Indus civilization | History, Location, Map, Art, & Facts | pugliablog.info
It will pay particular attention to the relationship between Chinese culture and The course will cover the following main areas of topics: (1) the foundations of Chinese civilization: its geography, language, 3 videos (Total 18 min), 3 quizzes. In this chapter, we examine the relationship between culture and society in to this as “the hasty stocking up” of a “more mechanical civilization” (Barthes ). Section Module 2 Quiz: hours Identify the cultural origins of early Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations. Describe the relationship between the geographical features of the ancient world and developments of early civilizations.
Until recently it was widely accepted that groups of peoples entered the hemisphere from northeastern Siberiaperhaps by a land bridge that then existed, at some time in the Late Pleistoceneor Ice Age. But radiocarbon dating and other relatively recent tools have complicated the story. Perhaps they entered the West Coast from the sea at multiple points. There is abundant evidence that, at least by 11, bce, hunting peoples had occupied most of the New World south of the glacial ice cap covering northern North America.
These peoples hunted such large grazing mammals as mammothmastodonhorseand camelarmed with spears to which were attached finely made, bifacially chipped points of stone. In archaeologists working at the site of Tlapacoya, southeast of Mexico City, uncovered a well-made blade of obsidian associated with a radiocarbon date of about 21, bce.
Near PueblaMexico, excavations in the Valsequillo region revealed cultural remains of human groups that were hunting mammoth and other extinct animals, along with unifacially worked points, scrapers, perforators, burins, and knives.
A date of about 21, bce has been suggested for the Valsequillo finds. More substantial information on Late Pleistocene occupations of Mesoamerica comes from excavations near Tepexpan, northeast of Mexico City.
The excavated skeletons of two mammoths showed that these beasts had been killed with spears fitted with lancelike stone points and had been butchered on the spot. A possible date of about bce has been suggested for the two mammoth kills. While the association with the mammoths was first questioned, fluorine tests have proved them to be contemporary. The environment of these earliest Mesoamericans was quite different from that existing today, for volcanoes were then extremely active, covering thousands of square miles with ashes.
Temperatures were substantially lower, and local glaciers formed on the highest peaks. Conditions were ideal for the large herds of grazing mammals that roamed Mesoamerica, especially in the highland valleys, much of which consisted of cool, wet grasslands not unlike the plains of the northern United States. All of this changed around bce, when worldwide temperatures rose and the great ice sheets of northern latitudes began their final retreat.
This brought to an end the successful hunting way of life that had been followed by Mesoamericans, although humans probably also played a role in bringing about the extinction of the large game animals.
- Pre-Columbian civilizations
- 7. Agriculture & Civilization
Incipient agriculture — bce The most crucial event in the prehistory of Mesoamerica was the human capture of the food energy contained in plants. This process centred on three plants: Indian corn maizebeans, and squashes. Since about 90 percent of all food calories in the diet of Mesoamericans eventually came from corn, archaeologists for a long time have sought the origins of this plant—which has no wild forms existing today—in order to throw light on the agricultural basis of Mesoamerican civilization.
The search for Mesoamerican agricultural origins has been carried forward most successfully through excavations in dry caves and rock shelters in the modern southern Mexican states of Puebla and Oaxaca. Sequences from these archaeological sites show a gradual transition from the Early Hunting to the Incipient Cultivation periods. There, the preservation of plant remains is remarkably good, and from these it is evident that shortly after bce the inhabitants of the valley were selecting and planting seeds of chili pepperscottonand one kind of squash.
Most importantly, between and bce they were beginning to plant mutant forms of corn that already were showing signs of the husks characteristic of domestic corn.
One of the problems complicating this question of the beginnings of early corn cultivation is related to a debate between paleobotanists on wild versus domesticated strains. One school of thought holds that the domesticated races of the plant developed from a wild ancestor. The other opinion is that there was never such a thing as wild corn, that instead corn Zea mays developed from a related grass, teosinte Zea mexicana or Euchlaena mexicana.
In any event, by bce corn was present and being used as a food, and between 2, and 3, years after that it had developed rapidly as a food plant. Possibly some of this was popped, but a new element in food preparation is seen in the metates querns and manos handstones that were used to grind the corn into meal or dough.
Beans appeared after bce, along with a much improved race of corn. This enormous increase in the amount of plant food available was accompanied by a remarkable shift in settlement pattern. In place of the temporary hunting camps and rock shelters, which were occupied only seasonally by small bandssemipermanent villages of pit houses were constructed on the valley floor. Increasing sedentariness is also to be seen in the remarkable bowls and globular jars painstakingly pecked from stone, for pottery was as yet unknown in Mesoamerica.
