Just how old is civilization?

Discussion in 'World History' started by innonimatu, May 15, 2021.

  1. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Bread actually requires more effort than alcoholic beverage: any edible plant with sugars in it, which is most of the grains and fruits, will ferment and produce some kind of alcohol. If birds can get drunk on fallen fermented grapes, humans probably discovered the effects before they were Sapiens.
    For bread, on the other hand, you have to separate seed from 'chaff', pound them into a 'flour' of some kind, mix a dough and bake it: not an intuitive process when you can also usually just boil everything the hunters brought in that day, add parched seeds for thickening, and make a stew without all the extra effort. I suspect 'beer' was earlier than 'bread' for that reason.
     
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  2. innonimatu

    innonimatu Deity

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    Oh yes, you can get drunk on several fermented fruits eaten straight from the tree :p

    Good point. Even with wild wheat available, people still had to put in a lot of labour. And know how to do it.

    But should not be that surprising, I mean, fire and stone working for tools are very ancient technologies that also require time and knowledge. For making stone tools, specific techniques were passed down for thousands of years.
    Bread probably started as a special treat - it would have been so much harder to make than just eating what could be gathered. For all we can speculate it's as old as the use of fire for cooking! But if we can show bread tens of thousands of years ago, it helps establish that there were sizeable groups of humans back them, some of how had the time to dedicate to making "luxury" products for the others. The beginnings of specialization.
    Beer also requires fire. proper beer :D but other alcoholic beverages, those may be older.
     
  3. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos The Eternal

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    Like the ancient saying goes, only barbarians drink wine not mixed with water.
     
  4. AmazonQueen

    AmazonQueen Virago

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    Whats the Greek view on sprinkling cheese on top?
    Apparently the Romans did this, although possibly only with the rougher reds.
     
  5. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos The Eternal

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    I don't know, and I never was much of a drinker (let alone of wine) :)
    But it does sound weird.
     
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  6. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Ancient beers and wines had some seriously weird recipes. There's a small brewing company (in New Jersey, I think) that has been working with archeologists to recreate ancient beers from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and similar Ancient/Classical eras, and the ingredients include spices, vegetables, fruits, cheese, meat - almost anything edible could be mixed into the brew. Greek and Roman wines frequently included spices, perfumes, flowers, as well as more edible components. After that, whatever you put on top of it would be just More Of The Same.
     
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  7. Ajidica

    Ajidica High Quality Person

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    Isn't that largely because ancient beer was largely a way to make water potable? Just enough alcohol to kill off the bacteria without having to go through the hassle of collecting enough firewood to boil water.
     
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  8. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    There are a fair number of people today who would still say that Beer is the only way to make water potable . . .
     
  9. leif erikson

    leif erikson Game of the Month Fanatic Administrator Supporter GOTM Staff

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  10. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    - Not just Germany. The test of a good Guiness is, to quote a bartender in an Irish Pub in Aschaffenburg, "A fat mouse can walk across the top without sinking. "

    I spent a lot of evenings testing that statement using a strictly metaphorical mouse . . .
     
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  11. Ribannah

    Ribannah Fighter Druid

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    I would say that civilization comes with the division of labor. This makes it a long process as for eons some people were specialists (e.g. the shaman), but others weren't.
     
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  12. Marla_Singer

    Marla_Singer United in diversity

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    I agree with such a definition, and even though division of labor is a matter of degree, that doesn't make the concept of civilization any less meaningful. After all that's the same for everything: how tall should be the back of a seat for a stool to become a chair?

    What is certain is that agriculture allowed massive gains of food production compared with hunting/gathering. This means a farmer could feed many more people than before, therefore allowing others to dedicate to other activities. And as much as it is certainly true that division of labor didn't start with agriculture, this undoubtedly contributed to massively expand it, to the point to allow the emergence of locations entirely dedicated to other activities than food production which will later be called "cities". Hence why no matter whether agiculture defines the beginning of civilizations or not, it makes no doubt it's been a decisive step to their development.

    Another point which is important to me is that civilization shouldn't be mixed up with culture. Specific cultures definitely existed certainly hundreds of years before the emergence of complex organization of societies. Some people even argue that different cultures exist among dolphins after having realized that different groups of dolphins have different hunting techniques and don't always understand one another. What is certain whatsoever is that emergence of languages undoubtedly contributed to massively shape different Human cultures and we have extremely limited knowledge at this point as how and when it precisely happened.
     
  13. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Given that language is now believed to predate anatomically modern Humans and creatures as different as Dolphins, Crows, and Chimpanzees all exhibit behaviors consistent with 'culture' (communal behavior norms, communication, even tool-using with specific, distinct types and techniques) one now has to specify "Human" culture and admit that it predates anything resembling 'Civilization' by 10s of thousands of years.
     
  14. AmtrakQuebec

    AmtrakQuebec King

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    Most of the truly ancient signs of civilization seem to have begun in Anatolia. From Gobekli Tepe already mentioned to Nevali Cori, Karahan Tepe, Cayonu and on to Çatalhöyük - Wikipedia .
     
  15. Boris Gudenuf

    Boris Gudenuf Deity

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    Not entirely.
    The Natufian settlements in Palestine and the Levant south of Anatolia were making bread and beer over a 1000 years before Gobekli Tepe was built - or any of the other stone monuments in southern Anatolia.

    Shiekh-e-Abad (modern name) a neolithic farming village in (modern) western Iran had shrines decorated with animal horns in the houses, one of the earliest indicators anywhere of Personal Religion.

    The Nabta Playa oasis/early lake site in the Egyptian desert had deep wells for year-round water, built their houses in straight lines (urban planning?) and around 6400 BCE built a stone circle astronomical calendar (not as impressive as Stonehenge, but definitely a sign of 'civilization')

    Mehrgahr in modern Pakistan was one of the first agricultural settlements in south Asia, had the earliest indications of domesticated cattle anywhere, made ornamented pottery and personal jewelry with turquoise and lapis lazuli and sea shells (all imported, so organized long-distance Trade)

    And people in the American Southwest were already starting to modify a primitive potato plant into a prime food source around 9000 BCE, so Botanical Engineering started early and far away from Anatolia!

    And I'll see your Catalhoyuk and raise with Jericho, which was a stone-walled city almost 2000 years before Catal was settled, complete with a stone 'citadel' tower - and was located in Palestine, well south of Anatolia.

    In fact, there were similar early signs of 'civilization;' - or at least, proto-city organization and habitation - springing up in Anatolia, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia, northwestern India, and north-central China at roughly similar times between 9500 and 5000 BCE, and it seems like every year somebody uncovers indications of another early site that sends all the archeologists back to their computers to rewrite heir conclusions.
     
  16. AmtrakQuebec

    AmtrakQuebec King

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    Did I say entirely?
     
  17. haroon

    haroon Deity

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    Initial release date is in 1991, so it's around 30 years old.

    You are welcome.
     

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