Libmonster ID: JP-1317
Author(s) of the publication: S. L. Tikhvinsky

V. II. From the Third Millenium to the Seventh Century B.C. / Ed. by А.Н. Dani and J.P. Mohen. Co-edited by J.L. Lorenzo, V.M. Mason, T. Obenga, M.B. Sakellariou, В.Н. Thapar and Zhang Changshou. Consultant S.J. De Laet. UNESCO. L.: Routledge, 1996

In 1996, the second volume of the seven-volume work " The History of Mankind. Scientific and Cultural Development", implemented by the UN Commission on Education, Science and Culture of UNESCO. First volume ("Prehistory and the Beginning of Civilization") published in 1994. (1) The contents of the second volume cover the period of human history from the sixth millennium BC to the seventh century BC. It opens with a foreword by UNESCO Director-General Frédéric Mayor and two introductory articles. The author of the first article ("From prehistory to history"), the Belgian archaeologist Siegfried de Lat (editor of the first volume of this publication), notes that long before 3100 BC - the time from which the presentation of this volume begins, the human race already existed for more than 2.5 million years. This long period accounts for over 92.5% of the entire time of human existence, but science knows very little about it. Conventionally, there are major stages in this period: the beginning of making tools (2.5-2 million years ago), the final transition to the vertical mode of movement (about 1.8 million years ago), and the beginning of making fire (about 0.5 million years ago). In various geographical areas of the world (Africa, Europe, East and South-East Asia), the development of the human race proceeded asynchronously, but generally with acceleration.

During 100-35 thousand years ago, people began to move from sign language to sound, speech language, began to bury the remains of the deceased, create the first works of art - rock "drawings". About 40 thousand years ago, some inhabitants of southern Europe and parts of Asia began to explore new areas: through the Bering Bridge and Alaska, the first people penetrated from East Asia to the American continent, settling it all the way to Tierra del Fuego in the very south. At the same time, the migration flow from Indonesia reached New Guinea, Australia and Tasmania.

During the last ice age, about 35-12 thousand years ago, groups of hunters armed with more sophisticated weapons followed the abundant herds of herbivores that grazed on the vast expanses of tundra, steppes and savannas. The whole life of these people was permeated with various kinds of magical and religious ideas and rituals, which were reflected in rock and cave drawings, in female zoomorphic figurines and funeral rites.

After the glaciers retreated, these people had to adapt to the new natural conditions. Hunting ceased to be their main occupation, and the collection of edible plants began to occupy a prominent place. Approximately 10 thousand years ago, a gradual transition to the Neolithic period began, when people, thanks to the transition to agriculture and cattle breeding, were able to create food reserves. This was a turning point in the development of mankind, which led to the creation of a social hierarchy and the formation of the first state entities. Only about 7 thousand years passed between the appearance of the first settlements of farmers and the appearance of the first city-states. As a result of food production, human development has accelerated to an unprecedented degree, although in many parts of the world there are still significant groups of people who remained at the pre-Neolithic stage of development and sometimes coexisted simultaneously with the inhabitants of Neolithic settlements.


(1) Refer to volume I, see Tikhvin District To exit volume I of "the history of scientific and cultural development of mankind" // modern and contemporary history. 1995. N 1. Pp. 195-198.

page 211


In the Neolithic settlements themselves, as a result of the production of excess food, trade exchange with other communities developed, and a layer of rulers and priests formed who appropriated these surpluses, turning them to purchase luxury goods, build palaces and temples. By the beginning of the period discussed in this volume, the process of social stratification had been completed in Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, the Aegean world, and to some extent in Southeastern Europe, Spain, and Italy.

The authors of the second introductory article to this volume ("The main features of the new Period"), the Pakistani archaeologist A. H. Dani and the leading French expert on the Neolithic Professor J.-P. Moen (they are also responsible editors of the volume) note that in addition to the material monuments of the new era - the Egyptian pyramids discovered and excavated in the XIX and XX centuries. In order to understand the history of the scientific and cultural development of mankind in this period, scientists also widely use materials from philology, literature and history. The discovery of a new method for dating bone and wood objects based on traces of the radioactive decay of the carbon C14 isotope has revolutionized archaeology along with dendrochronology and paleobotany.

Nevertheless, among specialists, disputes continue on many problems of the history of mankind in the period under consideration. So, for example, the onset of the Iron Age, which replaced the Bronze Age, is explained by some historians by the development of iron metallurgy by the Hittites, who then spread their technology to neighboring states, while others believe that iron (in the form of weapons - iron swords) was brought by nomads from Central Asia. Another topic of ongoing discussions among scientists is the problem of the settlement of Indo-Europeans, while the range of opinions regarding the dating of the corresponding processes ranges from VI to II thousand BC.

If the central event in the evolution of mankind, which was discussed in the first volume of "History", was, according to archaeologists, the so-called "Neolithic revolution", i.e. the transition to agriculture and cattle breeding, ensuring stable food production, then the period from the third millennium to 700 BC.the urban revolution". However, in the opinion of these authors, it is more correct to characterize this period as the beginning of civilization, i.e. a new form of life, thinking and activity of people. A distinctive feature of civilization was the appearance of writing.

