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From Ancient Times... Audentes

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Charlie Moreno-Romero

on 11 February 2014

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Transcript of From Ancient Times... Audentes

From Ancient Times...
Great Famines or Great Feasts
(.... - 5.000 ago)
Warfare or Effective Collaboration (Production)
(Before Semites in Babylonia)

The universe arose out of chaos in waters

First astronomers

Gordon Childe:
Trasformation 5.000 or 6.000 years ago

Drainage and irrigation: cooperation
Surplus and Change in Social Relations
Grain Buildings
* "Slave Girl" - 3000 BC - tablet speaking about 205 slave girls and children
* Distinction between "full, free citizen" and "commoner or subordinate"
* Smaller houses
Elite + bodies of armed men = state machine
Exploitation of peasants and other labourers
Great buildings
Creation of Gods-like rulers

- ship pulling
- canal irrigation
- militia serving

* reduced status
* reduced degree of freedom
Why did people who had not previously exploited and oppressed others suddenly start doing so, and why did the rest of society put up with this new exploitation and oppression?
Only account that comes to terms with this change: Marx (1840s & 1850s):
Interaction between the development of "relations of production" and "forces of production"
"New ways of producing begin to create new relations between members of the group"

A group would come to defend the control they have gained even when it meant making others suffer..
From the interests of the wider society to their own sectional interests
For the first time, social development encouraged the development of the motive to exploit and oppress others
warfare - prestige - accumulation of loot and tribute
Beginning of History of Class Struggle

* Keep the surplus in own hands
* Control over surplus - armed forces - monopoly over metal working
* Creation of legal codes and ideologies to back armed forces
* Idea of ruling classes being the source of people's livelihoods & the embodiment of society's highest values (God-like rituals)
* Emergence of religious institutions
* Worshiping the gods = Worshiping society's own power (alienated recognition to their own achievements
* However, no private ownership, just access to resources
Women's Oppression
Polarization into classes and the rise of the state = women everywhere lost
From co-decision-makers to a position of dependence and subordination

Heave ploughing and herding of cattle and horses

Societies where women did this would have low birthrates and stagnating populations

Males took control over the decisions regarding the future of the household or lineage

Warriors and merchants were overwhelmingly male
Ruling class women =
* a possession of a male controller of the surplus
* an ornament
* a source of sexual pleasure
* a breeder of heirs

Women in agricultural or artisan households =
* still a productive role
* but, their husbands controlled relations between the household and the rest of society

Patriarchy :
* rule of the father over the other members of the household - soon to be found in all ideologies and all religions
* female gods and priestesses as playing a secondary role

Expenditures on servants, on professional police or military forces, on building huge temples, palaces or tombs to celebrate their power
Further exploitation and oppression as the only way to keep society going
Added incentive for external warfare to grab resources from other societies
This, in turn, encouraged the emergence of ruling classes and states among neighboring peoples
However "functional", the rise of a ruling group became a 'drag' on society
The First "Dark Ages"
City states of Mesopotamian warfare until around 2300 BC - conqueror from the north (Sargon)
'Old Kingdom' Egypt (Giza & Saqqara) - after 1.5 centuries of civil war and social disruption
Harappa & Mohenjo-dero (India) were abandoned around 1500 BC
Aegean civilization (Creete) - 1400 BC
Teotihuacan, Montealban and mayan cities - 900 AD