In the centuries between and bce, plant domestication began in what had been hunting-gathering contextsas on the Pacific coast of Chiapas and on the Veracruz Gulf coast and in some lacustrine settings in the Valley of Mexico. In many cases, this shift of habitat resulted in genetic improvements in the food plants. Fired clay vessels were made as early as bce in Ecuador and Colombiaand it is probable that the idea of their manufacture gradually diffused north to the increasingly sedentary peoples of Mesoamerica.
The picture, then, is one of growing human control over the environment through the domestication of plants; animals played a very minor role in this process, with only the dog being surely domesticated before bce.
Which Ancient Civilization Suits You Best?
At any rate, by bce the stage was set for the adoption of a fully settled life, with many of the sedentary arts already present. The final step was taken only when native agriculture in certain especially favoured subregions became sufficiently effective to allow year-round settlement of villages.
This was not the case along the alluvial lowlands of southern Mesoamerica, and it is no accident that the best evidence for the earliest permanent villages in Mesoamerica comes from the Pacific littoral of Chiapas Mexico and Guatemalaalthough comparable settlements also have been reported from both the Maya lowlands Belize and the Veracruz Gulf coast. From the rich lagoons and estuaries in this area, the villagers obtained shellfishcrabsfishand turtles.
Their villages were small, with perhaps 10 to 12 thatched-roof houses arranged haphazardly. These, as in Formative cultures generally throughout Mesoamerica, represent nude females and may have had something to do with a fertility cult. The implication of the site is that, with increasing prosperity, some differentiation of a ruling class had taken place, for among the later Mesoamericans the ultimate function of a pyramid was as a final resting place for a great leader.
Eventually, effective village farming with nucleated settlements occupied throughout the year appeared in the highlands. But perhaps from the very beginning of Formative life there were different cultural responses directed toward both kinds of environment.
In the highlands, divided into a number of mutually contrasting environments no one of which could have provided sufficient resources for the subsistence of a single settlement, villages were presumably linked to each other symbiotically. In the lowlands, particularly in the littoral, one especially favourable environment, such as the lagoon—estuary system, may have been so rich in resources that villages within it would have been entirely self-sufficient.
In effect, the former would have resulted in a cultural integration based upon trade, while the latter would have been integratedif at all, by a unity of likeness. The two kinds of civilization that eventually arose in each region—the highlands definitely urban, the lowlands less so—reflect the same contrast. Early religious life Early religious phenomena can only be deduced from archaeological remains. It is possible, however, that terra-cotta statuettes of women were meant to represent an agricultural deity, a goddess of the crops.
Two-headed figurines found at Tlatilco, a site of the late Pre-Classic, may portray a supernatural being. Clay idols of a fire god in the form of an old man with an incense burner on his back date from the same period. The first stone monument on the Mexican plateau is the pyramid of Cuicuilconear Mexico City. In fact, it is rather a truncated cone, with a stone core; the rest is made of sun-dried brick with a stone facing.
It shows the main features of the Mexican pyramids as they were developed in later times. It was doubtless a religious monument, crowned by a temple built on the terminal platform and surrounded with tombs. The building of such a structure obviously required a protracted and organized effort under the command of the priests. The final phase of the Pre-Classic cultures of the central highland forms a transition from the village to the city, from rural to urban life.
This was a far-reaching social and intellectual revolution, bringing about new religious ideas together with new art forms and theocratic regimes. It is significant that Olmec statuettes have been found at Tlatilco with late Pre-Classic material.
The rise of Olmec civilization It was once assumed that the Formative stage was characterized only by simple farming villages. Scholars now realize, however, that coexisting with these peasantlike cultures was a great civilization, the Olmecthat had arisen in the humid lowlands of southern Veracruz and Tabascoin Mexico.
The Olmec were perhaps the greatest sculptors of ancient Mesoamerica. Whether carving tiny jade figures or gigantic basalt monuments, they worked with a great artistry that led a number of archaeologists to doubt their considerable antiquity, although radiocarbon dates from the type site of La Venta showed that Olmec civilization was indeed Formative, its beginning dating to at least 1, years before the advent of Maya civilization.
San Lorenzo is now established as the oldest known Olmec centre. In fact, excavation has shown it to have taken on the appearance of an Olmec site by bce and to have been destroyed, perhaps by invaders, around bce. Thus, the Olmec achieved considerable cultural heights within the Early Formative, at a time when the rest of Mesoamerica was at best on a Neolithic level. The reasons for its precocious rise must have had something to do with its abundant rainfall and the rich alluvial soil deposited along the broad, natural levees that flank the waterways of the southern Gulf coast.
