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Early and Ancient civilizations and peoples thread

KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
I must vaguely disagree with "They like the Greeks were quite advanced for their time", but it should be noted that one of the big reasons for this is that many people aren't aware of a lot of the oldest Civilizations and Proto-Civilizations because they literally pre-date the written word. In some cases by millennia or more. Çatalhöyük, for example - while not one of these contendors - came about approximately nine thousand years ago, meaning that St. Martin's Church in England was closer to the first (historically preserved) examples of writing than Çatalhöyük was to the written word.

A good example of a contemporary to Minoan civilization is the Indus Valley Civilization, specifically examples like Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. I know I gushed about these before, but it's rather impressive thinking about these what with the latter proto-city having examples of a functional city-wide sewer system, individual water supplies for many houses / buildings, and even one of the earliest examples of indoor heating via hypocausts... about 4600 years ago. When you ask people to think "Society 2500 BCE", the typical first thought is "Not anything like that".

This is by no means meant as a knock on Minoans. Or Greeks, for that matter. Just to point that... like, there were definitely settled civilizations outside the Mediterranean with a hefty list of accomplishments. Many of whom either faded into history due to one factor or another (such as the environment simply making any effort to preserve something over a span of ~4000+ years implausible at best for less malicious / purposeful examples; or the purposeful destruction of cultural items seen countless times by countless polities), misattribution (Kerma society was, until relatively recently, long believed to be Egyptian in some fashion or another, as one example), the simple lack of records (Consider, for example, that in many cases of the oldest civilizations our understanding comes from what amounts to looking at prehistoric receipts and working backwards from what we know of a mix of human nature and what little architecture or evidence remains), etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that history is amazing, and people should probably stop taking societies at their words when they say "We brought civilization to [region]" when often times what they mean is "We broke what was there and put our stuff there instead".

I tend to agree that civilizations that predate the first writing systems impact our perspective, it makes it hard to understand what really happened, which is unfortunate. Though, on the other hand, I do think Sumerians deserve a great deal of credit for being among the first civilizations to develop a consistent writing system, as having information record in that way was crucial to the development of culture, science and so on.
Sumer's development of cuneiform was instrumental in allowing human knowledge to really compound and layer on each other. Changing the emphasis away from learning via word of mouth was critical towards human development, so I do feel the emphasis on civilizations that had a writing system has some merit. Of course there is debate if Sumer was truly the first to develop a consistent writing system, but I digress.
I do feel it is unfortunate civilization that predate writing have so little known about them, though I feel having a writing system is crucial to being an advanced civilization, in my opinion.

Well, when I mention the Minoan civilization, and mention that they were "among some of the first advanced civilizations", it was not intended as a put down against middle eastern civilizations or eastern ones. The Indus Valley Civilization was also quite advanced for their time and were contemporaries of the Minoans and the Egyptians. Like the Minoans, the Indus Valley Civilization was also fairly advanced, though it should also be considered for every civilization that had such a large hand in determining the development of civilization, such as the Egyptians, the Indus Valley Civilization and the Minoans, ect, there were dozens more that just kept to themselves, which is fine. Not every civilization is obligated to be the peak of technology, nor should it be expected.

It really isn't so much a competition between the Minoans, and the Indus Valley Civilization so much as ideas simply spreading past borders, which happens often in history, certain ideas will be adopted and developed in a slightly different path from it's source, wherever that source may be. It doesn't always happen 100% of the time, but it is why you'll see a few civilizations within the same age come up with similar technologies. Of course this assume both civilization have similar technological capabilities, hence why both the Minoans and the Indus Valley civilization had very similar technologies in some areas, where as it may be absent from other civilizations. Though, this can also be attributed to a lack of interest as well on the part of some civilizations. That is also possible.

I have a natural interest in Greece, so, it is why I went out of my to mention the Minoans, it is not that I have a total disinterest in civilization outside the Mediterranean region, just that personally I have always had a strong interest in that region, so I've always been inclined to learn as much as I could. So, I naturally gravitate towards it a little more. I am aware to civilizations outside of the region, but I can freely admit my knowledge of that area has slightly less focus by me. But I have no issue reinforcing that the Indus Valley was a historically significant civilization that had brought important contributions to humanity.

And, I think that is a fair take away, I don't think it is at all bad to group the Minoans alongside the Indus Valley Civilization or the Egyptians, they all played very important roles. Is it unfair to place emphasis on big players such as the Indus Valley Civilization, the Egyptians, and Minoans over others? Well, I'd like to think not, but I suppose it hinges on what the individual finds important about history. If the goal is to better understand man, then maybe in some part is unfair, if the intent is to learn from contributors, triumphs and defeats, then perhaps not at all. I can't say it is inherently wrong to give some accolades to particular civilizations for advancing humanity where the credit may be due, so long as the nuances behind how they were able to do so are brought up in some fashion.
 
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Simo

Professional Watermelon Farmer
"More than 3500 years ago, watermelon was already a favorite summer treat. An ancient DNA study has revealed that a leaf discovered almost 200 years ago in an Egyptian tomb belongs to a bona fide watermelon, New Scientist reports."

This means they were a very advanced civilization, full of high and noble ideas.
 

KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
"More than 3500 years ago, watermelon was already a favorite summer treat. An ancient DNA study has revealed that a leaf discovered almost 200 years ago in an Egyptian tomb belongs to a bona fide watermelon, New Scientist reports."

This means they were a very advanced civilization, full of high and noble ideas.
It's a sign Simo, of a certain Pharaoh skunk with a affinity for Watermelons. No doubt blood related.
 

Simo

Professional Watermelon Farmer
It's a sign Simo, of a certain Pharaoh skunk with a affinity for Watermelons. No doubt blood related.
Indeed!

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KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
Something I had been reading about recently that I'd like to share was a period of history referred to as the "Bronze Age Collapse". And of course, I'd love to speak a bit about it.

This was, the fall of most Bronze Age Civilizations which started around 1200 BC, at the time it included The Mycenaeans (the predecessors of the Greeks and successors of the Minoan civilization), the Hittites, and the Assyrians. Egypt was also crippled by it, but did manage to limp on for a while longer,r but it was never the same after the collapse and would progressively decline.

The reason for the collapse is still hotly debated, though I tend to view the collapse as a combination of different factors and there is of course geological, archeological and written sources that back up each factor. Chronologically the first factor involved a brutal 150-ish year long extended drought that heavily impacted the agricultural production of this region. The Mycenaeans, Assyrians, Hittites and Egyptians were all very interconnected in terms of trade, a much smaller scale version of international trade today if you will. So, when the drought was brought on, the food shortages became immediately apparent, and there were numerous peasant revolts that affected the Mycenaeans. Th further compound the already difficult effects of this drought, there were several vicious and intense earthquakes that happened in quick succession, and again I must stress, the archeological sites have extensive evidence of the walls of the city being fractured in particular ways that can only imply earthquakes.
The effected many cities of the Mediterranean, already dealing with food shortages and revolts, were put in further worse positions.

