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Transcript of Ancient Civilizations
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. The Maya civilization shares many features with other Mesoamerican civilizations due to the high degree of interaction and cultural diffusion that characterized the region.
Advances such as writing, epigraphy, and the calendar did not originate with the Maya; however, their civilization fully developed them. Maya influence can be detected in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and western El Salvador to as far away as central Mexico, more than 1,000 km (620 mi) from the central Maya area. The many outside influences found in Maya art and architecture are thought to have resulted from trade and cultural exchange rather than direct external conquest. They maintain a distinctive set of traditions and beliefs resulting from the merger of pre-Columbian and post-Conquest ideas and cultures.
A typical Classic Maya polity was a small hierarchical state (ajawil, ajawlel, or ajawlil) headed by a hereditary ruler known as an ajaw (later k’uhul ajaw). The Maya writing system (often called hieroglyphs from a superficial resemblance to the Ancient Egyptian writing) was a combination of phonetic symbols and logograms. They produced extremely accurate astronomical observations. Unfortunately, the civilization was captured by Spanish conquistadators.
The civilization met its end in 1547.
The Inca Empire or Inka Empire (Quechua: Tawantinsuyu) was the largest empire in pre-Columbian America. The administrative, political and military center of the empire was located in Cusco in modern-day Peru. The Inca civilization arose from the highlands of Peru sometime in the early 13th century.
From 1438 to 1533, the Incas used a variety of methods, from conquest to peaceful assimilation, to incorporate a large portion of western South America, centered on the Andean mountain ranges, including, besides Peru, large parts of modern Ecuador, western and south central Bolivia, northwest Argentina, north and central Chile, and a small part of southern Colombia into a state comparable to the historical empires of Eurasia.
The official language of the empire was Quechua, although hundreds of local languages and dialects of Quechua were spoken. The Inca referred to their empire as Tawantinsuyu which can be translated as The Four Regions or The Four United Provinces. The Incas considered their King, the Sapa Inca, to be the "child of the sun”. The Inca people were a pastoral tribe in the Cusco area around the 12th century. Under the leadership of Manco Cápac, they formed the small city-state Kingdom of Cusco (Quechua Qusqu', Qosqo). In 1438, they began a far-reaching expansion under the command of Sapa Inca (paramount leader) Pachacuti-Cusi Yupanqui, whose name literally meant "earth-shaker". The name of Pachacuti was given to him after conquering over the Tribe of Chancas (modern Apurímac). During his reign, he and his son Tupac Yupanqui brought much of the Andes Mountains (roughly modern Peru and Ecuador) under Inca control.
Pachacuti is also thought to have built Machu Picchu, either as a family home or as a summer retreat, although there is speculation that Machu Picchu was constructed as an agricultural station. The Inca Empire was a patchwork of languages, cultures and peoples. The components of the empire were not all uniformly loyal, nor were the local cultures all fully integrated. The Inca Empire as a whole had an economy based on exchange and taxation of luxury goods and labour.Spanish conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro and his brothers explored south from what is today Panama, reaching Inca territory by 1526.After obtaining orders from the Spanish king and Queen, to make Peru a Spanish territory, Pizarro and his 168 soldiers marched towards the war and won it. They captured the last Sapa Inca, Atahualpa. He promised a room full of gold and twice the amount of silver. He paid the ransom, but the Spanish deceived him and executed him.
Thus the Inca Empire met its end in 1533 AD.
China is an East Asian country with a large territory, a huge population and an ancient history. With written records dating back 4,000 years, it is recognized as one of the four great ancient civilizations of the world, together with ancient Egypt, Babylon and India. Moreover, it is the only ancient civilization that has continued to this very day.
China is a country with a very early civilization and a long and rich history. The compass, gunpowder, the art of paper-making and block printing invented by the ancient Chinese have contributed immensely to the progress of mankind. The Great Wall, Grand Canal and other projects built by the Chinese people are regarded as engineering feats in the world.
Man has lived for a very long time in what is now China, according to archaeological finds. In many parts of the country, for instance, fossil remains of primitive ape men have been unearthed. Among them are the fossil remains of the Yuanmou Ape Man who lived in Yunnan Province some 1.7 million years ago.
