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How would you order the Civ 5 civilizations in their historical importance order?

Discussion in 'World History' started by Genghis Khaiser, Dec 19, 2013.

  1. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    However the idea of a civilization (which as a term in Greek is utterly linked to urban culture, a Politismos)

    What is "urban culture", especially in Ancient Greek understanding?

    Most of Ancient Greek poleis were basically large agricultural settlements surrounded by walls.

    Do such "cities" count as urban centers? If they were inhabited mostly by farmers and animal-breeders?
     
  2. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Not sure how large a basically large agricultural settlement can get, but Athens had around half a million people in the height of the first Delian league. Moreover the city was supported by the whole of Attica, where there were settlements for agriculture and mining. Also it imported a load of food through the sea routes. So? :)
    Most of the notable Poleis were relying in some sort of mineral trade, including obviously gold and silver, either from colonies, dependencies, or friendly cities. The cities were not massive blocks of agricultural communities, you are thinking of ancient era villages in Germany/similar.
     
  3. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    I wasn't talking about Athens but about average Greek cities. It is estimated that there were some 1,000-1,100 Greek cities spread over the Mediterranean in the late 4th century BCE, at the time of Alexander the Great - and most of them were relatively small (a few up to several thousand inhabitants). Large part of population of such typical cities were farmers who lived inside city walls. They had their house inside the city and walked a few miles every day to work on their fields. Many excavated houses show that it was common for people to work on the field and to have a workshop at home, making money when out of season for farming.

    BTW - Athens had 500,000 people inside the city, or in entire city-states (with surrounding countryside)?
     
  4. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    I wasn't talking about Athens but about average Greek cities.

    It is estimated that there were some 1,000-1,100 Greek cities spread over the Mediterranean in the late 4th century BCE, at the time of Alexander the Great - and most of them were relatively small (a few up to several thousand inhabitants). Large part of population of such typical cities were farmers who lived inside city walls. They had their house inside the city and walked a few miles every day to work on their fields. Many excavated houses show that it was common for people to work on the field and to have a workshop at home, making money when out of season for farming.

    BTW - Athens had 500,000 people inside the city, or in entire city-state (with surrounding countryside)?
     
  5. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    That is a good question. I am not sure, but probably 500K included all of Attica it controlled (but Attica is not a massive area either, and apart from Peireus, the main Athenian port and linked to Athens by the long walls, the rest were probably quite small settlements in Attica). :)

    The main cities seem to have been at least numbering 100K, but indeed they were few. Afaik (not read it myself) Aristotle supposedly claimed that a city of 10K citizens is more workable for better political rule (not that it has to mean much, apart from the very correct view that huge popultion sizes inevitably lead to more corrupt/unaccountable goverments). Moreover not all people in an ancient polis were actual citizens.
     
  6. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    500,000 people is an extremely high estimate, even when including all of Attica: it is estimated that Rome at the height of its empire had about that number of inhabitants.
     
  7. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    Rome had more - even up to 1 million (and perhaps no less than 800 thousand at its height).

    But the Roman Empire as a whole - even at its height - had a much smaller % of urban population than Classical Greece.

    It seems that even the area of Greece itself had a much smaller urbanization during the height of Roman times than during Classical Greek period.
     
  8. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Alien spiral maker

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    Yes, i also read that Rome had nearly 1 million at its height. In fact i heard that from my old Uni professor, back in my years of studies. It was supposed to be the first city where you never could realistically know or be known by all of it. Afaik Constantinople had that kind of population too at times.
     
  9. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    No offense, but we're talking estimates here. Depending on which author you trust population numbers can vary significantly. Personally I prefer conservative estimates; it's not like we can check statistics or anything. (With ancient sources' numbers a pretty good rule of thumb is to divide any number by 10, as they are invariably much too high.) With a city such as Rome a very large number would also be slaves and the overall majority would be poor.
     
  10. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    It is not a good rule I think. And they are not "invariably" much too high - you have to judge each source separately, because some of them are reliable and some are not (pretty much like nowadays). Sometimes you should divide by 10, sometimes not at all, sometimes by 2 and sometimes by 5, etc.

    Before modern population censuses which count people were first introduced, authorities often counted households.