Several factors, but first..
Historical speculation...
1. Record of ever-greater expenditure of resources
2. Massive slowdown in the growth of humanity's ability to control and understand the natural world (monopolization of knowledge)
3. Ruler reinforced their power over the masses by encouraging superstition.. no further development of technology
Advances (iron, water wheels, alphabetic writing, pure mathematics) were not made inside the 'great civilizations' but among 'barbarian peoples' on their periphery
4. a ruling class that had risen out of advances in human productive powers now prevented further advances.
A slight change in climate for people to starve
Lack of confidence in ruling classes
(Egypt and Mesoamerica)
"A growing upper class, together with its various retainers and other members of the incipient 'middle class', would have increased economic strain on the total society... malnutrition and disease burdens increased among the commoner population and further deceased its work capacity.."
Willey & Shimkin, 1987
Class Struggles in the First Civilisations
* impoverishment of the exploited classes
* growing exactions of the rulers
* historical speculation, but.. e collapse of Old Egypt as a 'social revolution'
*Not only 'class struggle', but also, priests (first ruling classes) vs. kings (secular administration and warfare) + warriors
* Egypt = regional priests and governors (in exchange for land grants)
The rise of new exploiting groups alongside the old has two effects:
I. Ever larger layer of people living off the surplus and putting increased pressure on the cultivators
II. Challenges could arise to the monolithic power of the original rulers (from people controlling resources, armed power or the dissemination of ideas
In 1179 BC, backed by their wives, artisans took part in history's first recorded strike when the rations were late and their families faced hunger
Artisans = concentrated + literate
Luxuries & raw materials
Accumulation of wealth = political power
City of Sippar in the Fertile Crescent
Starvation, slavery, taxes and monopoly
Cultivators rise up against their exploiters
consumption of the whole harvest
Not enough to sustain the structures
Collapse of civilizations
Crete and Mycenae, Harsappa and Mohenjo-dero, Teotihuacan, Monte Alban and Mayas
Cities were abandoned
Flowering cultures were forgotten
Return to antique agricultural practices
Marx in "Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy
“In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness… At a certain stage of their development, the material productive forces of society come in conflict with the existing relations of production, or — what is but a legal expression for the same thing — with the property relations within which they have been at work hitherto. From forms of development of the productive forces these relations turn into their fetters. Then begins an epoch of social revolution.”
Social struggle
Revolutionary reconstitution of society at large
The mutual ruin of the contending classes
Conquest and Change

* Egypt and Mesopotamia do not fit into Marx's pattern
*One century of disorder, civil war and famine
* Then, re-establishment of old order - shifts of power

In Mesopotamia:
+ Conquerors (centralized empires)
+ Exhausted society's resources, then local aristocracies were allowed - weak defenses - new invasions
+ Old Testament: the Amorites, Kassites, Assyrians, Hittites, Medes and Persians
In Egypt:
+ Protected by deserts from military incursion
+ Another crisis (1700-1600 BC)
+ Northern "Hyksos" (from Palestine) and Southern "Nubians" of Kush
+ Hyksos = wheel as a technical innovation

* Prominence of middle class of merchants, professional soldiers, clerks, priests and skilled artisans (not centralized, but independent)
Foreign conquests:
Raw materials and luxury goods
Horse-drawn wheeled vehicles
Easier irrigation
Iron & Empires
- Use of copper and bronze, wheel, adaptation of foreign scripts
- Smaller imitations of the great empires (Solomon's empire in Palestine)
- Concentration of surplus (no change)
- "Aryans" from the Caspian region lost against the Indus
- People in south east Europe advanced over Mycenaean Greece
- The "Sea People" attacked Egypt
- The Hittites captured Mesopotamia
- The Chou dynasty ousted the Shang
When both Indu and Mycenaean civilizations ere conquered, then urban life and literacy disappeared, but.. not completely negative effects (but contradictory ones):
a) destruction of the old productive apparatus (fir instance, irrigation)
b) implementation of new technologies (for instance, ox-drawn plough - cultivation in North India's heavy soil)

* But the most important was..
Around 2000 BC
Cheaper and more abundant than copper and bronze
Knives, axes, arrowheads, plough tips and nails (masses)
Effect on agriculture (clearing) & weakening military aristocracies
Smelting of Iron
7th Century BC new civilizations
7th Century BC new civilizations
7th Century BC new civilizations
7th Century BC new civilizations
15th - 7th Century BC
* New crafts
* Long distance trade
* Merchants as an important social class
* Use of coins
* Adoption of more or less sophisticated phonetically-based alphabets (not China) 0 wider literacy
* Rise of "Universalistic" religions (dominant god, principle of life or code of conduct)
* Still based on class divisions
Ancient India
The Aryan "migration"
ToK link
Nomadic herders
Milk and meat
Warrior chieftains
"Vedic Religion"
Animal sacrifices
Brahman priest
Ideology by "twice-born" classes
* Rituals (meat)
* Division of Crafts
Ordinary "Aryans"
"Caste arose out of a class organization of production in the villages (although one not based on private property)" Harman, 1999
Twice-born castes
* Effect on trade
* artisans and traders around temples and military camps
+ Urban development
+ Land trade routes
+ State control of agriculture, industry and trade
+ Monopoly over mining and salt, liquor and minerals
+ Vast, numerous bureaucracy (village 'accountant)
"Maurya" Indian Empire
Hindu cult to cows
Ashoka's death
* Empire falls apart = local powers
* But, not collapse of civilization:
- Agriculture and trade continue to expand
- First money economy
- Indian merchants as suppliers of luxuries to the Graeco-Roman world
Philosophical exchange
* Scientific inquiry alongside religious mysticism
* Mathematics (decimal system, value of Pi, zero - unknown to Greeks and Romans)
* Hinduism across continents (Malay peninsula & Cambodia; Tibet, China, Korea and Japan)
* Indispensable for Renaissance" 1.000 years later
"Feudalization" of society...
Brahmans - their culture.. everybody's culture
First Chinese Empires
* Over 2000 years
* Ch'in Empire (221 BC-
* Rule over more people than Romans
* 6,800 km (5,984 km in Rome)
* Great Wall (300.000 people in 3.000 km)
* Terracota soldiers in the emperor's tomb (700.000 people)
Follow-up video
+ Aristocracy (military + priests + administrative)
+ Class society (sacrifice of sets at royal funerals)
+ Chou dynasty (11th century) - "Feudalism"
+ Constant warfare between rival lords
Clearing northern plains and river valleys
Spread of (massive scale) irrigation
New agricultural methods:
- oxen
- use of animal dung and human 'night soil' as fertilizer
- cultivation of wheat and soya
- leguminous crops to restore the fertility
Massive surplus!
Conquest of those big commercial centres
Individual peasant nuclear family
Allowed to own the land
Paying taxes
Contributing labor directly to the state rather than the local lord

