Understanding how cultures develop over time is a fascinating topic for anthropologists, sociologists, and other academics. This paper explores some of the remarkable similarities between ancient cultures that had no interaction with each other.
Cross-cultural comparison of Aryans, Turks, and Arabs
Cross-cultural comparisons of the various early human settlements often allows one to find some remarkable similarities between these groups that may have had no knowledge of each other’s existence. These parallels attest to the nature of humanity and provide insight to how the world has developed since ancient times and why. The Aryans, the Turks, and the Arabs were known for centuries as nomadic groups. A significant climate change that made it easier to grow food would forever change the way people lived in settled communities and eventually cities. The dawn of agriculture made possible by a steadier climate was instrumental in the transition of these groups, the Aryans, the Turks, and the Arabs, as they shifted their lifestyles from nomads to settlers.
Related reading: Click here to read about life in Ancient Greece.
The Aryans were among the first groups to fundamentally change their way of life from nomads to settlers, and this happened far earlier than one might assume. According to Andrea Overfield in The Human Record, “the Aryans (the self-named ‘noble people’) moved across the Hindu Kush mountain range and into the Indus Valley” and “were securely settled in their new homeland by the middle of the second millennium B.C.E” (44). Unsteady global climates had made it nearly impossible for nomads to become civilized, agriculturally based peoples until fifteen thousand years ago, according to Traditions and Encounters writers Bentley and Ziegler.
Neolithic people of the so called “new stone age” were the first to grow their food and settle in communities; the polished stone tools for farming dating to this time show a remarkable progression during this era (15). Bentley and Ziegler explain:
“Agriculture spread quickly across both the eastern and western hemispheres. By 6000 B.C.E., for example, agriculture had spread from its southwest Asian homeland to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean and the Balkan region (17); this vast region would include the settlements of the Turks who were once defined by their nomadic lifestyles. Across oceans in Mesoamerica, a similar phenomenon was happening. Settled people in present day Mexico were also growing crops in their now ideal climate.” (Bentley and Ziegler 16)
The settlements of various groups including the Aryans, the Turks, and the Arabs would forever change the course of human history and cultural development. With agriculture came a huge rise in population (Bentley and Ziegler 17); as people were now well fed and thus healthier, their chances of survival greatly increased. Villages and towns sprang up in these settled areas, as did cities. Scholars consider the town of Jericho to be the earliest known Neolithic village in present day Israel where the climate allowed settlers to grow wheat and barley.
Slowly, towns and villages of a few thousand people like Jericho diminished as the emergence of cities began to once again reshape human life into a more complex social setting (Overfield 43). As is true today, cities became known as the centers of human culture and achievement. Specialized labor became commonplace and people began to engage in the arts. With these new skills came a more stratified culture where specialization dictated one’s place in the social hierarchy.
Ancient cities and civilizations
As Bentley and Ziegler remark, “the earliest known cities grew out of agricultural villages and towns in the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern day Iraq” (22). Here the Arab people began to claim their homeland with established cities with emerging cultural and religious traditions still felt in the region today. A few centuries after the particularly fertile Tigris and Euphrates river regions were settled, cities began emerging in other areas of the world with what seems like a direct result of climate change that made it possible to establish an agricultural system to sustain a large population. These early cities changed the way that humans related to one another. Living in densely populated areas, people became engaged in civic and political life that had never existed before. These early cities, particularly in the region known as Mesopotamia, would eventually become the center of vast Empires.
Additional reading: Ancient history is often debated, especially when it comes to actual historical findings. Read more about the findings related to the Bible and its history.
Once the Aryans, Turks, and Arabs became settled, their world-views began to change in relation to the meaning of their lives, their beliefs, and value systems. Complex social structures began to take place once people were settling in communities, especially the larger ones designated as cities. It is from this very early time that cities came to represent the hub of political power and commerce. This also meant the emergence of social classes and the patriarchal society (Bentley and Ziegler 33). Cultural traditions such as early cuneiform writing, education, and disciplines of astronomy and mathematics all helped these early settlements keep records and experiment with various methods of growing crops (Bentley and Ziegler 35-36).
A new awareness of the natural world and how it could either dictate survival or death sparked an interest in understanding how environmental systems worked, how they could be controlled, and predicted. Indo-European cultures also began to form military forces. The domestication of horses was crucial for military organization of groups like the Aryans of present-day northern India (Bentley and Ziegler 45). Having a military presence would only strengthen the concept of belonging to a place and a group of people that needed protection from outsiders that threatened their well-being.
The development of the Aryan, Turkish, and Arab settlements allowed for the simultaneous development of human culture in that vast region as well as in places like Mesoamerica and China who also benefitted from fertile lands. The basis of human settlement and progression can be culturally cross-referenced as having much to do with climate change and conditions necessary for farming. The practice of growing food and a new appreciation and understanding of land ownership encouraged people to stay in one place and claim it as their own.
Eventually, the introduction of livestock only physically strengthened these early people with a more robust diet and the world saw a population explosion. As people had to worry less about finding their next meal, cultural activities, creative, and educational endeavors began to occupy the minds of humans and formed the basis of how we understand the world today through our various cultures, religions, and traditions, some of which were born out of these early settlements.
Bentley, Jerry H., Herbert F. Ziegler. Heather E. Streets, ed. Traditions and Encounters: A Brief Global History. 5th ed. ed. Boston: McGraw Hill Higher Education, 2008. Print.
Overfield, Andrea. The Human Record: Sources of Global History. 7th ed. ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2009. Print.
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