Vasilika: A Village in Modern Greece

Vasilika: A Village in Modern Greece

Vasilika: A Village in Modern Greece

Vasilika: A Village in Modern Greece

Excerpt

The way of life of a rural village in modern Greece exists in a setting significantly different from that of the cultures and societies anthropologists have been accustomed to study. Cultural and social anthropologists traditionally have concentrated their professional interests on what are usually called the primitive peoples of the world. These include the Indians of North and South America, the Eskimo, the indigenous populations of Africa south of the Sahara, of Australia, and of the islands of the Pacific. What all these peoples had in common was not crudeness or inferiority; nor were they necessarily at the beginning stages of human cultural evolution, as the Latin root of the word "primitive" would suggest.

By the fifteenth century, when European explorations began in earnest, many of these primitive peoples had long since developed assured food supplies through the domestication of plants and animals, and had densely populated, complex stratified societies with sophisticated cosmologies and art styles. The Maya of Yucatan had conceived the mathematical concept of the zero, and both they and the Aztecs of Mexico had a rudimentary system of writing. But whether the primitive people were simple hunting and gathering populations who depended on wild foods, or whether they were pastoralists using their flocks for subsistence and for products to trade, or whether they were the sophisticated West Africans or Incas, the characteristic that they all had in common and that lay at the base of what was called their "primitiveness" was the fact that the cultures of these peoples had received no significant recent in influences from either of the two early centers of cultural development on the Eurasiatic continent.

One of these centers was the Near East, where it appears that seed grasses such as wheat and barley were first domesticated, and where sheep, goats, and cattle were first controlled by men. The techniques for raising and cultivating these plants and animals spread south to Egypt, east to India, and west to Europe, where they furnished the original subsistence base for the development of the Egyptian, Hindu, and ancient Greek and Roman cultures. North China . . .

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