Research findings show that the Peking Man, who lived about 500,000 years ago, was able to make and use simple implements and knew the use of fire.
The fossils of Shu Ape, a primate that lived 45 million years ago, which is known as the "first anthropoid", were discovered in China in 1994.
Ancient Greek Culture was the birthplace of Western civilization about 4000 years ago. Ancient Greece produced many magnificent achievements in areas of government, science, philosophy and the arts that still influence our lives.
Greece, and especially Athens, is the cradle of democracy in the western civilization. Athens owes the first penal and civil law code to Draco. An outstanding statesman and poet called Solon acted in Athens at the same time as Draco. In 594 BC he was elected the first archon – the highest state official who today could be compared to a prime minister.
In 510 BC Cleisthenes introduced profound reforms which made democracy exist as a system of government for the first time in the world.
Athenian democracy was established as a result of continuous reorganizations. The name comes from demos-people and kratos-power, so literally power of the people. Apart from many smaller changes, it was mainly based on the opportunity for all citizens over 20 to take part in governing the country. One of the main advantages of Athenian democracy was that the archon and his eight assistants were elected annually. It was possible to prolong the rule for the next term but in case of any abnormalities a quick change of government took place. The biggest advantage of democracy in polis was the general possibility of taking part in public life for all free citizens. Undoubtedly it helped the citizens of Athens to broaden their minds, their cultural awareness and, what was probably most important, to develop intellectually
Greece has importantly influenced the Western science in many ways. The Ancient Greeks especially contributed many things to the scientific world, from medicine to astronomy.
Thales of Miletus
Thales of Miletus (640-610 to ca 548-545 BC) had travelled widely in quest of knowledge, visiting Crete, Phoenicia, and Egypt. Ηe brought Phoenician navigational techniques into Miletus. Thales is also said to have tried to revise the calendar. He also brought Babylonian mathematical knowledge to Greece and used geometry to solve problems such as calculating the height of pyramids and the distance of ships from the shore. He studied astronomy in Babylonia, and after his return to Miletus gained great fame by predicting an eclipse of the sun (28.5.585 BC, Julian Calendar or 22.5.584 BC Gregorian Calendar Famous Eclipse). He was first noted as an inventor and an engineer. Thales was also interested in heavenly bodies. He is credited with the discovery of the electrical properties of amber (or “electron” from which also the name electricity was derived). According to Pausanias he was one of the Seven Sages of Greece.
Pythagoras (569 to 475 BC) was the Greek philosopher and mathematician. He studied astronomy, logistics and geometry and founded the mystic Pythagorean cult. The cult he founded was devoted to the study of numbers, which the Pythagoreans saw as concrete, material objects, and became for them the ultimate principle of all proportion, order, and harmony in the universe. Pythagoras also investigated the ratios of lengths corresponding to musical harmonies, and developed methods of geometric proof. In geometry the great discovery of Pythagoreans was the hypotenuse theorem or Pythagorean theorem. Pythagoreans were the first to consider the earth as a globe revolving with the other planets around a central fire and mathematicize the universe.
Democritus (460 BC - 370 BC) was a pre-Socratic Greek materialist philosopher, a student of Leucippus and co-originator of the belief that all matter is made up of various imperishable, indivisible elements which he called atoma or "indivisible units", from which we get the English word atom. Democritus agreed that everything which is must be eternal, but denied that "the void" can be equated with nothing. This makes him the first thinker on record to argue the existence of an entirely empty "void". He was also a pioneer of mathematics and geometry in particular. He was among the first to observe that a cone or pyramid has one-third the volume of a cylinder or prism respectively with the same base and height. He also proposed that the universe contains many worlds, some of them inhabited and conducted research on minerals and plants.