According to what was found fro archeological sites some of these cities were completely abandoned, perhaps the combination of not having adequate food and earthquakes proved good incentive to try elsewhere, perhaps it was seen as a sign from the gods that there cities were better abandoned. It's hard to know the exacts, but the result left many Mycenean cities abandoned, other coastal cities with lesser defenses were in turn raided by what Ramses III termed as 'the sea peoples". The Sea peoples are thought to be comprised of various different people from different regions, Mycenaean, Denyen, Peleset, Sherden, Tjekker, Weshesh are all thought to may have been these origins of these raiders.

It's hard to really know exacts, as Ramses the third's accounts were probably intended to bolster his own image, and had dealt with the declining role of his own authority. It may be more accurate to trust Ramses the II's account which simply included the Karkisha, Lukka, and Sherden people.

The rise of these so called Sea People however, are likely due to the rampant food shortages and the increasingly difficult conditions brought about by the droughts and subsequent string of earthquakes. In a sense, they were doing what the Vikings did, just much earlier on, and were likely motivated out of necessity, as the soldiers had often brought their families along with them. Indeed,, in these conditions piracy increasingly became common, and subsequently the trade networks between the remaining Mycenaeans, the Hittites, the Assyrians and the Egyptians ground to a halt, which only served to exacerbate the dismal conditions of each empire. About 100 years in, the Greek Dark ages would begin and written records dry up in this era, as most of the Myceneans lost the ability to read, I posit this has much to do with how difficult it was to merely survive at this point, and having to create new cities. The Dark ages would hang over Greece for a 350 dismal years, even with the end of the drought in sight, rebuilding what was lost proved difficult. Thoguh eventually the Greeks were able to recover economically. Egypt as mentioned would survive the collapse, and were able to successfully repel the invasion by the Sea Peoples, though the damage done by the Bronze age Collapse caused significant damage that would eventually undo Egypt's dynasty.

The Hittites were not as lucky, and would dissolve over the coming years due to the food shortages and the ailing economy, and the Assyrians, like the Egyptians, also nearly collapsed, but unlike the Egyptians, were able to recover and even benefited in the end from the collapse, having the opportunity to assimilate the lands of the Hittites with relative ease after a lengthy recovery and consolidation.

History is often not so simple, and the reasons behind such great events, such as the Bronze age collapse, are in all likelihood, a combination of events and happenings, rather than one single sole cause. One main takeaway that might be important to people in the modern time, is how delicate the system of international trade is, and what can happen once it is gone. Though, of course, today's interconnected world is far more complex, large and quick than the Bronze Age, but it would be unwise to think there exist no vulnerabilities in it. One need look no further than the 1973 oil crisis to see that the delicacies of international trade have hardly changed as much as you would think.
 
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KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
I will primarily post my thoughts here to better organize my historical knowledge, and I do not expect many to read it all.
I have begun to view this thread as a way to organize any new piece of history I have come across and record them to discern applicable lessons and knowledge from them.

Here, I want to look into the political instability caused by the Marian Reforms, and the remarkable resilience and sense of honor held by the Romans that kept the empire alive during a time where they rightfully should have been consumed by the conflict. Their recovery from near dissolution is impressive, though, the long term negative effects, could not be ignored. As severe concerns of corruption by outside organization such as the Praetorian Guard, the financial ruin, lack of stability, loss of life from the constant civil wars and the inflated pay of the army that would be over-corrected would lead to flaws that ended up overwhelming the Western Roman Empire.

A history of political instability
Rome had just emerged from the debilitating Crisis of the Third Century. Rome for all of it's might, always held a evident flaw. The army was not always loyal to Rome, but to their general. Though, this was not always the cause of civil war, it was not an uncommon reason. This was the main drawback that resulted from the Marian reforms of 107 BC. A successful and well liked general often could at times, make a claim as the head of the Roman empire. This was most famously done by Caesar and to a lesser known extent Sulla. I imagine this is at least partially why Roman Emperors joined their troops in battle and at times even fighting closely alongside them. I imagine part of it was to counteract this tendency. That and the Romans were exceptionally concerned with honor in battle and an honorable death. I recall there even being a Roman version of seppuku that taken up when a Roman commander dishonored themselves.

Prelude
Anywho! Not long before the crisis of the third century. (235–284 AD) There was Year of the Five Emperors (193). As the naming implies, 5 people were emperor in a year. The Praetorian guard themselves responsible for assassinating three of them within months of each other. Severus was declared emperor and the Praetorian guard seemed satisfied with this, but was contested by Pescennius and thus, a civil war started over it, with Severus eventually becoming the victor. Septimius Severus, who I mentioned before had won many decisive battles against the Scottish tribes in his favor, was put into a precarious position with the Roman army, who were increasingly demanding higher pay and bribes from higher officials, which in addition to having to extensively grease the palms of the Praetorian Guard, put a greater strain on the empires fiances.

In addition to having to maintain the empires fronts against raids with quality troops and having to manage such a huge swatch of land, Severus was under immense pressure, and opted to try instead to have a co-emperor rule alongside him and manage the eastern half the empire. As far as I recall he named Albinus his co-emporer and established that precedent. Perhaps the biggest misstep in Rome's longevity was modifying the Roman army to be more defensive in nature, which when combined with pay that would later be lowered to nearly unlivable degrees, had led to the practice of mandatory conscription, caused harm to the quality of the Roman army.




 
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KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
Previous instances of Political Instability
The craziest part, is that this wasn't even a unique event, there was a succession crisis in 69 Ad called the Year of the Four Emperors which entailed a civil war to determine who would be emperor after Nero's suicide. The Praetorian guard would end up assassinating the first successor Galba. Otho would become the emperor afterwards, only to have a former consul of Germania Minor Vetellius lead his legions from Germania minor in another civil war that challenged Otho (who commanded legions who had waged a victorious war in Germania). Otho, after losing a particularly important battle committed suicide out of interest of ending the anarchy. His reign lasted barely a few months as Legions from the Egyptian region proclaimed Vespsain emperor, which once again plunged Rome in civil war, and thankfully, Vespain made quick work of Vetellius, thus ending the civil strife.


So keep in mind, there had already been a civil war rather recently in 193 AD, with a great deal of worrying issue already rearing their head throughout the empire, yet, it seemed the issues were only just beginning.

The Crisis of the Third Century.
The Crisis began when Severus Alexander was assassinated by his own troops. Maximinus would ascend the throne to replace him, purely by merit of his generalship, which was at odds with the senate, who felt a peasant had ascended to the throne. Despite Maxinius's success against the Germanic tribes, he had struggled exert total control of the empire. When he tried to return the Rome the gates were shut on him, and he began a siege, the siege took its tool however and his men were starving, so like Severus Alexander, he was assassinated.


