, Rome Geographical Influences The NILE RIVER , the longest river in the world (6,650 kilometers or 4,132 miles), flows north from the heart of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. Its flood plain was a magnet for life -- human, plant and animal. Humans were drawn there because they could grow crops and settle into permanent villages. Bounded on the south, east and west by an impenetrable desert, and on the north by the sea, ANCIENT EGYPT was protected from outside influences, which allowed it to evolve in its own unique way. For centuries, THE NILE RIVER FLOODED THE VALLEY, enriching the land with a thick layer of alluvial soil. Flooding occurred from July to September as the result of tropical rains. The river attained its highest level in October, then began to recede to its lowest point sometime between April and June. TRANSPORTATION: The Nile River was the highway that joined the country together. Up until the nineteenth century, travel by land was virtually unknown. Located in southeastern Europe, Greece is defined by a series of mountains and surrounded on all sides except the north by water. Ancient Greek View of the World The Mediterranean Sea moderates Greece's climate, cooling the air in summer and providing warmth in the winter months. Summers are generally hot and dry. Winters are moderate and rainy in coastal regions and cold and snowy in mountainous areas. Numerous MOUNTAIN RANGES, which crisscross the peninsula, hampered internal communications and led to the development of independent city-states. Numerous ISLANDS and the indented coastlines of the Greek peninsula and of Asia Minor stimulated a seagoing trade. The ROCKY SOIL and limited natural resources encouraged the Greeks to establish colonies abroad. Modern scholars believe that in the 8th century B.C., the inhabitants of some small Latin settlements on hills in the Tiber valley united and established a common FORUM meeting place, the FORUM, around which the city of Rome grew. Social and Political Structure Ancient Egypt achieved stability through the co-operation of all levels of the population. The PHAROAH was at the top of the social hierarchy. Next to him, the most powerful officers were the VIZIERS, the executive heads of the bureaucracy. Under them were the HIGH PRIESTS, followed by ROYAL OVERSEERS (administrators) who ensured that the 42 DISTRICT GOVERNORS carried out the pharaoh's orders. At the bottom of the hierarchy were the SCRIBES, ARTISANS, FARMERS, and LABORERS. To reinforce their image as powerful divine rulers, the PHARAOHS represented themselves in writings and sculptured reliefs on temple walls. They often DEPICTED THEMSELVES AS WARRIORS who single- handedly killed scores of enemies and slaughtered a whole pride of lions. The POLIS (city-state) consisted of a city and its surrounding plains and valleys. The nucleus of the polis was the elevated, fortified site called the ACROPOLIS where people could take refuge from attack. With the revival of commerce, a TRADING CENTER developed below the acropolis. Four major TYPES OF GOVERNMENT evolved in ancient Greece: Monarchy (rule of a king) limited by an aristocratic council and a popular assembly. Oligarchy (rule of the few) arising when the aristocratic council ousted the king and abolished the assembly. Tyranny (rule by one who ruled without legal authority) riding to power on the discontent of the lower classes. Democracy (rule of the people), the outstanding political achievement of the Greeks. ATHENIAN DEMOCRACY DIRECT PARTICIPATION was the key to Athenian DEMOCRACY. In the Assembly, every male citizen was not only entitled to attend as often as he pleased but also had the right to DEBATE, offer AMENDMENTS, and vote on PROPOSALS. Every man had a say in whether to declare WAR or stay in PEACE. Basically any thing that required a government decision, all male citizens were allowed to participate in. Although DEMOCRACY was an outstanding achievement, it is important to keep in mind that the majority of the inhabitants of Athens were not recognized citizens. WOMEN, SLAVES, and RESIDENT ALIENS were DENIED CITIZENSHIP. These groups had no standing in the law courts. (If a woman sought the protection of the law, she had to ask a citizen to plead for her in court.) THE ROMAN MONARCHY to 509 B.C. According to tradition, early Rome was ruled by KINGS elected by the people. The king's executive power was conferred by a POPULAR ASSEMBLY made up of all arms-bearing citizens. The king turned for advice to a council of nobles, called the SENATE. Each senator had lifelong tenure and the members of this group and their families constituted the PATRICIAN class. The other class