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25

The Sumerians are widely credited with being the first real civilisation on Earth, beginning in around the 5th millennium BC. Cities and agricultural communities existed before this time, but are generally not considered to have constituted a civilisation. The Sumerians, who were situated in modern-day lower Iraq and Kuwait, are widely believed to have ...


14

To some extent, the answer depends on your definitions of "abundant" and "major city." Generally, the supply of water needs merely be adequate to support a population, not "abundant," so I would argue that the situation you describe is rather common, with perhaps hundreds of important cities present and past thriving despite their distance from a major ...


13

According to historian A. Roger Ekirch's At Day's Close, peoples in pre-industrial societies actually went to bed as soon at it was too dark to work, and slept (and still do sleep in such areas today) in two fourish-hour phases, interrupted by a short period of activity. He found numerous references to this in literature, from Medieval literature to Homer. ...


13

This is, in fact, the big question of history. Subquestion 1 here: Why didn't Native North Americans (let's say the Mound Builders, for the sake of argument) conquer the world? The problem here, by the very logic you go over in your own question, is that the MB's were inhabiting a continent that was relatively biologically deprived. By comparison to ...


9

Archeologists have found evidence of religious rituals in Neanderthal burial sites 300,000 years ago. So this was likely a behavior we shared with our common ancestor, Homo Rhodensiensis at least 350K years ago when they diverged. Unsurprisingly, the first literate societies, Sumer and Egypt, used their literacy to record some of their religious practices. ...


8

While not a student of Toynbee AFAIK, Carroll Quigley worked from Toynbee's theories in The Evolution of Civilizations with a lengthy discussion of the state of Western Civilization. This was written in 1961 with a second edition in 1979, so also predated the end of the Cold War. However he made some predictions for what stage Western Civilization is in ...


8

Australian cultures did not have access to good starter crops. This is explored at depth in an allo-history available here: http://alternatehistory.net/discussion/showthread.php?t=110941 on the topic of what crops could have been good starter crops. Indigenous Australian cultures were highly developed, including development of aquacultural structures and ...


6

City where I live, Bangalore (in southern India) would be an example. It has a population of about 8.5 million (which is slightly more than that of New York city), so it definitely can be considered a major city. It is not built on the shores of any significant water body. It has been around since at least 1537, if not earlier. I am guessing that there ...


6

Guns, Germs, and Steel presents a very important argument that geography plays a critical role in the course of human social and economic development. To the extent that geography is important, it excludes alternate explanations that may be religious, racist, or nihilistic. GGS Argument The orientation of the continents - North-South for the Western ...


5

Europe was pretty much a poor smelly underdeveloped backwater in global terms for most of history, although the culture and civilization of the middle east and Africa often reached across the Mediterranean and especially into the areas near the middle east. The change from poor backwater to rulers of the world started with the conquering of the Americas, ...


5

Your question provides the basic response for books that are widely reviewed, however for books that are not widely reviewed: Generally if a book hasn't been peer reviewed, that tells you all you need to know about the scholarly response to the work. Unless the book is in your sub-discipline and problem area it is discardable. Textbooks, for example, ...


5

Do not underestimate amazon's user reviews. One must exercise caution and Quellenforschung there, of course, because some of the reviews are written by bigots and ignoramuses; others are written by good people who were perhaps looking for a different kind of book. Nevertheless, there is a lot of useful information there. For ancient and medieval subjects, ...


5

in the current historical view has the onset of agriculture stimulate permanent settlements, and food surplus and storage allow the onset of specialized "careers" (including priests) This is incorrect. Permanent settlements and specialized societies require large food surpluses. This is generally produced by agriculture, but can also (in rare cases) be ...


5

I think this probably falls into the same category as questions like "When did the Roman Empire Fall?" If you're ever on Jeopardy and somebody asks you that question, you should probably answer "476 AD," but there are entire books written about how and why that isn't the case. Kind of the same deal here, especially depending on how you want to interpret ...


5

The Indus Valley Civilization (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilization (3300–1300 BCE; mature period 2600–1900 BCE) extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India At its peak, the Indus Civilization may have had a population of over five million. Inhabitants of the ancient Indus river valley developed new techniques in ...


