Analyzing Ancient Civilized Countries

  • Thread starter EngTechno
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  • #27
Nereid
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Aquamarine said:
I will of course argue that the best civilizations were the most capitalistic ones. :biggrin:
But how would you determine the extent to which a 'civilization' was 'capitalistic'? :confused: And maybe a better value judgement would involve 'free trade'?
Regarding the ancient civilizations, most (all?) were horrendous compared to the world of today. Varying degree of genocide of the losers were common in war, look for example at Rome conquests and crushing of rebellions, like Julius Caesar in todays's France. Slavery were common in China, Korea, India, Islamic states, Rome, Greece and Egypt. In general in all parts of the world, including Africa and America before the colonization. Estimates of percentage in slavery vary but are usually huge, like up to half the population in Korea, 10% in England 1086, 30% in Rome and Athens. (From Britannica 2005)
Indeed. However, most people were not slaves, and most were not slaughtered (or die fighting); by far the biggest source of (general) human misery was disease and illness, perhaps closely followed by hunger. So maybe a good metric to use for pre-Renaissance civilizations would be life expectancy (maybe at birth and at age 5?) and absence of hunger?
This is not surprising. Since GDP per capita was essentially http://www.minneapolisfed.org/pubs/region/04-05/figure3.cfm [Broken].

Arguable, the same thing took place in China where comparatively small number of nomads again and again where able to conquer the much stronger mainland when cyclically to state expanded and crushed the free market.
Hmm, words like 'anachronism', 'revisionism', and 'Whig history' spring to mind :biggrin:
 
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  • #28
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I will of course agree that a high GDP/capita is not a goal in itself. But it is extremely important. If the GDP/capita is low enough there will be hunger, disease and low life expectancy. Only when the GDP/capita is high enough can these other things improve. The low GDP/capita prior to the industrial (=capitalistic) revolution meant that most people lived on the edge of starvation. Population growth was regulated by starvation and disease.

Only by keeping a significant proportion of the population in slavery or serfdom could a small elite enjoy a higher standard of living. And that also allowed arts and philosophy as a luxury.

Capitalism should be understood as what the various indexes of economic freedom try to measure: Rule of law, equality before the law, property rights, low taxes, few regulations, small state, sound money, and free trade. In short, a state that prevents people from gaining from others though the use of violence, but let voluntary cooperation build the rest of society. Ancient civilizations should be evaluated according to similar criteria to those used for nations today in peer-reviewed papers.
http://www.freetheworld.com/papers.html

Such an analysis was attempted in the article about Rome. You have presented no arguments against the conclusions and facts presented there.

It is extremely difficult for us to know GDP/capita or life expectancy for the different ancient civilizations. But we can see how capitalistic the civilizations were according to their institutions. And since more capitalistic nations today are more prosperous with for example higher life expectancy and higher income for the poorest, it seems likely that the same thing was true also earlier in history.
 
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EngTechno said:
As we all know, Egypt , China, India, Babylon and Greece are ancient civilized countries in the world. By judging
1. Pyramids and Mummies (Egypt)
2. Mummies (like Egypt) and inventions from paper to rocketry (China)
3. Some mathematical achievements ( India )

and many others from these countries, people from these countries can be regarded as the intelligent people. However, today, these countries are far behind the Western countries in terms of Science and Technology. Do you know why? Can these countries become powerful countries as they did in the past again?

Going back to the initial thread my comments are as follow:

1. What do we mean by intelligence?

2. Must we only use success (or failure) of capitalism and GDP as absolute
criteria for measuring all other cultures and "so called" civilizations" past,
present and future?

An antropologist who had been studying the Beaver (aboriginal people of Northern British Columbia) was asked " Why did not the Beaver Indians develop totem poles and crafts as other nations in the Pacific Northwest?" He replied that the Beaver were more interested in developing good relations. I think that there have been many groups of people whose interest was primarily in keeping balanced and hamonious relationships between members as well as balanced relationship with their environment. If you judge success on pyramids, gun powder, or large palaces you will miss the point entirely.
 