of Romans, the PLEBEIANS (commoners) included small farmers, artisans, and many clients (dependents of patrician landowners). In return for a livelihood, the clients gave their patrician patrons political support in the ASSEMBLY ROMAN SENATE EARLY REPUBLIC 509-133 B.C. In 509 B.C., according to tradition, the PATRICIANS expelled the last Etruscan king and established a REPUBLIC. The power to rule was transferred to two new officials called CONSULS. Elected annually from the patrician class, the consul exercised their power in the interests of that class. PLEBEIAN STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS For more than two centuries following the establishment of the Republic, the plebeians struggled for political and social equality. Outright civil war was averted by the willingness of the patricians to compromise. Much of the plebeians’ success in this struggle was also due to their tactics of collective action and to their having organized a corporate group within the state. The unofficial body was known as the PLEBEIAN COUNCIL. It was presided over by plebeian officials called TRIBUNES, whose job was to safeguard the interests of the plebeians and to negotiate with the consuls and the Senate. The advancement of the PLEBEIANS during the early Republic took two main lines: the safeguarding of their FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS and the progressive enlargement of their share of POLITICAL POWER. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS Because the consuls often interpreted Rome's unwritten customary law to suit PATRICIAN INTERESTS, the plebeians demanded that it be written down. As a result, about 450 B.C., the law was inscribed on twelve tablets of bronze and set up publicly in the Forum. The LAW OF THE TWELVE TABLETS was the first landmark in the long history of Roman law. The plebeians in time acquired other fundamental rights and safeguards: They secured the right to APPEAL A DEATH SENTENCE imposed by a consul and to be retried before the popular assembly. The tribunes gained a VETO POWER over any legislation or executive act that threatened the rights of the plebeians. MARRIAGE between patricians and plebeians, prohibited by the Law of the Twelve Tablets, was legalized. The enslavement of citizens for DEBT was abolished POLITICAL POWER Little by little, the plebeian class acquired more power in the functioning of government. In 367 B.C., ONE CONSULSHIP was reserved for the plebeians. Before the end of the century, they were eligible to hold other important positions: PRAETOR (in charge of the law courts), QUAESTOR (treasurer), CENSOR (supervisor of public morals and state contracts). Some plebeians succeeded in gaining entry to the SENATE. The long struggle for equality ended in 287 B.C. when the PLEBEIAN COUNCIL was recognized as a constitutional body, henceforth known as the TRIBAL ASSEMBLY, with the right to PASS LAWS that were binding on all citizens. The Roman Republic was now technically a democracy, although in actual practice a senatorial aristocracy of patricians and rich plebeians continued to control the state. POLITICAL THEORY AND LEGAL PRINCIPLES Roman political thinkers contributed many governmental theories: The SOCIAL CONTRACT theory (that government originated as a voluntary agreement among citizens). The idea of POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY (that all power ultimately resides with the people). The concept that LAW must be the basis for government. Economy The flooding of the Nile rendered the narrow strip of land on either side of the river extremely fertile. INTENSIVE AGRICULTURE was practiced by the majority of the peasant population. who played a vital role within the country's STRICT HIERARHICAL SOCIETY. As the flood waters receded, SOWING and PLOWING began, using primitive wooden plows. In addition to such GRAINS as barley and emmer (a coarse wheat), a large variety of VEGETABLES were grown, including onions, garlic, leeks, beans, lentils, peas, radishes, cabbage, cucumbers, and lettuce. There were also FRUITS such as dates, figs, pomegranates, melons and grapes, The abundance of flowers provided nectar for the bees to produce HONEY, which the Egyptians processed. FLAX was grown for making linen, and PAPYRUS was harvested to be converted into paper, ropes, mats, sandals and light skiffs. Breaking the ground Reaping and Separating the grain with plow and hoe scattering the seed from the chaff Although the land was worked by the PEASANTS, it was owned by the king, his officials and the temples. Farmers had to meet GRAIN QUOTAS, which were handed over to the owners as a form of taxation. They were allowed