Gordian the first proclaimed himself emperor before Maximinus's death, though, he would be decisively defeated at the Battle of Carthage about two weeks later. He would later hang himself after the defeat by forces loyal to Maximinus upon hearing of the death of his son Gordian the 2nd in the battle.

Pupienus and Balbinus were declared co emperors after the death of the Gordians, though they too would suffer from an ill fated demise. They quarreled and bickered quite a bit as co-emporers and after heavy disagreement and fighting, the Praetorian guards stripped them naked, dragged them through the street tortured them and executed them.
These men had jeers and stones thrown at them, and were quite unpopular, which played a part in their grisly demise. Gordian the III would be the one that would eventually end up emperor without getting a knife to the back, though, he was under the heavy thumb of his advisory cabinet.

Still, even with a successor now in power, things worsened, there was a deadly plague that sapped the empire (Plague of Cyprian), more civil wars continued, Roman generals fought among themselves for control of Rome and neglected the borders of their empire, which exacerbated raids by enemy tribes and the Sassanids. This came to a head when Emperor Valerian was captured by the Sassanians in battle and later died in captivity. This caused the Roman empire to fracture into three empires by various ambitious usurpers. The Gallic Empire, Palmyrene Empire and Roman Empire respectively. This very well should have been the end of Rome, the split of the empire into three, the lack of response to the Gothic hordes and raids that had devastated Macedon. Yet, Rome had the grace of a remarkably strong emperor by the name of Claudius Gothicus. Named so due to his overwhelming victories against the Goths. The battle of Naissus would go down in history as one of the most complete and overwhelming victories in Roman history.

A feigned retreat by the Romans tricked the goths into pursing, only to be charged in the flank by Roman cavalry. Allegedly 50,000 Goths were among the casualties., with the remainder of the force doggedly pursued until surrendering. Claudius's reign was cut short however, and died of the plague, and despite Aurelian being named his successor Quintillus instead took power, or attempted to, the army would not accept him, and he was quickly deposed in favor of Aurelian. Aurleian proved to be as much of a brilliant commander as Claudius, and went on to crush the the Goths, Alamanni Vandals, and various other tribes that raided Roman lands in addition to reconquering the lands of Gallic Empire and Palmyrne.
For his great triumphs, he was awarded the title "Restorer of the World".

Not only had Rome recovered, but they seemed to experience something of a second wind. I posit one silver lining of the Marian Reforms was that generally, the most competent generals rise to the top, usually. This was the case with Claudius Gothicus, who was succeeded by the even more capable Aurelian. Unfortunately Aurleian would be assassinated by his officers, as they were misled by his secrecy into thinking they would be executed. His reign lasted a short 5 years, though he accomplished a great deal within those few years. Aurelian was pretty stiff against corruption, which caused a great deal of fear within his guard. Army corruption is likely another issue the empire had that led to it's downfall. Marcus Claudius Tacitus would succeed Aurelian after his death and would similarly inflict a series of devastating defeats against the Goths. His reign only lasted a year however, due to a fever, which cut his life short. It would seem things would soon revert to the chaos of the third century crisis as the successor Florianus was made emperor and killed with the same year by the army, due to the hot and draining climate of all things. His successor Probus also died via mutiny of the army, despite his very successful campaigns against the German Tribes. His reign lasted a meager 6 years. His successor Carus (A praetorian Prefect)fought the German tribes like his predecessor with similar success, though he died in a freak accident lightning strike, though he managed to inflict massive defeats on the Sassanians and capture their capital, and likely sack it. . His reign lasted 1 year. Carinus, the successor along with his co emperor Numerian. As is the usual going of things, Numerian was assassinated by the Praetorian prefect, though this time they were thankfully punished for their actions via execution. Diocletian was declared the new emperor.

Carnius of course attempted to resist this, but was defeated at the Battle of Margus, he would end up betrayed by his praetorian prefect, who defected, the head of the Praetorian killing Carnius in combat. Diocletian was the new emperor and under him, he had a brilliant general by the name of Galerius. Diolcetiains reign is what really marked the end of the crisis of the third century definitively and ushered in a more politically stable for Rome. Galerius's campaigns agaisnt the Sassanians were short but overwhelmingly decisive. Local support helped give the Romans the elemtn of the surprise as well, the fir battle exacting a powerful victory for the Romans, but not to be undone, Galerous went about to put a decisive end to the war.

What followed was the battle of Battle of Satala.

Galerius was already an imposing figure and plenty bold, but what he did was something you'd expect out of a movie. Galerius, dressed like a peasant pretending to sell cabbage to the Sassanian army, entered the camp of the Sassanians King to scope out the weakness and layut of the camp. His efforts paying off, and allowing him to identify a weakness in the wall. Galerius returned with his army and attacked during the day, putting up ladders for the Romans to climb up to the camp, then assaulting the weakened wall, he formed a line directly to the Sassanian Kings camp. What followed was a complete defeat of the entire Sassanian army. The Romans apparently captured tons upon tons of the royal treasuse, the logistics of transporting this treasure proving more difficult than the battle itself, as some claimed.

Takeaways from the events

The Marian Reforms, for as brutally effective as they were for oiling the Roman War machine, was a contributer to the political instability within the empire, mainly the constant civil wars. While this is somewhat offset by remarkably competent military generals often becoming leaders within the empire, the civil wars ultimately led to the weakening of the empire, due to the depleted finances and loss of manpower. Additionally, corruption from within the army and the praetorian guard, particularly related to their increasing power and pay may have also caused great issue. The use of bribery to sate the army and in particular the Praetorian Guard, set a very dangerous precedent. Though, the over correction of this issue led to a huge lack of manpower, and conscription, which is psychologically disadvantageous in terms of army morale.

On a more positive note, the aggressive honor based merits of Roman culture while at times is incredibly destructive, particularly it had caused the death of Severus Alexander. This was due to his bribery of German Tribes so as to focus on the Sassanians solely, which outraged his army, who would prefer to punish them for their raids. This quality had also made them stubborn and incredibly resilient, even with what seemed to be the impending death of the empire, the Romans managed to turn it around and continue to win many decisive victories.
 
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D

Deleted member 134556

Guest
I feel I should participate myself, and I believe the early Celtic people were fascinating.

The Celts were a collection of tribes with origins in central Europe that shared a similar language, style, and religious beliefs generally around 1200 B.C. They spread throughout Britain, Ireland, France and Spain. Their legacy remains most prominent in Ireland and Great Britain, where traces of their language and culture are still prominent today.

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The existence of the Celts was first documented in the seventh or eighth century B.C. The Roman Empire, which ruled much of southern Europe at that time, referred to the Celts as “Galli," which is where we get the name "Gallic"

Across Europe, the Celts have been credited with many artistic innovations, including intricate stone carving and fine metalworking.

