Why do we still call Mesopotamia the "cradle of civilization"?

Dec 2015
370
NYC
It's pretty well accepted that China, the Indus River Valley Civilisation, Mesoamerica etc. developed civilisation independently. For civilisation to grow you need Agriculture and agriculture developed in areas suitable for it, particularly the great river valleys. I genuinely don't see how Mesopotamia (A place in the Middle East.) corresponds to European ''chauvinism''. (I doubt you know the meaning of this word.) Why is Mesopotamia called the ''Cradle of Civilisation''? While I believe that this term is somewhat outdated Mesopotamia was indeed the first place to develop agriculture and complex society, with the first ''state'' (Sumer.) being in it. That's it really, to my knowledge no one has ever denied that China, Mesoamerica etc. developed independently.
Our friend Ario displays European ''chauvinism'', thinking Europe is the most superior place on Earth and that they needed no help from non-Europeans. He continues to deny facts on Ancient Greece (ignoring the influence the Eastern civilizations had on Greeks especially the Archaic period and even the Minoans through trade) and accusing other people of being "Anti-European" because we disagree with the idea of Greece and Europe in general as being the greatest civilization on Earth, and saying that Greeks and most Europeans were influenced by the early Near East and Egypt is somehow, an "SJW ideology" [facepalm].
 
Aug 2018
697
london
Colin Renfrew, 'The Emergence of Civilisation: The Cyclades and the Aegean in the third millennium BC' (1972)

"The diffusionist theory suggests that civilisation came about in the Aegean as a result of strong contacts with Egypt or the Near East… this view implies some radical changes within the system following the introduction of new customs (and artefacts) from outside. Childe’s view of the transference of civilisation, to secondary and tertiary centres, implies the adoption of a whole series of innovations in a relatively short space of time, most of these being activity patterns already well established in the primary centre… but the evidence does not support its relevance in this case. Trading contacts in the third millennium with Egypt were few, and with the Near East even fewer. There are indications of a directional trade for the first time in Mycenaean times, when Aegean pottery is widely found in the east Mediterranean. So that, while a freelance commercial trade between Crete and the Levant or Egypt was probably beginning in the later third millennium, its economic significance cannot have been great. The local redistribution of foodstuffs and other goods must have taken place on a very much larger scale. The economic effect on other regions of the Aegean of any trade with the east Mediterranean was quite negligible… the fundamental changes of the time, in the social, subsistence and craft subsystems, do not appear as the result of east Mediterranean contact. They are seen in other regions of the Aegean where such contact was lacking. Indeed the contacts within the Aegean, between its various regions, seem both economically and in terms of the flow of innovations, to have been more important… essential transformations in Aegean society leading to the emergence of civilisation must be viewed principally in Aegean terms."

(p.477-479)

Regarding writing:

"The two basic elements of any system for recording are distinguishing marks, and a numerical notation…. seals and sealings of the early bronze age already fulfilled some of these functions, indicating ownership (or source), and possibly also the nature of the commodity. During the early bronze age there was also a series of pot marks, especially at Phylakopi. These marks incised on the body or more generally the base of the pot before firing obviously embody a numerical notation.

It is possible, indeed, in the Aegean to see an evolution in the expression of meaning by means of incisions upon clay. In the late neolithic at Sitagroi in Macedonina, clay roll-cylinders are seen with incised decoration, which, like those Poliochni and Kapros in Amorgos, will have been used to stamp moist clay. At the same time in the Balkans, around 4000 BC in radiocarbon years [c. 4900 BC in calendar years], signs were incised on pots and even on clay tablets. They bear a superficial resemblance to the pot marks of Phylakopi I some two millennia later. In phase III at Sitagroi many spindle whorls are found with incised motifs… These are rare in phases IV and V at Sitagroi, but analogous incisions become very common at Troy during the early bronze age. Schliemann considered these signs of Trojan spindle whorls, and also cylinder seals, to represent writing, comparing them indeed with those of south-east Europe. Sayce even attempted their decipherment (Schliemann 1880, 691)… the evolution of signs on the whorls has points of comparison with the development of the Early Minoan seals.

Evans (in Atkinson et al. 1904, 181) made a systematic study of the ‘pottery marks’ found at Phylokopi largely in levels of the First City, and recognised among them four classes:

1. Geometric marks either traditional or of arbitrary origin;
2. Pictographic signs;
3. Signs identical with those of the Knossian Linear script;
4. Numerals.

It is clear that signs were first incised on the pottery in the early bronze age, and continued to the middle and late bronze age age, when signs of the Minoan Linear A and B scripts are seen. A sherd of Middle Helladic Grey Minyan ware from Naxos is also incised with a Linear A sign. Pottery marks or signs of this kind are common in mainland Greece during the middle bronze age… it would thus be possible to claim that ‘writing’ began its development in the Aegean during the early bronze age.”

(p.411-414)
 
Feb 2019
1,155
Serbia
Our friend Ario displays European ''chauvinism'',
Once again, you evidently don't know the meaning of this term. Though the person who first used the term seems to call everything he disagrees with ''chauvinist'' when he can't actually refute it.

thinking Europe is the most superior place on Earth and that they needed no help from non-Europeans.
Where has he said this? Or do you say this because he doesn't subscribe to your biased, black and white thesis of evil Europeans not having a civilisation of their own and getting all their achievements because some other civilisation did something. Whether it would be Egypt and Greek civilisation or the ''Dark Ages'' ending because the Mongols invaded Asia.