4

Your question deals more with historiography, and philosophy of history, whereas most of the questions on this site are about specific historical events. That is the short answer to your question and my reasoning for that answer is what follows. My history classes focused mainly on three things: particular geographic areas of the world, particular time ...


4

In the link to Wikipedia that you have provided it is written that the most ancient form of cryptography is the classical cypher that was invented circa 1900 BC. Akkadian Empire knew writing and even had Enheduanna, the first poet in history whom we know by name, and established in 2334 BC and disestablished in 2154 BC. So the empire existed before ...


4

Definitions from Free Dictionary, Dictionary.com, and Oxford dictionary (subscriber only) should tell you the official definition. The Roman Republic and Byzantine Empire are different because of religion, geographical location, population, language and customs. Although the Byzantine did consider themselves the heirs of the Roman Empire. In the same ...


4

I believe one of the most interesting examples is Varosha in Cyprus. It's an abandoned city in the UN buffer zone that was abandoned quite suddenly (I believe people intend to return, so all their things are still there) in 1974 during the Turkish invasion. In fact there are many examples of UN buffer zones. I don't know whether this is quite "No-mans land" ...


4

The best current example is Kashmir a large part of which is disputed territory, claimed both by India and Pakistan. My understanding is that the Siachen Glacier would match your description of a no-mans land, where what population existed has been run out by the active attempts at enforcement of the claims across the valley -- however being a primarily a ...


4

Religions are cultural concepts, they evolve through the time, adapting some ideas from others, providing some new ones, etc. For example, having Christianity of 500 AD, you'd be able to point out some concepts taken (directly or not quite so) from Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Neoplatonism, etc. Then, Christianity itself influenced Islam, Manicheism, lots of ...


4

These are both good answers but I think I can offer some extra points not included in them (after I have +1ed them both)! This is all cloaked in the wool of human history (there is always a counter example somewhere and a lot of this deals only in the general cases): The driver seems to be (as stated previously) the multiple states of almost equal power ...


3

If size is important. Or perhaps you care who fought the most brutal battles? Also, list


3

One of the theories of how agriculture was invented (the most popular today, at least among archaeologists) say that the people of natufian culture grew to too big numbers during a period of good climate (younger dryas; Anubhav already explained that it's possible to get such food surplus by hunting with plenty of game) and they needed to survive while the ...


3

Well, these days I'd say Spanish certainly counts. It is spoken as a first language in just about every country in the Americas south of the Rio Grande (Brazil being the most prominent exception). North of there, English has roughly the same status. Historically, the best analog I know of is Mongol, which at one point was spoken across Asia from Russia to ...


3

Europeans conquered "almost the whole world" (as we know it today), because the technology in use at the time of their ascendency (steamships and artillery), made it physically possible for them to do so. The Mongolians conquered "almost the whole world" as THEY knew it (most of modern Asia), based on the physical limits of their "technology" (mounted ...


3

Yes, stone is typically more expensive than brick for two reasons. The first is that quarries (easily-accessible outcrops of building-quality stone) are rare in most locales, and the second is that the economics of construction favours the rapid laying of small objects (bricks) over the slow laying of more massive objects (quarried stone blocks) for smaller ...


2

I'm going to introduce my definition of "Continental" size as an entity with at least 1 million square miles, and 100 million people in its modern population. English is one such language, spoken in "North America," specifically Canada and the United States. Not to mention a number of countries that make up the former "India" and the current Indian ...


2

Do the Senkaku/Diaoyutai count? What about the islands in the Kuril island chain that were disputed by Russia and Japan until the last part of the last millenium? None of these are intrinsically large enough to fit your criteria, but the Senkaku's are an example of a small fragment of disputed land that controls thousands of kilometers of ocean rights. ...


2

Historically, the borders between states were not as well-demarcated as they are today, and the regions that comprised the de facto border between two states (hostile or not) are a popular area of study for academic historians. If you search journals for the words 'frontier' or 'borderlands', you can find many articles on the subject. These areas are of ...



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