You've likely seen many artistic designs in jewelry and art that comes from Celtic origin


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Perron The Fox

Well-Known Member
I gotta agree with the point that writing makes a civilization more advanced. When your history is oral tradition, it's often misinterpreted or exaggerated. Not that exaggeration can happen with written history either, there's just less accountability with oral tradition. Overall a very well written and informed post, you put some real work into this.
 

Frank Gulotta

Send us your floppy
I gotta agree with the point that writing makes a civilization more advanced. When your history is oral tradition, it's often misinterpreted or exaggerated. Not that exaggeration can happen with written history either, there's just less accountability with oral tradition. Overall a very well written and informed post, you put some real work into this.
On the other hand, no scriptures puts memory to a lot more work, causing it to develop to high levels. Greek poets of the Homeric era were able to recite extremely long poems by heart. It's a feat probably nobody would be able to accomplish with google at their fingertips
 

Attaman

"I say we forget this business and run."
I will point out as a counterpoint of the "You're less likely to be misinterpreted or suffer from exaggeration with writing" that... well: A great deal of our misconceptions re: Ancient Egypt specifically stem from writings and works of art they created. One of the chief examples being that there's significant evidence to suggest that Pharaohs and their reigns were far less violent than often depicted.

Likewise, as is often said, history is written by the victors. The same very much holds true for song and oral tradition, yes, but that's just it: The same holds true.

Let alone that we need to define what "advanced" means as, like... I don't think anyone's going to argue with a straight face that the majority of Europe in the 15th century had particularly better sanitation or public health infrastructure than the likes of the Aztec Empire at the same time. As well as the debate inevitably brought as to whether an oral tradition / history relatively accessible to everyone is better / more advanced than one accounted for in records that less than 1% of the population would even be able to read were they able to access them (with a smaller percent of the population actually able to do so!).

Writing is required after a certain point of complexity as there's simply no way to preserve certain information or concepts via exercises, training, and oral recitation... but that certain point is significantly further along the progression of a civilization than most people think. Civilizations can and have accomplished limited-scale terraforming, complex metal tools and works of stonework art, and so-on literal centuries (if not millennia) before hammering out a written (or other physically interactive and preserved) language. Indeed, you could probably argue that more often than not historically writing did not determine the stage of a civilization but how hard it was to eradicate signs of in its destruction / absence. A good example of this being that we still have records of a fair few of those Bronze Age civilizations mentioned due to surviving works and whatnot, but we know almost nothing of the Druids because of how thoroughly information was purged. Likewise a lot of information as to the Andean South American civilizations was lost with the destruction of large numbers of Khipu.

Hell, for one final point: There's evidence to suggest that many of the first instances of writing were, at the time, predominantly there not for cultural or societal advancement reasons but simple economic record-keeping (such as who gave tribute a temple and with what, or what was available for trade). Everything else was just... convenience branching.
 

KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
I will point out as a counterpoint of the "You're less likely to be misinterpreted or suffer from exaggeration with writing" that... well: A great deal of our misconceptions re: Ancient Egypt specifically stem from writings and works of art they created. One of the chief examples being that there's significant evidence to suggest that Pharaohs and their reigns were far less violent than often depicted.

Likewise, as is often said, history is written by the victors. The same very much holds true for song and oral tradition, yes, but that's just it: The same holds true.

Let alone that we need to define what "advanced" means as, like... I don't think anyone's going to argue with a straight face that the majority of Europe in the 15th century had particularly better sanitation or public health infrastructure than the likes of the Aztec Empire at the same time. As well as the debate inevitably brought as to whether an oral tradition / history relatively accessible to everyone is better / more advanced than one accounted for in records that less than 1% of the population would even be able to read were they able to access them (with a smaller percent of the population actually able to do so!).

Writing is required after a certain point of complexity as there's simply no way to preserve certain information or concepts via exercises, training, and oral recitation... but that certain point is significantly further along the progression of a civilization than most people think. Civilizations can and have accomplished limited-scale terraforming, complex metal tools and works of stonework art, and so-on literal centuries (if not millennia) before hammering out a written (or other physically interactive and preserved) language. Indeed, you could probably argue that more often than not historically writing did not determine the stage of a civilization but how hard it was to eradicate signs of in its destruction / absence. A good example of this being that we still have records of a fair few of those Bronze Age civilizations mentioned due to surviving works and whatnot, but we know almost nothing of the Druids because of how thoroughly information was purged. Likewise a lot of information as to the Andean South American civilizations was lost with the destruction of large numbers of Khipu.

Hell, for one final point: There's evidence to suggest that many of the first instances of writing were, at the time, predominantly there not for cultural or societal advancement reasons but simple economic record-keeping (such as who gave tribute a temple and with what, or what was available for trade). Everything else was just... convenience branching.

Yet, during the Dark age of Greece, we know absolutely nothing, because nobody kept records. Where as, because of the Ancient Egyptian Sources, we can at least glean some sort of idea of what it was like. It is the difference between no knowledge and some knowledge that may have some biases. Unless you want to consider the Homer's Iliad a record. of any sort. But, that was the reality of what happens when all of your knowledge gets passed down orally, and sure, the Illiad is a fun tale, but it can scarcely be called accurate in any capacity. The Greeks at the time took the Illiad at face value though.
Historians have had a much harder time sorting truth from the Iliad than Egyptian records.

History is written by both the victors, and the defeated. Plenty of factions outside of the conflict between two nations could write and record their own accounts, the defeated, if not completely conquered, had their own accounts. In fact, most of our knowledge of the Roman-Partian conflicts have their own respective sources, each has many commonalities usually, with the main differences being the sizes of the respective armies in military conflicts.

As for literacy in the ancient world Greece was estimated to have at least a 33% literacy rate. The literacy rate in the European Medieval age dropped since then, but it was not always a case of only 1% of the population knowing how to read and often fluctated according to the respective civilization.

So, let's discuss 'Advanced' in terms of human betterment, societal advancement and technology.
15th century Europe had developed the printing press, that alone was a revolution for the European world, and allowed the average man the opportunity to educate themselves and would revolutionize European society in terms of education. the amount of potential power this gave the common man, the opportunities were vast, and it helped the stranglehold nobility held over them. An average person could feasibly close the knowledge gap the nobility had over them, and the invention likely helped to pave the way towards modern democracy

So in terms of technology? Yes, Europe was pretty far ahead of the Aztecs, if not for the printing press alone, the sheer amount of medical and scientific advances from Da Vinci would put out in Europe, Italy in particular, in a pretty high standing.
The Renaissance at this time was well under way, and people like Da Vinci were making great scientific advancements and more great advancements would follow during this time. Of course, I can also cover the more brutal and violent aspects of their techno,logy, with the ability to make ocean worthy craft with advanced navigation equipment like compasses and astrolabes that made it even possible for Cortes to reach Mexico. That's not even going into the powerful cannons his ships were armed with or his deadly arquebuses, nor the finely forged steel armor and sabers his company wielded. The Europeans generally speaking were remarkably advanced in a multitude of ways and it seems rather odd to go out the way to try and downplay it.

