A. The Idea of Civilization
The West is an idea that developed slowly during Greek and Roman civilization. Initially the Greeks referred to their homeland as the Europe—or “West.” The Romans took up the concept and applied it to the western half of their empire. Asia—or the East—was similarly a geographical innovation of the Greeks and Romans. Asia was that land that belonged to non-Greek cultures of Asia Minor, particularly the Persians. The Romans, too, regarded lands east of Greece as Asia. The name was retained and applied to other cultures beyond the Turkish peninsula such as China and India. Although what we refer to as “Western Civilization” began in the area that today we call the Middle East, we tend to associate the term more with developments in Europe, particularly after the birth of Christ. After the sixteenth century, Western civilization was exported through the process of conquest and colonization beyond the confines of Europe throughout the world. The exportation of Western civilization superimposed western culture on ancient traditions of art, science, economy, and politics in Asia, Africa, and the New World. The results of the exportation of Western civilization have been mixed. Both positive and negative results have emerged along with a new global culture. B. Ötzi’s Last Meal
The discovery of the 5000-year-old remains of a man in the Ötzi valley provided us with a glimpse of life in the Stone Age. The Ötzi man’s diet consisted of meat, vegetables and einkorn wheat bread. He dressed in a simple leather breechcloth, calfskin belt, leather upper garment made from goat skin, and bear skin soled shoes. He carried a copper ax and flint knife. None of his clothes were woven. II. Before Civilization
The first pre-humans appeared as early as five million years ago. They were toolmakers and survived by hunting and gathering. The first immediate ancestors of man, Homo sapiens, appeared over a hundred thousand years ago. One of the earliest varieties of Homo sapiens was Neanderthal man. Although closely related in structure and culture to modern man, Neanderthal man mysteriously disappeared about forty thousand years ago. Our immediate ancestors were Homo sapiens sapiens. All current races are descended from this subspecies. Early varieties of Homo sapiens sapiens lived as small bands of hunter-gatherers. D. Dominance of Culture
The Homo sapiens sapien’s original material culture (everything about human not inherited through biology) consisted of the production of stone and bone tools. By the late Paleolithic period (35,000-10,000 B.C.E.), early humans had produced art and appear to have formulated religious practices related to fertility and fecundity in the natural world around them. One of the best examples of cave painting is at Tassili-n-Ajjer in Algeria. In contains a painted record of life dating from 6000 B.C.E. to the time of Jesus. Around 10,000 B.C.E., hunter-gatherers residing in the Middle East began to become more sedentary. They stopped following the herds of wild animals and began to exploit the resources of a single area more completely. The transition to sedentary communities was most prominent along the shores of the Mediterranean and the foothills of the Zagros Mountains. Sedentary life permitted more rapid population growth and created a demand for greater food supplies. The demand for a more intense exploitation of the environment led to domestication of animals and cereal agriculture. E. Social Organization, Agriculture, and Religion
Sedentary agricultural societies required more formal political organization in order to exploit the environment effectively. Religious rites of various types also became more important in agricultural societies. III. Mesopotamia: Between the Two Rivers
Mesopotamia was not naturally well-suited to agriculture. Only the...