to keep a portion of the crops for their own benefit. If they did not produce the quantity expected, however, they were severely punished. In mid-September, farmers blocked canals to retain the water for IRRIGATION. Still used today, the SHADUF is a mechanical irrigation device used to conduct water from the canals to the fields. One person can operate it by swinging the bucket of water from the canal to the field LIVESTOCK was important to the Egyptian economy, supplying meat, milk, hides, and dung for cooking fuel. A variety of DOMESTICATED ANIMALS were raised, including cattle, oxen, sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and geese. Peasants probably enjoyed meat on special occasions.. DRAFT ANIMALS such as oxen increased agricultural productivity. HERDSMEN and SHEPHERDS lived a semi-nomadic life, pasturing their animals in the marshes of the Nile. Barley and emmer, were used to make BEER and BREAD, the main staples of the Egyptian diet. Grains were harvested and stored in GRANARIES until ready to be processed. The quantities harvested each season far exceeded the needs of the country, so much was exported to neighboring countries, providing a rich source of INCOME for the Egyptian treasury Grapes were processed into WINE for the noble class, but beer was the favorite drink of the common people. Food was served in POTTERY BOWLS, but NO UTENSILS were used for eating. FISHING allowed the working class to add variety to its diet. The poor substituted fish for meat, which they could not afford. The Nile, the marshes of the delta and the Mediterranean Sea offered them a rich variety of species. FISHING METHODS included the use of a hook and line, harpoons, traps and nets. BIRDS, including geese and ducks, were also HUNTED in the marshes and papyrus thickets along the Nile. Small fishing boats called SKIFFS were made from PAPYRUS REEDS, which are naturally filled with air pockets, making them particularly buoyant. Skiffs were also used for hunting game in the Nile marshes. The daily diet included CEREALS (like wheat and barley), GRAPES, and OLIVES -- commonly called the MEDITERRANEAN TRIAD. The Greeks typically made grapes into WINE and olives into OLIVE OIL, so they would keep without refrigeration. Grains and cereals were commonly used for BREAD and PORRIDGE. Diets were supplemented with VEGETABLES and HERBS from kitchen gardens as well as BERRIES, and MUSHROOMS. The poor usually ate FISH, while oysters, sea urchins, octopus, and eels were considered DELICACIES and only eaten by the wealthy. BREAD in ancient Greece was a very important part of the daily diet. At first all breads were prepared in the embers of a fire. Eventually the Greeks developed a bread OVEN that is similar in function to the ovens we use today. Because they required less wood or charcoal (which was expensive), these ovens made bread AVAILABLE TO ALMOST EVERYONE. The most common type of bread in Greece was called MAZA which was a flat bread made from barley flour. Most meals consisted of maza and some sort of accompaniment to the bread called OPSON. This might be vegetables, fish, olives, onions, garlic, fruit, and on a rare occasion, meat. MEN did most of the hard, muscle power jobs such as PLOWING AND REAPING. The WOMEN SOWED SEED, WEEDED THE FIELDS and TENDED THE HOUSEHOLD and CHILDREN. Women might also grow SMALL GARDENS around the house with vegetables and beans. Women might also bring in extra income for the farm with a CRAFT TRADE such as weaving that they might sell at a market. Farmers had to give a SMALL PORTION of their crops to the gods as a SACRIFICE and to the city-state for TAXES. This left the farmers with just enough to feed their families. The land was divided very precisely. Each household in a polis was given a plot of land. This plot would be handed down to the children. If the farmer could not pay his land taxes; a WEALTHIER LAND OWNER COULD TAKE IT and pay the debt for the farmer. Many aristocrats built their wealth this way. As a result of expansion, important social and economic problems faced Rome by the middle of the second century B.C. One of the most pressing problems was the DISAPPEARANCE OF THE SMALL LANDOWNER. Burdened by frequent military service, his farm buildings destroyed by war, and unable to compete with the cheap grain imported from the new Roman province of Sicily, the SMALL FARMER SOLD OUT and moved to Rome. Here he joined the unemployed, discontented PROLETARIAT. Improved farming methods learned from the Greeks and Carthaginians encouraged RICH ARISTOCRATS to buy more and more land and, abandoning the cultivation of grain, introduce LARGE-SCALE SCIENTIFIC PRODUCTION of olive oil and wine, or