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Civilization

Printed From: WorldHistoria Forum
Category: REGIONAL HISTORY
Forum Name: West Asia & North Africa
Forum Description: Cradle of civilizations from Antiquity to the Modern Era
URL: http://www.worldhistoria.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=129256
Printed Date: 15 Dec 2018 at 18:07
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Topic: Civilization
Posted By: mikebis
Subject: Civilization
Date Posted: 01 Nov 2015 at 07:07
In my research on Ancient Mesopotamia, I found at least three preconditions for civilization: the settled society engaged in farming and livestock rearing; craft specialization; and spiritual orientation (ie the split of the community into the clergy and laymen and empowering the clerics to control the wellfare of the congregation). 

All these processes were enacted in the Ancient Near East at the 5 millennium BCE. Early temples had been built; they gave rise to the emergence of "holy neighborhoods" (a set of households surrounding the temple). The pristine population in Southern Mesopotamia is called the Ubaid, but this is a controversial term. They might as well be the ancestors of the Sumerians. 


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MB



Replies:
Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 01 Nov 2015 at 07:33
At the threshold of civilization.
When and where did the first cities show up? Many researches point to Jericho (8th millennium BCE) and Catal Huyuk (7th millennium BCE). In my view, these were gigantic settlements whose population engaged in farming and developed cottage industry of making tools. It also subsisted on hunting and gathering. There were spontaneous contacts with the outside world; some graves reveal luxurious objects not fabricated locally. The religion was focused on family shrines. I'd like to emphasize that the population was leading the same life style: it wasn't split into social statuses yet. They were simple egalitarian societies. 

The first true cities emerge in Southern Mesopotamia. Such places as Eridu, Nippur, and Uruk, which appeared throughout the 5th millennium BCE, followed a different pattern of town planning. Each of them focuses on a sacred site devoted to one of the major Mesopotamian deities. 


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MB


Posted By: fantasus
Date Posted: 01 Nov 2015 at 08:25
When I read this it makes me ask if archaeology is anywhere near a "definitive" truth. I doubt very much(I would doubt for most sciences including the natural sciences), and that is not as much because of "relativism" from my side as it is because both methods but "cirkumstances" in particular seems to be so far from perfect. Thus, when reading about archaeology in Israel compared to that of its neighbours I may wionder if israelis find more, simply due to better working conditions for research and more professional researchers and not least better Funding.On the other hand I may ask if not such research has come to a standstill in many countries in the region, because of political and even security. How countries plagued by terrorism, internal wars as well as occupational forces could have done that much is beyond me. (Israels wars and internal problems I see as much more "contained" and in many cases short-term). Then add that the attitude of those with Money and power may not be that friendly towards research in every counbtry (and not that of the populations, not to speak of insurgency-movements, religious Groups etcetera).


Posted By: caldrail
Date Posted: 02 Nov 2015 at 09:50
Is archeology a 'definitive truth'? Only as far as our knowledge base, interpretations, and techniques allow us. Science has improved archeology no end in recent decades with new methods of searching beneath ground level, and recently satellite technology has seriously opened our eyes concerning such things as the spread of Egyptian and Roman civilisation, including new features not previously known about such as the canal between Rome and Portus.

The basic problem is that archeology is a profession that relies on good fortune, as you can generally only dig for something you know about, and unfortunately in many places the site has already been looted by locals aiming to sell for profit, which destroys any context of the finds., or damaged by farming/building.

But definitive truth? That would only apply to something confirmable. Although carbon dating is sometimes a bit vague, with results yielding possible dates over hundreds of years, recent techniques in contextual sampling have shown we can statistically cut down that margin of error to within decades. We can match finds with historical records. If a site has remains of a certain civilisation or culture, then we know that culture had been there. To see archeology as a single definitive truth is the wrong perspective. It's about working toward the sum total of knowledge rather than stating what it is.


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http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/


Posted By: fantasus
Date Posted: 02 Nov 2015 at 10:58
Originally posted by caldrail caldrail wrote:

Is archeology a 'definitive truth'? Only as far as our knowledge base, interpretations, and techniques allow us. Science has improved archeology no end in recent decades with new methods of searching beneath ground level, and recently satellite technology has seriously opened our eyes concerning such things as the spread of Egyptian and Roman civilisation, including new features not previously known about such as the canal between Rome and Portus.

The basic problem is that archeology is a profession that relies on good fortune, as you can generally only dig for something you know about, and unfortunately in many places the site has already been looted by locals aiming to sell for profit, which destroys any context of the finds., or damaged by farming/building.

But definitive truth? That would only apply to something confirmable. Although carbon dating is sometimes a bit vague, with results yielding possible dates over hundreds of years, recent techniques in contextual sampling have shown we can statistically cut down that margin of error to within decades. We can match finds with historical records. If a site has remains of a certain civilisation or culture, then we know that culture had been there. To see archeology as a single definitive truth is the wrong perspective. It's about working toward the sum total of knowledge rather than stating what it is.


You are right, and I was probably not that clear. What I point at is that archaeologists and probably also historians have some problems in addition to what problems they share with other disciplines, in particular the natural sciences. For the later at least they donm´t have to think that much about security issues, politics, and other similar local factors. Plus archaeologists very much depend upon local conditions of preservation, and therefore as well as for other reasons their findings are far from representative. No doubt one of the reasons they have found so much in Egypt and the other countries to the East and South is that those countries made a great legacy. But there is also Little doubt the climate and in particular the deserts had excellent conditions for preservations of a lot of findings.


