Water supply and aqueducts

Jun 2018
471
New Hampshire
#51
This is completely wrong though. Even the contemporary sources available about these states show that that isn't the case at all. What are you basing this idea on? The Swahili (which is only one of the cultures mentioned in the thread)? Because that's basically the only case I can think of among those cultures mentioned where one could get that impression, although even in that case there was some distinctiveness in their culture. For the others that were mentioned, what you've described doesn't seem even remotely accurate or applicable.
Well for starters, was it not the Arabs who introduced writing to those countries. I am not trolling, but am sincerely interested. Everything i had learned about sub-Saharan Africa suggested there were no high civilizations there on the same level as in the Near East, Europe, and East Asia.

By all means prove me wrong. I am always open to learning.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,453
Portugal
#52
Well for starters, was it not the Arabs who introduced writing to those countries. I am not trolling, but am sincerely interested. Everything i had learned about sub-Saharan Africa suggested there were no high civilizations there on the same level as in the Near East, Europe, and East Asia.

By all means prove me wrong. I am always open to learning.
The Geez is the liturgical language of the Cristian Ethiopians and has its own writing, different, albeit eventually influenced by the Arabic. But it appeared later than the Greeks and Romans. Anyway we can’t say that it was introduced by the “Arabs”. It was an indigenous development.
 
Jun 2018
471
New Hampshire
#53
The Geez is the liturgical language of the Cristian Ethiopians and has its own writing, different, albeit eventually influenced by the Arabic. But it appeared later than the Greeks and Romans. Anyway we can’t say that it was introduced by the “Arabs”. It was an indigenous development.
True, but Ethiopia is not strictly sub-Saharan Africa. It is apparently a combination of African and Near Eastern cultures.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
5,453
Portugal
#54
True, but Ethiopia is not strictly sub-Saharan Africa. It is apparently a combination of African and Near Eastern cultures.
Ok. But it is in Africa. It is South of the Sahara. With that reasoning the Greeks would be a also combination of European, African and Near Eastern cultures. It is just a question of being precise with physical geography.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,576
Benin City, Nigeria
#55
Well for starters, was it not the Arabs who introduced writing to those countries. I am not trolling, but am sincerely interested. Everything i had learned about sub-Saharan Africa suggested there were no high civilizations there on the same level as in the Near East, Europe, and East Asia.

By all means prove me wrong. I am always open to learning.
Well pagan Africans with no contact with Arabs and completely isolated from literate areas of the world already created a writing system in a part of southern Nigeria. It was called nsibidi and its symbols were in use since the 5th century AD. When British colonial adminstrators or anthropologists in early colonial Nigeria at the beginning of the 20th century came across that system of symbols being used by the people of the area they observed that its use was the same as that of "ordinary writing". In other words, it was a real writing system.

Other groups that possibly developed writing systems (that is to say, these cases are less clear cut than nsibidi) include the Fon of Dahomey, the Yoruba, certain Mande groups and the Edo. I've referenced some of the mentions of the use of ideographic or pictographic writing by those groups in these threads:

Blacks Had No History Before Slavery?

Why are Sub-Saharan, Native American and Oceanian military histories so deficient?

African civilization and Arabs

But none of these writing systems spread far beyond their area of origin nor do we have evidence of the development of an extensive corpus of detailed writings using them, and in that respect they resemble the few instances of indigenous European writing systems before ancient European cultures obtained/imported writing systems from Middle Easterners.

I don't see why some Africans south of the Sahara getting their writing systems from Middle Easterners or North Africans would be viewed as any different from most of the rest of the world (other than the Chinese (and subsequently other East Asians that based their writing systems on Chinese) or Mesoamericans) also getting their writing systems from Middle Easterners or North Africans.
 
Aug 2013
155
Finland
#56
I have been watching a world history course from Columbia university on Youtube (Course | History of the World to 1500 CE - YouTube) and at one point the lecturer, Richard Bulliet, argued that he has a theory that one significant element regarding the birth of civilizations is basically lack of space.

If a population doesn't have space to move away when it becomes crowded, they have to work out systems on how to live together and these end up as bigger settlements, force them into agriculture and eventually cities. Their space to move may be restricted by deserts, mountain ranges, seas, thick jungle etc. Bulliet's theory is centered around that people chose to move away to find new lands if it became to cramped, but they have to find other solutions if this is not possible.

This actually works our for a lot of early civilizations:
  • The Nile Valley is bordered on both sides by desert and it so narrow you can from one side see the desert on the other side.
  • Mesopotamia is again bordered by desert and also by mountains to the east.
  • Mesoamerica is bordered on two sides by sea.
  • The Indus valley is bordered by mountain ranges to the west and north and arid land to the east.
  • The Incan civilisation is cramped in between the sea and the Andes.
  • In Oceania, sea faring was developed strongly as an alternate solution, leading to the sea no longer acting as a barrier to movement.
  • I'm not sure how well this applies to China and Mr. Bulliet didn't mention this specific case.
It doesn't work out in northern Europe, north America and most of sub-Saharan Africa, since there is plenty of space to move around. This would mean it would take longer to build up the population density needed to trigger any formation of larger civilizations. In these cases therefore significant civilization would not necessarily have the time to evolve until contact with other civilizations were established.

