A civilization or civilisation (see English spelling differences) is any complex society characterized by urban development, social stratification imposed by a cultural elite, symbolic systems of communication (for example, writing systems), and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural environment.
Civilizations are intimately associated with and often further defined by other socio-politico-economic characteristics, including centralization, the domestication of both humans and other organisms, specialization of labour, culturally ingrained ideologies of progress and supremacism, monumental architecture, taxation, societal dependence upon farming and expansionism. Historically, civilization has often been understood as a larger and "more advanced" culture, in contrast to smaller, supposedly primitive cultures. Similarly, some scholars have described civilization as being necessarily multicultural. In this broad sense, a civilization contrasts with non-centralized tribal societies, including the cultures of nomadic pastoralists, Neolithic societies or hunter-gatherers, but it also contrasts with the cultures found within civilizations themselves. As an uncountable noun, "civilization" also refers to the process of a society developing into a centralized, urbanized, stratified structure. Civilizations are organized in densely populated settlements divided into hierarchical social classes with a ruling elite and subordinate urban and rural populations, which engage in intensive agriculture, mining, small-scale manufacture and trade. Civilization concentrates power, extending human control over the rest of nature, including over other human beings.
Civilization, as its etymology (below) suggests, is a concept originally linked to towns and cities. The earliest emergence of civilizations is generally associated with the final stages of the Neolithic Revolution, culminating in the relatively rapid process of urban revolution and state formation, a political development associated with the appearance of a governing elite.
The English word civilization comes from the 16th-century French civilisé ("civilized"), from Latin civilis ("civil"), related to civis ("citizen") and civitas ("city"). The fundamental treatise is Norbert Elias's The Civilizing Process (1939), which traces social mores from medieval courtly society to the Early Modern period. In The Philosophy of Civilization (1923), Albert Schweitzer outlines two opinions: one purely material and the other material and ethical. He said that the world crisis was from humanity losing the ethical idea of civilization, "the sum total of all progress made by man in every sphere of action and from every point of view in so far as the progress helps towards the spiritual perfecting of individuals as the progress of all progress".
Adjectives like "civility" developed in the mid-16th century. The abstract noun "civilization", meaning "civilized condition", came in the 1760s, again from French. The first known use in French is in 1757, by Victor Riqueti, marquis de Mirabeau, and the first use in English is attributed to Adam Ferguson, who in his 1767 Essay on the History of Civil Society wrote, "Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the species itself from rudeness to civilisation". The word was therefore opposed to barbarism or rudeness, in the active pursuit of progress characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, during the French Revolution, "civilization" was used in the singular, never in the plural, and meant the progress of humanity as a whole. This is still the case in French. The use of "civilizations" as a countable noun was in occasional use in the 19th century, but has become much more common in the later 20th century, sometimes just meaning culture (itself in origin an uncountable noun, made countable in the context of ethnography). Only in this generalized sense does it become possible to speak of a "medieval civilization", which in Elias's sense would have been an oxymoron.
Already in the 18th century, civilization was not always seen as an improvement. One historically important distinction between culture and civilization is from the writings of Rousseau, particularly his work about education, Emile. Here, civilization, being more rational and socially driven, is not fully in accord with human nature, and "human wholeness is achievable only through the recovery of or approximation to an original prediscursive or prerational natural unity" (see noble savage). From this, a new approach was developed, especially in Germany, first by Johann Gottfried Herder, and later by philosophers such as Kierkegaard and Nietzsche. This sees cultures as natural organisms, not defined by "conscious, rational, deliberative acts", but a kind of pre-rational "folk spirit". Civilization, in contrast, though more rational and more successful in material progress, is unnatural and leads to "vices of social life" such as guile, hypocrisy, envy and avarice. In World War II, Leo Strauss, having fled Germany, argued in New York that this opinion of civilization was behind Nazism and German militarism and nihilism.
Social scientists such as V. Gordon Childe have named a number of traits that distinguish a civilization from other kinds of society. Civilizations have been distinguished by their means of subsistence, types of livelihood, settlement patterns, forms of government, social stratification, economic systems, literacy and other cultural traits. Andrew Nikiforuk argues that "civilizations relied on shackled human muscle. It took the energy of slaves to plant crops, clothe emperors, and build cities" and considers slavery to be a common feature of pre-modern civilizations.
All civilizations have depended on agriculture for subsistence, with the possible exception of some early civilizations in Peru which may have depended upon maritime resources. Grain farms can result in accumulated storage and a surplus of food, particularly when people use intensive agricultural techniques such as artificial fertilization, irrigation and crop rotation. It is possible but more difficult to accumulate horticultural production, and so civilizations based on horticultural gardening have been very rare. Grain surpluses have been especially important because grain can be stored for a long time. A surplus of food permits some people to do things besides produce food for a living: early civilizations included soldiers, artisans, priests and priestesses, and other people with specialized careers. A surplus of food results in a division of labour and a more diverse range of human activity, a defining trait of civilizations. However, in some places hunter-gatherers have had access to food surpluses, such as among some of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest and perhaps during the Mesolithic Natufian culture. It is possible that food surpluses and relatively large scale social organization and division of labour predates plant and animal domestication.
Civilizations have distinctly different settlement patterns from other societies. The word "civilization" is sometimes simply defined as "'living in cities'". Non-farmers tend to gather in cities to work and to trade.
Compared with other societies, civilizations have a more complex political structure, namely the state. State societies are more stratified than other societies; there is a greater difference among the social classes. The ruling class, normally concentrated in the cities, has control over much of the surplus and exercises its will through the actions of a government or bureaucracy. Morton Fried, a conflict theorist and Elman Service, an integration theorist, have classified human cultures based on political systems and social inequality. This system of classification contains four categories
Economically, civilizations display more complex patterns of ownership and exchange than less organized societies. Living in one place allows people to accumulate more personal possessions than nomadic people. Some people also acquire landed property, or private ownership of the land. Because a percentage of people in civilizations do not grow their own food, they must trade their goods and services for food in a market system, or receive food through the levy of tribute, redistributive taxation, tariffs or tithes from the food producing segment of the population. Early human cultures functioned through a gift economy supplemented by limited barter systems. By the early Iron Age, contemporary civilizations developed money as a medium of exchange for increasingly complex transactions. In a village, the potter makes a pot for the brewer and the brewer compensates the potter by giving him a certain amount of beer. In a city, the potter may need a new roof, the roofer may need new shoes, the cobbler may need new horseshoes, the blacksmith may need a new coat and the tanner may need a new pot. These people may not be personally acquainted with one another and their needs may not occur all at the same time. A monetary system is a way of organizing these obligations to ensure that they are fulfilled. From the days of the earliest monetarized civilizations, monopolistic controls of monetary systems have benefited the social and political elites.