    Basing on numbers from such censuses of households, you can estimate population (you just need to know an average size of a family).

    Number of households can be also estimated basing on size (area) of a particular city as well as on archaeological findings.

    Another way to estimate population for pre-census times is also researching data concerning tax collection.

    This is true. This can happen even when both authors are basing on the same data (the same count of households, etc.).

    For example one author can estimate that each household was on average 4 people, while the other author that it was 7 people.

    And you have a very considerable difference between final results of their estimates.

    In almost every large city until the 20th century majority were poor people. And in almost every large city until the 19th century (maybe with some exceptions), birth rate was smaller than death rate - so population could further grow or remain stable only thanks to immigration from outside.

    As for Rome, I've recently read an interesting article about incense and why it was so precious in the Ancient world (at that time it was about as precious as gold). The reason for that, was bad smell of cities like Rome. Although Rome had a sewage system, it was not always working very well (especially during heavy rains and floods of the Tiber) and highest floors of buildings did not have access to it. This is why Rome alone was importing 2,000 tons of incense annually (which is equal to some 10,000 camels - one camel could transport 200 kg of this trade good). There were also not enough public toilets in Rome.

    And, they were burning corpses of deceased people at the Tiber River.

    Depends in which period. Before the expansion, slaves weren't very numerous. After Pax Romana their number was also constantly decreasing.

    In Greek city-states such as Athens and Sparta number of slaves was also huge.
     
  11. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    Really? Based on what? More "reliable" population numbers? In general, it is agreed that ancient sources overestimate their numbers seriously, sometimes even to the point of being merely symbolical.

    For instance, for the battle at Issus Alexander was supposedly faced by "1 million Persians". In ancient times it would have been logistically impossible to even feed an army of such size, let alone manoeuvre it. Divide by 10, however, and the problem is solved. (Even an army of 100,000 would easily outnumber alexander's forces 3:1.)

    Flavius Josephus claims that the small area of Galilee contained 3 million inhabitants, a number that can easily divided by 100 without being conservative.

    Unfortunately, few of such counts survive and if they do they usually only cover a limited period of time. You forgot to mention clerical records (births and deaths and such).

    Which is faced with the same problem of lack over overall data, and limitations in time period and location.

    The reality is, there simply is no way to establish overall population numbers beyond the point of estimates - which leads wildy varying educated guesses, even from experts in the area.

    The latter is absurd. The average household couldn't possibly have consisted of 7 people, as it would apply the average household could sustain that number of people. In reality agriculture has remained at subsistence level til quite recent times. Permanently sustained population growth only occurred with increased hygiene, reducing overall mortality rate.

    Yes, the past was pretty smelly in general. (Not just in large cities.)

    I think we were discussing Rome at its height (at least I was).

    Really? At what time? Slaves formed a permanent part of ancient civilization, but obviously numbers would vary.

    My original point was that an population estimate of Athens of 500,000 puts it in the range of such cities as Rome, Antioch, Alexandria. But Athen's empire was never near that large.

    And in general, cities and towns were of a smaller size than modern ones. Cities with a size over 10,000 were rare. It wasn't the large city that was the rule, it was the small town.
     
  12. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    First of all this example refers to military numbers, not to civilian population numbers. Secondly (which makes a huge difference), it refers to overestimation of enemy numbers - which was common even during the 20th century. Here you need to distinguish between sources describing their own numbers, and describing enemy numbers. Greek sources can surely be considered as reliable when describing the size of Ancient Greek armies.

    Overestimating enemy numbers was something notorious - in order to make one's victories even more glorious.

    But surely more smelly in large cities than in small towns and villages. The same is the case today - large cities are more smelly.

    It could and it did in cities, especially among rich families which usually had more members in the past (unlike today).

    I don't agree here. First of all - at subsistence level of agriculture, existence of any cities would be impossible.

    In general if any society was less than 100% farmers, then it means that its agriculture was at a higher level than subsistence.

    Unless, of course, it was importing food from somewhere else. But in such case agriculture of that place had to be at a higher level.

    People of the past did take care of their hygiene (with means available to them, of course). Myths about "dirty Middle Ages" are just myths.

    In reality the past consisted of long periods of slow and gradual population growth, mixed with many short periods of demographic catastrophes.

