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

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,958
The Greeks already had their own writing system before the invention of the alphabet.


The Phoenician alphabet is the earliest known alphabet, but the Phoenician alphabet only has consonants whereas the Greek alphabet also has vowels.
What was that greek writing system ?

Also the arabic alphabet has no vowels for example (there are rules to derive vowels so a word like banana would be written bnn but still be read as "banana")
 

fascinating

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,405
It would be great if this discussion could move on, without rancour, as it is a very interesting question, related to the whole issue of how humanity began to move forward from its situation of ignorance and subsistence (ie the same situation as wild animals) and started to gain some understanding of the world and began to be able to have some control over nature and be able to grow a sufficient amount of food.

The actual question is "Why do we still call Mesopotamia the "cradle of civilisation"?". There is a problem with the question in that, as far as I am aware, nobody still calls Mesopotamia THE cradle of civilisation. Clearly, it was not the cradle for Chinese civilisation. Another problem is: we don't seem to agree on what civilisation actually is. Then there is the matter of whether is a particularly good thing.

It seems that geography was an important factor in the development of large settled populations that were able to produce sufficient food and security to enable population growth, specifically large rivers that produced ample water supply and fertile land. However, the condition of the individual may have been no better because the surplus may have been taken up by the additional population resulting from the surplus (a common situation among animals).

I seek indications of increase in understanding of nature in ancient societies, for example the ability to mine and work metals to provide better tools.

I cannot understand how a society can advance in understanding/sophistication without some way of recording language - usually we are talking about writing (though the Incas had a sysem of knotted cords?). The first written records come from Sumeria. I don't know when the Chinese invented writing. The form of writing, whether it be pictograms or alphabetic, doesn't matter so much as whether concepts can be recorded and understood.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,249
Sydney
a point nobody is raising is
how come that after one hundred thousand years of Homo sapiens , the Olmec ,Egypt , Mesopotamia , Indus and Yellow River appeared at virtually the same time ?

that was a pretty striking example of synchronicity .... was it something in the water ?
some learned contributors will niggle about a few centuries here or there but the fact remain of a remarkable congruence of events
 
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Sep 2019
27
Antioch
I cannot understand how a society can advance in understanding/sophistication without some way of recording language - usually we are talking about writing (though the Incas had a sysem of knotted cords?). The first written records come from Sumeria. I don't know when the Chinese invented writing. The form of writing, whether it be pictograms or alphabetic, doesn't matter so much as whether concepts can be recorded and understood.
However, concerning the “yellow river cultures” as well as other "holocene cultures", there is always the hypothetical possibility that there were informatory recordings of some sort, but recorded on perishable materials that we have no current archeological evidence of, because at that point in time, it wasn’t made to be durable throughout millennia. That could certainly explain the relatively late archeological written records (of the late 2nd millennium BCE oracle bone script) for the “yellow river cultures” and their proximate surroundings.
 
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fascinating

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,405
However, concerning the “yellow river cultures” as well as other "holocene cultures", there is always the hypothetical possibility that there were informatory recordings of some sort, but recorded on perishable materials that we have no current archeological evidence of, because at that point in time, it wasn’t made to be durable throughout millennia. That could certainly explain the relatively late archeological written records (of the late 2nd millennium BCE oracle bone script) for the “yellow river cultures” and their proximate surroundings.
Yes that's an interesting thought. In the past writing was done by an elite, most of the people couldn't read or write (I think that was true, worldwide, right into the 20th century). Probably most writing was only needed by the leaders, either the governing authorities to keep records, calculate tribute etc, or the religious authorities, for sacred script. Quite possibly the first of these writings were on wood, which of course doesn't usually last thousands of years.
 
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sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,249
Sydney
yes ,
cities culture in Java relied on palm leaf as writing material , much has been lost
eastern Europe used birch trees bark as paper and it didn't past the test of time too well
we know Khmer from their sculpture , virtually nothing of written material even though there must have been some

Mesopotamia use of fired clay as media provided a very durable record
 

robto

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,184
Lisbon, Portugal
Austronesian, Hmong-mien, Tai-Kadai and Austroasiatic peoples are mongoloid
So? How's that even relevant? "Mongoloid" is a phenotype, not a culture. It's not even relevant to our discussion.

which proofs ?
crops are native , egyptians doesn' t borrow agriculture from near east , they were already agriculturists
It is widely understood that those crops came originally from the Near East. It's you that has to prove that they did come originally from Egypt.
 
Dec 2015
320
NYC
Ancient Egypt was heavily influenced by the Near East, the very crops that were grown in Egypt mostly came from the Near East, they were not authoctonous to Egypt.
In China is a more complex history, although most of its civilization stems from the culture around the Yellow river and the Central Plains, they received a lot of influences from southern Chinese cultures - who were not originally Sinitic - and from the Northwest Steppes as well.
Egypt is considered part of the fertile crescent and has always been connected to the Near East via the Levant and there is strong early genetic and cultural affilication between pre-dynastic Egyptians and those from the Levant. Influences from the South came later on, making Egyptians slightly distant from the Levant.

As for China, there's always been mixing between the North and South since the neolithic, and the genetic differences (hate to bring it up again) and even cultural differences between Northern and Southern Chinese are not completely different, only slight differences here and there. Even then, they formed civilization without help from even farther places (who are more distinct from Chinese), say the Fertile Crescent.
 
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