Civilization

Civilization is the name of a line of computer games, see: Civilization computer game.


Civilisation: A Personal View by Lord Kenneth Clark was a popular TV series outlining the history of Western society produced by the BBC and aired in 1969. Lord Kenneth Clark wrote and presented the series and also wrote the book Civilisation: A Personal View published in 1970. The series' groundbreaking format, in which Clark travelled around the world to illustrate his thesis, became a template for such later programmes as The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski, Life on Earth and sequels by David Attenborough, and Cosmos by Carl Sagan.
The term civilization (or civilisation) - from the Latin civis meaning 'city'/'state' - has been used in various ways at different times.

From a naive European Christian ethnocentric viewpoint human history is the history of "progress" leading to development of the achievement of "civilization" represented by European Christian culture. This attitude was associated with European colonialism and with the relation of Europeans and Americans with indigenous peoples such as the Native Americans. More sophisticated thought holds that there are and have been many advanced civilizations in human history and that no one culture is inherently superior.

Table of contents
1 A stage of technical or political development
2 A standard of behavior
3 A cultural phenomenon
4 25 major civilizations in Human History
5 Wiktionary Links

A stage of technical or political development

Sometimes examples are given of the earliest civilisations, such as China, ancient Egypt, Indus Valley Civilisation and Sumer. The features of these groups that are seen as distinguising them from earlier settlements such as neolithic Jericho and Catalhuyuk:

  • urban settlements where people followed specialised occupations,
  • some kind or organisation of an area larger than a single settlement.
  • extensive trade
  • the use of writing, developed to keep track of it all.

A standard of behavior

Encompassing concepts such as chivalry, barbarian. The concept of civilisation has at time formed part of the justification by which some groups have exerted control over others, e.g., during European colonization of the Americas or British India. Hence, Mahatma Gandhi's famous response to the question "What do you think of Western civilisation?" - his reply: "I think it would be a good idea."

A cultural phenomenon

One school of thought says that civilisation is a cultural identity which represents the broadest level of identification in which an invididual intensely identifies, broader than family, tribe, hometown, nation, or region. Civilizations are usually tied to religion or some other belief system.

The concept of civilization is central to the historical theories of Arnold J. Toynbee who described history as the process of the rise and decline of civilizations, of which he identified 26. It is also central to the political beliefs of Samuel P. Huntington who argues that the defining characteristic of the 21st century will be the interaction and conflict between civilizations.

The concept of empire overlaps with that of "civilisation", so the empirical description of the 500-year old Western empire by Noam Chomsky and the more theoretical analysis by Negri and Hardt constitute other contemporary analyses of civilisations.

25 major civilizations in Human History

Civilization Main Empire
Sumerian Sumerian Empire
Egyptian Middle Empire
Indian -
Minoan Minoan Empire
Hittite Hittite Empire
Chinese Qin Empire
Austronesian -
Babylonian Babylonian Empire
Inuit -
Greek and Roman Roman Empire
Central American Maya civilization
Syrian -
Spartan Spartan Empire
Mongol Mongol Empire
Khmer -
Islam Arabian Empire
Japanese Tokugawa Shogunate
Western British Empire, French Empire and Spanish Empire
Orthodox Christian Byzantine Empire
Hindu Mugal Raj
Russian Russian Empire
Zimbabwe Trading Entrepot
Ottoman Ottoman Empire
Andean Inca Empire
Communist Soviet Union

Source (with some changes): Guinness Book of Historical Records

This classification is certainly subject to debate in various details. The Maya, for example, while achieving a high degree of civilization, were never an Empire which imposed their power over other peoples of Mesoamerica, whereas Teotihuacan and the Aztecs fit that criteria.

Wiktionary Links

  • civilisation
  • civilise
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/interactive/civilisations/




copyright © 2004 FactsAbout.com