The argument isn't that a civilization can't be sophisticated without writing, impressive things were don without it, but writing inarguably facilitated the advancement of human knowledge. The great advantage of having a blacksmith be able to read from a tome containing all the intricacies of his craft to better his work, was invaluable. Many important disciplines were recorded in ancient times to preserve the intricacies of the craft. And whats more, for such technical profession there was little reason to embellish anything or portray it in a wildly inaccurate way. The manuals were meant to be practical. There might be more biases in personal accounts, sure, but historian today have been able to navigate away from the biases to find the truth in most cases.

I don't think most civilization set out with the idea in mind that they are the peak of technology, they usually innovate when they feel it is needed, and I don't think anybody is denying that. The benefits of writing and it's compilation of human knowledge was only found after the fact. Once that ground was broken and the advantages were clear, from what writing could bring however, most civilizations at least strived to adopt it, and it is hardly a coincidence most civilizations that were considered relatively advanced had a writing system of some sort.
 
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Attaman

"I say we forget this business and run."
Historians have had a much harder time sorting truth from the Iliad than Egyptian records.
I am in the middle of DMing right now, but I'd like to point out that this is so not true that relatively recently we've rediscovered Pharaohs and reattributed feats because it turns out that a lot of the records for one were blatantly and explicitly plagiarized from another, sometimes to the point of literally stealing the stonework from one's tombs and monuments to use for another with minor adjustments.

Egyptology is a hell of a thing.
15th century Europe had developed the printing press, that alone was a revolution for the European world, and allowed the average man the opportunity to educate themselves and would revolutionize European society in terms of education.
I would like to point out that you're talking about "Writing when it reached the point of mass production and replication", and that this is a bit of a non-sequitur about my point re:sanitation.

So in terms of technology? Yes, Europe was pretty far ahead of the Aztecs, if not for the printing press alone, the sheer amount of medical and scientific advances from Da Vinci would put out in Europe, Italy in particular, in a pretty high standing.
While I know Europe is being singled out because it's the one in comparison with the Aztec Empire... I would like to take a moment to point out that a lot of its information at this time was plagiarized from the Islamic world (which, humorously, a lot of that was either plagiarized or taken from other civilizations both contemporary and ancient: Some of the Renaissance for example being the result of information that had temporarily been lost from Europe returning to it via interaction with Islamic and other societies that had managed to preserve it).

The Europeans generally speaking were remarkably advanced in a multitude of ways and it seems rather odd to go out the way to try and downplay it.
I'll point out that I specifically only mentioned that it'd be odd to call them more advanced in regards to health and sanitary infrastructure compared to the likes of the Aztecs (which is something that contemporary sources don't deny: The Spaniards who saw the Aztec capital were floored by it, especially considering it was at the time one of the largest cities of the world whilst still accomplishing so much), and that this depends on what one considers the signs of advancement (Another example here being the percentage of this post being related to one's ability to conquer and kill another).

The great advantage of having a blacksmith be able to read from a tome containing all the intricacies of his craft to better his work, was invaluable.
I'm well aware of the difficulties in recreation of the likes of things such as Damascus steel.

There might be more biases in personal accounts, sure, but historian today have been able to navigate away from the biases to find the truth in most cases.
I feel like the "today" is a heavily lifting word: Bear in mind that, for over a century, the typical portrayal of Ancient Egypt was of a Feudal society, a practical replica of Europe of old broken by a time of disorder / chaos only for history to repeat itself until the great Era of Enlightenment finally broke the mold.
and it is hardly a coincidence most civilizations that were considered relatively advanced had a writing system of some sort.
Again, this comes down to how much one wants to debate what "advanced" means. We have had civilizations that built cities for tens of thousands of people with heated bath houses, obvious government buildings, individual wells, functional city-wide plumbing and sanitation, with warehouses and artisanal districts and whatnot (serving as administrative centers of even larger swathes of population)... that have lacked writing. Or we have aforementioned Tenochtitlan, with 4km long aqueducts feeding into a floating city divided into twenty districts with a daily business of ~60,000 persons doing trade within it on a given day sporting zoos big enough to require ~300 persons to maintain and one of the largest man-made structures in the world (just talking about the city, not even getting into Aztec culture).

Which was something of my point: Writing, in and of itself, is not what makes a civilization more advanced. It might be a sign of other things that do mark it so, but is not something in and of itself. Civilizations do not work like Civilization: There is not a singular hard path that marks "How good society do", and as such you can have a society which is significantly better in one or more areas (or generally better in numerous others), but is woefully behind in others (for example: Some of the first Egyptian dynasties offered more in the manner of welfare and disability protections / treatment than later ones, but most people don't look to them as being more advanced than what followed).
 

Kit H. Ruppell

Exterminieren! Exterminieren!
My roots are irrelevant. I didn't ask to be born at all, let alone from any particular lineage. However, as an artist and musician I do have some interest in the arts of the ancient world:
 

KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
I am in the middle of DMing right now, but I'd like to point out that this is so not true that relatively recently we've rediscovered Pharaohs and reattributed feats because it turns out that a lot of the records for one were blatantly and explicitly plagiarized from another, sometimes to the point of literally stealing the stonework from one's tombs and monuments to use for another with minor adjustments.

Egyptology is a hell of a thing.
Yes, that is not a new thing, but it would be inaccurate to say every single written Egyptian source is false. More that, some records are questionable and are dire need of being corroborated with archeological evidence or with other written sources. As I recall, Egyptian culture believed strongly in words having literal power, as if simply saying something or inscribing it would cause such an event to happen. There was likely some attempt to modify records on that account or at least played some part. Yet, we still have a decent understanding of Egyptian society in spite of these offending records. It'd be a stretch to say we know absolutely nothing of them. But the task of discovering the truth of some of the matters will doubtlessly take more work.

And I mean, we do know literally next to nothing about the Dark Ages of Greece. I think we'd have a much better idea if people then had not lost their literacy and kept records. In most cases having records drastically improves our understanding of the past. Having the Illiad being accepted by a culture as truth of their past. Well, I don't want to sound pompous, but I think that speaks negatively of the use of word of mouth to spread information. At least in terms of say, advancing human knowledge. I suppose culturally speaking in has artistic benefits, but other than that, I do not find it a preferable method of transferring information.

