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Early Civilizations - Essay Example

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Early Civilizations

The example of China and Mesopotamia vividly portray that geographical location and climate in different parts of the world 'caused' similar traditions, economic, social and political development.
Geographical location and environment determined the nature of both societies and their activities. In China (during the Shang and Han Dynasties) and Mesopotamia (Sumerian period) agriculture was the main activity and the core of economy. This issue remained a central one in both civilizations: for some, it remained crucial to the maintenance of an 'enduring' national home: and for others, it represented a fundamental obstacle to the creation of more accommodating and cosmopolitan cultural order. China and the Mesopotamia had similar climate and soil conditions, but lacked water resources and irrigation systems. Irrigation was also associated with urbanization, which, in its turn, led to development of crafts and trade (Ebrey 34). Both civilizations developed unique rural culture and values, traditions and art based on the cults of Sun and farming. For instance, the remarkable features of the Shang Dynasty (began about 1600 BC- 1046 BC) and the Sumerian period (5th to 3rd millennia BC), were cultural identity, self-centeredness, unique philosophy and literary traditions explained by the fact that both civilizations were separated from the rest of the world. The civilizations competed effectively against the culture and values of outside world as an organizing principle in the unique identity. During the Han Dynasty and the Hammurabi period, both civilizations culturally and mythically were also deeply centered (Oppenheim and Reiner 34). The historical continuities which composed the culture of the Han Dynasty were pronounced, especially compared to their European states. Not only has the Han Dynasty (within its own borders) largely escaped the worst catastrophes of modernity, at the same time relations between the Asian nations and the overarching state have been relatively stable. Similar processes were typical for the Hammurabi period (Ebrey 27; (Oppenheim and Reiner 38).
It is possible to say that environment influenced the development of similar laws and regulations accepted by these civilizations (the Code of Hammurabi and the Code of the Han dynasty which gained the recognition of Confucianism). During the Hammurabi period and the Han Dynasty these civilization expanded their geographical territories with military campaigns. The Han Dynasty established the Silk Road while Hammurabi established trade relations with neighboring states. Environment influenced the quality of life and city developments, architecture and art; they built sophisticated buildings and established written forms of communication (Oppenheim and Reiner 39). In China and the Mesopotamia people had similar views about the world and nature, state organization and philosophy. As the most important, a religion had a highly complex subject which had an impact on culture in three different ways: socialization, influences which shape behavior in a particular social setting and individual orientations to life (Ebrey 87).
In sum, environment had a crucial impact on the development of early civilizations and caused the development of similar economic activities and world views. Unique views and art were nothing more than a response to the environment and climate. Religion played an important role in lives of ...Show more

Summary

Geographical location and natural environment had a great impact on civilizations and their social, economic, political and cultural development. Environment influenced outlooks, philosophies and early religious traditions of the civilizations determining their attitude towards the world around and other people…
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