Download Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto PDF

By Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

Erudite, wide-ranging, a piece of surprising scholarship written with awesome aptitude, Civilizations redefines the topic that has involved historians from Thucydides to Gibbon to Spengler to Fernand Braudel: the character of civilization.To the writer, Oxford historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto, a society's courting to weather, geography, and ecology are paramount in choosing its measure of luck. "Unlike past makes an attempt to write down the comparative historical past of civilizations," he writes, "it is prepared atmosphere through surroundings, instead of interval through interval or society by way of society. hence, for instance, tundra civilizations of Ice Age Europe are associated with these of the Inuit of the Pacific Northwest, the Mississippi Mound developers with the deforesters of eleventh-century Europe.Civilizations brilliantly connects the area of ecologist, geologist, and geographer with the landscape of cultural heritage.

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Additional info for Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature

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In the entire animal kingdom, mankind is the only species that can survive all over the planet, except for the parasites that colonize our own bodies and accompany us wherever we go. 7775 By land and sea, over the bleakest edges of the ice caps, and at very high altitudes, there is almost no environment on earth where people have been unable to establish societies. It used to be thought that civilization could only happen in particular kinds of environment: not too harsh, like ice lands and deserts, because people would never be free to acquire wealth or leisure; not too easy, like teeming or fertile forests, because people would not need to work hard or cooperate to organize distribution of food.

Men might be the sucklings of wolves, but their destiny was to build Rome. ~ so-called Wild Child of Aveyron was a boy abandoned in infancy in the high forests of the Tarn, who survived by his own wits for years until he was captured in 1798 and subjected to an experiment in civilization, which his custodians were never able to complete to their satisfaction. Perhaps the most poignant moments in his pathetic life, described by his tutor, were of reminiscence of his solitude: At the end of his dinner, even when he is no longer thirsty, he is always seen with the air of an epicure who holds his glass for some exquisite liquor, to fill his glass with pure water, take it by sips and swallow it drop by drop.

It~is~ usually treated as a state of being which societies attain in the course of growth out of primitivism, a phase in an inevitable pattern, procured by the natural inflation of the human mind, or by technological accretion; or else social evolution is the motor force, determined in turn by economics and the means of production, or by demographics and the demands of consumption. One sequence reads: hunting, herding, agriculture, civilization. Another reads: tribes, totemic societies, "complex" societies; another leads through tribal headships and chieftaincies to states, another through superstition and magic to religion; another starts with camps and ascends through hamlets, villages, cities.

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