The Meaning of Civilization
The word civilization has many meanings. Norbert Elias defined it as “self-consciousness of the West” and, while it was an important aspect of European identity, it never outweighed the divisiveness of national identities. As such, many thinkers have introduced nationalistic versions of civilization. The term civilization can be confusing, but it is not a defining term of modern society. To understand the meaning of civilization, one should begin by understanding the history of its conception.
Civilization spread from isolated communities to a global region. It is made up of many different features, including writing, state, cities, social hierarchies, specialized labor, and so forth. A civilization is a combination of all these elements. For example, the concept of “civilization” began in the Middle Ages, and is now widely used. Some civilizations are more advanced than others, while others remain primitive. Civilizations are also defined by the degree of control over nature they have over their inhabitants.
As the process of civilization progressed, the number of people living in a civilization increased. The population was larger and more mobile than the populations of surrounding villages, and cities had specific features. Cities are only possible in places that are freed of agricultural work. This agricultural surplus allowed the free time to be allocated to merchants, artists, and craftspeople. In other words, the agricultural surplus was the precondition for civilization. It was the only way for society to be prosperous, and it was essential for civilization to evolve.
The fall of the Roman Empire is another example of this process. In the book “The Fall of the Roman Empire,” author Peter Heather argues that the decline of the Roman civilization was the result of barbarian contact. The centuries of barbarian contact had made the barbarians increasingly dangerous. Rome needed ever-greater revenues to equip and re-equip its armies. However, this scenario could have been repeated in other ancient civilizations. In fact, Toynbee’s argument applies to many empires.
In the past century, the collapse of a civilization is often attributed to climate change. Indus Valley civilization, an early Bronze Age society, was destroyed by drought and water-borne diseases due to a lack of rain. In addition, the civilization experienced an abrupt change in climate conditions, making monsoon rains less predictable and less reliable. As a result, the Harappans suffered from water-borne diseases, and were unable to effectively irrigate their crops.
The Bushmen have been a subject of anthropology for many years. Historically, they inhabited southern Africa 150k years ago and have the oldest branch on the human family tree. Although once regarded as derogatory, the term has come to be used to describe them, causing positive stereotypes to arise. The Khoisan, on the other hand, prefer to be called “Sans.” Genetic evidence suggests that the Bushmen were the largest group of modern humans for 150k years.