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 03 Nov 2015 at 01:29
Archaeology is somewhat limited to material culture, writing adds a whole new light, and secular literature with alphabetic writing, actually "re-presenting" spoken word (particularly poetry), is entirely another level.  If we didn't have the Bible, then how would we know about YHWH?  A few inscriptions maybe.  The habitual iconoclasm keeps him largely from making an appearance in the material record, or at least it seems so to me.  It is sometimes very easy to tell that some things have spiritual (or mental) import, but at the same time it is often very hard to understand what that importance is.  The plaster skulls from Catal Huyuk come to mind.  Something related to ancestor worship, but having said that, how much can modern man understand ancestor worship the way ancient man did?  I suspect that maybe an American Indian or an Australian aborigine or even a Taiwanese could understand it better than a modern man could, but maybe that is why Archaeology is so often contained in the Anthropology Department in the University.  So could archaeology come with a definitive truth about some thing?!?  Well no, because historical societies have always believed in God(s) and the soul (or the mind), and both of those are not really accessible to scrutiny of the material remains.  Maybe the archaeologist does not believe in God(s) or the soul/mind.  That is fine, but the fact is that most people throughout history have, and you are not going to understand them if you excise a portion of their beliefs (perhaps the greatest part), and dismiss all of religion.
But if you accept archaeology's limitations, you can get quite far.  And the fact is, with even a living tradition, nobody ever gets to know God and the soul (mind) "definitively."  So getting to know God and soul (mind) is not to be found anywhere, at least not completely.  But it is important to understand that, looking at a picture of the past, one does not get (through archaeology or anywhere else), the whole story.


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 03 Nov 2015 at 05:55
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Archaeology is somewhat limited to material culture, writing adds a whole new light, and secular literature with alphabetic writing, actually "re-presenting" spoken word (particularly poetry), is entirely another level.  If we didn't have the Bible, then how would we know about YHWH?  A few inscriptions maybe.  The habitual iconoclasm keeps him largely from making an appearance in the material record, or at least it seems so to me.  It is sometimes very easy to tell that some things have spiritual (or mental) import, but at the same time it is often very hard to understand what that importance is.  The plaster skulls from Catal Huyuk come to mind.  Something related to ancestor worship, but having said that, how much can modern man understand ancestor worship the way ancient man did?  I suspect that maybe an American Indian or an Australian aborigine or even a Taiwanese could understand it better than a modern man could, but maybe that is why Archaeology is so often contained in the Anthropology Department in the University.  So could archaeology come with a definitive truth about some thing?!?  Well no, because historical societies have always believed in God(s) and the soul (or the mind), and both of those are not really accessible to scrutiny of the material remains.  Maybe the archaeologist does not believe in God(s) or the soul/mind.  That is fine, but the fact is that most people throughout history have, and you are not going to understand them if you excise a portion of their beliefs (perhaps the greatest part), and dismiss all of religion.
But if you accept archaeology's limitations, you can get quite far.  And the fact is, with even a living tradition, nobody ever gets to know God and the soul (mind) "definitively."  So getting to know God and soul (mind) is not to be found anywhere, at least not completely.  But it is important to understand that, looking at a picture of the past, one does not get (through archaeology or anywhere else), the whole story.

I'm not sure that god, mind, or spirit are all that different than other culturally transmitted ideas.  Looking at a stone tool doesn't give you much of an idea how to create one.   


Posted By: fantasus
Date Posted: 03 Nov 2015 at 07:03
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Archaeology is somewhat limited to material culture, writing adds a whole new light, and secular literature with alphabetic writing, actually "re-presenting" spoken word (particularly poetry), is entirely another level.  If we didn't have the Bible, then how would we know about YHWH?  A few inscriptions maybe.  The habitual iconoclasm keeps him largely from making an appearance in the material record, or at least it seems so to me.  It is sometimes very easy to tell that some things have spiritual (or mental) import, but at the same time it is often very hard to understand what that importance is.  The plaster skulls from Catal Huyuk come to mind.  Something related to ancestor worship, but having said that, how much can modern man understand ancestor worship the way ancient man did?  I suspect that maybe an American Indian or an Australian aborigine or even a Taiwanese could understand it better than a modern man could, but maybe that is why Archaeology is so often contained in the Anthropology Department in the University.  So could archaeology come with a definitive truth about some thing?!?  Well no, because historical societies have always believed in God(s) and the soul (or the mind), and both of those are not really accessible to scrutiny of the material remains.  Maybe the archaeologist does not believe in God(s) or the soul/mind.  That is fine, but the fact is that most people throughout history have, and you are not going to understand them if you excise a portion of their beliefs (perhaps the greatest part), and dismiss all of religion.
But if you accept archaeology's limitations, you can get quite far.  And the fact is, with even a living tradition, nobody ever gets to know God and the soul (mind) "definitively."  So getting to know God and soul (mind) is not to be found anywhere, at least not completely.  But it is important to understand that, looking at a picture of the past, one does not get (through archaeology or anywhere else), the whole story.

It is not that I seriously disagree, since You are right writing adds "new dimensions". On the other hand with writing, that is the historians "proper domain" emerges new problems. Writers and authors got a Tool of manipulating, of selecting their version of "truth". I think the problem of honesty, of "selectivity", comes to a much higher level too. Then also writing may give a much less "representative" or "proportional" view, since often very small parts of a given population may dominate the written record.


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 04 Nov 2015 at 03:00
Actually looking at a tool, they can in general recreate it.  They can even sometimes learn about a tool we don't have by its product.  The reconstruction (restoration) of the Parthenon revealed tool marks from a particular kind of chisel more efficient than what we have today in doing, whatever chisels do.

Yes, fantasus, writing adds a whole new layer of complexity, and whether or not something like the Bible shows an ancient world physically 'accurately,' it does at least show an ancient world to the imagination.  An imagination dating back in some places 2000- 3000 years or more.  It is true in that sense, regardless of whether it is always true in the narrow minded factual sense.


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 04 Nov 2015 at 04:38
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Actually looking at a tool, they can in general recreate it.  They can even sometimes learn about a tool we don't have by its product.  The reconstruction (restoration) of the Parthenon revealed tool marks from a particular kind of chisel more efficient than what we have today in doing, whatever chisels do.

How do you know if a stone point is a work of art or a tool? 

How do we know if a writer believes what he is writing?

Both physical and intellectual artifacts must be vetted for intent.

