Harappa in the News

The Old World is a reference to those parts of Earth known to Europeans before the voyages of Christopher Columbus; it includes Europe, Asia and Africa.

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Minimalist
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Post by Minimalist » Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:08 am

Here's an attempt at a definition. Let's kick this around for a while.
Archeologist and anthropologist Robert M. Adams argued for a definition of civilization as a society with functionally interrelated sets of social institutions: class stratification based on the ownership and control of production, political and religious hierarchies complementing each other in the central administration of territorially organized states and lastly, a complex division of labor, with skilled workers, soldiers and officials existing alongside the great mass of peasant producers.
http://www.historyguide.org/ancient/lecture1b.html
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Post by Beagle » Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:52 am

Thanks Min. By this definition however, there are no civilizations prior to the introduction of metallurgy. I don't see that as being a necessary restriction. That would exclude the Americas altogether.

Beyond that it looks pretty good. 8)

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Post by Minimalist » Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:58 am

Yeah, it is agriculture which changed humanity not metalurgy. As soon as you can create a surplus of food it enables people to specialize into non-subsistence functions. The stratification then quickly follows.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Post by Beagle » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:08 am

Cool. We obviously could not exclude the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas. :lol:

I guess we'll see what others think.

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Cities

Post by Cognito » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:31 am

In the old Sarasvati river system many settlements and cities are being discovered, and is culminated with the hypothesized sunken city of Dwarka in the Gulf of Cambay. All of these cities are at least older than 2,000 BC. Some are walled and others are not. This is a rather extensive civilization, probably easier older than the Sumerian. Megarh is dated to 6,000 BC.
Beags, from what I understand the Sarasvati dried up by about 1,500bc and there were developed settlements along that river for thousands of years. With regard to 6,000bc in Sumeria remember that the delta area was formed rather late by countless annual floods. When Eridu was founded it was on the ocean; now it is far inland. Emigrants entered Sumeria from the north, east and west. Cities to the north and west were formed earlier (Catal Hoyuk about 6,500bc and Jericho 8,500bc). There is no reason why India was not going through the same transition with cities yet to be found. I would certainly be looking along the Sarasvati as my first choice now that satellite imagery has confirmed the veracity of the Vedas. Of course the Sarasvati was touted as being the most pure of waters -- it was formed by Himalyan glacial melt post-LGM. 8)

Cities, in this instance, are precursors to civilisations since we are talking very small populations due to the lack of organised agriculture upon their founding (such as Jericho). Their formation comes down to "centers of trade" and "centers of protection" as opposed to anything else that I can imagine. Defining the parameters: Based on the population in 10,000bc being smaller back then by a factor of 1,625 I believe we should be looking for small cities with populations in the hundreds as opposed to civilisations in the modern sense. A band of cities along the Sarasvati or any other riverine system would represent a "culture" -- a decentralised mix of similar individuals. The population just wasn't there to make anything like we see in the fourth or third milleniums bc. Ish, maybe size didn't matter prior to 5,000bc? :(

There certainly is a "formation gap" between hunter-gatherers and civilisation with pastoral farmers somewhere in the middle. However, centralised authority required large-scale agriculture and the segmentation of labor to be effective. If your subjects don't behave, just starve them! It's a big motivator to keep yourself surrounded by yes-men (and, of course, yes-women). :D Agriculture didn't really take off big-time until afer 5,000bc so don't expect to find anything like "Atlantis" that pops out of the woodwork with a few million inhabitants at 10,000bc -- it's a practical impossibility. With regard to Atlantis I find one of these devices useful:


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Post by Beagle » Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:52 am

from what I understand the Sarasvati dried up by about 1,500bc
Geologists actually say about 1,900 BC. What's a few hundred years....I agree with your post Cogs. Jericho is an oddity though, as it was just a trading center (mainly in salt) along a trade pathway. Hard to say how one would categorize it.

I think we can have a civilization without metallurgy and without large cities, as you suggest. But the hallmark of a culture becoming a civilization, I think, is a shared religion with a priestly class, and a central authority, whether he is called chief, king, or pharoah.

All of the cities along the Saraswati/Indus river basins seem to have the same religious deities as far as I can tell. Whether or not their was a central authority or not is unclear. But, the Greek city states did not recognize a central authority, and they were a civilization...rather than a culture. Or were they?

We have a harder job in front of us than we think, maybe. :lol:

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Post by kbs2244 » Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:57 am

Beagle:
To take the opposite of the Greeks;
By your definition, would the Tarter kingdom be a “culture or a “civilization“?
They had a central authority, and a king/priest. But they were pastoral.
(With some real long range traders thrown in.)
Their only cities and farms were the ones they conquered but didn’t burn.

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Post by Beagle » Wed Mar 26, 2008 12:26 pm

Very good question KB. And I don't have a definition of civilization. Min posted one from the internet for reference.

Help us get a good definition for this forum. (we have our own standards I guess :lol: )

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Post by Minimalist » Wed Mar 26, 2008 1:13 pm

I would say "culture", kb.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

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Civilisation

Post by Cognito » Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:11 pm

I agree. There are too many examples of civilized peoples who had no central authority, nor did they want one. Many cultures used shamans versus priests as pointed out by Ishtar. Who's to say they were less "civilised" for doing so? :shock:
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Post by Beagle » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:03 pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilization
A civilization or civilisation is human society or culture group normally defined as a complex society characterized by the practice of agriculture and settlement in cities.

Compared with less complex cultures, members of a civilization are organized into a diverse division of labour and an intricate social hierarchy.
The term civilization is often used as a synonym for culture in both popular and academic circles.[1] Every human being participates in a culture, defined as "the arts, customs, habits... beliefs, values, behavior and material habits that constitute a people's way of life".[2] Civilizations can be distinguished from other cultures by their high level of social complexity and organization, and by their diverse economic and cultural activities.
This definition from wiki takes a different slant by restricting civilization to cities, and having division of labor, and a social hierarchy.

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Post by Digit » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:11 pm

It's a good thing nobody has ever defined it as when we stop killing each other isn't it?

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Post by Beagle » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:21 pm

Digit wrote:It's a good thing nobody has ever defined it as when we stop killing each other isn't it?
Ooooohh....that's good Digit.

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Definition

Post by Cognito » Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:23 pm

That's the best definition I have heard so far! :D
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Post by Minimalist » Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:26 pm

Well...well.....

http://www.bahraintribune.com/ArticleDetail.asp
Doha
A burial site of Indus Valley traders, estimated to be 5,000 years old, has been unearthed on the north-west coast of Qatar, strengthening the theories of commercial exchange between the ancient peoples of the Middle East and the subcontinent.
The materials found at a graveyard at Al Ruwaida, a few kms to the west of Ruwais, belonged to people of the Indus Valley civilisation which flourished around 3,000 BC, Qatari explorer and fossil collector Mohamed Ali Al Sulaiti told Gulf Times.
Something is wrong here. War, disease, death, destruction, hunger, filth, poverty, torture, crime, corruption, and the Ice Capades. Something is definitely wrong. This is not good work. If this is the best God can do, I am not impressed.

-- George Carlin

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