The levee lands, however, were not limitless, and increasingly dense populations must inevitably have led to competition for their control. Out of such conflicts would have crystallized a dominant landowning class, perhaps a group of well-armed lineages.
It was this elite that created the Olmec civilization of San Lorenzo. In appearance, the San Lorenzo site is a compact plateau rising about feet about 49 metres above the surrounding plains.
Cutting into it are deep ravines that were once thought to be natural but that are now known to be man-made, formed by the construction of long ridges that jut out from the plateau on the northwest, west, and south sides. Excavations have proved that at least the top 25 to 35 feet about 8 to 11 metres of the site was built by human labour. There are about small mounds on the surface of the site, each of which once supported a dwelling house of pole and thatch, which indicates that it was both a ceremonial centre, with political and religious functions, and a minuscule town.
San Lorenzo is most noted for its extraordinary stone monuments. Many of these, perhaps most, were deliberately smashed or otherwise mutilated about bce and buried in long lines within the ridges and elsewhere at the site. The monuments weighed as much as 44 tons and were carved from basalt from the Cerro Cintepec, a volcanic flow in the Tuxtla Mountains about 50 air miles to the northwest. It is believed that the stones were somehow dragged down to the nearest navigable stream and from there transported on rafts up the Coatzacoalcos River to the San Lorenzo area.
The amount of labour involved must have been enormous and so would have the social controls necessary to see the job through to its completion. Several of these are now known from San Lorenzo, the largest of which is nine feet more than 2. The visages are flat-faced, with thickened lips and staring eyes.
Olmec colossal basalt head in the Museo de la Venta, an outdoor museum near Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico. There is actually a whole spectrum of such were-jaguar forms in Olmec art, ranging from the almost purely feline to the human in which only a trace of jaguar can be seen.
These Olmec monuments were generally carved in the round with great technical prowess, even though the only methods available were pounding and pecking with stone tools. Considerable artistry can also be seen in the pottery figurines of San Lorenzo, which depict nude and sexless individuals with were-jaguar traits.
Exotic raw materials brought into San Lorenzo from distant regions suggest that the early Olmec controlled a large trading network over much of Mesoamerica. Obsidianused for blades, flakes, and dart points, was imported from highland Mexico and Guatemala. Most items were obviously for the luxury trade, such as iron ore for mirrors and various fine stones such as serpentine employed in the lapidary industry.
One material that is conspicuously absent, however, is jadewhich does not appear in Olmec sites until after bce and the fall of San Lorenzo. San Lorenzo-type Olmec ceramics and figurines have been found in burials at several sites in the Valley of Mexico, such as Tlapacoya, and in the state of Morelos. The Olmec involvement with the rest of Mesoamerica continued into the Middle Formative and probably reached its peak at that time.
San Lorenzo is not the only Olmec centre known for the Early Formative. Laguna de los Cerros, just south of the Cerro Cintepec in Veracruz, appears to have been a large Olmec site with outstanding sculptures. La Venta, just east of the Tabasco border, was another contemporary site, but it reached its height after San Lorenzo had gone into decline. Middle Formative period — bce Horizon markers Once ceramics had been adopted in Mesoamerica, techniques of manufacture and styles of shape and decoration tended to spread rapidly and widely across many cultural frontiers.
These rapid diffusionscalled horizons, enable archaeologists to link different cultures on the same time level.
Module 3: Early Civilizations in South and East Asia: History of Ancient Civilization
Good horizon markers for the Early Formative are colour zones of red pigment set off by incised lines; complex methods of rocker stamping a mode of impressing the wet clay with the edge of a stick or shell ; the tecomate, or globular, neckless jar; and Olmec excised pottery. The beginning of the Middle Formative over much of Mesoamerica is marked by the diffusion of a very hard, white pottery, decorated with incised lines, and by solid pottery figurines with large, staring eyes formed by a punch.
The people who replaced and probably overthrew the Olmec of San Lorenzo about bce had such pottery and figurines, the ultimate origins of which are still a puzzle. During the Middle Formative, cultural regionalism increased, although the Olmec presence can be widely detected. The transition to fully settled life had taken place everywhere, and burgeoning populations occupied hamlets, villages, and perhaps even small towns throughout Mesoamerica, both highland and lowland. At the centre of La Venta is a foot metre -high mound of earth and clay that may well house the tomb of a great Olmec ruler.