Today we take objectivity some what for granted as it is part of the modern value system but there is evidence that in the past objectivity was not as highly prized a quality in a communicator.  A good story teller doesn't need to confine themselves to objective reality.  Early religions seem to be about a good story while today we expect a degree of philosophical sophistication.  The question is if ancient belief systems are different from modern beliefs by degree or kind.

It is true that physical archeology doesn't give us much of an insight into the inner life or spiritual beliefs of the people being studied.  It is equally true that we don't know why they may have prefered one aesthetic over another.  Is prizing brightly colored feathers over gold ornaments meaningful or explanatory?  It is likely that religion is like any other aesthetic that becomes contagious and builds up over time into a cultural norm somewhat by accident.   Even if you don't believe in the concept of memes it is obvious that many aspect of a culture have nothing to do with utility and take on a life of there own having mindlessly evolved independent of their host culture.

  

   


Posted By: fantasus
Date Posted: 04 Nov 2015 at 10:16
We can not always know the purpose of a certain item, though i think often there will be Little doubt. There could be both in a single case.
Like the "iceman" found at the italian Austrian border years ago. He wore cothes and had tools where there is Little reason to doubt their use. Then he had tatoos at his skin. What may have been the purpose of the later? he was also killed. We can only guess about the story behind or what beliefs about afterlife dominated.


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 04:06
atalatal Bob was a guy who played around with the atalatal or throwing stick.  He figured out some new (old) things about it.  The mongols had some specialized arrows, but yes, most tools would probably be pretty obvious in most of their aspects.

In ancient societies, knowledge would have the authority of tradition, it is such-and-such a way because the tribe or the city says so.  Subjectivity and objectivity were things that had to be invented/discovered.  The sophists were, to a great extent, the philosophers of subjectivity.  Socrates, or maybe just Plato's Socrates were the discoverers of objectivity (or a definition). 


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 05 Nov 2015 at 09:04
We need evidence that theology has positively effected the fate of a civilization insofar as any other theology wouldn't have sufficed to provide social solidarity.  


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 03:36
any other theology than theology?!?
"We" need evidence??  What is your criteria for such evidence?
I would consider Naziism and Communism to be evidence for what happens when there is an absence of religion, but others probably wouldn't.  


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 06 Nov 2015 at 04:56
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

any other theology than theology?!?
"We" need evidence??  What is your criteria for such evidence?
I would consider Naziism and Communism to be evidence for what happens when there is an absence of religion, but others probably wouldn't.  

The faithful need no evidence Cheers

Sure there are example of secular governments that seem to devalue human life.  Current trends in atheism in Western Europe however seem to demonstrate that decoupling of religion and morality is possible by developing secular humanism.

I was thinking more of ancient history and the emergence of civilizations and the assumption that religion is necessary for morality.  It seems a reasonable alternative view to propose that in late prehistory that morality was a necessary precondition for civilization to advance to the point where vague beliefs could be replaced by organized religions.

As a philosopher you know that morality is not a simple subject and that there are as many secular as religious views on the subject.  How those views effect behavior is even more difficult to decipher.


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 07 Nov 2015 at 03:39
I suspect a bit of bias in this study but it more or less agrees with my observations.

Religious children are meaner than their secular counterparts, study finds

"The findings “robustly demonstrate that children from households identifying as either of the two major world religions (Christianity and Islam) were less altruistic than children from non-religious households”.

Older children, usually those with a longer exposure to religion, “exhibit[ed] the greatest negative relations”."

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/06/religious-children-less-altruistic-secular-kids-study" rel="nofollow - http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/06/religious-children-less-altruistic-secular-kids-study


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 07 Nov 2015 at 10:17
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

When I read this it makes me ask if archaeology is anywhere near a "definitive" truth. I doubt very much(I would doubt for most sciences including the natural sciences), and that is not as much because of "relativism" from my side as it is because both methods but "cirkumstances" in particular seems to be so far from perfect. Thus, when reading about archaeology in Israel compared to that of its neighbours I may wionder if israelis find more, simply due to better working conditions for research and more professional researchers and not least better Funding.On the other hand I may ask if not such research has come to a standstill in many countries in the region, because of political and even security. How countries plagued by terrorism, internal wars as well as occupational forces could have done that much is beyond me. (Israels wars and internal problems I see as much more "contained" and in many cases short-term). Then add that the attitude of those with Money and power may not be that friendly towards research in every counbtry (and not that of the populations, not to speak of insurgency-movements, religious Groups etcetera).
This thread concerns the conditions for civilization, not archeological findings. You are right pointing to different causes hamping archeological research. My country, Israel, enjoys an uninterrupted history of research, carried out by Israeli and international teams. The results are generally publicised and available to public discussion. Nobody has the right neither to stop that research nor to exercise the authority to conceal the facts. My own online research is authentic and independent. You may rely on that. 


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MB


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 07 Nov 2015 at 10:19
Originally posted by caldrail caldrail wrote:

Is archeology a 'definitive truth'? Only as far as our knowledge base, interpretations, and techniques allow us. Science has improved archeology no end in recent decades with new methods of searching beneath ground level, and recently satellite technology has seriously opened our eyes concerning such things as the spread of Egyptian and Roman civilisation, including new features not previously known about such as the canal between Rome and Portus.

The basic problem is that archeology is a profession that relies on good fortune, as you can generally only dig for something you know about, and unfortunately in many places the site has already been looted by locals aiming to sell for profit, which destroys any context of the finds., or damaged by farming/building.

But definitive truth? That would only apply to something confirmable. Although carbon dating is sometimes a bit vague, with results yielding possible dates over hundreds of years, recent techniques in contextual sampling have shown we can statistically cut down that margin of error to within decades. We can match finds with historical records. If a site has remains of a certain civilisation or culture, then we know that culture had been there. To see archeology as a single definitive truth is the wrong perspective. It's about working toward the sum total of knowledge rather than stating what it is.
Of course. The research should take into account different fields of study and considerate alternative theories as well. 