Euclid (323 BC–283 BC), also known as the "Father of Geometry", was a Greek mathematician of the Hellenistic period who was active in Alexandria, almost certainly during the reign of Ptolemy I. His Elements, a reorganized compilation of geometrical proofs including new proofs and a much earlier essay on the foundations of arithmetic, is the most successful textbook in the history of mathematics. In it, the principles of what is now called Euclidean geometry are deduced from a small set of axioms. Elements conclude with the construction of Plato's five regular solids. Euclidean space has no natural edge, and is thus infinite. Euclid also wrote works on perspective, conic sections, spherical geometry, and rigor. In his Optica, he noted that light travels in straight lines and described the law of reflection.
Archimedes of Syracuse (287 BC – 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. He is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Among his advances in physics are the foundations of hydrostatics and the explanation of the principle of the lever. He is credited with designing innovative machines, including siege engines and the screw pump that bears his name. Archimedes is considered to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time. He used the method of exhaustion to calculate the area under the arc of a parabola with the summation of an infinite series, and gave a remarkably accurate approximation of Pi. He also defined the spiral bearing his name, formulas for the volumes of surfaces of revolution and an ingenious system for expressing very large numbers. Archimedes had proved that the sphere has two thirds of the volume and surface area of the cylinder (including the bases of the latter), and regarded this as the greatest of his mathematical achievements.
Ancient Greek philosophy focused on the role of reason and inquiry. It had an important influence on modern philosophy, as well as modern science. The influence from ancient Greek and Hellenistic philosophers was expanded to medieval Muslim philosophers and scientists, to the European Renaissance and Enlightenment, to the modern natural sciences and technology.
Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher. Considered one of the founders of Western philosophy, he strongly influenced Plato, and Aristotle. He made his most important contribution to Western thought through his method of inquiry. He is principally renowned for his contribution to the field of ethics, Socrates also lends his name to the concepts of Socratic irony and the Socratic Method. Socrates also made important and lasting contributions to the fields of epistemology and logic, and the influence of his ideas and approach, remains strong in providing a foundation for much western philosophy which followed.
Plato has the reputation of one of the most influential philosophers in Western thought. He wrote several dozen philosophical dialogues —arguments in the form of conversations— and a few letters. Though the early dialogues deal mainly with methods of acquiring knowledge, and most of the last ones with justice and practical ethics, his most famous works expressed a synoptic view of ethics, metaphysics, reason, knowledge, and human life. One can view Plato, with qualification, as an idealist and a rationalist.
Aristotle placed much more value on knowledge gained from the senses, and would correspondingly better earn the modern label of empiricist. Thus Aristotle set the stage for what would eventually develop into the scientific method centuries later. The works of Aristotle that still exist today appear in treatise form. The most important include Physics, Metaphysics, (Nicomachean) Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul), Poetics, and many others. Aristotle was a great thinker and philosopher, and his philosophy was crucial in governing intellectual thought in the Western world. His views and approaches dominated early Western science for almost 2000 years. As well as philosophy, Aristotle was a formidable inventor, and is credited with many significant inventions and observations.
The art of ancient Greece has exercised an enormous influence on the culture of many countries from ancient times until the present. There are three scholarly distinctions of Greek art that correspond roughly with historical periods of the same names. These are the Archaic (700 - 480 BC), the Classical (480 - 323 BC) and the Hellenistic (323 – 31 BC) periods. The main physical categories of Greek art are sculpture, pottery, coin design and architecture.
The Greeks used many different types of materials in their sculptures including stone, marble and limestone as these were abundant in Greece. Other materials such as clay were also used but due to their brittle nature very few have survived. Greek sculptures are very important as the vast majority of them tell us a story about Gods, Heroes, Events, Mythical Creatures and Greek culture in general. Examples of Greek sculpture that survive and receive worldwide recognition are: the Parthenon Marbles, Agamemnon's Death Mask, stone statues of humans, such as the limestone Kouros (male) and Kore (female) statues (c.590 BC), Discobolos (The Discus Thrower) by Myron, the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
The Ancient Greeks made pottery for everyday use, not for display; the trophies won at games, such as the Panathenaic Amphorae (wine decanters), are the exception. Most surviving pottery consists of drinking vessels such as amphorae, kraters (bowls for mixing wine and water), hydria (water jars), libation bowls, jugs and cups. Painted funeral urns have also been found. Miniatures were also produced in large numbers, mainly for use as offerings at temples.
