We talked about the characteristics of civilization. Students suggested that civilization distinguishes itself from other forms of human grouping through the following characteristics:
2. Division of labor/roles, or specialization, which typically leads to a hierarchical structure.
3. Written language, which also contributes to specialization and hierarchy (as scribes occupy a special place in society), and which allows for the preservation of knowledge.
4. Some form of government, sometimes simply an individual leader.
5. Towns or cities, with a concomitant sense of community.
6. A corresponding “civilized” culture.
We also discussed the fact that the term “civilization,” though useful
when describing certain types of human groupings, can suggest a moral superiority
over “uncivilized” or “barbarian” people, and that it’s preferable to avoid
this condescending attitude.
Next I lectured on the origins of civilization in ancient Mesopotamia. These were some of the terms I used in lecture:
Ur (home of Abraham)
Uruk (home of Gilgamesh)
Cuneus -- Cuneiform
Sargon of Akkad
Hammurabi of Babylon