Why Study Ancient Cultures?

Topics: Mesopotamia, Writing, China Pages: 3 (1021 words) Published: November 29, 2013
It is difficult to imagine our Paleolithic ancestors. Without written records our knowledge is limited but through archeology and anthropology we can get a sense of what their daily lives were like. Their's was a constant struggle for survival against the forces of nature. Their view of nature was personified in their polytheistic religions. Every element of nature was governed by a supernatural being. There was no separation between nature and themselves as we experience today.

One of their greatest achievements was the development of farming. The ability to store grains surpluses helped them overcome certain limitations of hunter-gatherer life and allowed them to begin long-term planning. The agrarian societies that developed required them become less nomadic. In order to raise crops and cultivate the land they needed to stay in one place, creating permanent settlements.

The evolution of these villages into towns and cities created a new lifestyle that seperated them from direct contact with many elements of nature. This separation became apparent in the emergence of the civilizations of Mesopotamia. This distinction is personified in the walled city of Uruk in Sumeria. On the inside is civilization, with the walls keeping the wilderness out. Because settlements became permanent people began owning land as property. It became necessary for there to bo a way to keep track of property divisions as well as ownership of crop surpluses. This need led to more complex mathematics as well as the creation of writing.

Written language allowed them to record their beliefs, facilitate commerce and enhance governance. Writing as a way to enhance governance can be exemplified in Hammurabi's code. It was written in cuneiform, the pictographic writing system of ancient Sumer. Hammurabi's Code is one of the earliest examples that we have of laws being made permanent. Created during the reign of King Hammurabi of Babylon, it was a collection of...
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