1. Chapter 7: Archaeology of the last 5000 years (MG)
Civilization: Archeologists would accept that a society characterized as one must have one or all
of the following:
1. One city
- In archaeology, city is usually defined as a settlement having at least 5000 residents
2. Monumental architecture
- Includes buildings, but it also often features other large structures like pyramids
3. Subsistence based on agriculture
4. State level of political organization
5. System of writing
- Leads to describing a society as a civilization
- Other characteristics are generally already in place and have been for a thousand
years or more
Civilization = sometimes, but not always, equated with a state level of political organization.
- Used to describe several distinct states in a region, with each meeting the criteria of
Empire: When one state dominates or exercises control over others.
- Often identified in the archaeological record by comingling of cultural traditions and
connecting road systems
This area is known as Mesopotamia.
- Developed world’s earliest system of writing, known as cuneiform
- In more recent times, this area was dominated by Persian, Roman, and Islamic
Generally accepted that Egyptian civilization began with the development of writing.
- Early writing is known as hieroglyphics and can be deciphered using the Rosetta
Stone. - It was in the earliest stages of the Egyptian civilizations that the famous pyramids
- This region was later dominated by Roman and Islamic empires
One of the first European civilization, centered in and around the Mediterranean, especially on
the islands of Crete.
- The civilization rose about 4000 years ago
- Its collapse was likely due to the tsunami that caused significant damage to the ports
controlled by them
- This area was dominated by the Greek, Roman, and Byzantine empires
Asia had many well known civilizations – earliest was known as Harappan.
- This civilization was centered in modern day Pakistan
- Emerged about 4400 years ago
- It provides the first evidence of sewage infrastructure – piping from inside houses
joining to larger piping that carried waste out of the residential area
- Started in China
- Emerged about 3800 years ago
- The well known terra – cotta comprises about 8000 lives – size warriors deposited in
formation near the tomb of the first emperor of the area
There were many well – known civilizations in Central and South America in ancient times.
- Emerged about 3500 years ago
- Because of these territorial expansions and domination, the Maya, Aztec, and Inka
civilizations are often referred to as empires
All civilizations eventually collapse. Sometimes the answer is obvious but sometimes other
civilizations, explanations are not so clear and there is debate.
- Involve some environmental occurrence, which in turn, makes it impossible to
effectively feed the population and maintain the infrastructure - Similarly, epidemic diseases among crops are suggested by some as a cause of
reduced food production
(E.g.) Overuse of the soil for farming also leads to reduced food production, which
can result in land slides (more land difficulties)
(E.g.) There is some evidence that some large sites have been abandoned due to
irrigation, this increases salinity of the soils, rendering them deficient for agriculture.
Often invoke conflict as an important variable is the collapse of civilizations.
(E.g.) infighting likely led to too many resources supporting war or other forms of conflict, at
the expense of others, perhaps more important aspects of the civilizations, such as maintaining
enough food for all.
Examples of this internal conflict include the continual fighting among the independent states
of the Sumerians in Mesopotamia or the fighting among various groups.
- Some archaeologists suggest civilizations collapse because of their failure to create
or maintain trading alliances.
Also has been invoked as a cause of collapse.
(E.g.) Collapse of the Maya may have been caused by religious leaders redirecting resources for
religion and ritual at the expense of subsistence.
- Leaders demanded more resources for religious purposes; this is in turn leads to an even
worse crop the following year, ultimately ending with the civilization’s downfall.
Population Estimates, Continued Colonization, and Maintaining Diversity
Population Estimates and Growth
Estimating populations from prehistoric times is fraught with difficulties, but archeologists are
still able to make approximations.
Principle difficulties include:
1. Many prehistoric sites for which no reco