    The result of 200 years of constant and unbroken population growth could be easily eliminated by several years of wars and epidemies.

    Also Peter's Pence payment gives historians a hindsight regarding population size of some Medieval countries:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter's_Pence

    Amount of Peter's Pence was paid from each family head or each household (I don't remember exactly at the moment).

    Alexander's army was rather something closer to 50,000 soldiers at Issus.

    We must also remember that Alexander's army did not consist just of soldiers - there were actually entire families marching with his soldiers, as well as many thousands of camp followers and their families, who marched within the baggage train. They founded many cities along their way. Each army of the Ancient era and Medieval era which marched with a baggage train had at least 2 - 3 times more people in total than just their numbers of "proper soldiers".

    So if Alexander's army had 50,000 soldiers, then its total size would be no smaller than 150,000 - 200,000 men and women.

    Even if his army had just 30,000 of "proper soldiers", then it still means around 100,000 people on the march.
     
  13. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    I am well aware of that: it's an example of extreme overestimation. (Even Alexander couldn't possible defeat an army 30 times as large as his own: they would be able to encircle his forces threefold and still have large numbers in reserve, just in case.) As in the Flavius Josephus example. (A Galilee with 3 million inhabitants would equal 3+ Rome-size cities.)

    Doubtful: for most of history there was little attention to hygiene, and in general cities were much, much smaller.

    We are speaking of average households: the general population was overwhelmingly poor, meaning they would have a very hard time indeed to support a household of 7, especially considering the unreliability of harvests until recent times.

    You are confusing two things here: the overwhelming majority of population were, again, until recent times, employed in agriculture, which was indeed at subsistence level. But the part of the population that was not, was in a position to produce for the market. And this is where the surplus generally came from. Not from the poor peasants that were struggling to keep afloat (taxation was also until fairly recent times dependent upon the poor agriculturers). I didn't say there was no agricultural surplus, which is something else.

    That contradicts your earlier statement about cities being smelly. Clean cities do not smell. At any rate, for people to take care of hygiene (personal and public), they would have to be aware of the idea first.

    Resulting not in a sustained population growth as has been witnessed since roughly 1800.

    So, there are records, but they provide insight localized and are limited in period.
     
  14. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    I wrote that cities were smelly, NOT people inside them.

    Large cities were smelly because they had problems with removing garbage, waste, sewage and dead people.

    The smaller the city, the less problems it had with removing such things.

    It is a huge generalization because in many places agriculture was by no means at subsistence level, but at much higher level.

    Especially considering, that food was also being produced for the market in many places.

    Even your country imported tons of food from my country in the past.

    Ancient Greece also had a very efficient agriculture - with crops levels approaching those of 19th century Europe.

    Depends what do you consider as "overwhelming" majority.

    It must be noted that not all people in villages were employed in agriculture. And in cities and towns, some people were employed in agriculture.

    So we can't equate urban population with non-farmers and rural population with farmers, because the division was not that simple.

    Of course in the countryside a much higher % was employed in agriculture, but there still were such things like village craftsmen and chapmen, etc.

    ======================

    To be continued...

    ======================

    I'm back:

    What is the size of the Galilee ???

    Anyway - to assume that in Ancient times there were no any densely populated areas is wrong.

    Today distribution of population across the globe is also very unequal.

    Bangladesh - one of the poorest countries - has 150 million people - over 1,000 per km2. Only 28% of them live in cities, 72% in villages.

    By comparison the city of Beijing has over 20 million people and population density only slightly higher - 1,300 per km2.

    A sustained but slow population growth in a global scale has been witnessed since the Neolithic Revolution.

    Since roughly 1800 we are not experiencing a sustained growth but a real demographic explosion.

    And it's not so much about hygiene but rather about medicine.

    And why do you assume that people were not aware of the idea of hygiene?

    Toiletries and cosmetics were not invented in the 19th century, neither were tools for teeth hygiene.

    Taxes were fairly low for the peasants throughout much of the Middle Ages.

    And research indicates that they were able to produce a surplus for the market throughout much of the period.

    Of course I'm taking about peasants who actually had farms (either their own ones or ones leased from feudal nobles).