Writing, developed first by people in Sumer, is considered a hallmark of civilization and "appears to accompany the rise of complex administrative bureaucracies or the conquest state". Traders and bureaucrats relied on writing to keep accurate records. Like money, writing was necessitated by the size of the population of a city and the complexity of its commerce among people who are not all personally acquainted with each other. However, writing is not always necessary for civilization, as shown the Inca civilization of the Andes, which did not use writing at all except from a complex recording system consisting of cords and nodes instead: the "Quipus", whose still functioned as a civilized society.
Aided by their division of labour and central government planning, civilizations have developed many other diverse cultural traits. These include organized religion, development in the arts, and countless new advances in science and technology.
Through history, successful civilizations have spread, taking over more and more territory, and assimilating more and more previously-uncivilized people. Nevertheless, some tribes or people remain uncivilized even to this day. These cultures are called by some "primitive", a term that is regarded by others as pejorative. "Primitive" implies in some way that a culture is "first" (Latin = primus), that it has not changed since the dawn of humanity, though this has been demonstrated not to be true. Specifically, as all of today's cultures are contemporaries, today's so-called primitive cultures are in no way antecedent to those we consider civilized. Anthropologists today use the term "non-literate" to describe these peoples.
Civilization has been spread by colonization, invasion, religious conversion, the extension of bureaucratic control and trade, and by introducing agriculture and writing to non-literate peoples. Some non-civilized people may willingly adapt to civilized behaviour. But civilization is also spread by the technical, material and social dominance that civilization engenders.
Assessments of what level of civilization a polity has reached are based on comparisons of the relative importance of agricultural as opposed to trade or manufacturing capacities, the territorial extensions of its power, the complexity of its division of labour, and the carrying capacity of its urban centres. Secondary elements include a developed transportation system, writing, standardized measurement, currency, contractual and tort-based legal systems, art, architecture, mathematics, scientific understanding, metallurgy, political structures and organized religion.
Traditionally, polities that managed to achieve notable military, ideological and economic power defined themselves as "civilized" as opposed to other societies or human groupings outside their sphere of influence – calling the latter barbarians, savages, and primitives. In a modern-day context, "civilized people" have been contrasted with indigenous people or tribal societies.
"Civilization" can also refer to the culture of a complex society, not just the society itself. Every society, civilization or not, has a specific set of ideas and customs, and a certain set of manufactures and arts that make it unique. Civilizations tend to develop intricate cultures, including a state-based decision making apparatus, a literature, professional art, architecture, organized religion and complex customs of education, coercion and control associated with maintaining the elite.
The intricate culture associated with civilization has a tendency to spread to and influence other cultures, sometimes assimilating them into the civilization (a classic example being Chinese civilization and its influence on nearby civilizations such as Korea, Japan and Vietnam). Many civilizations are actually large cultural spheres containing many nations and regions. The civilization in which someone lives is that person's broadest cultural identity.
Many historians have focused on these broad cultural spheres and have treated civilizations as discrete units. Early twentieth-century philosopher Oswald Spengler, uses the German word Kultur, "culture", for what many call a "civilization". Spengler believed a civilization's coherence is based on a single primary cultural symbol. Cultures experience cycles of birth, life, decline and death, often supplanted by a potent new culture, formed around a compelling new cultural symbol. Spengler states civilization is the beginning of the decline of a culture as "the most external and artificial states of which a species of developed humanity is capable".
This "unified culture" concept of civilization also influenced the theories of historian Arnold J. Toynbee in the mid-twentieth century. Toynbee explored civilization processes in his multi-volume A Study of History, which traced the rise and, in most cases, the decline of 21 civilizations and five "arrested civilizations". Civilizations generally declined and fell, according to Toynbee, because of the failure of a "creative minority", through moral or religious decline, to meet some important challenge, rather than mere economic or environmental causes.
Samuel P. Huntington defines civilization as "the highest cultural grouping of people and the broadest level of cultural identity people have short of that which distinguishes humans from other species". Huntington's theories about civilizations are discussed below.
Another group of theorists, making use of systems theory, looks at a civilization as a complex system, i.e., a framework by which a group of objects can be analysed that work in concert to produce some result. Civilizations can be seen as networks of cities that emerge from pre-urban cultures and are defined by the economic, political, military, diplomatic, social and cultural interactions among them. Any organization is a complex social system and a civilization is a large organization. Systems theory helps guard against superficial but misleading analogies in the study and description of civilizations.
Systems theorists look at many types of relations between cities, including economic relations, cultural exchanges and political/diplomatic/military relations. These spheres often occur on different scales. For example, trade networks were, until the nineteenth century, much larger than either cultural spheres or political spheres. Extensive trade routes, including the Silk Road through Central Asia and Indian Ocean sea routes linking the Roman Empire, Persian Empire, India and China, were well established 2000 years ago, when these civilizations scarcely shared any political, diplomatic, military, or cultural relations. The first evidence of such long distance trade is in the ancient world. During the Uruk period, Guillermo Algaze has argued that trade relations connected Egypt, Mesopotamia, Iran and Afghanistan. Resin found later in the Royal Cemetery at Ur is suggested was traded northwards from Mozambique.
Many theorists argue that the entire world has already become integrated into a single "world system", a process known as globalization. Different civilizations and societies all over the globe are economically, politically, and even culturally interdependent in many ways. There is debate over when this integration began, and what sort of integration – cultural, technological, economic, political, or military-diplomatic – is the key indicator in determining the extent of a civilization. David Wilkinson has proposed that economic and military-diplomatic integration of the Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations resulted in the creation of what he calls the "Central Civilization" around 1500 BCE. Central Civilization later expanded to include the entire Middle East and Europe, and then expanded to a global scale with European colonization, integrating the Americas, Australia, China and Japan by the nineteenth century. According to Wilkinson, civilizations can be culturally heterogeneous, like the Central Civilization, or homogeneous, like the Japanese civilization. What Huntington calls the "clash of civilizations" might be characterized by Wilkinson as a clash of cultural spheres within a single global civilization. Others point to the Crusades as the first step in globalization. The more conventional viewpoint is that networks of societies have expanded and shrunk since ancient times, and that the current globalized economy and culture is a product of recent European colonialism.
