What Is a Civilization?
Civilization is a term that refers to the development of a social system. This system is based on a set of norms and values that define a civilization. The Enlightenment philosophies embraced the idea that civilization transcended national boundaries. These values included education, science, commerce, legal reform, and a more civilized way of life. They also promoted the notion of human progress through the application of moral and ethical standards.
Civilizations developed in various ways, although most began as agrarian societies. This meant that people could easily cultivate crops and produce enough food for a population. They also developed complex social systems that included division of labor and gender. Some civilizations eventually developed powerful states and armies, which were maintained through taxes.
The development of writing was another hallmark of many early civilizations. It allowed people to keep records and better manage complex institutions. In Mesopotamia, cuneiform writing was first used for tracking economic exchanges. In addition, oracle bone inscriptions were found that were tied to predicting the future. Besides writing, a society could also keep records using quipu (knotted strings).
Throughout history, different civilizations have developed their own unique economic systems. For example, a potter would make a pot for a brewer in exchange for beer. Meanwhile, a roofer or cobbler would need a new coat or horseshoes. And a tanner might need a new pot. The development of money is another crucial feature of civilization.
In his multi-volume A Study of History, historian Arnold J. Toynbee explored the processes that shape civilizations. The resulting evolution of civilizations is a series of rises and falls. Toynbee argued that the Western civilization was a successor civilization to the Greco-Roman civilization. He also noted that civilizations are often based on the development of a creative minority. This process can result in new religions or civilizations that are based on new ideas.
Despite the differences in the development of civilizations, some civilizations have one thing in common – they all developed writing systems. This made it possible for people to communicate more effectively. In ancient Egypt, writing was based on wedge shapes that were arranged to represent objects. These writing systems also allowed people to keep records of taxes, grocery bills, and laws against theft.
Some historians believe that the decline of civilizations is caused by several different factors. These factors may include climate changes, environmental changes, and societal responses. A civilization may experience an abrupt decline, or it may decline slowly over a long period of time. Either way, these forces can cause the end of civilizations.
Throughout history, civilizations have created monumental structures to commemorate their rulers. These buildings were often created for religious, political, or public purposes. Examples of this include the pyramids of Egypt and the ziggurats of Mesopotamia. Other civilizations incorporated monumental structures such as temples and defensive walls.