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MB


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 07 Nov 2015 at 11:34
Birthmarks of complex societies
With due respect, I remind the participants that we come here to discuss civilazation.
The main feature in my undestanding of civilization is the temple. Pristine cities grow out of "sacred neighborhoods", which are focused on a shrine. In Mesopotamia, the first shrines date back to the V millennium BCE. The temple keeps the best agricultural land. It raises the largest flocks. It accepts the remnants of split families. It gives orders to artisans. It sends envoys on diplomatic missions and on trade ventures. It applies the lunar calendar. It performs large-scale computations to employ manpower and control the disbursement of rations. It controls the social life keeping holidays. It interferes in social conflicts within the community and between the members of different communities. It copes with the influx of foreigners. It invents writing as a means of economic control. In time of trouble, it enacts "combat units" of its clients and armed worriers of the community. 


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MB


Posted By: fantasus
Date Posted: 07 Nov 2015 at 13:59
Originally posted by mikebis mikebis wrote:


Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

When I read this it makes me ask if archaeology is because of "relativism" from my side as it is because both methods but "cirkumstances" in particular seems to be so far from perfect. anywhere near a "definitive" truth. I doubt very much(I would doubt for most sciences including the natural sciences), and that is not as much Thus, when reading about archaeology in Israel compared to that of its neighbours I may wionder if israelis find more, simply due to better working conditions for research and more professional researchers and not least better Funding.On the other hand I may ask if not such research has come to a standstill in many countries in the region, because of political and even security. How countries plagued by terrorism, internal wars as well as occupational forces could have done that much is beyond me. (Israels wars and internal problems I see as much more "contained" and in many cases short-term). Then add that the attitude of those with Money and power may not be that friendly towards research in every counbtry (and not that of the populations, not to speak of insurgency-movements, religious Groups etcetera).


This thread concerns the conditions for civilization, not archeological findings.
Archaeological findings tell us much about ancient Civilisations. It is not that impossible our view of past civilisation may change substantially with new archaeological finding.

Originally posted by mikebis mikebis wrote:

You are right pointing to different causes hamping archeological research. My country, Israel, enjoys an uninterrupted history of research, carried out by Israeli and international teams. The results are generally publicised and available to public discussion. Nobody has the right neither to stop that research nor to exercise the authority to conceal the facts. My own online research is authentic and independent. You may rely on that. 
Who has suggested any idea archaeological research in Israel should stop or be downgraded?


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 08 Nov 2015 at 09:39
Originally posted by mikebis mikebis wrote:

Birthmarks of complex societies
With due respect, I remind the participants that we come here to discuss civilazation.
The main feature in my undestanding of civilization is the temple. Pristine cities grow out of "sacred neighborhoods", which are focused on a shrine. In Mesopotamia, the first shrines date back to the V millennium BCE. The temple keeps the best agricultural land. It raises the largest flocks. It accepts the remnants of split families. It gives orders to artisans. It sends envoys on diplomatic missions and on trade ventures. It applies the lunar calendar. It performs large-scale computations to employ manpower and control the disbursement of rations. It controls the social life keeping holidays. It interferes in social conflicts within the community and between the members of different communities. It copes with the influx of foreigners. It invents writing as a means of economic control. In time of trouble, it enacts "combat units" of its clients and armed worriers of the community. 

I don't think there is any doubt that religion is key characteristic of the organization of early city states.  What isn't as clear is that the nature of that religion is particularly important.  Any belief system that captures the imagination of the population seems suitable to providing the necessary social solidarity.  Perhaps when the ruler becomes a god then you have reached a significant change in social organization but the theology itself need not be philosophically sophisticated.  

How religion deals with practical issues such as astronomical observations and the creation of calendars or the expansion of literacy could point to subtle differences related to theology but I can't think of any good examples.  The co evolution of religion and civilization may simply hide significant variations in the role theology plays in a societies success?
     


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 13 Nov 2015 at 14:25
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Originally posted by mikebis mikebis wrote:

Birthmarks of complex societies
With due respect, I remind the participants that we come here to discuss civilazation.
The main feature in my undestanding of civilization is the temple. Pristine cities grow out of "sacred neighborhoods", which are focused on a shrine. In Mesopotamia, the first shrines date back to the V millennium BCE. The temple keeps the best agricultural land. It raises the largest flocks. It accepts the remnants of split families. It gives orders to artisans. It sends envoys on diplomatic missions and on trade ventures. It applies the lunar calendar. It performs large-scale computations to employ manpower and control the disbursement of rations. It controls the social life keeping holidays. It interferes in social conflicts within the community and between the members of different communities. It copes with the influx of foreigners. It invents writing as a means of economic control. In time of trouble, it enacts "combat units" of its clients and armed worriers of the community. 

I don't think there is any doubt that religion is key characteristic of the organization of early city states.  What isn't as clear is that the nature of that religion is particularly important.  Any belief system that captures the imagination of the population seems suitable to providing the necessary social solidarity.  Perhaps when the ruler becomes a god then you have reached a significant change in social organization but the theology itself need not be philosophically sophisticated.  

How religion deals with practical issues such as astronomical observations and the creation of calendars or the expansion of literacy could point to subtle differences related to theology but I can't think of any good examples.  The co evolution of religion and civilization may simply hide significant variations in the role theology plays in a societies success?
     
No doubt for you, but most researches don't mention religion as one of the cornerstones of the "temple" of civilization or urban complex society. Very weird because we discuss societies where 100 per cent of members were believers. Recognizing the ruler as a god does not change the basic structure of the society, only nuances. The calendar and writing are imminent components of civilization-at least, in ancient Near East. 

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MB


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 13 Nov 2015 at 14:30
Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

Originally posted by mikebis mikebis wrote:


Originally posted by fantasus fantasus wrote:

When I read this it makes me ask if archaeology is because of "relativism" from my side as it is because both methods but "cirkumstances" in particular seems to be so far from perfect. anywhere near a "definitive" truth. I doubt very much(I would doubt for most sciences including the natural sciences), and that is not as much Thus, when reading about archaeology in Israel compared to that of its neighbours I may wionder if israelis find more, simply due to better working conditions for research and more professional researchers and not least better Funding.On the other hand I may ask if not such research has come to a standstill in many countries in the region, because of political and even security. How countries plagued by terrorism, internal wars as well as occupational forces could have done that much is beyond me. (Israels wars and internal problems I see as much more "contained" and in many cases short-term). Then add that the attitude of those with Money and power may not be that friendly towards research in every counbtry (and not that of the populations, not to speak of insurgency-movements, religious Groups etcetera).


