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Domestication and Agriculture: The Neolithic Revolution. SW Asia, China, Americas Cultural materialism: Marvin Harris = “the primacy of the infrastructure,” i.e., changes in socio-politics (structure) and worldview (superstructure) result from changes in techno-economies (infrastructure)

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domestication and agriculture the neolithic revolution
Domestication and Agriculture:The Neolithic Revolution
  • SW Asia, China, Americas
  • Cultural materialism: Marvin Harris = “the primacy of the infrastructure,” i.e., changes in socio-politics (structure) and worldview (superstructure) result from changes in techno-economies (infrastructure)
  • But, evidence of significant change in ritual, social inequality, and ideology also are quite early and must be understood as more than the outcome of population growth resulting from food production, such as feasting
  • Nonetheless, food production did provide the basis for most political economies with substantial populations, or civilization
  • Review Chapter 5
  • “the process of civilizing or becoming civilized
  • the condition of being civilized; social organization of a high order, marked by advances in the arts, sciences, etc.
  • the total culture of a people, nation, period, etc.
  • the countries and peoples considered to have reached a high stage of social and cultural development.”
  • “Civilize: to bring out of a condition of savagery or barbarism; instruct in the ways of advanced society” (Webster’s)
  • Cultural bias (ethnocentrism), history (the tyranny of the ethnographic/historical record), cultural relativism, and the “psychic unity” of humankind, and gender

Crusades: AD 1095-1291

Gautama Buddha: 563 BC (Nepal) to 483 BC (India)

Jesus Christ: 7–2 BC (Bethlehem) to AD 26–36 (Golgatha)

Mohammad: AD 570 (Mecca) to 632 (Medina)

the history of civilization
The History of “Civilization”
  • Western History - The West: Greece, Rome, Feudal Europe, and modern Europe (West/East Roman Empire; Crusades)
  • The East: Asian civilizations
  • Orientalism (Edward Said, 1978): the construction of the “Orient” as the alter-ego of the “West” in European discourse, that generally portrayed Western civilization as more progressive (advanced)
  • The Tropics (Tropicality): Other Civilizations – The “primitive” world

Native American, Sub-Saharan African, Pacific Islands

Large, developed civilizations in many non-Western settuings seen as influenced from elsewhere (Europe, Near and Middle East) until mid-19th century, and later in some cases (Amazon)

the rise of the west guns germs and steel ocean travel conquest colonialism plunder and slavery
The Rise of the West:Guns, Germs, and Steel; Ocean Travel; Conquest, Colonialism, Plunder, and Slavery
  • Gunpowder (China: ca. AD 1050)
  • Imported to Europe by ca. AD 1250
  • Cannons by early 1300s (beginning of the end of feudalism?)
  • In the 1400s, the first mechanical firing mechanism, the matchlock, was developed.
  • Black (Bubonic) Plague: ca. 1350 (from China?), 30-50% of Europe’s population
  • DISEASE! Epidemics decimated many populations, particularly in Americas, where the indigenous populations had no biological or cultural defenses against new pathogens (cause of “Little Ice-Age”?)

I5th Century: Navigation, Exploration, and Slavery:

“The Age of Discovery”

  • 1418–1460 Portugal's Prince Henry the Navigator sponsors exploration of Africa's coast. The Portuguese found valuable sources of pepper in West Africa. 1432 Portuguese discover the Azores, reach Cape Verde. 1445 Portuguese explore West Africa, reach Senegal, and establish slave trade.
  • 1450 Henry establishes a Naval observatory for the teaching of navigation, astronomy, and cartography.
  • Invention of the printing press spurs wide distribution of navigation tables and ship plans.
  • 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull granting Portugal the right to reduce any pagans and “other unbelievers" to hereditary slavery.
  • 1453 Turks overrun Constantinople (Istanbul), shutting off the overland trade route to Asia.
  • 1488 Portuguese sailor Bartholomeu Dias rounds the Cape of Good Hope.
  • 1492 Christopher Columbus, sailing for Ferdinand and Isabella (Castille & Aragorn), discovers Caribbean after sailing 69 days.  Dies in poverty 1506.
  • 1497-98 Vasco da Gama rounds the Cape of Good Hope and reaches India.
  • 1497 Italian John Cabot discovers Newfoundland for England
  • 1499 Amerigo Vespucci discovers South America. 1500 Pedro Cabral claims Brazil for Portugal. 1501-1502 Vespucci explores the coast of Brazil, proposes that the land is a new continent, which is named America by German mapmaker Martin Waldseemuller in 1507
  • 16th Century: Conquest, colonialism, plunder, and more slavery
“At all times for euer hereafter to discouer, search, find out and view such remote heathen and barbarous lands, countries and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian prince, nor inhabited by Christian people, as to him, his heires and assignes” (Elizabeth I, 1584, to Walter Ralegh).

