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A civilization is a complex society. Technically, anthropologists distinguish civilizations, in which many of the people live in cities and get their food from agriculture, from band and tribal societies in which people live in small settlements or nomadic groups and subsist by foraging, hunting, or working small horticultural gardens. When used in this sense, civilization is an exclusive term, applied to some human groups and not others.
What characterizes civilization Edit
Historically, civilizations have shared some or all of the following traits:
- Intensive agricultural techniques, such as the use of human power, crop rotation, and irrigation. This has enabled farmers to produce a surplus of food that not necessary for their own subsistence.
- A significant portion of the population that does not devote most of its time to producing food. This permits a division of labor. Those who do occupy their time in producing food may obtain their food through trade as in modern capitalism or may have the food provided to them by the state as in the former Soviet Union or ancient Egypt. This is possible because of the food surplus described above.
- The gathering of these non-food producers into permanent settlements, called cities.
- A social hierarchy. This can be a chiefdom, in which the chieftain of one noble family or clan rules the people; or a state society, in which the ruling class is supported by a government or bureaucracy. Political power is concentrated in the cities.
- The institutionalized control of food by the ruling class, government or bureaucracy
- The establishment of complex, formal social institutions such as organized religion and education, as opposed to the less formal traditions of other societies.
- Development of complex forms of economic exchange. This includes the expansion of trade and may lead to the creation of money and markets.
- The accumulation of more material possessions than in simpler societies.
- Development of new technologies by people who are not busy producing food. In many early civilizations, metallurgy was an important advancement.
- Advanced development of the arts, including writing.
See also Edit
- BBC on civilization
- Wiktionary: civilization, civilize
- Fernández-Armesto, 2001, Civilizations, Free Press, London.
|This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Civilization. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Ancient Near East, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.|