This thread concerns the conditions for civilization, not archeological findings.
Archaeological findings tell us much about ancient Civilisations. It is not that impossible our view of past civilisation may change substantially with new archaeological finding.

Originally posted by mikebis mikebis wrote:

You are right pointing to different causes hamping archeological research. My country, Israel, enjoys an uninterrupted history of research, carried out by Israeli and international teams. The results are generally publicised and available to public discussion. Nobody has the right neither to stop that research nor to exercise the authority to conceal the facts. My own online research is authentic and independent. You may rely on that. 
Who has suggested any idea archaeological research in Israel should stop or be downgraded?
Your question shows that we're on the right track. The point is, you never know. My experience shows that in a democratic society you don't need administrative measures to stop exploration. It is enough if it is ignored an dforgotten. 

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MB


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 13 Nov 2015 at 14:51
The next part in my research is called "The recipe for civilization". I have found twelve items relevant for any urban complex society in the Ancient Near East:
1. The sacred precinct responsible for festivals and spiritual service 2. The temple household with distinct social stratification and division of labor 3. The industrial center which controls handicraft industries 
4. The commercial center practising the exchange of local products to foreign commodities 5. The scientific center developing astronomy, linguistics, maths 6. The cultural center in charge of public architecture, sculpture, mosaics, and painting 7. The system of administrative record-keeping and economic control 8. The legal center with courts-of-law, supervision of measures and weights, control over prices 9. The centralized government applying scores of workers in irrigation schemes, public construction, and military operations 10. The military center for handling emergency situations and leading wars 11. The "melting pot" of neighborhood ties prevailing over kin or ethnic connections 12. The welfare center receiving unlucky members of community and giving shelter for fugitives and refugees. 


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MB


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 14 Nov 2015 at 05:11
your recipe is interesting, but let me point out something that may or may not, for you, present a problem.
astronomy, mathematics, economics, architecture, ethnic are Greek words, commercial, commodities, scientific, linguistic, military, emergency, welfare, community are Latin based.  Therefore, while plenty of scholars will talk about "Egyptian science," "Babylonian astronomy," "Greek economics," et cetera, et cetera, really it is anachronistic to do so.  For Pythagoras, astronomy was part of mathematics (as was music), but also not separate from astrology, that was also true before him in the Babylonian society, which used astronomy/astrology to make a calendar, but not until rather late (700s-600s? something like that), astronomy/astrology didn't really exist until after that.  Without the concept of a calendar, astronomy(astrology) doesn't really make sense.
If you read the pseudo-Aristotelian "The Economics" you see all kinds of stories about tyrants and demagogues using all kinds of schemes to get money, (such as calling in the currency and exchanging it for devalued currency, lesser weigh, debased, so forth.  Economics in Xenophon is about properly training your young wife to manage your estate.  Of course, coinage is not introduced until 7th c. BC, before that, hacksilber was used and barter, the agora was a Greek invention, forum roman.
There is also no such thing as "art for art's sake," art was part of religion, or rather it was not "imagined" separate from religion until early modernity.
So your list is interesting, but just realize that it is filled with language that did not exist, nor (more importantly) did the concepts behind that language, when civilization was born.  That shouldn't necessarily change anything in your list, but I do think you should realize that you are talking about the origins of Civilization, using language and concepts that ancient 'citizens' would not possibly be able to recognize. 


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 14 Nov 2015 at 11:55
"There is also no such thing as "art for art's sake," art was part of religion, or rather it was not "imagined" separate from religion until early modernity."

"early modernity" end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, roughly the late 15th century to the late 18th century.?

I would withdraw or modify that assertion.  

In anycase as I have been arguing the distinction between art and religion may not be as great as people assume.  Religion divorced from the purely hypothetical existence of god should be seen objectively as an aesthetic that despite it's diversity of form serves the same purpose across multiply cultures.   There are many equally irrational and yet powerful cultural oddities such as racism that have a significant impact on a culture.  Creating a special place religion in understanding cultural evolution could be misleading.

"language that did not exist, nor (more importantly) did the concepts behind that language, when civilization was born."

The same concept can be applied to religion you simply have to go back in time a little further.

Math probably existed before there was a "concept" of what math is the list is endless.  What you are talking about is well defined definitions which may be related to a written language to codify the concept into an accepted definition.  More importantly even today every discipline is being redefined by the current state of understanding.  Civilization itself existed before anyone had a concept of what it was.  If you point is that the author should invent new terms such as alchemy to describe early chemistry it could get very tedious trying to follow his work.  Putting a finer point on a subject certainly has merit but only if the intent is not a broad outline even then context offers definition. 
 




Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 14 Nov 2015 at 17:57
Theoretically, such anachronism in concepts _can_ be a problem.  Theoretically.
Practically, such an anachronism _need_not_ be a problem, it depends on what you want to do.

Just as ancient fables are all attributed to Aesop, ancient Roman cooking recipes were attributed to
Apicius.  You can actually buy a cook book (edited by a modern woman from the Medici family), that has modern re-creations of ancient Roman recipes.  But in reading a modern re-creation, an ancient would not understand it.  It's like the old woman who understands a pinch of this, a dash of that, but doesn't deal with teaspoons and tablespoons.  We might like to think that in reading the modern cookbook re-creation of ancient recipes, that we are doing ancient recipes, and "practically" to some degree we are.  But our cooking is different than their cooking, and its more than the fact that we use microwaves, and they used clay wood fired ovens.


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 15 Nov 2015 at 04:49
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Theoretically, such anachronism in concepts _can_ be a problem.  Theoretically.
Practically, such an anachronism _need_not_ be a problem, it depends on what you want to do.