Surplus = luxuries, metal weapons, horses, chariots, bows and armor for their armies
Ancient Traders
- allied with the state against the aristocracy
- attacked by the state bureaucracy
Ch'in & Han (206 BC - 220 AD)
- state control of key industries (salt & iron)
- Higher taxes on trading profits
* Respect for tradition and ritual
* Honesty and self-control
* Legalism: administrators towards general good
Technological advances:

* production of steel (1.5 thousand years earlier than in Europe)
* First water-wheels and wheelbarrows (3rd century AD - 1.000 years earlier than in Europe)
Chen Sh'eng
900 convicts to a prison
Late : fears of punishment
Rebellion - widespread killings (Emperor)
One leader -- Han dynasty
No benefit to the masses...
revolts after revolts, but no change!
Not because or corruptibility of individual leaders, but the lack of project: peasants could not establish a permanent, centralized organization capable of imposing their own goals on society
Dependence on division of labour (bureaucracy) :
State administrators for
- irrigation and flood control
- iron tools
- access to goods they didn't grow themselves
The essential continuity of Chinese civilization was not broken - revival of economy and urban life... better than in India or Rome
The Greek City States
* Alexander the Great
* From Balkans and the Nile to the Indus
* 4th BC
* Same time than Magadha & Ch'in
Forgotten Mycenean civilization
Illiterate people
Rudimentary craft specialization
Non-existent figurative art
Harsh life and frequent famines
Slow Recovery from 7th BC:
- spread of technological advances (iron, agriculture)
- Grow of trade
- Rediscovery of old craft skills and learning of new ones
- Elaboration of alphabets
6th BC - city states (like Acropolis)
Direct intercourse with empires in the Middle East (trade, employment of Greek mercenaries, Greek exiles in imperial cities)
China & India: fertile river valleys BUT Greece has mountains --- new agricultural techniques in 8th BC = cultivators take the seas and colonize fertile coastal areas = surplus
Fights, but also trade + alphabet + dialects + religious practices + joint festivals (Olympics)
Unproductive land = small surplus > enslavement
Slavery (common in old civilizations) - but not as a source of surplus
Ruling class = control over land cultivated by slaves
Philosophers = slave ownership as essential to civilized life
Greeks (and later Romans) made it difficult to slaves:
Slaves from across the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Asia Minor and even Southern Russia
Class struggle:
- Landowners (slaves)
- Smaller farmers and artisans
First Kings : kinship lineages rather than formal codes of laws VS. newly-rich landowners
Republics ruled by the wealthy
Monopolization of surplus
Bad harvest:
+ taxes for rich
- food to poor
Land seizure & even "Bond slaves"
* Bitterness from the rest of society
* The 'rule of the people'
* Not the whole people
(no slaves, women, residents non-citizens)
* No challenge to the concentration of property and slaves
* power to poor people to protect themselves from the extortions of the rich
However, military seizure of power (armies)
But not in Athens (200 years of democracy) - trade + navy (in charge of the poor)
For influence over other city states
Rival conceptions of social organization
Philosophy and Religion through Poetry
Homeric poems – moral philosophy
4th BC
Warrior and man of science
"Alexandrian science" - Ptolemy
Highest point of the ancient civilizations?

