This is going to be a hard node to write, firstly, what do we mean by ancients? And what pray do we mean by wisdom? Are we talking technology here? No, I don't think so, although to be fair a lot of civilisations like Ancient Greece
, and Babylonia
had advanced cultures in this respect and we are only now rediscovering some of what was lost after their kind left the earth. I think what we should focus on in this particular node is wisdom
itself. What did our ancestors learn was wise
? Did suceeding generations take their lessons
to heart or are we still painfully stupid
? Without further ado, let us begin.
Lesson 1: Women Created Civilisation
Yes it's true chaps. Lets take a look at Asia, just before Ancient Babylonia. Sedentary communities settled down in southwest Asia about a thousand years before wheat and barley were domesticated, supported by herds of wild sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs, which were all domesticated by 6000 BC.
Women were probably responsible for learning how to cultivate plants, as they seemed to have done most of the plant gathering. Women also probably invented potting, spinning, and weaving. Men used to hunting probably took care of the herds and, after the plow was invented, castrated bulls to use oxen to pull plows and carts, though a Sumerian poem refers to a woman in the fields with the plow. Dug-out canoes were used for fishing and as transportation for trading such items as obsidian, shells, salt, food, and clothing. As more farmland was needed, the invention of the axe enabled people to cut down trees and use wood for building houses. At first houses were round like the communal caves and huts, but soon rectangles were used so that additional rooms could be added. In such villages the family replaced the band as the basic social group. Thus it was that women created the stable family environment and the static location of the home in order to better facilitate the cultivation of food. This probably as much the reason why women are linked with fertility, the concept that extends not only to procreation but feeding from the ground.
Lesson 2: Religion is part and parcel of society, get used to it...
For this let us take a look at the beginnings of Ancient Egypt:
ca. 5450 - 2960 BCE
During this time, people began to live in towns, and to honour their gods with shrines and temples of temporary materials. Later, the forms of these shrines would be memorialized in stone. Political units became larger,and by the end of this period, one king ruled all Egypt. A typical burial of this time can be seen in the Egyptian gallery of the ROM: the body of this person was naturally mummified by the hot, dry sand. The enduring images here are of the parallel development of both religion and politics, and the social economy. So nothing new then. We have the same today, although we have tried to separate the morality from government, and the results are politicians, but I think this just proves that God has a sense of humour...
For this we will examine the Ancient Greek idea of wisdom, and their love of it, ie philosophy.
Greek philosophy, and philosophy itself, begins around 600 B.C. with a man called Thales, reaches its magnificent climax with Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and peters out in the twilight of the Roman Empire many centuries later. These three movements of thought define the major periods of ancient Greek philosophy: The time of the philosophers before Socrates, the Presocratics, which spans about 150 years; the time of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, which spans roughly another 150 years; and the time of the Hellenistic philosophers, by far the longest period, stretching approximately from 300 B.C. to A.D. 500. During this time almost all the foundations for modern thought and science were laid. Before this all was chaos, and religion or superstition ruled for giving explanations of the natural world. After this, people actively put religion to one side and tried to examine the world on the basis of reason. This gave us almost all we have today, the good and the bad, and we have a lot to be grateful for.