Mesopotamian and American Civilization

Civilization

Mesopotamianand American Civilization

Unit

Mesopotamiais a Greek work for a place with water or between two rivers. Thiswas a region located in modern day Iraq and Kuwait that gained itsname as it was located between river Tigris and Euphrates (Semple1996). The place is considered to be the origin of modern daycivilization whose origin was characterized by copper/metal/bronzeworking, glass working, pottery, medicine and even language andwriting. There are several archeological artifacts that support theseclaims of early modernization in Mesopotamia (Diffusion of innovationn.d.). The geography and environment of the region played a greatrole in driving civilization. The rivers encouraged people to settleclose to water sources. The water was used for domestic andagricultural purposes such as irrigation. The rivers through floodingalso provided rich silt soils suitable for agriculture (ibid). Theflooding was caused by the melting of snow in summer from theneighboring mountains in the north. The land had plenty of animalsand plants to domesticate thus giving rise to domestication ofanimals (Brown 2006).

Theland was relatively flat as it was near the sea which it bordered tothe west which meant the rivers were slow enough to allow soildeposition during floods. The flooding and flat land encouragedconstruction of canals to control flooding and also irrigate farmlandas the region was relatively arid. According to some sources, it issuspected that the region also received an iron rich meteorite orcomet that led to the formation of Umm al Binni Lake. This meteoritewas the only source of iron as technology then could not allow ironore processing. For this reason, iron was rare than gold and the onlysource was from meteorites. Iron, bronze, and copper were all usedwas used to make tools for farming and weapons (Noble 2004).

Thisearly modern civilization in Mesopotamia spread gradually to otherparts of the world notably the west. The spread took place throughthe diffusion process. Diffusion involves the spread of innovationsand technologies through three main processes according to Brown(2006). He explains that the first process known as indirectdiffusion involves travelers, merchants, soldiers and diplomatscarrying ideas from the focal point to another area. The secondprocess called direct diffusion relies on imitation of technology andinnovations by fringe communities and neighbors imitating theirneighbors in the focal point. The imitation results from interactionsuch as through intermarriages. This process goes on until theinnovation is spread out to a larger area. The third process calledforced diffusion involves invasion and conquest where the focalcivilized community invades and conquers new territories andforcefully imposes their culture and technology such as tea farmingtechniques on the conquered people.

Otheragent such as culture and religion can be critical vehicles to aiddiffusion. For instance tea, which has first used in China as early2737 BC for medicinal purposes soon turned into a beverage. Suzuki(2012) writes that the beverage was discovered by accident by one ofthe early Chinese Emperors of China after boiling the leaves. Duringthe early Han times, tea drinking was popularized by Buddhism whichencouraged domestication of the crop to meet demand. The caffeine intea aided Buddhist monks to attain increased alertness needed formeditation. Therefore, with spread of Buddhism, tea growing and usespread around the world with Asian countries being the firstrecipients of this new beverage (ibid).

Asthe innovations were passed on, they received significant improvementto give rise to modern day civilization. For instance, tea growingwas passed down from ancient generations and improved to develop newand better yielding varieties. Other ways that the civilizationspread was through adoption. An adoption process takes place when anindividual as opposed to a whole society practices a new innovationand the rest of the society seeks to adopt it. The views of societyopinion leaders have great impact on how fast such technologiesdiffuse or fail to diffuse because their opinion matters (Bunimovitz&amp Greenberg 2006).