Coins were mostly small disk-shaped lumps of gold, silver, or bronze, stamped with a geometric designs, symbols -to indicate its city of origin or the god they were sacred to-, and portraits –of gods or heroes.
Ancient Greek architects strove for the precision and excellence of workmanship that are the hallmarks of Greek art in general. The formulas they invented as early as the sixth century B.C. have influenced the architecture of the past two millennia.
Although the ancient Greeks erected buildings of many types, the Greek Temple best exemplifies the aims and methods of Greek architecture. The two principal orders in Archaic and Classical Greek temples architecture are the Doric and the Ionic.A third order of Greek architecture, known as the Corinthian, mostly common in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Representative temple of the Doric order is Parthenon, of the Ionic order is Erechtheum and of the Corinthian order is the temple of Zeus, all these temples sited in Athens.
The Greek Theater was a central place of formal gatherings in ancient Greece. Every Greek town had a theater. These were used for both public meetings as well as dramatic performances. These performances originated as religious ceremonies; they went on to assume their Classical status as the highest form of Greek culture by the 6th century BC. The theatre was usually set in a hillside outside the town, and had rows of tiered seating set in a semi-circle around the central performance area, the orchestra. Behind the orchestra was a low building called the skene, which served as a store-room, a dressing-room, and also as a backdrop to the action taking place in the orchestra. A number of Greek theatres survive almost intact, the best known being at the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus.
The architectural typology of the modern stadium derives from the classical prototype of the Greek Stadium. The Greek Stadium was the open space where footraces and other athletic contests took place in ancient Greece. The stadiums were usually U-shaped, the curve being opposite to the starting point. The courses were generally 600 Greek feet long (1 stadium), although the length varied according to local variations of the measuring unit. Natural slopes where used where possible to support the seats. The best known ancient Greek stadium is Kallimarmaron (Panathinaikon Stadium), sited in Athens.
According to historical records, the first ancient Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC. They were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on the ancient plains of Olympia, in the western part of the Peloponnese. They continued for nearly 12 centuries, until Emperor Theodosius decreed in 393 A.D. that all such “pagan cults” be banned.
The Olympic Games were closely linked to the religious festivals of the cult of Zeus, but were not an integral part of a rite. Indeed, they had a secular character and aimed to show the physical qualities and evolution of the performances accomplished by young people, as well as encouraging good relations between the cities of Greece. According to specialists, the Olympic Games owed their purity and importance to religion.
The ancient Olympic Games included the following events: pentathlon, running, jumping, discus throw, wrestling, boxing, pankration and equestrian events.
All free male Greek citizens were entitled to participate in the ancient Olympic Games, regardless of their social status. Married women were not allowed to participate in, or to watch, the ancient Olympic Games. However, unmarried women could attend the competition.
The Olympic victor received his first awards immediately after the competition. Following the announcement of the winner's name by the herald, a Hellanodikis (Greek judge) would place a palm branch in his hands, while the spectators cheered and threw flowers to him. Red ribbons were tied on his head and hands as a mark of victory. The official award ceremony would take place on the last day of the Games, at the elevated vestibule of the temple of Zeus. In a loud voice, the herald would announce the name of the Olympic winner, his father's name, and his homeland. Then, the Hellanodikis placed the sacred olive tree wreath, or kotinos, on the winner's head .
In 1859 Evangelos Zappas, a wealthy Greek philanthropist, sponsored the first modern international Olympic Games that were held in an Athens city square, with athletes from two countries: Greece and the Ottoman Empire. In June 23, 1894 Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and it was decided that the first IOC Olympic Games would take place in 1896 in Athens, as they did.
Chinese civilization originated in various regional centers along both the Yellow River and the Yangtze River valleys in the Neolithic era, but the Yellow River is said to be the cradle of Chinese civilization. With thousands of years of continuous history, China is one of the world's oldest civilizations. The written history of China can be found as early as the Shang Dynasty (c. 1700–1046 BC), although ancient historical texts such as the Records of the Grand Historian (ca. 100 BC) and Bamboo Annals assert the existence of a Xia Dynasty before the Shang. Much of Chinese culture, literature and philosophy further developed during the Zhou Dynasty (1045–256 BC).
