One of the defining characteristics of a civilization is the development of a political, cultural, and social order. The term civilization is often used to describe a society that has attained a high level of technological and cultural development. This definition, however, is subjective and carries assumptions about human societies. The term civilization has many varying definitions and meanings. To gain a better understanding of what defines a civilization, consider some of the following:
A city is a common symbol of civilization. These are settlements larger than villages, but have unique features. A city is only possible in an area that has been liberated from agricultural labor. Civilization requires a surplus of agricultural products and free time for craftsmen, merchants, and artists. As a result, cities have developed a diverse array of services to support their inhabitants. It also fosters the development of social order through the establishment of a social structure based on economic power and a high standard of living.
Several characteristics of a civilization have been identified as common characteristics. The core characteristics are urban centers, agriculture, irrigation, writing, standards of measurements, common religion, and state government. Many scholars also recognize that civilizations tend to be highly developed and have many of the traits associated with a culture and a state. They also share a common ideology. In addition to these common characteristics, civilizations often exhibit other features, such as shared ideologies.
Despite the many differences between cultures, the achievements of Europe as a civilization can still be considered as the hallmarks of a culture. Yet, the concept of civilization needs to be re-examined to account for the dislocations and “discontents” that accompany it. So, what is the definition of a civilization? Here is an example. A civilization can be considered as the self-consciousness of the West. A civilization can have many dimensions, but it is only one among many.
A civilization’s boundaries are very important. The protection of civilizations borders can be costly, and can interfere with other aspects of a civilization’s culture. External pressure can either lead to an abrupt end of civilization or to the adoption of a rival civilization. In the case of the Aztec Empire, European conquistadors brought about the abrupt demise of the Aztec Empire. Or, it can have gradual changes, which are not always as dramatic, such as the slow decline of Ancient Egypt.
Another example is the Bushmen, who lived in southern Africa about 150k years ago. They are the oldest members of the human family tree. While the term “bushman” is often associated with derogatory stereotypes, it has been embraced by the Bushmen as a positive term, as it evokes more positive stereotypes. The Khoisan, or Bushmen, prefer to be called “San.” Furthermore, genetic evidence indicates that the Bushmen were the largest population of modern humans for 150k years.