Prehistory and the Beginnings of Civilization

Prehistory and the Beginnings of Civilization

Prehistory and the Beginnings of Civilization

Prehistory and the Beginnings of Civilization

Excerpt

Among the great tasks assigned to UNESCO by its Constitution is the duty to promote and encourage mutual knowledge and understanding throughout the world. While many of the divergencies which divide peoples date from a distant past, an analysis of their historical antecedents discloses links which draw them nearer to one another, brings to light their contributions to a common patrimony of humanity, reveals the ebb and flow of cultural exchanges and emphasizes their increasing tendency to become integrated into an international community.

Beyond differences of race, climate, economic structure and systems of ideas, history shows the fundamental identity of the various human groups, making it possible to discern, in many cases, profound analogies among the transformations they have undergone from the Palaeolithic era down to the present time. If we consider the human species as a whole, we perceive that the course of its evolution has been accomplished from one region and one people to another by way of a series of oscillations, greater or lesser in extent, longer or shorter in duration. The different civilizations which have arisen in the course of the ages correspond to distinct phases and patterns of this general movement. Almost every one of them is to be found somewhere in the world of today. Contemporary society appears as a mosaic in which the most widely-differing cultures adjoin and confront each other.

It was, I think, in order to know them better and to strengthen their solidarity that UNESCO took the initiative of entrusting to historians, men of science and of letters, recruited from all parts of the world, the task of preparing and of publishing this work. This, at least, is how I have understood the mandate of the International Commission over which I have the honour to preside. Our task was not to draw up a philosophy of history in the light of the economic, intellectual and moral laws which may govern social development, but to describe, from a universal standpoint, the contribution of each age, each region, each people to the scientific and cultural ascent of humanity.

In the official reports which I have presented since 1951 to the General Conference of UNESCO, will be found a detailed account of the steps taken in implementing this project which originated in a resolution submitted to the second session of the General Conference held in Mexico City in 1947. The idea had been put forward in 1946 by Dr Julian Huxley, then Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for UNESCO:

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.