Just as ancient fables are all attributed to Aesop, ancient Roman cooking recipes were attributed to
Apicius.  You can actually buy a cook book (edited by a modern woman from the Medici family), that has modern re-creations of ancient Roman recipes.  But in reading a modern re-creation, an ancient would not understand it.  It's like the old woman who understands a pinch of this, a dash of that, but doesn't deal with teaspoons and tablespoons.  We might like to think that in reading the modern cookbook re-creation of ancient recipes, that we are doing ancient recipes, and "practically" to some degree we are.  But our cooking is different than their cooking, and its more than the fact that we use microwaves, and they used clay wood fired ovens.

You need to offer some concrete cause and effects here because I'm having trouble following you.

That said I want to address a point I was making in another thread concerning philosophy.

 "The insights of philosophers have occasionally benefited physicists, but generally in a negative fashion—by protecting them from the preconceptions of other philosophers."

Steven Weinberg

I understand what Weinberg is saying but it may be a bit of an exaggeration.  Today it is fashionable for experts to collaborate with people from other fields and philosophers are showing up in scientific publications fairly regularly.  I don't think people expect philosopher to unravel the mysteries of the universe or even suggest how to go about that task.   What they bring to a team is an understanding of the necessary rigidity of the language being used.  There is a certain "you know" short hand common to scientific papers that can often be misleading or even contradict the point the paper is making.  I think historical papers can benefit from the same kind of insights.

   


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 15 Nov 2015 at 20:10
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

your recipe is interesting, but let me point out something that may or may not, for you, present a problem.
astronomy, mathematics, economics, architecture, ethnic are Greek words, commercial, commodities, scientific, linguistic, military, emergency, welfare, community are Latin based.  Therefore, while plenty of scholars will talk about "Egyptian science," "Babylonian astronomy," "Greek economics," et cetera, et cetera, really it is anachronistic to do so.  For Pythagoras, astronomy was part of mathematics (as was music), but also not separate from astrology, that was also true before him in the Babylonian society, which used astronomy/astrology to make a calendar, but not until rather late (700s-600s? something like that), astronomy/astrology didn't really exist until after that.  Without the concept of a calendar, astronomy(astrology) doesn't really make sense.
If you read the pseudo-Aristotelian "The Economics" you see all kinds of stories about tyrants and demagogues using all kinds of schemes to get money, (such as calling in the currency and exchanging it for devalued currency, lesser weigh, debased, so forth.  Economics in Xenophon is about properly training your young wife to manage your estate.  Of course, coinage is not introduced until 7th c. BC, before that, hacksilber was used and barter, the agora was a Greek invention, forum roman.
There is also no such thing as "art for art's sake," art was part of religion, or rather it was not "imagined" separate from religion until early modernity.
So your list is interesting, but just realize that it is filled with language that did not exist, nor (more importantly) did the concepts behind that language, when civilization was born.  That shouldn't necessarily change anything in your list, but I do think you should realize that you are talking about the origins of Civilization, using language and concepts that ancient 'citizens' would not possibly be able to recognize. 
Thanks for your remark. I agree that astronomy is a theme-oriented word and deserves a discussion. However, in my view the important thing is that every civilized society had a calendar. In Mesopotamia, the holidays were celebrated and lunar months observed even in the IV millennium BCE. You can call this astrology since magic was deeply involved. 
In Mesopotamia, first copper, than silver were used in barter trade. It was weighed, divided, and compared to other items of merchandize. Legal codes include prices. 
Not only art: almost everything was initially part of religion. And every complex society promoted arts. 
I have no doubt that ancient Mesopotamians would not understand what I'm talking about. However, I speak to my contemporaries and have to use the relevant language. Not only I! Doing this research, I observed thousands of sources for each unit. I came to my own conclusions, but I borrowed the language from my predecessors. 


-------------
MB


Posted By: mikebis
Date Posted: 15 Nov 2015 at 20:12
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Theoretically, such anachronism in concepts _can_ be a problem.  Theoretically.
Practically, such an anachronism _need_not_ be a problem, it depends on what you want to do.

Just as ancient fables are all attributed to Aesop, ancient Roman cooking recipes were attributed to
Apicius.  You can actually buy a cook book (edited by a modern woman from the Medici family), that has modern re-creations of ancient Roman recipes.  But in reading a modern re-creation, an ancient would not understand it.  It's like the old woman who understands a pinch of this, a dash of that, but doesn't deal with teaspoons and tablespoons.  We might like to think that in reading the modern cookbook re-creation of ancient recipes, that we are doing ancient recipes, and "practically" to some degree we are.  But our cooking is different than their cooking, and its more than the fact that we use microwaves, and they used clay wood fired ovens.
Thank you for explanation. 


-------------
MB


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 15 Nov 2015 at 22:36
Most of history looked at cooking as the taste of the cook, adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, and cooking it to taste.  They would be amused by the idea of following a recipe, and probably horrified by the idea of being tied down by something written out.  People these days, don't necessary have as much of a "feel" for what makes good food, but follow a recipe and, according to the recipe, manage well because of that.  These days, people would feel squeemish if they knew the cook at a restaurant was dipping a spoon every 5 minutes (the same spoon), as they probably did especially before germ theory.  Wolfie, if cooking could be this different between ancient and modern versions, then imagine how complicated politics or economics or science or art would be (pre, compared to post)
You're right Mikebis, for your goals it is best to put your recipe in plain language.  To me, it would be like searching for the holy grail, trying to express things in a manner that would account for the ancients own understanding of themselves, noble, but not at all practical.
Roger Zelazny had a science fiction book, Lord of Light, where the crew of a colony spaceship sets up a Hindu caste system (with the crew as gods over all the other colonists, suppressing technology, until one uses the traditional opposition to Hinduism (Buddhism), to overturn the reign of 'heaven.') 