of sheep and cattle. This trend was especially profitable because an abundance of cheap SLAVES from the conquered areas was available to work on the estates. These large slave plantations, called LATIFUNDIA, were now common in Italy, while small farms were the exception. The land problem was further complicated by the government's earlier practice of LEASING part of the territory acquired in the conquest of the Italian peninsula to anyone willing to pay a percentage of the crop or animals raised on it. Only the patricians or wealthy plebeians could afford to lease large tracts of this PUBLIC LAND and in time they treated it as their own property. Plebeian protests had led to an attempt to limit the holdings of a single individual to 320 acres, but the law was never enforced. Architecture and Engineering EGYPTIAN PYRAMIDS: THE RAMP THEORY One theory suggests that RAMPS were used to haul the STONE BLOCKS on WOODEN SLEDS up the side of the pyramids. The ramps were LUBRICATED WITH WATER to reduce friction when hauling the blocks. As few as 10 men were needed to drag a stone block up a ramp. may have been several ramps on each side of the pyramid at different levels, and a ramp may have been coiled around the pyramid as it grew in height. Once a stone block reached its desired level, wooden rockers may have been used to maneuver it into position. Ramp on pyramid Stone block on sled Pouring water to lubricate the ramp Rocking a block into position The pyramids were probably NOT BUILT BY SLAVES because slave labor was not widely used in Egypt at the time. PEASANT FARMERS, however, were required to spend a number of weeks working on construction projects. This provided the paid labor needed to build these gigantic structures. Since the fields were under water during the summer, wages earned in building the gigantic pyramids SUPPLEMENTED THE FAMILY'S INCOME. Pyramids did not stand alone; they were part of a FUNERARY COMPLEX. The complex includes a PROCESSIONAL CAUSEWAY that links a FUNERARY TEMPLE to the pyramid. The Parthenon Today The Acropolis of Athens Erechtheion Erechtheum King’s Pinakotheke Shrine Theater of Parthenon Dionysius Stoa of Odeum of Herodes Eumenes Sanctuary of Atticus (Roman) Asclepius ENGINEERING PRACTICES In designing their bridges and aqueducts, the Romans placed a series of STONE ARCHES next to one another to provide mutual support. Fourteen AQUEDUCTS, stretching a total of 265 miles, supplied some 50 gallons of water daily for each inhabitant of Rome. The practical nature of the Romans and their skill and initiative in engineering were demonstrated in the many DAMS, RESERVOIRS, and HARBORS they built. The BARREL VAULT, basically a series of adjoining arches forming a structure resembling a tunnel, was a new method of enclosing space. In the barrel vault the supports of the arches became heavy masonry walls to bear the weight of the vaulted roof. The Romans next developed the CROSS VALUT by intersection two barrel vaults at right angles. Another important advance in architecture was the Roman's success in constructing CONCRETE DOMES on a large scale. The weight of the dome was transferred directly to the walls and no other support was necessary. The largest of the dome structures was the PANTHEON (temple of all the gods). The standard type of Roman public building was the BASCILICA, a colonnaded structure that became a model for early Christian churches. Rows of columns divided the interior into a central nave and side aisles, with the roof over the nave raised to admit light, creating a CLERESTORY (an upper portion of a wall containing windows for supplying natural light to a building. Religion RELIGION is the glue that binds local communities together and transforms them into nations. It creates common understandings and shared values that are essential to the growth of a civilization. Like all religions, that of ancient Egypt was COMPLEX. It evolved over the centuries from one that emphasized local deities into a national religion with a smaller number of principal deities. There was no single belief system, but the Egyptians shared a common understanding about the CREATION OF THE WORLD and the possibility of REVERTING TO CHAOS if the destructive forces of the universe were unleashed. PRIESTS worked at the temples, conducting the daily rituals of clothing, feeding and putting to bed the sculpted images that represented the gods. In mortuary temples, priests conducted similar ceremonies to nourish the KA (soul-spirit) of a deceased pharaoh or noble. The priests shaved their heads and body hair, and washed their bodies twice daily as a ritual act of purification. They wore gowns or kilts of