Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I. Indus Civilizations

A. Indus Valley--is a plain of more than 1,000,000 acres, stretching from mountains in western Pakistan east the the Thar Desert in the Sindh region, and south to the Indian Ocean.

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.

B. Rise of the Indus Civilization--the development of agriculture led to the rise of urban settlement, her in the Indus Valley as elsewhere. Two large cities seem to have been dominant forces in the Valley: Harappa in the northern region, and Mohenjo Daro in the central region.

1. Harappa--located in the northern region of the Indus Valley, in the Punjab State of present-day Pakistan.  Harappa was a walled city (the wall was made of kiln-fired mud brick, and therefore resistant to floods) home to somewhere between 35,000 and 50,000 people at its height of influence. Streets were laid out in a rectangular grid pattern (similar to our cities today). Harappa's main function is thought to be that of a trade center, exchanging finished trade goods for metal ores and other raw materials.

2. Mohenjo-Daro (or Mohenjodaro)--was even larger than Harrappa, and at its height of influence was home to well in excess of 50,000 people. Both cities had an extensive system of wells (both public and private), large public baths, a system to carry away human waste that was separate from water used for drinking (something European cities did not do until the 19th century) and was covered (something US cities did not do until close to the 20th century).

3. Indus Valley--access to metal ore spurred the development of metallurgy, and goods made in the Indus Valley became readily available as for away as Mesopotamia and the Nile Valley. People in the Indus Valley developed an extensive irrigation system to help regulate the flooding of the Indus River. They also developed a writing system so complex and sophisticated that scholars today have yet to decipher it completely.

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

3.  Shang Dynasty--in Chinese tradition, the earliest kings were ideal and benevolent leaders of a tranquil Golden Age--interrupted by the Xi Dynasty. These early kings were have traditionally been portrayed as gods, was well--and the XI rulers are portrayed in this way, as well. Western scholars, therefore, argue that the Shang Dynasty is the first historical dynasty of China. Life in China under Shang rulers was dominated by an aristocracy that combined military, priestly, and administrative roles

a. Shang Civilization--little physical evidence has been uncovered about the Shang cities. With little stone to work with, the cities were enclosed with walls made of pounded earth, and the buildings within those walls were made of wood and mud daub--expedient for the time, but not material that leaves a large body of physical evidence thousands of year later

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.

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