Peoples in Americas, Africa, and many other regions viewed as barbarians, or even sub-human (Papal bull of 1536 declares Native Americans human)

Manifest Destiny & the ideology of colonialism

the state of nature
The State of Nature

“where everyman is Enemy to everyman. … there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain … no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worse of all, continual feare, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short”

“the savage people in many places of America, except the government of small families … have no government at all, and live at this day in that brutish manner, as I said before”

  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, 1651

“In the beginning all the

World was America”

John Locke, 1690

“Man is born free, and he is everywhere in chains.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Social Contract (1762)

“The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine,’ and found people naive enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.”

Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men (1754)

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) posited that all structures in the universe (including human society) develop from a simple, undifferentiated, homogeneity to a complex, differentiated, heterogeneity, accompanied by a process of greater integration of the differentiated parts.
  • Societal change was progressive (like neo-Malthusians)
  • Emile Durkheim (1858-1917): mechanical (kinship) and organic solidarity (social heterogeneity and integration) (Division of Labor in Society, 1892).
social complexity the state and urbanism

Social Complexity, the State, and Urbanism

Civilization: primitive and civilized

Lewis Henry Morgan: Savagery,

Barbarism (Agriculture) & Civilization (Writing)

Morgan saw property as the root of civilization

Karl Marx (1818-1883): primitive communism (no surplus), Asiatic mode of production, ancient mode of production (Graeco-Roman), feudal mode of production, early capitalism, late capitalism, communism (hypothetical demise of nation-state and class system)
  • Friedrich Engels (1820-1895): Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884)
  • Modes and relations of production:Capital, Alienation, and Class (conflict)
the urban revolution
The “Urban Revolution”
  • V. Gordon Childe was among the first to discuss the development of ancient civilizations (Near/Middle East)
  • defined states – “urban revolution” - based on the presence of certain key elements, most notably: cities, writing, surplus, metallurgy, craft specialization
  • technological innovations (e.g., metallurgy, writing), craft specialization, and agricultural surplus were key in the emergence of ancient states
  • Surplus, in particular, allowed certain individuals to be freed from agricultural labor, creating social inequality (capital, alienation, and class)
  • as with “Neolithic Revolution,” states were seen as an advancement over earlier cultural forms and given the right conditions a natural development for humankind
the urban revolution1
The Urban Revolution
  • Childe introduced the Urban Revolution in 1936 (“Man Makes Himself”); article in “Town Planning Review” (1950) described 10 traits that defined it:
    • Large population and large settlements (cities)
    • Full-time specialization and advanced division of labor
    • Production of an agricultural surplus to fund government and a differentiated society
    • Monumental public architecture
    • A ruling class
    • Writing
    • Exact and predictive sciences (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, calendars)
    • Sophisticated art styles
    • Long-distance trade
    • The state (bureaucracy).
What is a City? Definitions Vary, and some quite small.
  • “In Germany as a whole in the late middle ages [1300-1500], 3,000 places were reckoned to have been granted the status of cities; their average population was no more than 400 individuals” (Braudel 1985:482)
  • Among largest,

Dresden about



Chase & D. Chase (2009)

  • “Violence has been a feature of human society since the Paleolithic, but as communities grew in size the scale of conflict increased”
  • Internecine and external aggression

Robert Carneiro’s (1970)

Circumscription Theory

personification of history ideology
Personification of History & Ideology
  • Portraits and cultural heroes
  • Divine Kings, tombs, palaces, and prophets
  • Anthropomorphic (Monotheistic) Religion
multi causality and variation
Multi-causality and Variation
  • No prime movers (no silver bullets)
  • Multi-linear cultural development
  • Cycling (Integration and Disintegration)
  • Population growth, agricultural intensification, environment, change in socio-political organization (inequality), ideology, trade and warfare, material culture, urbanism




Areas covered in this segment (for test 1)

chiefdoms in the pacific
Chiefdoms in the Pacific
  • Chapter 8: pp. 275-305 (begin with “The Islands of Southeast Asia and Oceania”