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 16 Nov 2015 at 05:46
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Most of history looked at cooking as the taste of the cook, adding a pinch of this, a dash of that, and cooking it to taste.  They would be amused by the idea of following a recipe, and probably horrified by the idea of being tied down by something written out.  People these days, don't necessary have as much of a "feel" for what makes good food, but follow a recipe and, according to the recipe, manage well because of that.  These days, people would feel squeemish if they knew the cook at a restaurant was dipping a spoon every 5 minutes (the same spoon), as they probably did especially before germ theory.  Wolfie, if cooking could be this different between ancient and modern versions, then imagine how complicated politics or economics or science or art would be (pre, compared to post)
You're right Mikebis, for your goals it is best to put your recipe in plain language.  To me, it would be like searching for the holy grail, trying to express things in a manner that would account for the ancients own understanding of themselves, noble, but not at all practical.
Roger Zelazny had a science fiction book, Lord of Light, where the crew of a colony spaceship sets up a Hindu caste system (with the crew as gods over all the other colonists, suppressing technology, until one uses the traditional opposition to Hinduism (Buddhism), to overturn the reign of 'heaven.') 

You got me, I have nothing at the moment to reply Clap 


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 20 Nov 2015 at 04:43
I would not consider Macedonian generals to be civilized.

Macedonian generals probably never had any stress,
you see, if you define stess as the suppression of the instinct to choke the sh-t out of some idiot, 
well Macedonian generals probably never suppressed that instinct, and ergo, they did not have stress.

That is what civilization is, politics is war by other means, (with apologies to Clauswitz).


Posted By: crazysharktank
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2016 at 08:20
I love the discussion here. I wrote a indepth article about Ancient Mesopotamia. I am looking for a feedback.  http://www.ancienthistorylists.com/ancient-civilization/ancient-mesopotamia/www.ancienthistorylists.com/ancient-civilization/ancient-mesopotamia/" rel="nofollow - http://www.ancienthistorylists.com/ancient-civilization/ancient-mesopotamia/


Posted By: caldrail
Date Posted: 14 Mar 2016 at 10:14
Quote "There is also no such thing as "art for art's sake," art was part of religion, or rather it was not "imagined" separate from religion until early modernity."

That's not a supportable view. Cave paintings from prehistory may or may not have a spiritual theme (how can you tell?), but often they represent scenes from their lives. The image of a hand on the wall made by blowing paint on it does not represent anything spiritual however - that's someone saying 'I was here'. Art appears to have been most often used in a spiritual context but bear in mind that such things were likely to survive, being carved from stone, whereas everyday art was more likely to be made from perishable material. Since art is a form of communication, and that communication is one of humanity's oldest talents, it follows that art has a less religiously orientated past than you suggest. Things of beauty have always attracted our attention. Whether we see that as evidence of something spiritual or simply enjoy the beauty for its own sake has rather more to do with individual leanings than any cultural inheritance.

-------------
http://www.unrv.com/forum/blog/31-caldrails-blog/


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 15 Mar 2016 at 05:39
I believe that the Greeks did not have a concept of art.  Not only was art not separate from religion, but there really wasn't a concept of art.  "Poeisis" from whence we get "poetry," (but "art 'objects'" as well) probably comes the closest.  "Techne" from whence we get technique and technology, was the form of knowledge used in crafting things.
When you are talking about early Greek culture, you are probably talking about indirect communication in 'the arts.'  Poetry whether it be epic, lyric or what not, is older than prose.  If it was worth saying, it was worth saying well, in metre.  And if you couldn't say it in metre, then it probably wasn't worth saying.  Remember, we are talking about an oral tradition, the tail end of which comes out in Homer, Hesiod and early Greek poets.  Before the 7th century BC (some scholars would say back to the 9th c.), there was in the Greek world no way to preserve prose for "communication" purposes.  Likewise, the Greek world of Thales (and Heraclitus) believed that there were spirits everywhere.  It is not that "art" was for religion's sake, it is more like art is like the water fish swim in, never realizing its presence.  Likewise, "art" was what culture swam in, that culture presupposed the gods, never (as a whole) thinking of anything different, until not just literacy was introduced, but a public literacy with the alphabet, coinage, rhetoric, philosophy started coming in, allowing people outside of the scribes, form their own opinions.

We have somewhat of a record of the the early Greeks that can inform us how other oral cultures probably looked upon what we in our chronological snobbery call "art."


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 15 Mar 2016 at 09:36
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I believe that the Greeks did not have a concept of art.  Not only was art not separate from religion, but there really wasn't a concept of art.  "Poeisis" from whence we get "poetry," (but "art 'objects'" as well) probably comes the closest.  "Techne" from whence we get technique and technology, was the form of knowledge used in crafting things.
When you are talking about early Greek culture, you are probably talking about indirect communication in 'the arts.'  Poetry whether it be epic, lyric or what not, is older than prose.  If it was worth saying, it was worth saying well, in metre.  And if you couldn't say it in metre, then it probably wasn't worth saying.  Remember, we are talking about an oral tradition, the tail end of which comes out in Homer, Hesiod and early Greek poets.  Before the 7th century BC (some scholars would say back to the 9th c.), there was in the Greek world no way to preserve prose for "communication" purposes.  Likewise, the Greek world of Thales (and Heraclitus) believed that there were spirits everywhere.  It is not that "art" was for religion's sake, it is more like art is like the water fish swim in, never realizing its presence.  Likewise, "art" was what culture swam in, that culture presupposed the gods, never (as a whole) thinking of anything different, until not just literacy was introduced, but a public literacy with the alphabet, coinage, rhetoric, philosophy started coming in, allowing people outside of the scribes, form their own opinions.

We have somewhat of a record of the the early Greeks that can inform us how other oral cultures probably looked upon what we in our chronological snobbery call "art."

It's just semantics :-)  

You could argue that people create art for themselves but I would argue that it is a third person self or internal communication externalized.  If art is then always a form of communication then it has semantical elements that can be discussed and there are in fact fields of study such as the semantics of Chinese Music for example.  The point I'm trying to make is that we can string words together in an infinite variety of ways and it is the context that defines the meaning.  Anything can be both and art and a science but we communicate in a kind of agreed on shorthand where words have carefully crafted definitions.  The same applies to visual art because within the culture the audience knows the definitions by the context they didn't need elaboration.

