Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I. Indus Civilizations
1. River flooding--like in the Nile Valle, agriculture (and therefore civilization) was dependent upon people learning to work with the biennial flooding of the Indus River.
a. Mountain runoff--tributaries to the Indus begin in the two mountain ranges that form the northern border of its watershed--the Pumir Mountains (which form Pakistan's present border with Afghanistan), and the Himalaya Mountains. Water from the snow melt in March and April usually floods the Indus, and provides water (and silt) for agriculture.
b. Summer monsoon--as has been in the news in the last month, the Indus Valley receives its only substantial rainfall in August, with monsoon season. The daily rainfall causes the Indus to flood once again during the month--and creates the opportunity for farmers to have a second growing season.
c. The two periods of abundant water allowed this generally arid and hot region to grow two crops a year--and therefore create a greater agricultural surplus.
2. The Rise of Agriculture in the Indus Valley--lying roughly along the same latitudinal lines as Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley, people in the Indus Valley were able to utilize the same crops and animals that were domesticated there, and with the trade network that quickly developed--in part do to the rapid development of coastal trade in the region--getting these crops proved to be quite easy.
C. Fall of Indus Valley Civilizations--around 1900 BCE, all of this falls apart. Scholars are not sure of the causes as of yet, although it probably occurred because of some kind of catastrophic phenomenon; a severe earthquake, drastic drought, climate change--or a combination of those elements. Urban settlements in the valley were abandoned, and conditions were ripe for a new group of people to move into the area and to begin to compel the natives to abandon their previous practices.
II. Civilization in China, 2000-221 BCE
A. Geology--China is surrounded by formidable natural barriers: the Himalayas to the southwest; the Tian Mountains and the Takla Maken Desert to the west; the Gobi Desert to the northwest; the Manchurian steppe to the north; and the Pacific Ocean on the east.
B. Age of the Warring States
1. Late Neolithic period
1. 2000 BCE--Rise of cities and “states”
2. 1700 BCE--China enters the Bronze Age
4. Zhou Dynasty (1100 BCE)--kings delegated much of their power to 100 or so local rulers in a quasi-feudalistic political system--about 2000 years before Europe itself developed such a system.
a. Warfare and technological advances--The need to remain abreast of technological advances of adversarial states in order to not get overtaken by them
b. Draining of marshes, spread of irrigation to make more land available for cultivation to ensure the continuation of food surplus
c. Development of intensive farming--deep plowing with oxen, the use of organic fertilizers (animal dung and human night soil), planting of leguminous crops to restore nitrogen to the soil, and the cultivation of wheat and soya beans
d. Development of consumer products in addition to tools of war--in addition to swords, spears, and knives, Chinese craftsmen also manufactured spades, hoes, sickles, plows, axes, and chisels for use by peasants (Recall that in Egypt, the used of these kinds of tools was restricted to workers working on pyramids, monuments, temples)
e. Advances in agriculture fed the growth of cities, which provided a market to feed the growth of agriculture (a dialectic process, rather than a causitive one)
g. Development of consumer products in addition to tools of war--in addition to swords, spears, and knives, Chinese craftsmen also manufactured spades, hoes, sickles, plows, axes, and chisels for use by peasants (Recall those materials were restricted to the use of building pyramids in Egypt).
C. Religion and Philosophy--the years in which these elite classes battled each other for dominance also saw the emergence of rival philosophical systems to justify the conflicting political systems
1. Confucianism--Confucius (or Kongzi-6th Century BCE) and his follower Mencius (or Mengzi-4th century BCE) advocated a respect for tradition and ritual, combined with personal honesty and self-control.
a) Motzer sect demonstrated that even philosophy used to buttress rule by the elites could be used to undermine that authority (if elites failed to meet their obligations to rest of society).
b) Taoism--preached that individual salvation lie in withdrawing from world in order to master it, rather than engaging in collective action to attempt to change the world. Vied with Buddhism as a religious practice in much of Asia.
D. Emergence of “legalism”--emphasized government administrators rationally and objectively enforcing government edicts, which were portrayed as being for the well-being of the entire society.
Posted by Gregory M. Miller at 8:30 AM