Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica

Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica

Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica

Ancient Civilizations: The Near East and Mesoamerica

Excerpt

Was King Kong big? Yes, compared to a compact car; no, compared to the World Trade Center in New York City. In order to be understood, phenomena must be captured and reported in scale and perspective.

The comparative method does just that. It describes phenomena on the basis of both their shared similarities and their differences from one another. This process incorporates a generalist approach looking for universal patterns and a particularist approach seeking what makes each individual case unique.

This is the method that C. C. Lamberg-Karlovsky and J. A. Sabloff have chosen to tell the story of the archaeology of early civilizations. They use it to open up to the novice the fascinating details of the ancient civilizations of the Near East, India, and Mesoamerica. At the same time they use it to illustrate the intriguing scientific search for what these civilizations held in common.

This process of describing early civilizations also places our own society in a new perspective by marking the first appearances of many of the most familiar elements of our everyday lives. These early civilizations were composed of large populations, many crowded into urban centers, bound together by economic, legal, political, and religious institutions and their ever-expanding bureaucracies. These early civilizations also began to remake the natural landscape into an artificial environment of public works, large buildings, and the thousands of material items which filled everyday existence. These new forms of human behavior and their material products . . .

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