Thesame diffusion process in civilization is visible in America’sjourney into modern day US. Several environmental and geographicalfactors played critical role in America’s civilization andindustrialization. Same as Mesopotamia, natural thoroughfares withlittle obstacles guided migration and spread of civilization in thewestern world (Brown 2006). In terms of geography, navigable waterrivers and lakes proved very important in the movement of people andmerchandise during the incoming of European settlers. Nature madehighways in form of grooves with relatively little obstacles guidedthe direction and movement of people during the diffusion process inMesopotamia, Europe and the US. These grooves guided unplannedmigrations and later became established trade routes both in Europeand the US. The Mohawk valley sandwiched between Adirondack Mountainsand Catskill Mountains through the northern Appalachians formed aperfect migration corridor and a trade route for the Dutch at NewAmsterdam and Albany. The same route owing to its suitability and fewobstacles was used to develop the New York Central Railroad and theErie Canal for easy transportation. Another transport corridor wasthe Lenni-Lenapi Indians that comprise of a narrow belt of landspreading from the mouth of the Hudson to lower Delaware. Thisthoroughfare facilitated easier movement of people and goods andlater was developed into King`s Highway from New York toPhiladelphia, Delaware and Raritan Canal, and later the PennsylvaniaRailroad connecting New York and Philadelphia (Semple 1996).

Theland was served by a huge coastline served with natural harbors.Florida for instance was recognized for its natural harbors thatallowed for easy docking of ships from England and Europe to commencetrade in raw materials and transport them to England where there werealready established cottage factories. Manufactured products fromEngland including cotton materials were also delivered via the sameports. There were also several large navigable rivers from the seasgoing inland that allowed for easy transportation. Additionally, thegreat Lakes system proved very vital for trade as it allowed easiermovement of goods in the interior. The rivers also offered hugeamounts of fresh water for irrigation. Apart from that, the riverswere a safer means of travel for English explorers to the interiorwhere they received constant attacks from some of the native tribessuch as the Algonquian while travelling on land (Hunter, 1999).

Americanhad millions of unexplored hectares of land and remote areas readyfor exploration. These remote villages were largely unoccupied andtherefore served as rich grounds for occupation and introduction oftechnology and new ways of life. In the Mesopotamian and Europeancivilization, the merchants and traders targeted new lands where theycould spread their ides. It is through this process of diffusion thatwas also favored by the America environment of remoteness.

Fromthe very early beginning when Christopher Columbus discoveredAmerica, he was most interested in the climate that was suitable foragriculture. This marked the beginning of the arrival of settlersfrom Europe notably Spain and England keen to establish plantationsin the region. Sugarcane and cotton were some of the critical cropsto be planted in the huge plantations. Growth in cotton and sugarcanegave rise to cottage industries (Hunter 1999). The Great Plainsoffered the best agricultural land that encouraged settlement.Civilization thus spread through diffusion and invasion of newterritories. England and Spain were already more civilized.Technology transfer to America happened rather quickly given theplace had vast lands unlike Europe. Through transmission, the firstgeneration of settlers in America passed on innovation to the youngergenerations. With time, and spurred by environment factors,innovations happened randomly in America especially in cottageindustries. New crops such as wheat and Barley were introduced.Ranching was facilitated by availability of huge tracks of lands(Noble 2004).

References

Brown,R., W. (2006). Ancient civilizations to 300 BC introduction: Theinvention and diffusion

ofcivilization. The University of North Carolina. Retrieved December11, 2014, from http://www2.uncp.edu/home/rwb/lecture_ancient_civ.htm

Bunimovitz,S. &amp Greenberg, R. (2006). Of pots and paradigms: interpretingthe immediate

bronzeage in Israel/Palestine. In Gitin, S., Wright, E. &amp Dessel, J.(eds.). Confronting the past: archaeological and historical essays onancient Israel in honor of William G. Dever. New York: Eisenbrauns.

Diffusionof innovation (n.d.). Retrieved from

http://www.hks.harvard.edu/netgov/files/team/diffusionofinovation.pdf

Hunter,L. (1999). A history of industrial power in the United States,1780–1930. Charlottesville:

UniversityPress of Virginia

Noble,T. (2004). Westerncivilization to 1500: the continuing experiment.New York: Houghton

Mifflin.

Semple,E. (1996). The operation of geographic factors in history. Retrievedfrom

http://www.colorado.edu/geography/giw/semple-ec/1911_ige/1911_ige_ch01.htmlSuzuki,S. (2012). Viewingthe development of human society from Asia.Retrieved from

http://quod.lib.umich.edu/h/humfig/11217607.0001.205/–viewing-the-development-of-human-society-from-asia?rgn=mainview=fulltext

..