    There were also peasants who did not possess any land and had to work as hired labor either for richer peasants or directly for nobles.

    Still peasants had it much better than urban poor in large cities.
     
  15. Tycho Brahe

    Tycho Brahe Emperor

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    Denmark in the top, Poland and Sweden in the bottom. Muhahaha!

    Jokes aside, China and India should be in the top, because they represent large numbers of people, large areas of land, and many changing dynasties and kingdoms. Europe is divided in a large number of civs, who, if combined, are equaly important to India and China.
     
  16. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    I'm not sure but I've read that all of Athenian mines were full of slaves who worked there in terrible conditions.

    Yes, most of cities in the past were small and this refers even to highly urbanized regions.

    Poland-Lithuania of Early Modern Era was not a highly urbanized region, but it still had over 2000 cities by the end of the 16th century (1348 in the Crown of Poland and 669 in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania). About 2,5 million people lived in them - which means that an average Polish city had 1239 inhabitants.

    Cities above 2,000 inhabitants numbered hundreds and cities above 5,000 inhabitants numbered dozens.

    As the result of wars in period 1640s - 1660s population of Polish-Lithuanian cities was reduced to less than 50% of its level from 1580s.

    And this does not tell the whole story, because between 1580 and 1640 there was further increase in urban population.

    Some of smaller cities (below 2000 inhabitants) either ceased to exist completely or were reduced to status of villages by 1660s.
     
  17. Tee Kay

    Tee Kay Silly furry

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    40 civs tied for first place

    41. Greece
    42. Byzantium
    43. Poland
     
  18. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    At least there are Polish mummies and no Australian ones:



    This mummy is much older than your country! :lol:

    Here the same guy when he was alive:



    The abbey where his mummy can be found dates back to year 1006 AD (even though currently existing buildings are younger):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Łysa_Góra

    One of European mountain ranges are named after this abbey:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Świętokrzyskie_Mountains
     
  19. Masada

    Masada Koi-san!

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    So Poland is better than Australia because it has more dead people?
     
  20. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    If cities had something like organized garbage removal and sewage. Which they generally didn't, until recent times. So you are claiming the cities were, smelly, but the people were not. They took a bath every day, cleaned their teeth and put the garbage can out.

    This started in late medieval times, yes. (Hardly before.) That it is a generalization doesn't mean it's incorrect.

    Grain imports came usually from the Baltic, which at the end of the Middle Ages, started to develop a grain surplus, because it had enough wealthy landowners to invest in such an enterprise. Holland, being a wealthy province, turned to market agriculture, neglecting food production.

    You are correct in stating that certain areas produced food surplus, but incorrect in generalizing from that that there was an overall food surplus. For instance, crop failures would regularly lead to famine. The late medieval epidemics hit so hard, because population growth had been exceeding crop growth for a while already. In medieval times the only way to increase food production was to increase the areal used for food production. Agricultural innovations were few and tended to spread very slowly.

    Source?

    None of this is argument against the overwhelming majority of working people being employed in agriculture.

    I think you should check some historical demography handbooks.

    Which basically has nothing to do with what was being discussed, being population prior to the population boom since 1800.

    If you remove "sustained" that statement is correct.

    The one doesn't go without the other: improved hygiene will show a drop in mortality rate - especially for children. (Improved hygiene actually preceded the effects of modern medicine.) People will still die, but there's more of them around. with the effects of improved medicine, not only do more people stay alive, they also live longer.

    Toiletries and cosmetics? Really?

    I'm sure that explains all the peasant revolts: taxes were low. Well, they weren't; not if you were poor. Unfortunately the majority was just that. Besides taxes, there were also the 10ths, and indirect taxation, which always hits those with small incomes hardest - especially on food products. And until fairly recent times the rich weren't even taxed.

    Errr, no. Only rich peasants were able to produce for the market. Basic economics, no research required. It takes a certain amount of capital to invest in capital goods - poor peasants and landless agricultural workers were in no position to do so.

    Speaking of gross generalizations: this is a fairly big one. I suggest you glance through an agricultural history to see how 'well off' peasants were. Slicher van Bath's Agricultural history of Europe 500-1850 AD is a good one to start with, I hear.
     

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