Immediately north of the Great Mound is a narrow north—south plaza flanked by a pair of long mounds. A low, round mound on the north side of the ceremonial enclosure contained several tombs, one of which was surrounded and covered by basalt columns. In this tomb were found the bundled remains of two children, accompanied by magnificent ornaments of jade.
Offerings were not only placed with the dead but were also deposited as caches in the site, especially along the north—south axis of the ceremonial centre.
Among the most beautiful objects manufactured by the Olmec were the concave mirrors of iron ore, which were pierced to be worn around the neck. These could throw pictures on a flat surface and could probably start fires on hot tinder. Olmec leaders at La Venta, whether they were kings or priests, undoubtedly used them to impress the populace with their seemingly supernatural powers. Significantly, an increasing number of monuments were carved in reliefand some of these were stelae with rather elaborate scenes obviously based upon historical or contemporary events.
Olmec colonization in the Middle Formative From the Middle Formative there are important Olmec sites located along what appears to have been a highland route to the west to obtain the luxury items that seemed to have been so desperately needed by the Olmec elite—e.
Olmec sites in Puebla, the Valley of Mexico, and Morelos are generally located at the ends of valleys near or on major passes; they were perhaps trading stations garrisoned by Olmec troops. The largest of these sites is Chalcatzingo, Morelos, a cult centre located among three denuded volcanic peaks rising from a plain.
On a talus slope at the foot of the middle peak are huge boulders on which have been carved Olmec reliefs in La Venta style. The principal relief shows an Olmec woman, richly garbed, seated within the mouth of a cave; above her, cumulus clouds pour down rain. Similar Olmec reliefs, usually narrative and often depicting warriors brandishing clubs, have been located on the Pacific plain of Chiapas Mexico and Guatemala.
Since aboutspectacular Olmec cave paintings have been found in Guerrerooffering some idea of what the Olmec artists could do when they worked with a large spectrum of pigments and on flat surfaces. Maya Formative Period occupations, represented by settled farming villages and well-made ceramics, date to c.
It seems reasonably certain, however, that at this early date great ceremonial centres, comparable to those of Olmec San Lorenzo or La Venta, were never constructed in the Maya lowlands. It was formerly thought that the Olmec worshiped only one god, a rain deity depicted as a were-jaguar, but study has shown that there were at least 10 distinct gods represented in Olmec art. Surely present were several important deities of the later, established Mesoamerican pantheon, such as the fire god, rain god, corn god, and Feathered Serpent.
Other aspects of mental culture are less well-known; some Olmec jades and a monument from La Venta have non-calendrical hieroglyphs, but none of this writing has been deciphered. Wheat and six-row barley were grown; field peas, mustard, sesame, and a few date stones have also been found, as well as some of the earliest known traces of cotton. Domesticated animals included dogs and cats, humped and shorthorn cattle, domestic fowl, and possibly pigs, camels, and buffalo. The Asian elephant probably was also domesticated, and its ivory tusks were freely used.
Minerals, unavailable from the alluvial plainwere sometimes brought in from far afield. Gold was imported from southern India or Afghanistansilver and copper from Afghanistan or northwestern India present-day Rajasthan statelapis lazuli from Afghanistan, turquoise from Iran Persiaand a jadelike fuchsite from southern India.
Perhaps the best-known artifacts of the Indus civilization are a number of small sealsgenerally made of steatite a form of talcwhich are distinctive in kind and unique in quality, depicting a wide variety of animals, both real—such as elephants, tigers, rhinoceros, and antelopes—and fantastic, often composite creatures.
Sometimes human forms are included. A few examples of Indus stone sculpture have also been found, usually small and representing humans or gods. There are great numbers of small terra-cotta figures of animals and humans.
In fact, no uniform ending need be postulated for a culture so widely distributed. But the end of Mohenjo-daro is known and was dramatic and sudden. Mohenjo-daro was attacked toward the middle of the 2nd millennium bce by raiders who swept over the city and then passed on, leaving the dead lying where they fell. Who the attackers were is matter for conjecture. Deep floods had more than once submerged large tracts of it.
Houses had become increasingly shoddy in construction and showed signs of overcrowding. The final blow seems to have been sudden, but the city was already dying. As the evidence stands, the civilization was succeeded in the Indus valley by poverty-stricken culturesderiving a little from a sub-Indus heritage but also drawing elements from the direction of Iran and the Caucasus —from the general direction, in fact, of the northern invasions.