On one hand,
Impressive civilization:
- From small town to ruler of whole Mediterranean
- Western (600 years) & Eastern (1600 years)
On the other hand,
It added very little to humanity
- ability to make a livelihood
- scientific knowledge
- cultural endeavor
- No innovation such as in Mesopotamia and Egypt, classical Greece or India and China
However, main impact = spread across central and western Europe Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Greek advances

Concept: Eurocentrism
I. Society of agriculturalists
Lineages (gens & tribes) rather than a state
Hereditary ruling class (Patrician Order)

Trading route (charges on passing traders)
+ surplus from agriculture =
Prosperous towns (6th BC)
* houses of wood and brick
* monumental temples
* well-engineered sewage system

II. Etruscan Invasion
* Literate society (non-Indo-European language)
* Roman "independence" (509 BC)
* Republic and military expansion
* Various phases over the next 400 years:
+ Incorporation of other Latin-speaking cities
+ Wars with Carthage (southern Italy & north Africa)
+ Conquest of Northern Italy and Greece
+ Annexation of former Greek empires in Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt
* Infantry = independent landed peasantry
* But, no control of the army by the peasants
* Rome was not a democracy..

The Republic and the class wars
*Monopoly of power (Patrician families)
(Senate, consuls, judges, administrators, 'police')
* Peasants into debt
* 2 great waves of class struggle
Wars of Conquest
- Deteriorated conditions of peasants
+ Loot for the rich = luxury consumptions, higher land prices, increase in money-lending
+ captives as slaves (3rd Macedonian war: 150.000 prisoners sold as slaves)
+ Massive growth - 1st BC = 2 million slaves (vs. 3.25 million free)
+ Slaves as the major labor source )not benefit for everyone) - impoverished free labor!
Stagnation and Collapse
* Revolts = no revolutionary reorganization of society BUT change in the political superstructure (landed rich dominating the rest)
* Senate depending on generals and their armies
Marius and Cinna vs. Sulla
Pompey vs. Julius Caesar
Brutus and Cassius vs. Mark Anthony and Octavian
Octavian vs. Mark Anthony
* Octavian : 'de facto' monarchy
- security to rich & friend of the poor (free corn - demagogy)
* Empire-wide culture:
- shared religious cults (also, emperor worship)
- ceremonial games
- languages (Latin in the west & Greek in the east) and literature
First Revolt
15 years after the Republic
- Slavery-like treatment
+ "Secession" - sitting down 'en masse' and refusing to serve in the army
+ Own elected representatives ("Tribunes")
- Protection against oppression from the magistrates
Second Revolt
287 BC

- Debts afflicting half of the population
+ Ended absolute powers of Patricians
+ Opened offices up to Plebeians
- Only some Plebeians gained (new nobility)
Poor cannot marry
Families limited by abortion and infanticide, or contraception
Children abandoned by poor parents
They would end up in slave markets
If married, cannot raise children
Tiberius Gracchus
Gaius Gracchus
Optimus Traianus
Spartacus - biggest revolt (73BC)
74 gladiators + 70,000 slaves
Slaves + free people
Never entered Rome.. mystery!
Spartacus is killed + 6,000 crucified
Revolts, but no political program

Slaves: from everywhere, different languages, no families (no passing of traditions of resistance)

Julius Caesar - 49 BC
Stagnation and Collapse II
* Cities = centers of administration & ruling class consumption, not trade and industry
* Roads for military purposes, not transportation of heavy loads
* Cities as parasitic to rural economy

Stagnation and Collapse III
* After wars of conquest - new slaves started to dry up - slaves became expensive
a) breeding a new generation of slaves ("unproductive" mothers and children)
b) lend their lands at high rates
* Emperors relying on massive and expensive mercenary armies (650,000 4th AD)
* Civil wars weakened the empire
* Center of the empire moved to Byzantium (330 AD)
* From slavery to localized and self-contained economy (serfdom)
* Slavery continued until around 1000 AD

> "Ancient History." WikiBooks. Wikimedia Project, n.d. Web. <http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Ancient_History>.
> Harman, Chris. A People's History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium. New York: Verso, 2008. Print.
> Willis Botsford, George. An Ancient History for Beginners. London: The MacMillan Company, 1913. Print.
> Wise Bauer, Susan. The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome. London: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. Print.
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