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Primary Phase Cultures in Mesopotmia

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Primary Phase Cultures in Mesopotmia Powered By Docstoc
					Civilization
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what defines “civilization” ? whose definition counts ? and what does “civilization” mean, anyway?

Whose Definition?
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18th Century European primitive vs. civilized white vs. everyone else beginnings of the concept of “race” “race” does not exist

General characteristics
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urbanization: people living in cities surplus agriculture: more than you can eat now metal technology: not rocks writing: words in a row

A modern definition
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Urban: cities Surplus agriculture: stored food Political/military system:governments and armies Social stratification: differences in status Economic specializationl: different jobs Religion: religious figures parasitic on the community, because they do “god(s) work” Communications: oral or written records “Higher Culture”: art, literature, etc.

Earliest Civilizations
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in the Near (Middle) East three primary centers of origin and diffusion Mesopotamia, Egypt, India

Origins and Spread of Agriculture

Primary Phase Civilizations
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ca. 3000-2500 B.C. to about 1800-1500 B.C. either disappeared or changed by 1500 B.C. enjoyed contact with one another

Mesopotamia
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centrally located: Tigris-Euphrates River valley oldest chief beneficiary of interaction between the three

Mesopotamia: “The Land between the Rivers”
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“Between the Rivers”
– Tigris and Euphrates

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Contemporary Iraq, and a bit of Iran Cultural continuum of “fertile crescent”

•Other Centers
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Egypt: around the Nile River Indus civilization: around the Indus River China

Common Characteristics ??
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water water water water water

Other Characteristics
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opportunity to adapt the environment suitable for domesticated plants and animals relatively stable (a bit hot) climate

Other Characteristics, con’t.
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adjustments in the environment create surplus grain surplus food allows the expansion of trade and commerce deserts of the riverine cultures are short on resources

Primary Phase Cultures
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have common characteristics these define a “primary phase culture” they are consistent, worldwide

No. 1: Agriculture
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cereal crops, especially barley bread and beer herd animals: cattle, sheep, goats meat, milk, cheese leather and natural wool for clothing

No. 2: Planned economies
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require organized, mass labor (corvee) contruction and repair of canals and irrigation ditches community labor, by central authority control of production and storage of grain dispersion of foodstuffs among the population Redistributive economy

No. 3: Theocracies
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mobilized and directed by a ruling class of priests, who control the society by “blessings” and by “threats”
– Sound familiar?

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“the god(s) talks to us...not you! If you don’t do what we tell you to do, and if you don’t give us all your stuff, horrible things will happen to you!!” theocracy: “a god-ruled state”

Theocracies, con’t
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priests function as an organized central government, parasitic on the people
– as earthly representatives of the god – any modern examples?

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the king is regarded as a god or as a god’s agent
– an earthly representative of the god – any modern examples?

Theocracies, con’t
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palace and temple (“Church and State”) are combined power is derived from an unchallengable, higher reality...unquestionable authority
– If you question it, you are “evil”

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the god’s will must be done for the community to survive priestly class holds unlimited power

No. 4: Social Classes
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priestly class is part of the beginning of social differentitation
– that is, class stucture

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class structure based on specialization of labor generated class differences

Class structure
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priests (“We talk to god, you don’t.) aristocrats/warriors (“We have weapons, you don’t.”) common people (“I guess we work...?”) slaves (“We’re screwed!!!”)

No. 5: Industury
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pottery, textiles, beer (!), woodworking, and so forth production of luxuries (Things You Don’t Really Need) development and improvement of metal technology
– at this stage: BRONZE

No. 6: Architecture
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monumental architecture pyramids, ziggurats, big cities hugh temples and associated structures to fill the needs of a god-oriented state under the control of the priestly class

No. 7: Writing
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perhaps the most important invention: EVER record keeping, literature land tenure religious documents political and religious propaganda
– any examples you are familiar with ???

No. 8: Organization of Knowledge
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learning becomes cumulative, not startfrom-scratch perpetuates the level of achivement scribes and schools medicine, astronomy, calendars, mathematics, divination

The Information Age
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This is the beginning of the Information Age
Whoever controls the information can make whoever produces and controls you: – worship like they want, tell you which gods are real and which aren’t, and make you suffer or die if you object – work like they want, and tell you what system is best, and then make you pay them your money and thank them for the privilege – And make you go where they want, kill who they want for the stuff those people have, and tell you “It’s all for you! I am nothing but your servant!! And God’s servant, too, of course!!” – They decide what are “traditional family values”, values which support them and keep them in power. – Sound familiar?

Books to read
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Robert J. Wenke. Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind’s First Three Million Years Charles Keith Maisels. The Emergence of Civilization: From Hunting and Gathering to Agriculture, Cities, and the State in the Near East The Cambridge Ancient History: Prolegomena and Prehistory


				
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