Peasants & Potters

Peasants & Potters

Peasants & Potters

Peasants & Potters

Excerpt

The last part of this series, Hunters and Artists, ended with a reference to the great change of climate, which has been one of the most momentous events in the history of mankind. The present volume takes up the story of the crisis in human affairs that followed it. As the deserts spread there was a tendency for people to settle by the margins of the rivers that flowed through the desert areas, and we find a considerable population collecting by the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates and by those of the Nile. Here we find that the people were giving up hunting, as game became scarce, and had taken to agriculture; at the same time we witness the beginnings of the art of stone-grinding and of metallurgy, leading to carpentering and house-building, the invention of pottery and brick-making, and the domestication of animals.

This group of inventions gave men new links with the soil and led to the rise of peasant communities. It also set men to search for new kinds of stone, and enabled them to settle in places where there were no supplies of flint. This, in turn, gave new motives for barter and led to the development of trade. The further consequences of these new opportunities of wider experience will be described in later volumes.

We feel that we should make special acknowledgement of our indebtedness to those who have, within the last few years, so materially increased our knowledge of Ancient Mesopotamia. Suggestions, made years ago, to the effect that South-west Asia was the original home of civilization, and that Egypt in this respect stood second, have now received ample confirmation.

There is still considerable difference of opinion as to the dates that should be attributed to these early phases of civilization . . .

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