I would like to point out that you're talking about "Writing when it reached the point of mass production and replication", and that this is a bit of a non-sequitur about my point re:sanitation.
Before that statement I clarified what I meant, when I referred to advanced civilizations, which included the categories of human betterment, societal advancement and technology. Which is why I mentioned the Printing Press, and you had specifically mentioned 15th century Europe, which was the century in which the printing press came around in Europe. I take it you mentioned the Aztecs to question why most countries in Europe would be considered advanced. Which is why I extrapolated on my comparisons. I believe there is merit in considering many countries in Europe advanced during this century.
While I know Europe is being singled out because it's the one in comparison with the Aztec Empire... I would like to take a moment to point out that a lot of its information at this time was plagiarized from the Islamic world (which, humorously, a lot of that was either plagiarized or taken from other civilizations both contemporary and ancient: Some of the Renaissance for example being the result of information that had temporarily been lost from Europe returning to it via interaction with Islamic and other societies that had managed to preserve it).

So, I would question why the word plagiarized would need to be used then. An interesting bit of history that helped pave the way to the Islamic Golden age, which had ushered in new learnings, was Al-Ma'mun, a caliph according to himself, had a dream where Aristotle appeared to him. Which had spurred the translation of as many Greek Works as possible, which included Greek mathematics, philosophy and troves of other literary works. He gained these Greek texts by making peace treaties with the weakened Eastern Roman Empire in exchange for copies of these works.
They still made advances based on the foundations of these works however. I wouldn't say plagiarize is the right word in either case, all things considered. As the technologies they copied, were eventually developed further respectively.

The Renaissance largely started in Italy, Florence in particular and one of the embers that had stoked the fire was works by Marcusus Vitruvius Pollio, a Roman mathematician. Not only had his books regarding architecture instrumental in spurring on the Renaissance, one of his works linked the proportions of the human body with mathematical principles, which inspired Da Vinci's Vitruvian man. These finding only fueled the desire to uncover old Roman and later Greek, texts. Though the Italians for some time would largely focus on relearning old Roman texts.
Additionally, Italy had little direct participation with the crusades, save for Venice in the fourth, which ironically targeted the Eastern Roman Empire. Most historian generally agree Italy was where the Renaissance had begun and it was largely started due to natural interest in Italy's forboding past, elaborate Roman ruins covered the countryside, Colosseum and temples that towered over it's inhabitants. The intrigue came rather naturally.
I'll point out that I specifically only mentioned that it'd be odd to call them more advanced in regards to health and sanitary infrastructure compared to the likes of the Aztecs (which is something that contemporary sources don't deny: The Spaniards who saw the Aztec capital were floored by it, especially considering it was at the time one of the largest cities of the world whilst still accomplishing so much), and that this depends on what one considers the signs of advancement (Another example here being the percentage of this post being related to one's ability to conquer and kill another).
Before I even mentioned military I remarked on the medical advances, societal advances, and technological advanced. The fact Cortez could even cross an ocean and not die on the way, is remarkable, though yes, the conquest itself is feat, though not a very fun one. History has a particularly brutal side to it, and I see it as fruitless and counterproductive to hand wave the darker side of history away, a lot of human history revolves around warfare. Being able to adequately defend what you have, is just as important as a writing system or to make breakthroughs in biology. Especially in an age where warfare was so heavily glorified and death so normalized. Most of history was hard and brutal and forged largely hard and agressive people for the most part, and it'd be foolhearty to turn a blind eye to desensitized aggressors. If anything, the horrible brutality of the past should help people realize how lucky they are to live in a first world country.

The Aztecs deserve credit for their architecture and they are certainly impressive in that regard, I am not taking that from them. However, I tend to feel Europe at this time period having things like the printing press, scientific and medical breakthroughs in understanding the human body and related subjects to weigh very heavily into why they deserve the credit they do. I would go as far as to say the Renaissance was one of the most critically important eras in human history. I mean, we got the scientific method out of it, that was pretty big, and near the end we had Issac Newton. It's hard to not appreciate that.

I feel like the "today" is a heavily lifting word: Bear in mind that, for over a century, the typical portrayal of Ancient Egypt was of a Feudal society, a practical replica of Europe of old broken by a time of disorder / chaos only for history to repeat itself until the great Era of Enlightenment finally broke the mold.
Partially accurate accounts give some idea of what happened rather than no accounts, which don't give much of anything. It is still nice to have these records in the end. Even the plagiarized & propagandized ones tell us about the society.

Which was something of my point: Writing, in and of itself, is not what makes a civilization more advanced. It might be a sign of other things that do mark it so, but is not something in and of itself. Civilizations do not work like Civilization: There is not a singular hard path that marks "How good society do", and as such you can have a society which is significantly better in one or more areas (or generally better in numerous others), but is woefully behind in others (for example: Some of the first Egyptian dynasties offered more in the manner of welfare and disability protections / treatment than later ones, but most people don't look to them as being more advanced than what followed).
I'm not saying you absolutely require writing to be an advanced civilization, but I am saying that writing often follows along with advanced civilizations. I am also not saying it is always required to be an advanced society either, and I don't disagree with the core conceit, I tend to think some civilizations have their strengths and weaknesses in terms of technology. What I am saying however, is that, hmm, how would I term it? I tend to find civilizations with writing tend to often excel at more things compared to civilizations that have totally absconded writing. I wouldn't quite call writing a multiplicative innovation, but I find it often allows many more technological areas and studies to shine brighter. You end up less hyper focused on some areas with little detriment for doing so. You can branch out and become good at many things.
 
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Wodenofthegays

Fascist Dictator
The Aztecs deserve credit for their architecture and they are certainly impressive in that regard, I am not taking that from them. However, I tend to feel Europe at this time period having things like the printing press, scientific and medical breakthroughs in understanding the human body and related subjects to weigh very heavily into why they deserve the credit they do. I would go as far as to say the Renaissance was one of the most critically important eras in human history. I mean, we got the scientific method out of it, that was pretty big, and near the end we had Issac Newton. It's hard to not appreciate that.

The major advances during the Renaissance that you're probably thinking of didn't happen until well after the Aztecs were already well-and-gone, and they were pretty comparable to Europe in a lot of things save military theory and metallurgical ability, which makes sense considering they practiced heavily symbolic and hyper-focused warfare.

The printing press didn't become common in Europe until the Aztec Empire had been gone for 200 to 300 years, as an example.

The Aztecs and Incans specifically were also part of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, as it were. They made huge contributions to art, literature, and the beginning of modern philosophy at the time. They even started some of the first major arguments towards a modern idea of human rights.

El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's account, and critique, of De Soto's expedition into Florida and the Cuzco School come to mind as two examples. Aztecs were pretty important in causing shifts in the Catholic church, too.

That said, the Aztecs are very modern and not quite ancient or early, and I think bringing some attention to the actually early and ancient Mesoamerican cultures in modern education might be cool. Pyramid-building, huge cities, immense agricultural efforts, and impressive art and architecture hundreds of years before the peoples of most of Europe had even settled into agriculture in the middle of Mexico is pretty cool, I think.


olmec.jpg
 

KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
The major advances during the Renaissance that you're probably thinking of didn't happen until well after the Aztecs were already well-and-gone, and they were pretty comparable to Europe in a lot of things save military theory and metallurgical ability, which makes sense considering they practiced heavily symbolic and hyper-focused warfare.