The spread of writing and literacy, as well as various types of numeracy, opened up new ways not only for the growth of people's material well-being, but also for the spread of science, culture, spirituality and morality. This discovery also gave us an opportunity to get acquainted with the philosophy, poetry, myths, laws of the people of that time, their history, art and religion. The materials of the second volume clearly show that there was a lively trade and cultural exchange between different peoples even at that early stage of civilization. The discoveries of archaeologists and historians deal a blow to the supporters of the opposition of one civilization to another, especially to the long-standing opposition of the "civilized" peoples of Western Asia and the "barbaric" periphery among some cultural scientists. The authors of this article emphasize that there was a constant interaction and mutual cultural enrichment between the first civilizations and the surrounding periphery-whether it was the Nile Valley civilization and the rest of Africa, Mesopotamia and its neighbors, the Indus Basin cities and the surrounding peoples, ancient China and its northern neighbors, etc.

One of the distinguishing features of the new era - the era of the spread of bronze tools-along with a sharp increase in labor productivity in agriculture and crafts, which led to the creation of excess product and an increase in trade exchange, A. H. Dani and J.-M. Moen call the further social stratification of society, the addition of stable social groups and layers of owners on land, on mines of large-scale handicraft production, merchants, warriors, priests, the emergence of a state that regulated relations between these social groups.

The first written evidence that has been preserved from this era allows science to have an accurate dating of historical events, to speak with greater confidence about certain peoples and areas of their settlement, to understand their economic, cultural and political life, and religious beliefs. By the end of the Bronze Age, in some parts of the world, along with the continuation of the process of state formation, the first empires began to form.

page 212


In the initial sections of the main, thematic part of the volume, there are several articles written by several authors. They describe the process of humanity's transition from empirical to scientific knowledge in various regions of the world, consider the technologies of the Bronze Age, the metallurgy of copper, bronze, and early iron, the development of construction, the emergence of various modes of transport, the beginning of time measurement, the emergence of calendars, and the addition of systems of weights and measures. Separate articles in this part of the volume are devoted to the study of the relationship between sedentary agriculture and nomadic pastoral cattle breeding, the development of long-distance trade routes, the history of various forms of writing, and the emergence of major language families and groups. A number of articles also explore oral traditions, literature, religions, and art.

In the subsequent sections of the main part of the volume (which account for more than three-quarters of its volume), the history of individual regions of the world in the period between the beginning of the third millennium and 700 BC is considered. At the beginning, it includes regions whose history is recorded in written sources (Egypt, Nubia, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Anatolia, Iran, the Aegean world, Afghanistan, Arabian Peninsula, Indus Valley, China). Further, the objects of the review are regions whose history is represented only by archaeological and anthropological sources (Africa-with the exception of the Nile Valley, South, South-East, Central, Eastern, Western and Northern Europe), as well as religions and art in Europe, Central and South-East Asia, the Pacific countries, Korea, Japan, Northern Asia and Mongolia, Australia, North, Central and South America. Some articles explore the cultural evolution of the entire American continent, its art and religions.

The volume ends with a brief afterword by one of its chief editors, J.-P. Moen. He again returns to the thesis that over the long chronological period to which this work is devoted, humanity has experienced an extraordinary acceleration in its development. This acceleration was the result of the rapid growth of mutual contacts caused by the development of all modes of transport and the allocation of a special social class of merchants. The second factor that caused the acceleration of the historical process, according to prof. Moena became a written language that allowed the transmission and dissemination of both private and official scientific, technological and cultural information from generation to generation and from one nation to another.

The materials of the second volume clearly show that sedentary and nomadic societies were not a high or low type of society. They developed simultaneously in different natural conditions and geographical environments and in their mutual communication enriched each other, exchanging cultural and technological skills, achievements and products of their work. Another conclusion that follows from the materials of this volume is that the development of agriculture and cattle breeding took place simultaneously in Eurasia, Africa and America, and on all these continents copper metallurgy also developed simultaneously.

The materials published in the peer-reviewed work once again show that along with the great achievements of modern science in the field of studying the history of mankind of the corresponding period, many of its aspects are still insufficiently studied. For example, further research (linguistic, archaeological, general historical) is required by the Indo-European problem, and it is also necessary to clarify many chronological information.

The reviewed volume contains 103 high-quality photographs of the most important archaeological sites, 29 maps and 169 drawings and diagrams. It should also be noted the high printing quality of the volume, the presence in it of detailed subject and name indexes, a summary chronological table, and a list of photos. 63 authors from various countries participated in the work on the volume, including six specialists from Russia: M. A. Dandamaev, A. P. Derevyanko, V. A. Massey (one of the co-editors of the volume), N. Ya. Merpert, V. M. Sarianidi, V. Ya. Yakobson. extensive thematic bibliography.

The publication of the second volume of the History of Science and Cultural Development of Mankind will certainly attract the attention of a wide readership. I would like to hope that this work will be translated into Russian and published in Russia.


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S. L. Tikhvinsky, CRITICISM AND BIBLIOGRAPHY. History of Humanity. Scientific and Cultural Development. // Tokyo: Japan (ELIB.JP). Updated: 17.06.2024. URL: https://elib.jp/m/articles/view/CRITICISM-AND-BIBLIOGRAPHY-History-of-Humanity-Scientific-and-Cultural-Development (date of access: 13.07.2024).

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