pure white linen. Entering a Temple The ancient Egyptians believed in the RESURRECTION OF THE BODY and LIFE EVERLASTING. This belief was rooted in what they observed each day. The sun fell into the western horizon each evening and was reborn the next morning in the east. New life sprouted from grains planted in the earth, and the moon waxed and waned. As long as order was maintained, everything was highly dependable and life after death could be achieved. But there were certain conditions. For example, the body had to be preserved through MUMMIFICATION and given a properly furnished tomb with everything needed for life in the afterworld. Around 450 B.C., the Greek historian HERODOTUS documented the art of MUMMIFICATION. As much of the brain as it is possible is extracted through the nostrils with an iron hook, and what the hook cannot reach is dissolved with drugs. Next, the flank is slit open . . . and the entire contents of the abdomen removed. The cavity is then thoroughly cleansed and washed out . . . Then it is filled with pure crushed myrrh, cassia, and all other aromatic substances, except frankincense. [The incision] is sewn up, and then the body is placed in natron, covered entirely for 70 days, never longer. When this period . . . is ended, the body is washed and then wrapped from the head to the feet in linen which has been cut into strips and smeared on the underside with gum which is commonly used by the Egyptians in the place of glue. -- Herodotus NATRON, a disinfectant and dehydration agent, was the main ingredient used in the mummification process. A compound of sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate (salt and baking soda), natron essentially dried out the corpse. The body was filled with Nile mud, sawdust, lichen and cloth scraps to make it more flexible. Small COOKING ONIONS or linen pads were sometimes used to replace the eyes. Beginning in the third dynasty, the internal organs (lungs, stomach, liver and intestines) were removed, washed with palm wine and spices, and stored in four separate CANOPIC JARS made of limestone, calcite or clay. However, the HEART was left in the body because it was considered the center of intelligence MATERIALS USED IN MUMMIFICATION: 1. Linen 6. Natron 2. Sawdust 7. Onion 3. Lichen 8. Nile mud 4. Beeswax 9. Linen pads 5. Resin 10. Frankincense MUMMIFICATION TOOLS: The ancient embalmers used very few tools. The basic tool kit included a KNIFE to make the abdominal incision, hooked bronze RODS to extract brain matter, a wooden ADZE-like tool to remove internal organs, and a FUNNEL to pour resins into the cranial cavity through the nose. The Greeks were POLYTHEISTIC and did not all worship the same gods. Some small villages worshiped the main gods and their own village gods. There were hundreds of Greek gods (perhaps around 1,000). Some of the most famous gods were Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Artemis, Poseidon, Aphrodite, Athena, Demeter, Hermes, Ares, and Hades. ZEUS surpassed all other gods in spirit, wisdom and justice and his wife HERA was the queen of the gods. SACRIFICES to please the gods were a major part of every Greek's religion. Most gods preferred an animal sacrifice -- generally a DOMESTICATED ANIMAL like a chicken, goat or cow. When an animal was sacrificed, it was burned on top of an altar. After it was fully cooked, it had to be EATEN ON THE SPOT -- usually before nightfall. These sacrifices were the property of the god, and had to be eaten in his presence. This was especially important because the ancient Greeks believed that the god's spirit was within the animal sacrificed, and by eating the animal, the worshippers CONSUMED HIS POWER. In this way, they strengthened the connection between man and god. Religion played a very important role in the daily life of Ancient Rome. The Romans believed that GODS CONTROLLED THEIR LIVES and, as a result, spent a great deal of their time worshipping them. The most important god was JUPITER. He was the king of gods who ruled with his wife JUNO, the goddess of the sky. Other gods includes MARS, MERCURY, NEPTUNE, JANIS, DIANA, VESTA, MINERVA, VENUS. After the reign of the EMPEROR AUGUSTUS (27 BC to AD 14), the emperor was also considered to be a god and he was worshipped on special occasions. TEMPLES to worship the gods were built throughout the Roman Empire. Each family home would also have a small altar and shrine. The Romans had PERSONAL HOUSEHOLD GODS or spirits called “lares” which were worshipped every day at home. The shrine contained statues of the “lares” and the head of the household led family prayers around the shrine each day. Arts and Sciences The EGYPTIAN