The printing press didn't become common in Europe until the Aztec Empire had been gone for 200 to 300 years, as an example.

The Aztecs and Incans specifically were also part of the Renaissance and Enlightenment, as it were. They made huge contributions to art, literature, and the beginning of modern philosophy at the time. They even started some of the first major arguments towards a modern idea of human rights.

El Inca Garcilaso de la Vega's account, and critique, of De Soto's expedition into Florida and the Cuzco School come to mind as two examples. Aztecs were pretty important in causing shifts in the Catholic church, too.

That said, the Aztecs are very modern and not quite ancient or early, and I think bringing some attention to the actually early and ancient Mesoamerican cultures in modern education might be cool. Pyramid-building, huge cities, immense agricultural efforts, and impressive art and architecture hundreds of years before the peoples of most of Europe had even settled into agriculture in the middle of Mexico is pretty cool, I think.


View attachment 97978

Depends on what you refer to.
The Aztec empire fell around 1519 AD, and the printing press was introduced at around 1450 by an exiled German inventor in France, by this time it was also commercially viable. I suppose widely available is a bit vague, but by 1519 AD, famous events such as the "95 Theses" undertaken by Martin Luther, which relied heavily on the printing press, had already happened. Which I think puts the printing press past being a niche invention at the very least.

The European understanding of astrology, mathematics, ship craft and navigation are also evident, as they wouldn't have been able to reach the Americas without it. Similarly, Leonardo da Vinci was born around 1452, and he was crucial early figure in advancing the sciences, biology and medicine. Francis Bacon and the formation of the scientific method did come later, however, about 50 years after the fall of the Aztecs, and Issac Newton, more than 150 years after. Though, those last two were more related to a tangent about the importance of the Renaissance.

To the second point, I agree, with how the Spanish treated the now newly Aztec and Incan slaves inspired a human rights movement by Bartolomé de las Casas, and a few others as you mentioned. And sure, some of the Azxtec and Incan architecture served as cultural inspiration for the Renaissance.

That said, I certainly don't downplay the influence the Aztecs had, they deserve credit were credit is due, though, I would wonder why the Incans are less mentioned than the Aztecs. But yes, I agree they are important to learn of, though I tend to feel the issue is Us schools are a little too hyper focused on the US itself.
 
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Fallowfox

Are we moomin, or are we dancer?
The Renaissance is a bit outside the remit of 'ancient' civilisation, but it's worth pointing out that many historians no longer regard the Renaissance as a single consorted phenomenon.
The idea of the Renaissance as a sudden break from medieval Europe and a re-flowering and re-discovery of classics, is not wholly true- some of it is invention, much in the same way that ideas of Viking warriors wearing horned helmets is.


It's a little strange that 'Europeans wouldn't have been able to reach the Americas without an understanding of Navigation' is stated,
because the Norse reached the Americas centuries prior to this, and Christopher Columbus's arrival was actually a mistake- having thought he was sailing to the far East.

Leonardo DaVinci as well, while his discoveries were astoundingly ahead of their time, did not actually go on to substantially influence academia while he was alive- because he wrote many of his ideas as cyphers and they remained unshared during his lifetime.
His anatomical drawings, which would have advanced medical science considerably, wouldn't actually be widely circulated until about 2 centuries after he died.
 

KimberVaile

Officially elected and actual ruler of FAF
The Renaissance is a bit outside the remit of 'ancient' civilisation, but it's worth pointing out that many historians no longer regard the Renaissance as a single consorted phenomenon.
The idea of the Renaissance as a sudden break from medieval Europe and a re-flowering and re-discovery of classics, is not wholly true- some of it is invention, much in the same way that ideas of Viking warriors wearing horned helmets is.
That really is just a misconception, if anything. There is some (mild at best) debate about when the Renaissance started but the overwhelming majority of historians consider Italy, Florence to be the start of it without exception. Most books, sources and other historians give the same reasoning with great consistency. That it had started in Italy with artists and scholars drawn to the area from both the Roman ruins and the well preserved Latin texts. With many scholars at the time mentioning with overwhelming consistency the book De architectura by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, initially simply copying the works extensively, before building on it. And as it happened the Italian city states, rich from trade, had the funds and time to explore these texts that were preserved right under their noses. Much of the Italian Upper Class in fact became very prominent patrons of art and literature during this time, which was crucial to the Renaissance happening. In fact, much of the Renaissance impetus is owed to the Medici family.

Contrary to the claim that the Renaissance was not a single era in Europe, historians separate the Renaissance into specific ages Early Renaissance, High Renaissance and Late Renaissance respectively, due to how the momentum of this age progressed and changed.
So, it is misinformed to claim the Renaissance had not got it's legs from rediscovering classics, and overwhelming amount of 14th century scholars spoke with great enthusiasm about the rediscovered Latin texts and had natural intrigue about the Roman ruins.
It's a little strange that 'Europeans wouldn't have been able to reach the Americas without an understanding of Navigation' is stated,
because the Norse reached the Americas centuries prior to this, and Christopher Columbus's arrival was actually a mistake- having thought he was sailing to the far East.
Being able to sail straight east, west, north or south is much harder than it sounds without modern equipment, so yes, it was impressive. Columbus was under the belief that the world was round and that if he sailed west from Spain far enough he would eventually run into India, but was surprised there was another landmass. His navigational thinking was hardly wrong though. Additionally, the ships of the Europeans were large enough that complete colonies could be settled on these new landmass, which I would say is significant in of itself, and it is partially why previous settlement attempts by the Vikings had considerable more difficulty rooting in. It speaks well of their shipcraft that something so large was ocean worthy. (compare this to the viking long ship, which was a much smaller craft.)

Leonardo DaVinci as well, while his discoveries were astoundingly ahead of their time, did not actually go on to substantially influence academia while he was alive- because he wrote many of his ideas as cyphers and they remained unshared during his lifetime.
His anatomical drawings, which would have advanced medical science considerably, wouldn't actually be widely circulated until about 2 centuries after he died.
In some part that is correct, yes, though his engineering, art, hydrodynamics and some of his works on anatomy, had more immediate effects, though.
 
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Wodenofthegays

Fascist Dictator
How good were human rights in the aztec empire?
About on par with Europe, actually!

They even shared a lot of the same flaws. For example, children were property in both Europe and the Aztec Empire.

However, one major difference was in that Europeans saw the limited system of rights as applying often only to Catholic or Protestant nobility from Europe, whereas Aztec systems of law and rule were pretty much universally applicable outside of targeted religious customs.

This is why Cortes can show up in Tenochtitlan and declare war on an entire empire and its system of alliances as subhuman rebels on behalf of a king that didn't even know this was happening while Moctezuma II and the Aztec elite had to extend undue courtesy to what they thought were foreign nobles.