The notion of world history as a succession of "civilizations" is an entirely modern one. In the European Age of Discovery, emerging Modernity was put into stark contrast with the Neolithic and Mesolithic stage of the cultures of the New World, suggesting that the complex states had emerged at some time in prehistory. The term "civilization" as it is now most commonly understood, a complex state with centralisation, social stratification and specialization of labour, corresponds to early empires that arise in the Fertile Crescent in the Early Bronze Age, around roughly 3000 BC. Gordon Childe defined the emergence of civilization as the result of two successive revolutions: the Neolithic Revolution, triggering the development of settled communities, and the Urban Revolution.
At first, the Neolithic was associated with shifting subsistence cultivation, where continuous farming led to the depletion of soil fertility resulting in the requirement to cultivate fields further and further removed from the settlement, eventually compelling the settlement itself to move. In major semi-arid river valleys, annual flooding renewed soil fertility every year, with the result that population densities could rise significantly. This encouraged a secondary products revolution in which people used domesticated animals not just for meat, but also for milk, wool, manure and pulling ploughs and carts – a development that spread through the Eurasian Oecumene.
The earlier neolithic technology and lifestyle was established first in Western Asia (for example at Göbekli Tepe, from about 9,130 BCE), and later in the Yellow River and Yangtze basins in China (for example the Pengtoushan culture from 7,500 BCE), and later spread. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BCE, with civilizations developing from 6,500 years ago. This area has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the development of cuneiform script, mathematics, astronomy and agriculture." Similar pre-civilized "neolithic revolutions" also began independently from 7,000 BCE in northwestern South America (the Norte Chico civilization) and Mesoamerica.
The 8.2 Kiloyear Arid Event and the 5.9 Kiloyear Interpluvial saw the drying out of semiarid regions and a major spread of deserts. This climate change shifted the cost-benefit ratio of endemic violence between communities, which saw the abandonment of unwalled village communities and the appearance of walled cities, associated with the first civilizations.
This "urban revolution" marked the beginning of the accumulation of transferrable surpluses, which helped economies and cities develop. It was associated with the state monopoly of violence, the appearance of a soldier class and endemic warfare, the rapid development of hierarchies, and the appearance of human sacrifice.
The civilized urban revolution in turn was dependent upon the development of sedentism, the domestication of grains and animals and development of lifestyles that facilitated economies of scale and accumulation of surplus production by certain social sectors. The transition from complex cultures to civilizations, while still disputed, seems to be associated with the development of state structures, in which power was further monopolized by an elite ruling class who practised human sacrifice.
Towards the end of the Neolithic period, various elitist Chalcolithic civilizations began to rise in various "cradles" from around 3300 BCE, expanding into large-scale empires in the course of the Bronze Age (Minoan Civilization, Old Kingdom of Egypt, Akkadian Empire, Assyrian Empire, Old Assyrian Empire, Phoenicia, Neo-Sumerian Empire, Babylonian Empire, Hittite Empire, Gojoseon, Shang Dynasty).
A parallel development took place independently in the Pre-Columbian Americas, where the Mayans began to be urbanised around 500 BCE, and the fully fledged Aztec and Inca emerged by the 15th century, briefly before European contact.
The Bronze Age collapse was followed by the Iron Age around 1200 BCE, during which a number of new civilizations emerged, culminating in a period from the 8th to the 3rd century BCE which Karl Jaspers termed the Axial Age, presented as a critical transitional phase leading to classical civilization. William Hardy McNeill proposed that this period of history was one in which culture contact between previously separate civilizations saw the "closure of the oecumene" and led to accelerated social change from China to the Mediterranean, associated with the spread of coinage, larger empires and new religions. This view has recently been championed by Christopher Chase-Dunn and other world systems theorists.
A major technological and cultural transition to modernity began approximately 1500 CE in Western Europe, and from this beginning new approaches to science and law spread rapidly around the world, incorporating earlier cultures into the industrial and technological civilization of the present.
Civilizations have generally ended in one of two ways; either through being incorporated into another expanding civilization (e.g. As Ancient Egypt was incorporated into Hellenistic Greek, and subsequently Roman civilizations), or by collapse and reversion to a simpler form, as happens in what are called Dark Ages.
There have been many explanations put forward for the collapse of civilization. Some focus on historical examples, and others on general theory.
Political scientist Samuel Huntington, has argued that the defining characteristic of the 21st century will be a clash of civilizations. According to Huntington, conflicts between civilizations will supplant the conflicts between nation-states and ideologies that characterized the 19th and 20th centuries. These views have been strongly challenged by others like Edward Said, Muhammed Asadi and Amartya Sen. Ronald Inglehart and Pippa Norris have argued that the "true clash of civilizations" between the Muslim world and the West is caused by the Muslim rejection of the West's more liberal sexual values, rather than a difference in political ideology, although they note that this lack of tolerance is likely to lead to an eventual rejection of (true) democracy. In Identity and Violence Sen questions if people should be divided along the lines of a supposed "civilization", defined by religion and culture only. He argues that this ignores the many others identities that make up people and leads to a focus on differences.
Cultural Historian Morris Berman suggests in Dark Ages America: the End of Empire that in the corporate consumerist United States, the very factors that once propelled it to greatness―extreme individualism, territorial and economic expansion, and the pursuit of material wealth―have pushed the United States across a critical threshold where collapse is inevitable. Politically associated with over-reach, and as a result of the environmental exhaustion and polarization of wealth between rich and poor, he concludes the current system is fast arriving at a situation where continuation of the existing system saddled with huge deficits and a hollowed-out economy is physically, socially, economically and politically impossible. Although developed in much more depth, Berman's thesis is similar in some ways to that of Urban Planner, Jane Jacobs who argues that the five pillars of United States culture are in serious decay: community and family; higher education; the effective practice of science; taxation and government; and the self-regulation of the learned professions. The corrosion of these pillars, Jacobs argues, is linked to societal ills such as environmental crisis, racism and the growing gulf between rich and poor.
Cultural critic and author Derrick Jensen argues that modern civilization is directed towards the domination of the environment and humanity itself in an intrinsically harmful, unsustainable, and self-destructive fashion. Defending his definition both linguistically and historically, he defines civilization as "a culture... that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities", with "cities" defined as "people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life". This need for civilizations to import ever more resources, he argues, stems from their over-exploitation and diminution of their own local resources. Therefore, civilizations inherently adopt imperialist and expansionist policies and, to maintain these, highly militarized, hierarchically structured, and coercion-based cultures and lifestyles.
