Friday 26 April 2024

What is an ancient civilization?

Someone asked “Which civilization contributed the most to humanity? And why?”

I responded:

What is an ancient civilization?

And why do you think only Civilizations contributed to mankind.

Allow me to demonstrate with only 2 examples. I have 3,000 peer-reviewed examples from Africa alone but 2 will suffice.

Two unknown Africans, or two generations or more of Africans - we don’t know their names - developed language and cooking. What was the impact?

How did developing language just once, before various languages branched off help humanity? People use language to learn, gain insights, order food, make friends, attract sexual partners, display confidence, stay safe, resolve conflicts, bridge cultural gaps, debate and approve cooperation (which later became laws), gain or display cultural awareness, express love, display adaptability, compete, express disapproval, predict, investigate, consider the testimony of witnesses, and to expand their horizons.

What about cooking? The oldest evidence of cooking comes from archaeological evidence of cooking giant snails. This idea of cooking transformed human diets, making food more digestible and nutrient-rich. This energy-efficient process redirected energy to foster larger brains, aiding human cognition. The surplus energy, with cooked food's ease of digestion, enabled reduced intestinal size, minimizing energy expenditure on digestion. As a result, humans evolved with smaller intestines, optimizing energy allocation for brain development and other physiological functions, marking a pivotal moment in human evolution.

Cooking has served as a cornerstone of human civilization for over 200,000 years, fulfilling a myriad of roles across every continent. It provides essential nutrition, preserves food, and reflects cultural identities through unique cuisines. Moreover, cooking fosters socialization and bonding within communities, while also promoting health through the reduction of harmful bacteria. Comfort, celebration, and economic exchange are facilitated through cooking, which also acts as a platform for passing down culinary traditions and skills from one generation to the next. Furthermore, certain cooking practices have medicinal purposes, aiding in survival by making otherwise inedible foods palatable. Innovation in cooking techniques has led to the discovery of new flavors and dishes, often serving as status symbols, entertainment, or artistic expressions. Cooking has also played a role in environmental adaptation and sustainability, as well as in conflict resolution and diplomacy. Additionally, it shapes parenting practices, religious rituals, and even exploration and colonization, introducing new ingredients and techniques to different regions.

The analogy of civilizations as trees in an orchard, each isolated and independent, fails to capture the interconnectedness and mutual influence of human societies throughout history. Instead, a more accurate metaphor is that of a rich tapestry, where civilizations are threads intricately woven together over time, creating a complex and diverse fabric of human experience.

In this metaphor, each civilization represents a unique thread contributing to the overall pattern of human history. Just as different colored threads intertwine to form a beautiful tapestry, diverse cultures interact, exchange ideas, and shape each other's development. From the earliest exchanges of goods along ancient trade routes to the modern interconnected world of global commerce and communication, human societies have been in constant dialogue, influencing one another in myriad ways.

Moreover, like a tapestry, human history is not static but dynamic, evolving over time as new threads are added and old ones fade away. Civilizations rise and fall, empires expand and contract, but the interconnected web of human interaction endures. This metaphor emphasizes the richness and complexity of human history, highlighting the interdependence of societies and the shared journey of humanity through time.

Ultimately, viewing human history as a tapestry underscores the interconnectedness of all peoples and cultures, challenging notions of superiority and highlighting the shared heritage of humanity. It reminds us that, despite our differences, we are all part of the same intricate fabric of human experience, woven together by the threads of history.

We could also view time and changes across the entire earth like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle, in which we are trying to figure out how each piece tells us more about the overall picture.

“Civilisational” thinking has created a lot of erroneous analogies which give the impression that pure “White” “Western” Civilisations exist and have always existed which created everything themselves and which are at risk of being ruined by foreigners. The truth is the world has always been more interconnected.

The truth is like learning that light is photon but also possesses wave-particle duality, and explaining THAT to people that don’t know that an electromagnetic spectrum of radiation exists.

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