LANGUAGE was one of the earliest languages to be written down, perhaps only the Sumerian language is older. First appearing on stone and pottery dating from 3100 B.C. to 3000 B.C., it remained in use for almost 3,000 years. The last inscription was written in A.D. 394. DRAFTSMEN were scribes who specialized in drawing. They followed a formula that makes standing and sitting figures look stiff. Using a traditional grid of 18 squares, they sketched figures according to a predetermined pattern, making no attempt to show perspective. The eyes and shoulders are drawn from the front and the face, torso, arms and legs MATHEMATICS: Although the Egyptians lacked the symbol for zero, they calculated numbers based on the DECIMAL and the repetitive (numbers based on the POWER OF 10). The following signs were used to represent numbers in the decimal system 1 10 100 1000 10,000 100,000 1,000,000 Numbers were usually written LEFT TO RIGHT, starting with the highest denominator. See if you can translate this number: The Egyptians did not develop abstract mathematical formulas. They used the simple arithmetic of ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION MEDICINE: The doctors of ancient Egypt combined MAGIC SPELLS with REMEDIES. If a person fell sick, the illness was thought to be caused by the wrath of the gods or by an evil spirit that had entered the body. Both PRIESTS AND DOCTORS were called upon to heal the sick, combining their powers and skills to fix the problem. Doctors found cures for many diseases and some of their concepts are still used today. They used CASTOR OIL as laxatives, TANNIC ACID from the acadia tree to heal burns, CORIANDER in a tea for stomach illnesses, and CUMMIN SEEDS on aching or arthritic joints and to calm a cough. They also made and used TOOLS FOR SURGICAL USE that are similar to the ones that we use today. The Ancient Greeks are known for three main items: their SCULPTURES, their TEMPLES, and their VASE PAINTINGS. The art work embodies the ideas of EXCELLENCE, COURAGE and INDEPENDENCE. The Greeks IDEALIZED HUMANS, showing the strong and youthful depiction of men and women. The topics shown in their vases reflect the importance of strength, athletic competition, and battles. Their temples reflected their religious beliefs in the gods. Philosophy enabled many thinkers to move beyond mythic explanations of the universe and arrive at ones based on self-conscious rational methods of inquiry. The early COSMOLOGISTS, such as THALES, PYTHAGORAS, and DEMOCRITUS, developed RATIONAL ACCOUNTS OF NATURE in terms of imperishable substances, mathematical principles, or the properties of atoms. Similarly, HIPPOCRATES and his followers rejected mythic-religious explanations of disease and observed symptoms in order to identify their natural causes. Against the Cosmologists, the SOPHISTS argued that speculation about the universe was futile. Instead, these thinkers scrutinized people and society and instructed men in the skills of oratory (winning an argument). Protagoras and other Sophists examined questions of ETHICS, LAW, and MORALITY, but they were PHILOSOPHICAL RELATIVISTS whose critical method undermined traditional authority The Romans developed a distinctive SCULPTURE which was realistic, secular, and individualistic. EQUESTRIAN STATUES sculpted coffins (SARCOPHAGI), and the RELIEFS found on imperial monuments were exceptionally fine works of art. The Romans were particularly skilled in producing floor MOSAICS and in painting FRESCOES. Roman epic, dramatic, and lyric POETRY forms were usually written in conscious imitation of Greek masterpieces. The Romans were attracted to two Hellenistic ethical philosophies: EPICURIANSIM taught that the wise man could achieve happiness simply by freeing his body from pain and his mind from fear -- particularly the fear of death. To reach this goal, men must AVOID BODILY EXCESSES, including those of pleasure, and accept the scientific teaching of Democritus that both body and soul are composed of atoms which fall apart at death. Thus, BEYOND DEATH THERE IS NO EXISTENCE and nothing to fear. STOICISM argued that THE UNIVERSE IS CONTROLLED by some power -- variously called Reason, World Soul, Fortune, and God -- which determines everything that happens. The wise man conforms his will to the World Will and “STOICALLY" ACCEPTS whatever part fortune allots him in the drama of life. Stoicism had a humanizing effect on Roman law by introducing such concepts as the LAW OF NATURE, the LAW OF BROTHERHOOD OF MEN (including slaves), and the view that a man is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVED GUILTY.
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