He continues to deny facts on Ancient Greece (ignoring the influence the Eastern civilizations had on Greeks especially the Archaic period and even the Minoans through trade)
He has provided sources for his claims, and besides I don't see him ''ignoring'' influence so much as you overrating it and attributing Greek civilisation in almost its entirety to Egyptian influences.

and accusing other people of being "Anti-European" because we disagree with the idea of Greece and Europe in general as being the greatest civilization on Earth
If we're being honest: You are extremely anti-European. From the 3 threads you have recently participated in, including this one, you have constantly tossed about biased and straight up false claims to malign Europe and their achievements. Refusing to advance discussion when presented with claims that counter you and dancing around the argument, also resorting to fallacies.

and saying that Greeks and most Europeans were influenced by the early Near East and Egypt is somehow, an "SJW ideology" [facepalm].
They were somewhat influenced and I didn't see anyone deny that. But claiming that the Greeks gained most of their civilisation because of Egyptian influences and that all the Greeks did was somehow inherited from Egypt is nonsensical.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Davidius

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,266
Lisbon, Portugal
I hope you got my point...I'm not claiming that the Aegean civilization was built by foreigners from outside Europe and they had everything from the Mesopotamian or Ancient Egypt civilizations.

My point is, that the introduction of agriculture in West Eurasia - and most of Africa for that matter - came from one single source (geographically wise and population wise) and it expanded in all directions. That expansion was made via mass migration of those original farmers and also some expansion of their culture and techniques. The Mediterranean area of Europe suffered, for the most part, a population replacement event around the time agriculture arrived there.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Iraq Bruin
Aug 2018
697
london
I hope you got my point...I'm not claiming that the Aegean civilization was built by foreigners from outside Europe and they had everything from the Mesopotamian or Ancient Egypt civilizations.

My point is, that the introduction of agriculture in West Eurasia - and most of Africa for that matter - came from one single source (geographically wise and population wise) and it expanded in all directions. That expansion was made via mass migration of those original farmers and also some expansion of their culture and techniques. The Mediterranean area of Europe suffered, for the most part, a population replacement event around the time agriculture arrived there.
First of all agriculture isn't the same thing as civilisation. Agriculture spread from the middle east but then civilisation developed in different places. And following your reasoning you could say that Egyptians didn't create their own civilisation because near eastern farmers migrated into egypt... Of course that doesn't make sense because eyptians were/are those near eastern farmers just like europeans were/are those anatolian farmers. It's like saying that white americans didn't build their civilisation because it was actually european colonists. Do you get my point?
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,266
Lisbon, Portugal
First of all agriculture isn't the same thing as civilisation. Agriculture spread from the middle east but then civilisation developed in different places. And following your reasoning you could say that Egyptians didn't create their own civilisation because near eastern farmers migrated into egypt... Of course that doesn't make sense because eyptians were/are those near eastern farmers just like europeans were/are those anatolian farmers. It's like saying that white americans didn't build their civilisation because it was actually european colonists. Do you get my point?
I don't disagree with anything you said now and I got your point.
Now let me tell mine: Agriculture is the basis of civilization, and if we want to discuss what is a "cradle of civilization" - which is the entire point of the OP - than what we should see is which place agriculture appeared.
 
Aug 2018
337
America
They were somewhat influenced and I didn't see anyone deny that. But claiming that the Greeks gained most of their civilisation because of Egyptian influences and that all the Greeks did was somehow inherited from Egypt is nonsensical.
Writing is considered a big deal (for instance, everyone finds the Latin alphabet the greatest thing ever and what "civilised" Germanic "barbarians", like Stephen Greenblatt for instance), so the fact that an alphabet directly derived from Egyptian hieroglyphs (via Phoenicians) replaced thoroughly the Greeks' own indigenous writing is hardly "somewhat influenced", at least by the standards that think writing is a particular mark of high sophistication and advancement. And as Greeks derived their ships from Phoenicians, if Phoenicians derived their ships from Egypt rather than they inventing them on their own, then Egyptian influence becomes even more powerfully pronounced and the term "somewhat" becomes absurd.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,664
Sydney
the Phoenician script diverged rapidly from the hieroglyphic system , it evolved as a sound based alphabet ,for use by the Semite speakers
everybody knew Akkadian , that was the diplomatic language , even after the cuneiform was dropped

the linear B seems to have evolved to fulfill the needs of a Greek speaking people , it's structure start with ideograms but evolve also into a sound system

There is obvious borrowings but the concept of writing had many roots
 
Aug 2018
697
london
I don't disagree with anything you said now and I got your point.
Now let me tell mine: Agriculture is the basis of civilization, and if we want to discuss what is a "cradle of civilization" - which is the entire point of the OP - than what we should see is which place agriculture appeared.
Regarding the idea of a ‘pristine civilisation’, by your reasoning it would seem that only Mesopotamia could be considered a ‘pristine civilization’ because Mesopotamian farmers happened to stay in the (arbitrarily defined) near east, whereas other early farmers migrated into Egypt, Europe and India. That doesn’t really make sense. As I said agriculture is not the same thing as civilisation.
 
Aug 2018
697
london
[QUOTE="Escritor, post: 3188787, member: 53602] everyone finds the Latin alphabet the greatest thing ever and what "civilised" Germanic "barbarians".[/QUOTE]

That’s not what everyone thinks... a more likely theory might be that Germanic runes originate from the venetic alphabet. There are some rune-like symbols on Bronze Age artefacts too.