Archaeological studies have revealed that around 5,000 years ago the Chinese entered the stage of patriarchal society. Not only did villages begin to appear but also the initial forms of cities began to become evident. Extensive communities indicated that the population at the time had already reached a fairly large size and agriculture had made great headway. The earliest discoveries took place during this period. Shen Nong tried and tasted various kinds of wild plants to select crops appropriate to be cultivated for food and herbal medicine to cure disease. The Yellow Emperor invented the compass, which helped him defeat Chi You. More importantly, the appearance of chariots greatly reduced labor intensity. Lei Su, wife of the Yellow Emperor, discovered silk making by raising silkworms, and produced the first garments, which allowed the ancient people to bid goodbye to the period when they wore animal skins and tree leaves. The tribe under Chi You in the south learned how to make weapons with copper, creating the conditions for making bronze vessels, metallurgy and alchemy of later times.
ASTRONOMY AND MATHEMATICS
China also kept the world's most detailed and earliest astronomical records. The first people to take note of such astronomical phenomena as comets, sunspots and new stars were all Chinese. It was also the Chinese who produced the most advanced astronomical observatory apparatus of the time. In metallurgy, China long held a leading position. When Europeans still could not turn out a single piece of cast iron in the 14th century, Chinese people had already produced cast iron on an industrial scale four centuries earlier.
In the field of thought, Confucius, founder of Confucianism, not only had far-reaching significance for China, but for the whole of East and Southeast Asia. The warfare strategies introduced by the noted military strategist Sun Zi are still studied and referred to today. Taoism was an important school of thought, and is known for its simple dialectical elements. Its position of "quietude and inaction" has many identical views with the thoughts of modern man. Taoism, based on the Taoist doctrines, is an independent religion established in China.
GREAT WALL OF CHINA
China was one of the first countries to see the emergence of agriculture.The spade was the most typical farm tool of that time. The Hemudu Culture site in particular yielded a large number of spade-like tools made from animals' shoulder blade bones. Archaeological studies have proved that the area of Hemudu at the time was covered under large tracts of marshland, providing suitable conditions for cultivating rice and developing farming.China was one of the key areas in the world where rice cultivation originated and reflects the advance of farming along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River during the New Stone Age.During the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), two revolutionary improvements in farming technology took place. One was the use of iron tools and beasts of burden to pull plows, and the other was the large-scale harnessing of rivers and development of water conservancy projects.
HOME OF CERAMICS
Pottery making began to develop in China during the New Stone Age some 10,000 years ago. Pottery wares have been unearthed in many historical sites dating from the New Stone Age. The pottery jar found in the Cave of the Immortals in Jiangxi Province has a history of more than 10,000 years.China is one of the countries where colored pottery first appeared.It was not until the 18th century, more than a thousand years after the Chinese mastered the art of porcelain making, that people in the West began to understand its technology.
In fact, as in early medical history of many counties, medicine and chemistry in ancient China were closely related to alchemy, and aimed at finding the elixir of immortality. The enthusiasm for finding a drug or plant that would make man live forever led people to make repeated chemical experiments and record the results.Among the world's many civilizations, China's has a unique tradition of recording medical conditions and discoveries.
Hua Tuo was an outstanding medical scientist during the late Eastern Han Dynasty. He was well trained in various branches of medicine, and was especially good at surgery. His most outstanding achievement was the development of an anesthetic drug which was a unique creation in the world's medical history.
Acupuncture and moxibustion are other forms of treatment discovered by the Chinese in their long fight against diseases.
The period from the 3rd to the 6th centuries was an important stage in the development of culture and science in China, as many outstanding scientists emerged. Zu Chongzhi (420-589) made outstanding contributions to mathematics, astronomy and machine building. He was the first person in the world to bring the calculation of the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter to the seventh decimal place, between 3.1415926 and 3.1415927. His achievement was more than a thousand years earlier than that of his European counterparts.
THE ORIGIN OF MAN