Today we take many things for granted. We use telecommunications to speak to others around the globe, we use technology to instantly access the knowledge of the entire planet, and we can travel great distances in short time spans, all of which creates a true global community. And, of course, this is just in the area of technological improvement. Think of all the other genres in which advanced things are happening all the time.
It is indeed amazing to think that, as I have said before, all of these events relate directly back to that first person who gave up chasing wild animals and started a farm, creating the first village, and eventually, the first civilization. These simple things developed, over time, into the many advances which hold such an important part of our lives. Their religions, governments, as well as social ideas and achievements are still used today, of course not in the same form, but definitely in the same idea. Where are such examples more present now, when trying to examine them, than in the societies which first adopted these new systems and which eventually became the founding fathers of modern ideas? So, to look at all of these advances and their effects over time, it is important to look at some of the major civilizations which played a part in society’s development. These, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China are truly ancient achievements as a whole.
However, China has truly influenced our thinking in a way that no other civilization can compare with. Their ideas have proven without a doubt, the true knowledge and skill as a whole these ancient societies had. Religion has undergone one of the largest changes since it appeared in early civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Egypt. However, its roots are planted deeply in the ancient world. Mesopotamia had one of the first organized religions, one of its trademarks to being a civilized society.
They worshiped nature gods and believed that the world’s natural life was sacred. This polytheistic, peaceful belief served them well for their lifestyle, as Mesopotamia relied heavily on agriculture and farming. They came to rely on a higher force for determining the fate of their risky crops in a desert area where harvests were never guaranteed. In Egypt the society developed a polytheistic worship once again based on nature and the natural world. However, their desert setting, in my opinion, led to their belief in one chief god, and more specifically, Amon Re, god of the sun. Now, travelling across the Middle East into Asia Minor and the Indus Valley civilizations, we can see the distinct differences caused in religion by the lack of communication between the two societies.
India had an entirely different outlook on religious practices, not focusing on a s many ceremonies and working more towards the idea of purifying the soul. Indians believed that their bodies were reborn after death as many times as it was necessary to clense their souls from any impurities. As they did this, they moved higher in a class system based on “personal purity,” commonly known as the caste system. China, lastly, which developed completely independent of the other great ancient systems of religion, used a much more vague approach. This, however, was indeed an advantage, as religion began to focus more on personal improvement rather than others’ worship. The term “gods” is used without direct definition, and people were influenced much more by philosophy than by religion.
Society attempted to achieve a higher state of understanding about the world around them, act morally correct at all times, and understand the important values held in high regard by all. This, above all, led the Chinese to their larger, more “thought-out” ideas about life as a whole. Religion, which tied the members of theses societies together, did not, however, provide great amounts of direction to the parties involved. For projects of importance to the society or a group inside the civilization, governments were formed as a method of controlling and influencing everyday operation and execution in such undertakings. Mesopotamia, one of the first civilizations, formed a weak, oftentimes useless government, which, unfortunately was controlled absolutely by religious leaders.
These theocracies, or governments ruled by a religious head, were abundant in ancient times, yet were, as mentioned, most likely not as successful as their later counterparts which were controlled by independent governing bodies. In Egypt, the society was ruled by a theocracy in its purest form, the people believed their ruler to be a god himself. This had both negative and positive impacts, for some rulers took it to their own advantage to rule harshly and never be punished, while other believed it to be their duty to rule in a fair and helpful way to the society. India was overthrown by the Aryans, who were a warrior race and the society as such developed around their oftentimes cruel beliefs.
However, after religion developed in India and class systems slowly emerged, power began to shift back to its ancient, theocratic default and priests once again dominated the everyday operation of society. This brought many problems back to “center-stage” as Indians now viewed religious leaders a separate caste, barring others from entry into this more highly purified state. China is once again the sole oddity in the formation of society, also based mostly on its complete lack of communication with the outside world. Government there developed in a divised way, separating various areas of land to the control of different, all, powerful leaders. Known as feudalism, this system was both a success and a failure.
The society failed to have a sense of unity or a real alliance among the various states, yet the states individually were proud and prosperous. New system of governing developed, and instead of all-powerful leaders, humble advisors appeared everywhere, instructing various governments on the current operation and execution of leadership. Now, concluding all of these important aspects of society, comes the judging marks of their success. Society cannot solely be measured by its government, religion, or other important aspects. It can, however, be related against others in its final results as a unit.
A society’s achievements are the true measure of its success. Mesopotamia is a success in itself, being the first society to develop into a complex civilization. Its farming techniques, government, and economy is mimiced almost exactly in many proceding civilizations, so we can infer directly that the system must work resonably well to have survived so long with so much fierce competition. In Egypt government was efficient, people were well educated, and advancements came in great numbers. Egypt improved upon written language, used one of the first complex mathematical systems, and succeeded in becoming one of the most well-known and notable civilizations of all time.
The lesser-known but equally important Indian Civilization has endured probably the longest without major change, indicating that it works fairly well. Society works hard and achieves its goal, people are taught to understand the value of actions and thoughts both religiously and socially, leading to a higher sense of understanding among its followers. India has indeed contributed greatly to many forms of our present-day society, impressively so in the areas of mathematics, religion, social behavior, and hard-working moral beliefs. China, most of all, has contributed an impossibly large amount of information as well, social advancements beyond compare. Its deep sense of moral correctness leads our society today, its depth in technological advancement extends to everyday application in our lives and its true ideas concerning family values are held in high esteem by all.
Thus, simple things have developed, over time, into the many advances which hold such an important part of our lives. The religions, governments, as well as social ideas and achievements of ancient societies are still used today, of course not in the same form, but definitely in the same idea. Whenever we interact with others, work towards a goal, or even simply create a new idea, we are using ideas and processes first developed in ancient times. However, China has truly influenced our thinking in a way that no other civilization can compare with.
Their ideas have proven without a doubt, the true knowledge and skill as a whole these ancient societies had. Among family beliefs, governmental standings, as well as religious practices, China was by far the most advanced of the civilizations worthy of discussion under such a topic.