Wednesday 24 April 2024


The assertion that Athens was the world's first democracy overlooks evidence of democratic practices in at least 20 cities and societies from various regions and time periods before Athens - Uruk, Sumerian City-States, Ébla, Mari, Mohenjo-Daro, Assur, Knossos, Babylon, Hattusa, Thebes, Sparta, Carthage, Corinth, Argos, Sicyon, Miletus, Bactra, Cyrene, Magadha, Chios. These cities and societies, spanning from Mesopotamia to Asia Minor to North Africa, East Africa, and India, had various forms of democratic governance, including assemblies, councils, and participatory decision-making processes. Athens itself had limitations on voting rights, oppressing 90% of its population and excluding women, slaves, metics, minors, and non-Athenian Greeks. Most officials were chosen by lottery, with some selected by merit for military posts. Decision-making involved popular votes by the citizenry, with mechanisms for feedback and accountability, such as ostracism. This broader perspective challenges the Eurocentric view of Athens as the sole originator of democracy. Don’t take my word for it, fact-check me. 


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