The Kardashev scale classifies civilizations based on their level of technological advancement, specifically measured by the amount of energy a civilization is able to harness. The Kardashev scale makes provisions for civilizations far more technologically advanced than any currently known to exist (see also: Civilizations and the Future and Space civilization).
The current scientific consensus is that human beings are the only animal species with the cognitive ability to create civilizations. A recent thought experiment, however, has considered whether it would "be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record" given the paucity of geological information about eras before the quaternary.
Ancient Egypt was a civilization of ancient North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in the place that is now the country Egypt. Ancient Egyptian civilization followed prehistoric Egypt and coalesced around 3100 BC (according to conventional Egyptian chronology) with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under Menes (often identified with Narmer). The history of ancient Egypt occurred as a series of stable kingdoms, separated by periods of relative instability known as Intermediate Periods: the Old Kingdom of the Early Bronze Age, the Middle Kingdom of the Middle Bronze Age and the New Kingdom of the Late Bronze Age.
Egypt reached the pinnacle of its power in the New Kingdom, ruling much of Nubia and a sizable portion of the Near East, after which it entered a period of slow decline. During the course of its history Egypt was invaded or conquered by a number of foreign powers, including the Hyksos, the Libyans, the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Achaemenid Persians, and the Macedonians under the command of Alexander the Great. The Greek Ptolemaic Kingdom, formed in the aftermath of Alexander's death, ruled Egypt until 30 BC, when, under Cleopatra, it fell to the Roman Empire and became a Roman province.The success of ancient Egyptian civilization came partly from its ability to adapt to the conditions of the Nile River valley for agriculture. The predictable flooding and controlled irrigation of the fertile valley produced surplus crops, which supported a more dense population, and social development and culture. With resources to spare, the administration sponsored mineral exploitation of the valley and surrounding desert regions, the early development of an independent writing system, the organization of collective construction and agricultural projects, trade with surrounding regions, and a military intended to assert Egyptian dominance. Motivating and organizing these activities was a bureaucracy of elite scribes, religious leaders, and administrators under the control of a pharaoh, who ensured the cooperation and unity of the Egyptian people in the context of an elaborate system of religious beliefs.The many achievements of the ancient Egyptians include the quarrying, surveying and construction techniques that supported the building of monumental pyramids, temples, and obelisks; a system of mathematics, a practical and effective system of medicine, irrigation systems and agricultural production techniques, the first known planked boats, Egyptian faience and glass technology, new forms of literature, and the earliest known peace treaty, made with the Hittites. Ancient Egypt has left a lasting legacy. Its art and architecture were widely copied, and its antiquities carried off to far corners of the world. Its monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for centuries. A new-found respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period by Europeans and Egyptians led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy.Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece (Greek: Ἑλλάς, translit. Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of antiquity (c. AD 600). Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Roughly three centuries after the Late Bronze Age collapse of Mycenaean Greece, Greek urban poleis began to form in the 8th century BC, ushering in the Archaic period and colonization of the Mediterranean Basin. This was followed by the period of Classical Greece, an era that began with the Greco-Persian Wars, lasting from the 5th to 4th centuries BC. Due to the conquests by Alexander the Great of Macedon, Hellenistic civilization flourished from Central Asia to the western end of the Mediterranean Sea. The Hellenistic period came to an end with the conquests and annexations of the eastern Mediterranean world by the Roman Republic, which established the Roman province of Macedonia in Roman Greece, and later the province of Achaea during the Roman Empire.
Classical Greek culture, especially philosophy, had a powerful influence on ancient Rome, which carried a version of it to many parts of the Mediterranean Basin and Europe. For this reason, Classical Greece is generally considered to be the seminal culture which provided the foundation of modern Western culture and is considered the cradle of Western civilization.Classical Greek culture gave great importance to knowledge. Science and religion were not separate and getting closer to the truth meant getting closer to the gods. In this context, they understood the importance of mathematics as an instrument for obtaining more reliable ("divine") knowledge. Greek culture, in a few centuries and with a limited population, managed to explore and make progress in many fields of science, mathematics, philosophy and knowledge in general.Christianity
Christianity is a Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. Most Christians get baptized, celebrate the Lord's Supper, pray the Lord's Prayer and other prayers, have clergy, and attend group worship services.
Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their successors, the Apostolic Fathers, spread the religion across large parts of the Middle East, Europe, Ethiopia, Transcaucasia, and some other parts of Asia, despite initial persecution. The Roman emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity and decriminalized it in the Edict of Milan (313). He convened the First Council of Nicaea (325), where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the state religion of the Roman Empire (380). The council formulated the Nicene Creed (325), and the Church Fathers supervised the compilation of the Christian Bible (5th century). The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Oriental Orthodoxy before their schisms. Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the Pope. Similarly, in 1521 Protestants were excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation and other ecclesiological and theological disputes.Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly around Europe during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization.It is the world's most populous religious group, with over 2.4 billion followers, or 33% of the global population, comprising a majority of the population in about two-thirds of the countries in the world.
Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion), Protestantism (920 million), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million).Civilization (series)
Civilization is a series of turn-based strategy video games, first released in 1991. Sid Meier developed the first game in the series and has had creative input for most of the rest, and his name is usually included in the formal title of these games, such as Sid Meier's Civilization. There are six main games in the series, a number of expansion packs and spin-off games, as well as board games inspired by the video game series. The series is considered a formulative example of the 4X genre, in which players achieve victory through four routes, "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate".
All titles in the series share similar gameplay, centered on building a civilization on a macro-scale from prehistory up to the near future. Each turn allows the player to move their units on the map, build or improve new cities and units, and initiate negotiations with the human or computer-controlled players. The player will also choose technologies to research. These reflect the cultural, intellectual, and technical sophistication of the civilization, and usually allow the player to build new units or to improve their cities with new structures. In most games in the series, one may win by military conquest, achieving a certain level of culture, building an interstellar space ship, or achieving the highest score, among other means. Later games have introduced gameplay concepts and victories based on religion, economics, and diplomacy. Meier had adapted an approach for each new title so that it contains a third of existing features, another third that are improvements from the previous game, and the remaining third as introducing new features. Newer games often include extendable downloadable content that adds to that game, and often will become part of the new features in the next main game of the series.