This is the theory of the lecturer, but it does seem like a logical explanation to me. Civilization in most of Africa, northern Europe as well as in many other parts of the world developed comparatively late because there was no need for it to develop earlier due to a lack of geographical restrictions. He made clear in the lectures he did not consider this to be the only driving factor in the birth of civilizations.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,576
Benin City, Nigeria
#57
It doesn't work out in northern Europe, north America and most of sub-Saharan Africa, since there is plenty of space to move around.
If one applies the same reasoning that was applied to those other areas to West Africa south of the Sahara the most obvious argument one would make for it falling into the same pattern is "it is bounded on the north by desert (the Sahara) and bounded on the west and south by the sea (the Atlantic Ocean)". And if one suggests that it isn't bounded on the east by anything, the "thick jungle" you mentioned comes to mind as one leaves west Africa and moves deeper into central Africa.

Also, what really bounds Mesoamerica on the north?

This might be a case of assuming that one's preconceptions really are true and then setting out to try make the facts fit the theory. But are all the underlying preconceptions really correct to begin with?

Anyway, I can think of other, probably more important reasons for why there could be higher concentrations of people in certain areas than others and I'm sure most people can as well.
 
Mar 2019
16
Paris
#58
I have been watching a world history course from Columbia university on Youtube (Course | History of the World to 1500 CE - YouTube) and at one point the lecturer, Richard Bulliet, argued that he has a theory that one significant element regarding the birth of civilizations is basically lack of space.

If a population doesn't have space to move away when it becomes crowded, they have to work out systems on how to live together and these end up as bigger settlements, force them into agriculture and eventually cities. Their space to move may be restricted by deserts, mountain ranges, seas, thick jungle etc. Bulliet's theory is centered around that people chose to move away to find new lands if it became to cramped, but they have to find other solutions if this is not possible.

This actually works our for a lot of early civilizations:
  • The Nile Valley is bordered on both sides by desert and it so narrow you can from one side see the desert on the other side.
  • Mesopotamia is again bordered by desert and also by mountains to the east.
  • Mesoamerica is bordered on two sides by sea.
  • The Indus valley is bordered by mountain ranges to the west and north and arid land to the east.
  • The Incan civilisation is cramped in between the sea and the Andes.
  • In Oceania, sea faring was developed strongly as an alternate solution, leading to the sea no longer acting as a barrier to movement.
  • I'm not sure how well this applies to China and Mr. Bulliet didn't mention this specific case.
It doesn't work out in northern Europe, north America and most of sub-Saharan Africa, since there is plenty of space to move around. This would mean it would take longer to build up the population density needed to trigger any formation of larger civilizations. In these cases therefore significant civilization would not necessarily have the time to evolve until contact with other civilizations were established.

This is the theory of the lecturer, but it does seem like a logical explanation to me. Civilization in most of Africa, northern Europe as well as in many other parts of the world developed comparatively late because there was no need for it to develop earlier due to a lack of geographical restrictions. He made clear in the lectures he did not consider this to be the only driving factor in the birth of civilizations.
Except for the fact that:
- the Sahara and Mesopotamia were still green (Tropical) during the Early Dynastic Period. Green and watery enough to have North African elephant - Wikipedia and Syrian elephant - Wikipedia
- Mesoamerica (many cultures) was way bigger than Ancient Egypt. Do you see Central-America has beeing a cramped place? And they were not blocked in the North or the South as far as I know.
- Regarding the Indus valley: "it was one of three early civilisations of the region comprising North Africa, West Asia and South Asia, and of the three, the most widespread, its sites spanning an area stretching from northeast Afghanistan, through much of Pakistan, and into western and northwestern India." (Indus Valley Civilisation - Wikipedia) Again, not that cramped, and the desert was less arid then as well.
- Inca civilisation may have been cramped, but that configuration gave them access to a wide range of fauna, flora and materials. Maybe there it helped.
 
Aug 2013
155
Finland
#59
This might be a case of assuming that one's preconceptions really are true and then setting out to try make the facts fit the theory. But are all the underlying preconceptions really correct to begin with?
In the lectures he uses this as an alternative to the traditional theory that civilization developed in more temperate climates, whereas in the Americas the opposite is actually true. The theory just seemed interesting to me although I think no single theory is capable of explaining why civilization started earlier in some areas compared to others.

West Africa is huge on it's own already and there is a belt of relative flat lands between the Sahara and central African jungles where it's quite possible to migrate in both directions?
 
Mar 2019
1,463
KL
#60
personally i believe that some scholarly agenda has shown some people with less complicated culture then others, personal ego of inflation.

the mesoamerican and the Chinese ''civilizations'' have been blown out of proportions, for instance, mesoamerican stone ruins are inflated, but then its not taken into account how the same society practiced cannibalism and head hunting and lots of other customs which were considered primitive. the chinese are inflated but then we dont see ''water management'' and basic sense of architecture which was most probably wooden unlike the mayans or the incas etc.

so i dont really understand the inflation of some ''civilizations'' based on material culture, as i already stated that only the romans had a good ''water management system'' but then again, were romans really known for their intellectualism we are labeling societies with a degree of their intellectuals and ''scientists'' and ''philosophers. again the same problem with each and every societies which are declared as ''model societies'', egyptians are inflated for their stone pyramids, but then again was egypt really that urban and made water management systems like drains, aquaducts etc? where is the evidence for that, we know egyptians constructed dams, but was their urban infrastructure based on such water management principles?

the whole meaning of north african sub saharan is bound to be racist, if not it, then why is europe not divided into Mediterranean and western european, north european for instance.

some societies are labelled borrowers, some lenders, until few decades ago it was believed that sumerians invented the writing and the wheel, which is almost debunked with a much older tablet excavated from greece.

Dispilio Tablet - Wikipedia

the manner in which we are describing old societies is using the present modern model and imposing them on the pre modern societies.

regards
 
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