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Markers of "Civilization"
Agriculture: Topic Page
The practice of farming, including the cultivation of the soil (for raising crops) and the raising of domesticated animals. Agriculture developed in the Middle East and Egypt at least 10,000 years ago.
Alphabet: Topic Page
Set of conventional symbols used for writing, based on a correlation between individual symbols and spoken sounds, so called from alpha (α) and beta (β), the names of the first two letters of the classical Greek alphabet.
Architecture: Topic Page
Art of designing structures. The term covers the design of the visual appearance of structures; their internal arrangements of space; selection of external and internal building materials; design or selection of natural and artificial lighting systems, as well as mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
Fermentation: Topic Page
Process by which the living cell is able to obtain energy through the breakdown of glucose and other simple sugar molecules without requiring oxygen. Fermentation is achieved by somewhat different chemical sequences in different species of organisms.
Imperialism: Topic Page
Broadly, the extension of rule or influence by one government, nation, or society over another. Evidence of the existence of empires dates back to the dawn of written history in Egypt and in Mesopotamia, where local rulers extended their realms by conquering other states and holding them, when possible, in a state of subjection.
Irrigation: Topic Page
In agriculture, artificial watering of the land. Early improvements for raising water included counterbalanced poles with attached water vessels, and adaptations of the wheel and of a pump called the Archimedes' screw.
Mathematics: Topic Page
Deductive study of numbers, geometry, and various abstract constructs. The earliest records of mathematics show it arising in response to practical needs in agriculture, business, and industry.
Metallurgy: Topic Page
Science and technology of metals and their alloys. Modern metallurgical research is concerned with the preparation of radioactive metals, with obtaining metals economically from low-grade ores, with obtaining and refining rare metals hitherto not used, and with the formulation of alloys.
Poetry: Topic Page
Imaginative literary form, particularly suitable for describing emotions and thoughts. Poetry is highly ‘compressed’ writing, often using figures of speech to talk about one thing in terms of another.
Pottery: Topic Page
The baked-clay wares of the entire ceramics field. Pottery is one of the most enduring materials known to humankind; in most places it is the oldest and most widespread art.
Settlement: Topic Page
Collection of dwellings forming a community. There are many different types of settlement and most owe their origin to historical and geographical factors.
Slavery: Topic Page
Institution based on a relationship of dominance and submission, whereby one person owns another and can exact from that person labor or other services. The institution of slavery extends back beyond recorded history.
War: Topic Page
Act of force, usually on behalf of the state, intended to compel a declared enemy to obey the will of the other.
Bronze Age: Topic Page
Stage of prehistory and early history when copper and bronze (an alloy of tin and copper) became the first metals worked extensively and used for tools and weapons.
Iron Age: Topic Page
Developmental stage of human technology when weapons and tools were made from iron. Preceded by the Stone and Bronze ages, it is the last technological stage in the Three Age System framework for prehistory.
Stone Age: Topic Page
The developmental stage of humans in prehistory before the use of metals, when tools and weapons were made chiefly of stone, especially flint.
Afroasiatic languages: Topic Page
Family of languages spoken by more than 250 million people in N Africa; much of the Sahara; parts of E, central, and W Africa; and W Asia.
Anatolian languages: Topic Page
Subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages; the term "Anatolian languages" is also used to refer to all languages, Indo-European and non-Indo-European, that were spoken in Anatolia in ancient times.
Indo-European Family: Topic Page
Family of languages having more speakers than any other language family. It is estimated that approximately half the world's population speaks an Indo-European tongue as a first language.
Indo-Iranian: Topic Page
Subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages, spoken by more than a billion people, chiefly in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Prakrit: Topic Page
Any of a number of languages belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-Iranian).
Sanskrit: Topic Page
Language belonging to the Indic group of the Indo-Iranian subfamily of the Indo-European family of languages (see Indo-Iranian).
Mythology and Religion
Astrology: Topic Page
Study of the relative position of the planets and stars in the belief that they influence events on Earth. A strongly held belief in ancient Babylon, astrology spread to the Mediterranean world, and was widely used by the Greeks and Romans.
From The Columbia Encyclopedia
Practice of foreseeing future events or obtaining secret knowledge through communication with divine sources and through omens, oracles, signs, and portents.
From Bloomsbury Guide to Human Thought
Monotheism means belief in one all-powerful God who is distinct from the world but at the same time involved in it.
Mythology: Topic Page
[Greek,=the telling of stories], the entire body of myths in a given tradition, and the study of myths. Although there is no specific universal myth, there are many themes and motifs that recur in the myths of various cultures and ages.
Pantheism: Topic Page
Name used to denote any system of belief or speculation that includes the teaching "God is all, and all is God." Pantheism, in other words, identifies the universe with God or God with the universe.
Polytheism: Topic Page
Belief in a plurality of gods in which each deity is distinguished by special functions. Polytheistic worship does not imply equal devotion or importance to each deity.
Religion: Topic Page
A system of thought, feeling, and action that is shared by a group and that gives the members an object of devotion; a code of behavior by which individuals may judge the personal and social consequences of their actions; and a frame of reference by which individuals may relate to their group and their universe.
Ritual: Topic Page
In religious devotion or service, the practice of certain set formulas that either mark a particular important event in a person's life - such as birth rituals or death rituals - or form a patterned daily, weekly, or annual cycle. Rituals are usually understood to hold deep symbolic meaning.
Alchemy: Topic Page
Ancient art of obscure origin that sought to transform base metals (e.g., lead) into silver and gold; forerunner of the science of chemistry.
City State: Topic Page
An independent political unit consisting of a city and surrounding countryside. The first city-states were in Sumer, but they reached their peak in Greece.
Cremation: Topic Page
Disposal of a corpse by fire. It is an ancient and widespread practice, second only to burial. It was noted in Greece as early as 1000 B.C. and was the predominant mode of corpse disposal by the time of Homer.
Mausoleum: Topic Page
A sepulchral structure or tomb, especially one of some size and architectural pretension, so called from the sepulcher of that name at Halicarnassus, Asia Minor, erected (c.352 B.C.) in memory of Mausolus of Caria.
Monarchy: Topic Page
Government in which a single person holds a varying degree of legislative (law-making) and executive (administrative) power. Where such government has no constitutional checks or limits, it is known as absolutism, or absolute monarchy.
Sarcophagus: Topic Page
[Gr.,=flesh-eater], name given by the Greeks to a special marble found in Asia Minor, near the territory of ancient Troy, and used in caskets. It was believed to have the property of destroying the entire body, except for the teeth, within a few weeks. The term later generally designated any elaborate burial casket not sunk underground.
Seven Wonders of the Ancient World
From Science in the Ancient World: An Encyclopedia
The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World were selected by the ancients themselves as being astonishing examples of human creativity and construction.
Wine: Topic Page
Alcoholic beverage made by the fermentation of the juice of the grape. So ancient that its origin is unknown, wine is mentioned in early Egyptian inscriptions and in the literature of many lands.