Early Civilizations1



EARLY CIVILIZATIONS AND THE DAWN OF THE MEDIEVAL AGE
1.0 Introduction
History is an account of man’s achievements during the last five thousand years. Though man has been on this planet for about 500,000 years, history only covers a part of this period. The reason for this is that history is essentially based on written documents However the art of writing become known to man, only after 3000 B. C.
1.1 History : Meaning and Importance
The word ’history’ is derived from the Greek noun ’historia’ meaning ’inquiry or research.’ Aristotle regarded it as a "systematic account of a set of natural phenomena, whether or not chronological ordering was a factor in the account." The term "history" has now come to be applied to accounts of events that are narrated in a chronological order, and deal with the past of mankind.
Learning by inquiry about the past of mankind was later developed into a discipline by the Greek historians Thucydides and Heredeotus (who is popularly known as ’Father of History’). E. H. Carn defined history as an "unending dialogue between the present and the past." Jawaharlal Nehru observed that man’s growth from barbarism to civilization is supposed to be the theme of history." Will Durant called history "a narrative of what civilized men have thought or done in the past time."
World history is primarily concerned with the evolution of mankind. It traces the whole story of man as well as of his progress in civilization a culture from the dim past up to the present day. It indicates his failures and his successes, describes his laws and his wars, and reveals his religions and his arts. It gives an account of the significant developments that took place in the past with reference to the countries and the men and women who played a noteworthy part. Thomas Carlyle, a famous historian of the French revolution regards world history as the "biography of great men."
The importance of history is in its capacity to help one to draw conclusions from the past events. It may be said that history is to the human race, what memory is to each man. It sheds the light of the past upon the present, thus helping one to understand oneself, by making one acquainted with other peoples. Also, as one studies the rise and fall of empires and civilizations, the lessons of the past help one to avoid the pitfalls of the present.
History makes one’s life richer by giving meaning to the books one reads, the cities one visits or the music one hears. It also broadens one’s outlook by presenting to one an admixture of races, a mingling of cultures and a spectacular drama of the making of the modern world out of diverse forces.
Another importance of history is that it enables one to grasp one’s relationship with one’s past. For example if one wonders why the U.S. flag has 48 stars or why Great Britain follows monarchy, one has to turn to history for an answer.
History is of immense value to social scientists engaged in research. Thus the political scientist doing research on the parliamentary form of government, has to draw his materials from the treasure trove of history.
It preserves the traditional and cultural values of a nation, and serves as a beacon light, guiding society in confronting various crises. History is indeed, as Allen Nerins puts it, "a bridge connecting the past with the present and pointing the road to the future."
1.2 Pre-historic Period
According to W.N. Weech, "The story of mankind forms only a small fragment of the earth’s long life, and little of the fragment has been set down in written history." Though history reveals the story of mankind for about five thousand years, much is known of man’s past of a period even prior to the invention of the art of writing. This period, for which written historical records are not found, is known as pre-history. Knowledge about this period is based on the relics of the past, such as tools and weapons, fossils and rocks, fallen buildings and standing monuments. Archaeologists and the anthropologists are able to reconstruct the story of mankind right from man’s first appearance on this earth, on the basis of a few human skulls and bones found in different parts of