The series was first developed by Meier while at MicroProse, the studio he co-founded. After MicroProse was acquired by Spectrum Holobyte, Meier left with other designers to form Firaxis Games in 1996, who has been the principal developer of the series since. Over the years, some of the crew involved in developing the series became successful in producing their own strategy games, such as Bruce Shelley (Civilization co-designer) of Age of Empires fame, Brian Reynolds (Civilization II lead designer and programmer), who went on to create Rise of Nations, and Soren Johnson (Civilization III co-designer and Civilization IV lead designer and programmer), who worked on Spore and Offworld Trading Company. Some issues associated with the Civilization name, due to the 1980 Civilization board game created by Francis Tresham, arose during the late 1990s but have been resolved through agreements, settlements, and publishing company acquisitions; presently Take-Two, the parent company of Firaxis, owns full rights to both the name and intellectual property for the series. As of February 2017, the series has shipped more than 40 million total units.Civilization VI
Sid Meier's Civilization VI is a turn-based strategy 4X video game developed by Firaxis Games, published by 2K Games, and distributed by Take-Two Interactive. A part of the Civilization series, it was released on Microsoft Windows and macOS in October 2016, with later ports for Linux in February 2017, iOS in December 2017, and Nintendo Switch, the game's only console release, in November 2018.
As with other games in the series, the goal for the player is to lead their fledgling civilization from an early settlement through many millennia to become a world power and achieve one of several victory conditions, such as through military power, technological superiority, or cultural influence, over the other human and computer controlled opponents. Players do this by exploring the world, founding new cities, building city improvements, deploying military troops to attack and defend from others, researching new technologies and cultural civics, and engaging in trade and negotiations with other world leaders.
A critical design focus was to avoid having the player follow a pre-set path of improvements towards their civilization which they had observed from earlier games. Civilization VI places more emphasis on the terrain by "unstacking" city improvements from the main city space and giving bonuses for placing improvements near certain terrains. Other new features include research on the game's technology tree based on nearby terrain, a similar technology tree for cultural improvements and a better government civics structure for those playing on a cultural victory path, and new artificial intelligence mechanics for computer-controlled opponents that include secret goals and randomized engagements to disrupt an otherwise stable game. The game's first major expansion, Civilization VI: Rise and Fall, was released in February 2018, and a second expansion, Civilization VI: Gathering Storm, was released in February 2019.Cradle of civilization
A cradle of civilization is a location where civilization is understood to have emerged. Current thinking is that there was no single "cradle", but several civilizations that developed independently, with the Fertile Crescent (Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt) understood to be the earliest. Other civilizations arose in Asia among cultures situated along large river valleys, such as the Indo-Gangetic Plain in Ancient India and the Yellow River in Ancient China. The extent to which there was significant influence between the early civilizations of the Near East and those of East Asia is disputed. Scholars accept that the civilizations of Mesoamerica, mainly in modern Mexico, and Norte Chico, in the north-central coastal region of Peru, emerged independently from those in Eurasia.Scholars have defined civilization using various criteria such as the use of writing, cities, a class-based society, agriculture, animal husbandry, public buildings, metallurgy, and monumental architecture. The term cradle of civilization has frequently been applied to a variety of cultures and areas, in particular the Ancient Near Eastern Chalcolithic (Ubaid period) and Fertile Crescent, Ancient India and Ancient China. It has also been applied to ancient Anatolia, the Levant and Iranian plateau, and used to refer to culture predecessors—such as Ancient Greece as the predecessor of Western civilization—even when such sites are not understood as an independent development of civilization, as well as within national rhetoric.Etruscan civilization
The Etruscan civilization () is the modern name given to a powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany, south of the Arno river, western Umbria, northern and central Lazio, with offshoots also to the north in the Po Valley, in the current Emilia-Romagna, south-eastern Lombardy and southern Veneto, and to the south, in some areas of Campania. As distinguished by its unique language, this civilization endured from before the time of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions (c. 700 BCE) until its assimilation into the Roman Republic, beginning in the late 4th century BC with the Roman–Etruscan Wars.Culture that is identifiably Etruscan developed in Italy after about 900 BCE, approximately with the Iron Age Villanovan culture, regarded as the oldest phase of Etruscan civilization.The latter gave way in the 7th century BCE to a culture that was influenced by Ancient Greek culture, during the Archaic (Orientalizing period) and the Hellenistic period. At its maximum extent, during the foundational period of Rome and the Roman Kingdom, Etruscan civilization flourished in three confederacies of cities: of Etruria (Tuscany, Latium and Umbria), of the Po Valley with the eastern Alps, and of Campania. The league in northern Italy is mentioned in Livy. The decline was gradual, but by 500 BCE the political destiny of Italy had passed out of Etruscan hands. The last Etruscan cities were formally absorbed by Rome around 100 BCE.
Although the Etruscans developed a system of writing, the Etruscan language remains only partly understood, and only a handful of texts of any length survive, making modern understanding of their society and culture heavily dependent on much later and generally disapproving Roman and Greek sources. Politics was based on the small city and probably the family unit. In their heyday, the Etruscan elite grew very rich through trade with the Celtic world to the north and the Greeks to the south and filled their large family tombs with imported luxuries. Archaic Greece had a huge influence on their art and architecture, and Greek mythology was evidently very familiar to them.Global catastrophic risk
A global catastrophic risk is a hypothetical future event which could damage human well-being on a global scale, even crippling or destroying modern civilization. An event that could cause human extinction or permanently and drastically curtail humanity's potential is known as an existential risk.Potential global catastrophic risks include anthropogenic risks, caused by humans (technology, governance, climate change), and non-anthropogenic or external risks. Examples of technology risks are hostile artificial intelligence and destructive biotechnology or nanotechnology. Insufficient or malign global governance creates risks in the social and political domain, such as a global war, including nuclear holocaust, bioterrorism using genetically modified organisms, cyberterrorism destroying critical infrastructure like the electrical grid; or the failure to manage a natural pandemic. Problems and risks in the domain of earth system governance include global warming, environmental degradation, including extinction of species, famine as a result of non-equitable resource distribution, human overpopulation, crop failures and non-sustainable agriculture.