  • #30
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But all we have left of many of these places is their monuments, and some pottery. Various tribes may have had beautiful relations as judged by modern western anthropologists, but if they didn't build or write things down, how would we ever know?
 
  • #31
imo, it is absolutely, positively, the flow of money. The wealth of a single oil family in the mid east(or a bunch for that matter) does not compare to the massive combined economic might of america. All the high tech countries either had all the resources they needed within their borders or were helped in BIG ways by wealthy countries.
 
  • #32
Dayle Record said:
I think if a truly advanced civilization came here, they would live as the Greeks did, without the squabbling. They would find a climate as mild as the Mediterranean, and grow grapes and tomatoes, make wine, and frolic. They would not change the face of the Earth, they would realize the wonder of what is here.

If only an electable politician would say these words :frown: Regrettably of course this would mean sending an invading force to annex the Mediterranean. Sorry, Med :biggrin:

Dayle Record said:
...there is no us, and them. There is only us.

This is one of the biggest psychological hurdles that we face. We create walls against each other so automatically it almost seems like an intstinct.
 
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selfAdjoint said:
But all we have left of many of these places is their monuments, and some pottery. Various tribes may have had beautiful relations as judged by modern western anthropologists, but if they didn't build or write things down, how would we ever know?

Most of what has been left by these ancient tribes, cultures, and nations have been lost or destroyed. They often depended on oral tradition to transmit values and knowledge. Some cultures had a written language but most of what was recorded was destroyed after European conquest. Even the oral traditions were disrupted. (There are also problems in translation and interpretation.) In some instances, the conquerors made interesting note of the people that they were destroying or enslaving. There were some cultural groups that had amazingly harmonious relationships within the group and relatively peaceful relationships with neighboring groups. One interesting note is a document apparently written by a Guanahani Taino who was christened Diego Colon. He was a child (of around twelve) when he became the personal servant and interpreter for Christopher Columbus. Later, he became the servant of Bishop Bartolomé de las Casas. Diego Colon writes about the encounter of the conquistadors with the Guanahani. José Barreiro has translated Diego Colon’s document into English under the book titled The Indian Chronicles, Arte Publico Press, University of Huston. Other bits and pieces of information are starting to appear here and there.

Descendants of some of these people still exist. (The Beaver people still exist.) As we began (if we do) to get in touch with our own humanity, perhaps other ways of knowing about these cultures will come to light.
 
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  • #34
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India has an extremely ancient society, their vedas go back 175,000 years according to they way they keep time. Yet we don't chose to believe that; out of disrespect for all things non-western. They discuss Rama coming here in his ship, and enslaving the monkey men on this world, and etc. There is a lot of ancient history, that is erased totally, when the world occasionally rights its self, to distribute mass, and the ice caps are suddenly forming where the new top of the world has come to be. Things can be completely erased here.

true.... recently read an article wherein Nasa discovered a stone path from india to sri lanka in a satellite pic which was built by Rama to travel to Sri lanka and get his wife, Sita back... but somehow, it wasnt given much importance..
 
  • #35
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EngTechno said:
As we all know, Egypt , China, India, Babylon and Greece are ancient civilized countries in the world. By judging
1. Pyramids and Mummies (Egypt)
2. Mummies (like Egypt) and inventions from paper to rocketry (China)
3. Some mathematical achievements ( India )

and many others from these countries, people from these countries can be regarded as the intelligent people. However, today, these countries are far behind the Western countries in terms of Science and Technology. Do you know why? Can these countries become powerful countries as they did in the past again?


Does that imply that other cultures that can't claim an great ancient civilization wasn't intelligent? Or did they just not have a pharaoh at their backs? Do we consider hunter-gatherers, who are much better off in terms of energy expenditure, social equality, and nutritional and physiological health, to be less intelligent (at least they were until civilizations became a breeding den for pathogens)? I think the question was more of an aim at exploring the state of things today, but still, I'm curious.

Edit: ok, I scrolled thru a bit more and it seems the thread was addressing it. Carry on.
 
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