Brandon Anthropology 250 Test Essay Q's October 16, 2000 Essay Questions 1. Childe equated civilization with urbanism. Other social scientists, while admitting a considerable overlap, distinguished between the cultural phenomena characteristic of urban areas and those of "civilized" societies. Childe identified 10 formal criteria that, according to his system, indicate the arrival of urban civilization. These are: increased settlement size, concentration of wealth, large-scale public works, writing, representational art, knowledge of exact sciences, foreign trade, full-time specialists in non-subsistence activities, class-stratified society, and political organization based on residence rather than kinship. He saw the underlying causes of the urban revolution as the cumulative growth of technology and the increasing availability of food surpluses as capital. Further archaeological evidence demonstrated that the formal criteria Childe proposed were, in reality, not universal. A core of basic structural trends, however, appeared to be essential as cities appeared in different areas at different times.
Some of the problems that may arise with any given set of criteria(s) for defining civilization and the process in which they develop lie within things such as time frame, area, mental capacity of the peoples of the society, and material advancement. In reference to ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, Childe's criteria apply somewhat directly. This is said because both of these societies had some forms of sciences (i.e. mummification/Egypt), wealth or caste system, and a public works for buildings and city-states. Their only difference lies in that in ancient Egypt, the politics were balanced by kinship rather than residence.
2. Archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia, conducted since about 1840, have revealed evidence of settlement back to about 10,000 BC. Favorable geographic circumstances allowed the peoples of Mesopotamia to pass from a hunter-gatherer culture to a culture based on husbandry, agriculture, and permanent settlements. Trade with other regions, tribes, and chiefdoms also flourished, as indicated by the presence in early burial sites of metals and precious stones not locally available. Irrigation techniques, pottery and other crafts, and building methods based on clay bricks were developed to a high level, and elaborate religious cults evolved. Two key developments occurred in relatively rapid succession during the 4th millennium BC: the birth of the city and, about 3000 BC, the invention of writing. Both took place in southern Mesopotamia in a region occupied by the Sumerians.