Examples of non-anthropogenic risks are an asteroid impact event, a supervolcanic eruption, a lethal gamma-ray burst, a geomagnetic storm destroying electronic equipment, natural long-term climate change, hostile extraterrestrial life, or the predictable Sun transforming into a red giant star engulfing the Earth.Indus Valley Civilisation
The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilisations of the Old World, and of the three, the most widespread, extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. Aridification of this region during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but eventually also reduced the water supply enough to cause the civilisation's demise, and to scatter its population eastward.The civilisation's cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, and new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). Its large urban centres of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa very likely grew to containing between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, and the civilisation itself during its florescence may have contained between one and five million individuals.The Indus civilisation is also known as the Harappan Civilisation, after its type site, Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated in the 1920s in what was then the Punjab province of British India and now is Pakistan. The discovery of Harappa and soon afterwards Mohenjo-Daro was the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India during the British Raj. There were however also earlier and later cultures often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan in the same area; for this reason, the Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan' culture to distinguish it from these cultures. By 2002, over 1,000 Mature Harappan cities and settlements had been reported, of which just under a hundred had been excavated, mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra Rivers and their tributaries; however, there are only five major urban sites at the peak of the settlement hierarchy: Harappa, Mohenjo-daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Dholavira, Ganeriwala in Cholistan and Rakhigarhi. The early Harappan cultures were preceded by local Neolithic agricultural villages, from which the river plains were populated.The Harappan language is not directly attested, and its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still undeciphered. A relationship with the Dravidian or Elamo-Dravidian language family is favoured by a section of scholars.Kardashev scale
The Kardashev scale is a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy a civilization is able to use. It was proposed by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev in 1964. The scale has three designated categories:
A Type I civilization—also called a planetary civilization—can use and store all of the energy available on its planet.
A Type II civilization—also called a stellar civilization—can harness the total energy of its planet's parent star (the most popular hypothetical concept being the Dyson sphere—a device which would encompass the entire star and transfer its energy to the planet(s)).
A Type III civilization—also called a galactic civilization—can control energy on the scale of its entire host galaxy.The scale is hypothetical, and regards energy consumption on a cosmic scale. Various extensions of the scale have since been proposed, including a wider range of power levels (types 0, IV and V) and the use of metrics other than pure power.Maya civilization
The Maya civilization () was a Mesoamerican civilization developed by the Maya peoples, and noted for its logosyllabic script—the most sophisticated and highly developed writing system in pre-Columbian Americas—as well as for its art, architecture, mathematics, calendar, and astronomical system. The Maya civilization developed in an area that encompasses southeastern Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El Salvador. This region consists of the northern lowlands encompassing the Yucatán Peninsula, and the highlands of the Sierra Madre, running from the Mexican state of Chiapas, across southern Guatemala and onwards into El Salvador, and the southern lowlands of the Pacific littoral plain.
The Archaic period, prior to 2000 BC, saw the first developments in agriculture and the earliest villages. The Preclassic period (c. 2000 BC to 250 AD) saw the establishment of the first complex societies in the Maya region, and the cultivation of the staple crops of the Maya diet, including maize, beans, squashes, and chili peppers. The first Maya cities developed around 750 BC, and by 500 BC these cities possessed monumental architecture, including large temples with elaborate stucco façades. Hieroglyphic writing was being used in the Maya region by the 3rd century BC. In the Late Preclassic a number of large cities developed in the Petén Basin, and the city of Kaminaljuyu rose to prominence in the Guatemalan Highlands. Beginning around 250 AD, the Classic period is largely defined as when the Maya were raising sculpted monuments with Long Count dates. This period saw the Maya civilization develop a large number of city-states linked by a complex trade network. In the Maya Lowlands two great rivals, the cities of Tikal and Calakmul, became powerful. The Classic period also saw the intrusive intervention of the central Mexican city of Teotihuacan in Maya dynastic politics. In the 9th century, there was a widespread political collapse in the central Maya region, resulting in internecine warfare, the abandonment of cities, and a northward shift of population. The Postclassic period saw the rise of Chichen Itza in the north, and the expansion of the aggressive K'iche' kingdom in the Guatemalan Highlands. In the 16th century, the Spanish Empire colonized the Mesoamerican region, and a lengthy series of campaigns saw the fall of Nojpetén, the last Maya city, in 1697.
Classic period rule was centred on the concept of the "divine king", who acted as a mediator between mortals and the supernatural realm. Kingship was patrilineal, and power would normally pass to the eldest son. A prospective king was also expected to be a successful war leader. Maya politics was dominated by a closed system of patronage, although the exact political make-up of a kingdom varied from city-state to city-state. By the Late Classic, the aristocracy had greatly increased, resulting in the corresponding reduction in the exclusive power of the divine king. The Maya civilization developed highly sophisticated artforms, and the Maya created art using both perishable and non-perishable materials, including wood, jade, obsidian, ceramics, sculpted stone monuments, stucco, and finely painted murals.
Maya cities tended to expand haphazardly, and the city centre would be occupied by ceremonial and administrative complexes, surrounded by an irregular sprawl of residential districts. Different parts of a city would often be linked by causeways. The principal architecture of the city consisted of palaces, pyramid-temples, ceremonial ballcourts, and structures aligned for astronomical observation. The Maya elite were literate, and developed a complex system of hieroglyphic writing that was the most advanced in the pre-Columbian Americas. The Maya recorded their history and ritual knowledge in screenfold books, of which only three uncontested examples remain, the rest having been destroyed by the Spanish. There are also a great many examples of Maya text found on stelae and ceramics. The Maya developed a highly complex series of interlocking ritual calendars, and employed mathematics that included one of the earliest instances of the explicit zero in the world. As a part of their religion, the Maya practised human sacrifice.Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age Aegean civilization on the island of Crete and other Aegean Islands which flourished from c. 2700 to c. 1450 BC, before a late period of decline, finally ending around 1100 BC. It preceded and was absorbed by the Mycenaean civilization of ancient Greece. The civilization was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of British archaeologist Arthur Evans. The name "Minoan" derives from the mythical King Minos and was coined by Evans, who identified the site at Knossos with the labyrinth and the Minotaur. The Minoan civilization has been described as the earliest of its kind in Europe, with historian Will Durant calling the Minoans "the first link in the European chain".The Minoan civilization is particularly notable for its large and elaborate palaces, some of which were up to four stories high, featured elaborate plumbing systems and were decorated with frescoes. The most notable Minoan palace is that of Knossos, followed by that of Phaistos. The Minoan period saw extensive trade between Crete, Aegean and Mediterranean settlements, particularly the Near East. Through their traders and artists, the Minoans' cultural influence reached beyond Crete to the Cyclades, the Old Kingdom of Egypt, copper-bearing Cyprus, Canaan and the Levantine coast and Anatolia. Some of the best Minoan art is preserved in the city of Akrotiri on the island of Santorini, which was destroyed by the Minoan eruption.
