Ancient Civilizations Society Subcultures and Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The nation-state that grew around the trade zones, like ancient Egypt, served to establish boundaries between trade zones, trading populations, and defined their zones by the locations of trading goods (16).

A for the territory of a city-state. Early Etruria (fig. 5) offers another instance of an arguably "pristine" civilization, which emerged into history as a hegemony of 12 city-states. The mean distance between neighbors (with common terrestrial boundaries) is 56 km. Egypt, of course, is something of an exception to this schema, since the Nile imposes a linear arrangement, and little is known of the settlement pattern or administrative organization before the unification at the outset of the Old Kingdom. The discussion here, furthermore, is restricted to sedentary agricultural societies; more mobile units are discussed later (16)."

The trade routes became integral elements of early civilization building and survival. Egypt and China did most of their trade as port site, but as the processes and exchange of goods became a regular and more extensive extension of life from civilization to civilization, there developed overland routes from other regions to China and Egypt, but most notably Egypt. Egypt became a major center of trade by land and sea.

But the nomadic empires of the Turk, Mongol, Arabic, and Berber peoples were spread out like nets alongside transcontinental caravan routes. The purpose was to "own" the routes, which would provide a flow of imports, partly in the form of tolls and taxes, payment for safe-conduct, and the like, and partly in exchange for raw materials collected as tribute from the conquered peoples by the empire builders (148)."

As the competition for good increased, so did the levels of contention between the societies that were war-like, and eventually war came to Egypt, but it was long after Egypt had become established as a trade route. Eventually, trade became synonymous with war.

But) forms of administered trade, once established, generally come into use whether there is any treaty or not. Its main institution is the port of trade, the site of all administered foreign trade. Its function is to offer:

1. Military Security

2. Civil Protection to the Foreign Trader

3. Facilities of Anchorage, Debarcation, Storage, etc.

4. Judicial Authories

5. Agreement on What Goods Are Traded

6. Organizational Arrangements Concerning the "Proportions" of the traded Goods (152)."

As we look at the outline above, we see the transition from a subsistent trading community, to a trade culture or society that has, as a result of trade, giving rise to governance as a nation-state that sets rules and provides protections, and, when necessary, takes what its own citizenry needs. This is the way that Egypt began trading with its Middle Eastern neighbors, first, on a very close basis, then branching out, and eventually becoming global in its trading partners.


MesoAmerican society existed long before the first Conquistadors stepped onto the coast of that area constituting northern Mexico, to what is now Honduras and El Salvador (Lamberg-Karlovsky and Sabloff, Jeremy a., 1979:214). In 1943, archeologists and anthropologist Paul Kirchoff found evidence to convince them that this entire span of area constituted a single great society, the MesoAmerican society, or the "Middle America" society (214). The archeological ruins and excavations in conjunction with the anthropological investigation and study of the era indicate that there was a leadership hierarchy that governed their society, and that it was subsistent in nature, but came together as a city-state when there began to spread common interests in religion and technology that could benefit the independent groups as a whole (217).

Their society evolved over a period of thousands of years, beginning independently, as in other societies, they came together in trade, warfare, and religious beliefs that bound them as a culture (217).

In contrast to the situation in the Near East, our data on the rise of agriculture and settled village life in Mesoamerica are relatively meager and not nearly so well synthesized. Whereas the richness of archaeological materials on the Neolithic period of the Near East obliged us to devote a full chapter to our discussions of these data, there is very little published information on the comparable time period in Mesoamerica -- a situation which forces us to include our examination of early agriculture as a background section to this chapter's discussion: the rise of civilization in Mesoamerica. Fortunately, however, the published data for one particular area in Mexico, the Tehuacan Valley of southern Puebla (see Map 4.2), are as strong as any comparable site or area in the Near East. From an examination of the developments that took place in that highland valley, we can draw some inferences about this period in other areas of Mesoamerica (217)."

We see this culture rise as a result of their subsistent dependency, and they eventually came together in support of their needs as a society.


In summary, we find that humankind's first three million years demonstrate a pattern of moving towards an organized society (Wenke, Robert and Oslewski, Deborah, 2007:145-172). Archeology helps to find the patterns in humankind's history that demonstrate that mankind was a social creature, not one to reside in isolation, but also one that could not live together without civil and international warfare. It shows, too, using Rome as a prime example that civilizations rose, and fell through warfare, and from the haughtiness of their governors. History and archeology demonstrate patterns of civilizations that were highly structured, like those of Mesoamerica, and Egypt. As societies grew, so did their propensity to be warlike, and to look for expansionism and enslavement of other cultures.

It is only in the more recent history of mankind that we find even though there continues to be war, there is also a heightened awareness of the need to come together in celebration of our cultural differences as a part of the history of humankind. Religion and cultural identities have brought mankind together, yet has been instrumental in keeping humankind separate and at war (Aitken, Ellen Bradshaw and Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, eds. 2004). There are signs, however, that mankind is moving toward an understanding of his own humanity, and that we are indeed social creatures that seek the cohesiveness of the social order, and that we appreciate governance of the state.

Each society of the four cultures cited here experienced transitions that lead them to form bonds first out of their needs as individuals, which brought them together in societies, and then cultures giving rise to the organization and rise of the nation-state. The tendency toward governance is as much a pattern as is the moving together as a society into a cultural enclave that is bound by the rules of the culture under the governance of the nation-states.

This is the pattern that emerges from the earliest periods of ancient civilization, into the most current and modern periods of man's evolution as an intellectual being. We now find ourselves moving toward a global community, one that embraces the identities of the various cultures that form the world. We need not merge those cultures into one, but only appreciate them for their differences and their cultural richness to become a society that is bound in humanity. The direction of the world toward a world governance appears inevitable at this point in time, and it is reflective of the patterns of mankind's evolution.

Works Cited

Aitken, Ellen Bradshaw and Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, eds. 2004. Philostratus's Heroikos: Religion and Cultural Identity in the Third Century C.E.. Boston: Brill. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 3 April 2009.

H arle, Vilho. 1998. Ideas of Social Order in the Ancient World. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 3 April 2009.

Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C., and Jeremy a. Sabloff. 1974. The Rise and Fall of Civilizations: Modern Archaeological Approaches to Ancient Cultures. Menlo Park, CA: Cummings Publishing. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 3 April 2009.

Lamberg-Karlovsky, C.C., and Jeremy a. Sabloff. 1979. Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings Publishing. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 3 April 2009.

Maisels, Charles Keith. 2001. Early Civilizations of the Old World: The Formative Histories of Egypt, the Levant, Mesopotamia, India, and China. London: Routledge. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 3 April 2009.

Peerenboom, R.P. 1993. Law and Morality in Ancient China: The Silk Manuscripts of Huang-Lao / . Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 3 April 2009.

Sabloff, Jeremy a. And C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, eds. 1975. Ancient Civilization and Trade. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Book online. Available from Questia, Accessed 3 April 2009.

Wenke, Robert and Olszewski, Deborah. 2007. Patterns in Prehistory: Humankind's

First Three Million Years. New York: Oxford University Press.

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