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Legacy: The Origins of Civilization

$49,75

Published on: December 10, 2020
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Every single day of your life is spent within a civilization-an elaborate system composed of governing bodies, detailed laws, dense urban centers, elaborate trade networks, visual and written cultures, class structures, militaries, and more.


And yet the experience of living inside a civilization has become so interwoven with our lives that it’s easy to take for granted just how profound and recent the concept is. Consider that human beings have walked the earth for more than 150,000 years, but it was only 10,000 years ago that our distant ancestors began establishing and living within larger and more complex communities.

Our world is forever indebted to a host of early states that paved the way for our current ways of life, including those of the Sumerians, the ancient Egyptians, the Chinese, and the Maya. Without the critical strides they made in areas of government, law, trade, social hierarchies, culture, and more, human civilization as we know it today would not even exist.

How did these first states come into being?
What defines a state? A civilization?
How were the world’s ancient states similar to each other? How did they differ?
Answers to these and other dramatic questions form the core of The Origin of Civilization, a grand 48-lecture course that reveals the stories of how human beings around the world transitioned from small farming communities to the impressive cultural and political systems that would forever alter the course of history. Taking a gripping archaeological and historical approach to these formative states and civilizations, archaeologist and Professor Scott MacEachern of Bowdoin College completes your understanding of the history of human civilization-by exploring it at its earliest stages.

Unlike traditional survey courses of ancient civilizations, which tend to focus only on the glorious achievements of these cultures, The Origin of Civilization brings you those first all-important steps that the world’s first civilizations would take on the long and arduous road to glory. It’s only by learning about the birth of these complex societies that you’ll be able to better understand-and appreciate-the lasting contributions they made to the cultural record.

A Comparative Point of View

Contrary to popular belief, state formation didn’t happen in one area and then spread outward. Instead, the emergence of states and regional civilizations occurred throughout the ancient world, from the fertile valleys of the Near East and the savannahs of Africa to the Pacific coast of South America and the plains of China.

To tackle this diversity of early civilizations, Professor MacEachern’s lectures incorporate perhaps the most important element of any archaeological study of diverse states and civilizations: a comparative outlook. This all-encompassing perspective-which explores ancient cultures side by side instead of in a vacuum-allows you to better grasp the different (and similar) trajectories through which the first states formed around the world.

“We simply will not be able to assemble a complete and convincing account of ancient civilizations if we don’t understand how they developed through time in different environments and circumstances,? notes Professor MacEachern. “We must have that comparative point of view.?

What caused these new forms of cultural and political complexity to emerge in certain places and not others? How are the processes of state formation the same? How are they different? It is only with the comparative approach of The Origin of Civilization that you can truly begin to answer these and other profound questions about this transformative era in human history.

Explore Fascinating Regions …

After a series of introductory lectures that draw you into the world of archaeologists and the issues and challenges of their field, you embark on a globe-trotting, time-

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