I don't think you can make the argument that something is not art because the culture that created it does not have a definition of art.  As Shakespeare says a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I think it is easier to make the point with science than art.  There is a strange habit of the human mind to sees things as real and unreal as deceptions or truth.  For example people will say when watching a magician that it isn't real magic when in fact it is the only kind of magic that is real.  People will look back and say Aristotle wasn't doing real science but he was doing the only kind of science that was real at the time.  He just wasn't doing very good science by today's definition.

The words science and art can be applied to any subject of human endeavor it just depends on the context.  I would go so far as to say animals do science because they test the environment empirically and make decisions based on their observations and experimentation.  Some animals do art as well when decorating their environment.

 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjVxbHHr8LLAhVDmoMKHXtIABAQjB0IBg&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zymoglyphic.org%2Fblog%2F2006%2F07%2Fbowerbirds-assemblage-artists-of_01.html&psig=AFQjCNFCfuNCMLZR1VxTtybkgQDyHDNHIw&ust=1458120252325991" rel="nofollow - www.zymoglyphic.org

In the case of this bird his "art" is designed to stir the emotions of potential mates.  The same bird may use his intelligence to apply a "science" to test various methods for extracting seeds to eat.

The difference then between art and science has to do with context.  Art has the context of emotional communication and science deals within the context of empirical data.  Both however are driven by instincts (feelings) which unifies them, are universal and timeless.  


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 16 Mar 2016 at 04:53
From _our_ perspective, Lascaux or Cycladic figurines or something from Bali, is art.  From their perspective, they have no word for art, there is not that "context" which you seem to think is so important.  "It" does not function in their "society" (another word that the ancient Greeks didn't have a word for) as art does in ours.  But auction catalogues and museum pamphlets will call it all, "art," despite the fact that such labels are anachronistic.  I mean, isn't that the ultimate "context," something is art _because_we_say_so_.  Man is the measure of all things.

I am not sure that there is really any "definition" of communication, communication is infinite, on the other hand it is very limited.  Expression can be part of communication, but not all expression is, is communication.  Communication can be manipulation, but often the most effective forms of manipulation are subconscious, below the level of awareness.  Speech is not only saying something, it also can be _doing_ something.  When Descartes says "Cogito ergo sum" (I think therefore I am), he is not only informing his readers, he is also proclaiming something, declaring it, and in the process changing the world from the old medieval view, to modernity.


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 16 Mar 2016 at 14:21
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

From _our_ perspective, Lascaux or Cycladic figurines or something from Bali, is art.  From their perspective, they have no word for art, there is not that "context" which you seem to think is so important.  "It" does not function in their "society" (another word that the ancient Greeks didn't have a word for) as art does in ours.  But auction catalogues and museum pamphlets will call it all, "art," despite the fact that such labels are anachronistic.  I mean, isn't that the ultimate "context," something is art _because_we_say_so_.  Man is the measure of all things.

I'm suggesting that you incorporate evolutionary psycology into your philosophy.  I really like Daniel Dennett for example.  I'm also a fan of Steven Pinker although his books tend to have glaring errors that while they do not comprise significant arguments against his points are annoying.

Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I am not sure that there is really any "definition" of communication, communication is infinite, on the other hand it is very limited.  Expression can be part of communication, but not all expression is, is communication.  Communication can be manipulation, but often the most effective forms of manipulation are subconscious, below the level of awareness.  Speech is not only saying something, it also can be _doing_ something.  When Descartes says "Cogito ergo sum" (I think therefore I am), he is not only informing his readers, he is also proclaiming something, declaring it, and in the process changing the world from the old medieval view, to modernity.

Well I agree that the interaction of atoms or even quantum particles could be thought of communication.  I think however we can confine ourselves to mammalian communication at the moment. 

People like to divide things up to keep them simple but this separation of science and philosophy is not healthy.


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 17 Mar 2016 at 04:44
I perused Dennett's Elbow Room almost 30 years ago.  I remember the Sphexish Wasp but little else.  Read it in a theories of mind class.  I am aware that he has done some TED talks, but I don't really find him that interesting.  Not my area of interest.  Vanuatu was interested in Steven Pinker and so I have heard some from her.
A test of knowing something is being able to explain it to others in ordinary language, you might try to explain evolutionary psychology if you want.  I found evolutionary epistemology interesting is there any relation?

communication is rather prosaic, "productive."  I find poetry and the glimmer and tease of seduction to be more delightful.  Theoretically speaking of course.<grin> 


Posted By: wolfhnd
Date Posted: 17 Mar 2016 at 13:37
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I perused Dennett's Elbow Room almost 30 years ago.  I remember the Sphexish Wasp but little else.  Read it in a theories of mind class.  I am aware that he has done some TED talks, but I don't really find him that interesting.  Not my area of interest.  Vanuatu was interested in Steven Pinker and so I have heard some from her.
A test of knowing something is being able to explain it to others in ordinary language, you might try to explain evolutionary psychology if you want.  I found evolutionary epistemology interesting is there any relation?

communication is rather prosaic, "productive."  I find poetry and the glimmer and tease of seduction to be more delightful.  Theoretically speaking of course.<grin> 

Pinker is a linguist with a biological twist so I think he may be interesting.

  http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/stevenPinkerPodcastTranscript.pdf" rel="nofollow - Pinker podcast transcript.


Posted By: franciscosan
Date Posted: 20 Mar 2016 at 22:15
I enjoy the video courses of John McWhorter (Linguistics), from the Great Courses series.

I have looked at wikipedia on Pinker, he is a linguist with a biological twist, but I don't find him interesting.  Sorry.  I do find concept of "Angels of our Better Nature" a little intriguing, but not enough to invest the time in reading 300 or so pages.


Posted By: B.soshiant
Date Posted: 09 Oct 2018 at 03:22
Thank you all of member. But you must say from IRAN civilization in ancient history.
You can read about it from history book portal. https://kaffeketab.ir" rel="nofollow - https://kaffeketab.ir



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