Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins

By William Howells | Go to book overview

12

The Pacific and the eastern farmers

Down in Southeast Asia lie Indo-China, Burma and Siam, and beyond them the islands of the Indies, including the Philippines and Formosa. This is all an area of tropical forest and heavy rainfall. And it is not as close to the rest of Asia as the map makes it look. Its boundaries with China and India are rugged, and so are the interiors of the islands, and therefore it is not easy to approach (remember the Burma Road to China). The same ruggedness within much of it, its many mountain ridges and river valleys, tends to isolate its people, cutting them up into small communities.

It is the home of another culture development, distinct from the web of Neolithic cultures of the rest of Asia. By this other culture, however, I do not mean the civilization of the last two thousand years, the kingdoms which rose in response to massive waves of influence from China, India and Arabia. By the beginning of our Christian Era, Indian colonies, or states on the Indian pattern, were growing up all the way from Burma to Borneo, and a thousand years later major empires appeared on Sumatra and Java, building many of the great temples and casting their shadows northward beyond the Philippines as far as Formosa. This set the Hindu tone of Indonesian life and art. Then Islam, on the crest of a wave of Arab trade and expansion, replaced Hinduism as a religion almost throughout the civilized area in the south (as did Buddhism in the north), and had the effect of breaking down the larger empires.

This final culture, the one we are familiar with, was a high one, with large states, writing and impressive architecture. Neverthe-

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Back of History: The Story of Our Own Origins
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Books by William Howells 2
  • Title Page 3
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Content 9
  • Prologue 13
  • The Nature of Human Life 17
  • 1 - The Coming of Mankind 17
  • 2 - The Meaning of Society 31
  • 3 - Culture: How We Behave 45
  • 4 - Language: How We Talk 56
  • The Old Hunters--The First Step 69
  • 5 - Early Tools: The Lower Paleolithic 69
  • 6 - Early Men 82
  • 7 - The End of the Stone Age 101
  • 8 - The Last Living Hunters 118
  • The New Farmers -- the Second Step 135
  • 9 - The First Food Growers: The Neolithic 135
  • 10 - The Spread of Modern Races 154
  • 11 - Asia and the Western Farmers 168
  • 12 184
  • 13 - African Herders and Gardeners 206
  • The New Societes 223
  • 14 - The Organization of Society 223
  • 15 - The Meaning of Religion 241
  • 16 - Inventions and Changes 255
  • The New World 17 the Oldest Americans 273
  • Cities and Bronze-The Third Step 315
  • 19 - The Cradles of Civilization in Asia 315
  • 20 - Egypt, Crete and the Beginnings of Europe 336
  • Epilogue 353
  • Author's Note 363
  • Index 365
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