This had actually probably been how Toltec/Mixtec/Nahua cultures had functioned since the Olmecs, more or less, as all of the evidence suggests they had been powerful, respected, intercontinental traders since before 1000 BCE. You can't build an empire on trade and alliances if your merchants and peasants have no rights and you don't extend any of those rights to foreign merchants and peasants, after all. The Aztecs were just the first to begin to codify it in written law almost 2500 years later.

To the second point, I agree, with how the Spanish treated the now newly Aztec and Incan slaves inspired a human rights movement by Bartolomé de las Casas, and a few others as you mentioned. And sure, some of the Azxtec and Incan architecture served as cultural inspiration for the Renaissance.

They didn't just inspire it; they were a fundamental part of it.

Natives were a large part of the reason Spanish law changed, and a major part of the reasons slavery was abolished. El Inca, again, is a big name in this, but he wasn't the only one. De las Casas was part of this movement, but you've also got to realize he was treating them as ignorant soon-to-be-Christians. People like El Inca and his contemporary native and mestizo writers and advocates saw them as people regardless of their relation to "la Santa fe católica" and the crown.

But yes, I agree they are important to learn of, though I tend to feel the issue is Us schools are a little too hyper focused on the US itself.

That's why we don't learn about the Incas too much. Tawantinsuyu is a little far south from the Rio Grande for it to be taught in the U.S.

Its also why we don't learn about the Olmecs or other ancient native empires and societies. If we learned about the empires, nations, and cultures that covered all of the U.S. for thousands of years, it belittles the legitimacy of the nation that propped up the idea of taming savage lands through pioneering spirit.
 

Attaman

"I say we forget this business and run."
I'm going to have to be real: When one of the powers involved literally had religious authorities telling them "For fuck's sake stop murder-raping your way across the continent" (and, for that matter, responded with a big middle finger) and replaced the displaced, plague-ravaged population with chattel slavery that was often worked to death en masse so as to feed an insatiable appetite for silver... you probably don't want to stick your dick in a "Who was the bigger violator of human rights?" blender. Because at absolute best you're getting Mutually Assured Destruction. At best.

Yes, that is not a new thing, but it would be inaccurate to say every single written Egyptian source is false.
This was not my point, though? My explicit point was that written word does not provide particular resiliency against misrepresentation, misinterpretation, (willfully and accidentally) inaccurate accounts, etcetera. Likewise what many people seem to call "necessities" of an advanced civilization seem to be unrelated to writing (except when it's being specifically used as a gate keeping attempt to exclude civilizations for its absence), that where writing starts to make significant differences is further along in terms of development than many people think, and that what counts as "advanced" in and of itself is quite variant.

For an example from myself of the lattermost: I do not consider "Can you murder your neighbors with a technological edge provided by advanced metallurgy" to be a requisite of an advanced civilization. Nor do I consider "Has a history of literature stretching back centuries / millennia". It would be difficult for me to pin down exactly what I do consider a requisite (especially because one has to define how much by civilization we mean their physical works and how much their cultural ones), but I'd generally look more for things such as quality of life, establishment of rights and protections, complex skills and / or artificial skills with which to manipulate one's surroundings at a scale beyond what any one small tribe or village could accomplish (since scale also seems to be a matter many people consider: Barring isolated tribes who're notable more for their lack of outside contact than anything else, we tend to attribute sum populations at least in the four digit range when describing something in the terms of a civilization)...
As I recall, Egyptian culture believed strongly in words having literal power, as if simply saying something or inscribing it would cause such an event to happen.
Not... quite, but one must keep in mind that there's a reason Egypt is broken down into an ungodly number of Dynasties which are themselves broken down between the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, New Kingdom, and Late New Kingdom. There are some serious adjustments that happen at times, like the short-lived attempt at Monotheism.
And I mean, we do know literally next to nothing about the Dark Ages of Greece. I think we'd have a much better idea if people then had not lost their literacy and kept records. In most cases having records drastically improves our understanding of the past.
Again, this comes down to why I stepped in: Records help a ton, but one has to keep in mind the biases that are involved in them and the chief advantage of such records seems to lay more in resiliency than innately improved veracity or the like.

Having the Illiad being accepted by a culture as truth of their past. Well, I don't want to sound pompous, but I think that speaks negatively of the use of word of mouth to spread information. At least in terms of say, advancing human knowledge. I suppose culturally speaking in has artistic benefits, but other than that, I do not find it a preferable method of transferring information.
I feel like pointing out that much of the Roman and Greek epics which are frequently cited were... a different beast, from the actual historic and academic works of such eras. I forget who said as much, but effectively our understanding of Roman and Greek mythology is basically fourth-hand in a lot of areas and akin to filling in the blanks on modern Christianity with a bootleg copy of Evangelion that managed to avoid whatever caused the destruction of Christianity-adjacent other records.
I take it you mentioned the Aztecs to question why most countries in Europe would be considered advanced.
I mentioned the Aztec specifically to refer to their city development, infrastructure, and hygiene / sanitation. The point to be made was that either one needs to understand that "advanced" is not a lump sum that can be measured linearly and objectively like some game of Call to Power... or that one needs to make arguments that those things aren't qualifiers of advanced society. Admittedly the latter is potentially not as scaldingly hot a take as people might think: We generally consider the jump from hunter-gatherer to settled agrarian communities a huge milestone in civilization, and that by its nature kind of admits that drastic health disadvantages that came with such are compensated at best or irrelevant at worst.
So, I would question why the word plagiarized would need to be used then.
Because a lot of people tend to like to forget that, much like even with the Roman and Greek empires (which tended to gobble up whatever was useful where their armies marched), that what we often consider 'modern' or 'flourishing in sciences and arts' Europe involved a lot of copying from neighbors (copying that was sometimes improved upon, sometimes about a wash, and sometimes done sloppily). Because, for better or worse, a lot of Western education focuses on developments only accomplished in an area of space approximately defined as "North of Mediterranean, West of Istanbul, East of the Americas until ~1700's and even then only begrudgingly when from somebody not from aforementioned area", so a lot of people miss out on societies and societal discoveries from Africa to China to Mexico to...

Most historian generally agree Italy was where the Renaissance had begun and it was largely started due to natural interest in Italy's forboding past,
See above. The idea that global society was itself bettered and flourished in a new golden age with the Renaissance in Europe is a... fairly localized understanding of history. Which, again: Not necessarily something malicious or actively done. People write about where they came from, and invariably like to toot their own horns. But by sheer coincidence what counts as "advanced society" or "the advancement of civilization" tends to trend almost 1:1 with what one's own society accomplished.

Which, to cut off here since I'm starting to go fifty different directions and almost definitely shouting past you in a few spots, kind of feeds
back into my whole point that "advanced" civilization is heavily subjective and tends to include some hefty blinkers both purposefully and accidentally.
 
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