The Minoans primarily wrote in the undeciphered Linear A, encoding a language hypothetically labelled Minoan. The reasons for the slow decline of the Minoan civilization, beginning around 1550 BC, are unclear; theories include Mycenaean invasions from mainland Greece and the major volcanic eruption of Santorini.Mycenaean Greece
Mycenaean Greece (or the Mycenaean civilization) was the last phase of the Bronze Age in Ancient Greece, spanning the period from approximately 1600–1100 BC. It represents the first advanced civilization in mainland Greece, with its palatial states, urban organization, works of art, and writing system. The most prominent site was Mycenae, in the Argolid, after which the culture of this era is named. Other centers of power that emerged included Pylos, Tiryns, Midea in the Peloponnese, Orchomenos, Thebes, Athens in Central Greece and Iolcos in Thessaly.
Mycenaean and Mycenaean-influenced settlements also appeared in Epirus, Macedonia, on islands in the Aegean Sea, on the coast of Asia Minor, the Levant, Cyprus and Italy.The Mycenaean Greeks introduced several innovations in the fields of engineering, architecture and military infrastructure, while trade over vast areas of the Mediterranean was essential for the Mycenaean economy. Their syllabic script, the Linear B, offers the first written records of the Greek language and their religion already included several deities that can also be found in the Olympic Pantheon. Mycenaean Greece was dominated by a warrior elite society and consisted of a network of palace-centered states that developed rigid hierarchical, political, social and economic systems. At the head of this society was the king, known as wanax.
Mycenaean Greece perished with the collapse of Bronze Age culture in the eastern Mediterranean, to be followed by the so-called Greek Dark Ages, a recordless transitional period leading to Archaic Greece where significant shifts occurred from palace-centralized to de-centralized forms of socio-economic organization (including the extensive use of iron). Various theories have been proposed for the end of this civilization, among them the Dorian invasion or activities connected to the "Sea Peoples". Additional theories such as natural disasters and climatic changes have been also suggested. The Mycenaean period became the historical setting of much ancient Greek literature and mythology, including the Trojan Epic Cycle.Pre-Columbian era
The Pre-Columbian era incorporates all period subdivisions in the history and prehistory of the Americas before the appearance of significant European influences on the American continent, spanning the time of the original settlement in the Upper Paleolithic period to European colonization during the Early Modern period.
While the phrase "pre-Columbian era" literally refers only to the time preceding Christopher Columbus's voyages of 1492, in practice the phrase is usually used to denote the entire history of indigenous Americas cultures until those cultures were exterminated, diminished, or extensively altered by Europeans, even if this happened decades or centuries after Columbus's first landing. For this reason the alternative terms of Precontact Americas, Pre-Colonial Americas or Prehistoric Americas are also in use. In areas of Latin America the term usually used is Pre-Hispanic.
Many pre-Columbian civilizations established hallmarks which included permanent settlements, cities, agriculture, civic and monumental architecture, major earthworks, and complex societal hierarchies. Some of these civilizations had long faded by the time of the first permanent European colonies and the arrival of enslaved Africans (c. late 16th–early 17th centuries), and are known only through archaeological investigations and oral history. Other civilizations were contemporary with the colonial period and were described in European historical accounts of the time. A few, such as the Maya civilization, had their own written records. Because many Christian Europeans of the time viewed such texts as heretical, men like Diego de Landa destroyed many texts in pyres, even while seeking to preserve native histories. Only a few hidden documents have survived in their original languages, while others were transcribed or dictated into Spanish, giving modern historians glimpses of ancient culture and knowledge.
Indigenous American cultures continue to evolve after the pre-Columbian era. Many of these peoples and their descendants continue traditional practices while evolving and adapting new cultural practices and technologies into their lives.Role of Christianity in civilization
The role of Christianity in civilization has been intricately intertwined with the history and formation of Western society. Throughout its long history, the Church has been a major source of social services like schooling and medical care; inspiration for art, culture and philosophy; and influential player in politics and religion. In various ways it has sought to affect Western attitudes to vice and virtue in diverse fields. Festivals like Easter and Christmas are marked as public holidays; the Gregorian Calendar has been adopted internationally as the civil calendar; and the calendar itself is measured from the date of Jesus's birth.
The cultural influence of the Church has been vast. Church scholars preserved literacy in Western Europe following the Fall of the Western Roman Empire. During the Middle Ages, the Church rose to replace the Roman Empire as the unifying force in Europe. The cathedrals of that age remain among the most iconic feats of architecture produced by Western civilization. Many of Europe's universities were also founded by the church at that time. Many historians state that universities and cathedral schools were a continuation of the interest in learning promoted by monasteries. The university is generally regarded as an institution that has its origin in the Medieval Christian setting, born from Cathedral schools. The Reformation brought an end to religious unity in the West, but the Renaissance masterpieces produced by Catholic artists like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael at that time remain among the most celebrated works of art ever produced. Similarly, Christian sacred music by composers like Pachelbel, Vivaldi, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Liszt, and Verdi is among the most admired classical music in the Western canon.
The Bible and Christian theology have also strongly influenced Western philosophers and political activists. The teachings of Jesus, such as the Parable of the Good Samaritan, are among the important sources for modern notions of Human Rights and the welfare measures commonly provided by governments in the West. Long held Christian teachings on sexuality and marriage and family life have also been both influential and (in recent times) controversial. Christianity played a role in ending practices such as human sacrifice, slavery, infanticide and polygamy. Christianity in general affected the status of women by condemning marital infidelity, divorce, incest, polygamy, birth control, infanticide (female infants were more likely to be killed), and abortion. While official Church teaching considers women and men to be complementary (equal and different), some modern "advocates of ordination of women and other feminists" argue that teachings attributed to St. Paul and those of the Fathers of the Church and Scholastic theologians advanced the notion of a divinely ordained female inferiority. Nevertheless, women have played prominent roles in Western history through and as part of the church, particularly in education and healthcare, but also as influential theologians and mystics.
Christians have made a myriad contributions to human progress in a broad and diverse range of fields, both historically and in modern times, including the science and technology, medicine, fine arts and architecture, politics, literatures, Music, philanthropy, philosophy, ethics, theatre and business. According to 100 Years of Nobel Prizes a review of Nobel prizes award between 1901 and 2000 reveals that (65.4%) of Nobel Prizes Laureates, have identified Christianity in its various forms as their religious preference. Eastern Christians (particularly Nestorian Christians) have also contributed to the Arab Islamic Civilization during the Ummayad and the Abbasid periods by translating works of Greek philosophers to Syriac and afterwards to Arabic. They also excelled in philosophy, science, theology and medicine.Some of the things that Christianity is commonly criticized for include the oppression of women, condemnation of homosexuality, colonialism, and various other cases of violence. Christian ideas have been used both to support and to end slavery as an institution. The criticism of Christianity has come from the various religious and non-religious groups around the world, some of whom were themselves Christians.Sangam period
Sangam period (Tamil: சங்ககாலம், Sangakālam ?) is the period of history of ancient Tamil Nadu and Kerala (known as Tamilakam) spanning from c. 5th century BCE to c. 3rd century CE. It is named after the famous Sangam academies of poets and scholars centered in the city of Madurai.
In Old Tamil language, the term Tamilakam (Tamiḻakam தமிழகம், Purananuru 168. 18) referred to the whole of the ancient Tamil-speaking area, corresponding roughly to the area known as southern India today, consisting of the territories of the present-day Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, parts of Andhra Pradesh, parts of Karnataka and northern Sri Lanka also known as Eelam.Sumer
Sumer () is the earliest known civilization in the historical region of southern Mesopotamia, modern-day southern Iraq, during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze ages, and one of the first civilizations in the world along with Ancient Egypt and the Indus Valley. Living along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, Sumerian farmers were able to grow an abundance of grain and other crops, the surplus of which enabled them to settle in one place. Prehistoric proto-writing dates back before 3000 BC. The earliest texts, from c. 3300 BC, come from the cities of Uruk and Jemdet Nasr; early cuneiform script emerged around 3000 BC.Modern historians have suggested that Sumer was first permanently settled between c. 5500 and 4000 BC by a West Asian people who spoke the Sumerian language (pointing to the names of cities, rivers, basic occupations, etc., as evidence), an agglutinative language isolate. These prehistoric people are now called "proto-Euphrateans" or "Ubaidians", and are theorized to have evolved from the Samarra culture of northern Mesopotamia. The Ubaidians, though never mentioned by the Sumerians themselves, are assumed by modern-day scholars to have been the first civilizing force in Sumer. They drained the marshes for agriculture, developed trade, and established industries, including weaving, leatherwork, metalwork, masonry, and pottery.Some scholars contest the idea of a Proto-Euphratean language or one substrate language; they think the Sumerian language may originally have been that of the hunting and fishing peoples who lived in the marshland and the Eastern Arabia littoral region and were part of the Arabian bifacial culture. Reliable historical records begin much later; there are none in Sumer of any kind that have been dated before Enmebaragesi (c. 26th century BC). Juris Zarins believes the Sumerians lived along the coast of Eastern Arabia, today's Persian Gulf region, before it was flooded at the end of the Ice Age.Sumerian civilization took form in the Uruk period (4th millennium BC), continuing into the Jemdet Nasr and Early Dynastic periods. During the 3rd millennium BC, a close cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians, who spoke a language isolate, and Akkadians, which gave rise to widespread bilingualism.
The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the 3rd millennium BC as a Sprachbund. Sumer was conquered by the Semitic-speaking kings of the Akkadian Empire around 2270 BC (short chronology), but Sumerian continued as a sacred language. Native Sumerian rule re-emerged for about a century in the Third Dynasty of Ur at approximately 2100–2000 BC, but the Akkadian language also remained in use.The Sumerian city of Eridu, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, is considered to have been the world's first city, where three separate cultures may have fused: that of peasant Ubaidian farmers, living in mud-brick huts and practicing irrigation; that of mobile nomadic Semitic pastoralists living in black tents and following herds of sheep and goats; and that of fisher folk, living in reed huts in the marshlands, who may have been the ancestors of the Sumerians.Western culture
Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is a term used very broadly to refer to a heritage of social norms, ethical values, traditional customs, belief systems, political systems and specific artifacts and technologies that have some origin or association with Europe. The term also applies beyond Europe to countries and cultures whose histories are strongly connected to Europe by immigration, colonization, or influence. For example, Western culture includes countries in the Americas and Australasia, whose language and demographic ethnicity majorities are European. The development of western culture has been strongly influenced by Christianity.Western culture is characterized by a host of artistic, philosophic, literary and legal themes and traditions; the heritage of various European peoples. Christianity, including the Roman Catholic Church, Protestantism and the Orthodox Church, has also played a prominent role in the shaping of Western civilization since at least the 4th century as did Judaism (particularly Hellenistic Judaism and Jewish Christianity). Before the Cold War era, the traditional Western viewpoint identified Western civilization with the Western Christian (Catholic-Protestant) countries and culture.A cornerstone of Western thought, beginning in ancient Greece and continuing through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, is the idea of rationalism in various spheres of life, especially religion, developed by Hellenistic philosophy, scholasticism and humanism. The Catholic Church was for centuries at the center of the development of the values, ideas, science, laws and institutions which constitute Western civilization. Empiricism later gave rise to the scientific method during the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment.
Ancient Greece is considered the birthplace of many elements of Western culture, with the world's first democratic system of government and major advances in philosophy, science and mathematics. Greece was followed by Rome, which made key contributions in law, government, engineering and political organization. Western culture continued to develop with the Christianisation of Europe during the Middle Ages and the reform and modernization triggered by the Renaissance. The Church preserved the intellectual developments of classical antiquity and is the reason many of them are still known today. Medieval Christianity created the modern university, the hospital system, scientific economics, natural law (which would later influence the creation of international law) and numerous other innovations across all intellectual fields. Christianity played a role in ending practices common among pagan societies, such as human sacrifice, slavery, infanticide and polygamy. The globalization by successive European colonial empires spread European ways of life and European educational methods around the world between the 16th and 20th centuries. European culture developed with a complex range of philosophy, medieval scholasticism and mysticism and Christian and secular humanism. Rational thinking developed through a long age of change and formation, with the experiments of the Enlightenment and breakthroughs in the sciences. Tendencies that have come to define modern Western societies include the concept of political pluralism, individualism, prominent subcultures or countercultures (such as New Age movements) and increasing cultural syncretism resulting from globalization and human migration.