All posts by flaher43

Importance of Secondary Characteristics

In my opinion, a states secondary characteristics are much more important than the primary characteristics. I believe this to be true in terms of emergence, development, and every other aspect which attributes to a state. Yes, the primary characteristics are what classify an area as a state, but thats all that they do. It’s almost like the primary characteristics are the definition, while the secondary characteristics are all of the ways which you can use that definition. These are what make the state to be what it was, who the people were, and what makes them stand out from every other ancient state from the past. Take writing for example, there were few ancient states which we discussed with special forms of writing, and that is because not every ancient state developed with this tactic. For example, Harrapa displayed their writing through ceramic seals, and the people in Uruk produced cuneiform which was not an actual “language” but the writing displayed that they had a spoken language. Another popular example is the Egyptian pyramids. When most people think of Egypt the pyramids are the first thing that come to mind, and that is because the pyramids are what make the Egyptians stand out in society. Or how the people who seasonally occupied Nabta Playa created the earliest known calendar circle that we know of. We may have had no interest in this social group had we not found something so symbolic. State religion is also a secondary characteristic which can define a state. I do not think that it is only the presence of the religion, but how the society plays a role to display it. Such as the Aztecs who worshiped the Sun God Huitzilopochtli by making ritual sacrifices to keep him pleased and powerful. Or the people of Teotihuacan doing both private and public rituals, some including sacrifice, to keep in contact with the cosmos. It is easy to see that there were many ways which the people of ancient states would express their cultural practices using secondary characteristics. These characteristics are vital to all areas of the ancient states, and are much more important than the primary characteristics. These tell us not only that they are classified as a state, but what that state consisted of. Who were the Aztecs or the Egyptians as individuals cultures? What did certain ancient states consist of that others did not? What makes every ancient state in history unique? This is the type of information that secondary characteristics of a state can give us, making them more important than the primary ones.

Aztec Religion Compared to Today

Within the last few weeks of class, a few different things have really stuck out to me in conversation. One of these things is the Sun God Huitzilopochtil which we discussed when talking about the Aztecs. I think that it is interesting to see how ways in which societies worship their Gods has changed, or not changed, with time. For example, to the Aztecs the Sun God was at a constant struggle with the universe. He was constantly fighting against the darkness of the world in order to keep them in the light. Today, however, many common religions see their God (or being which they believe in) to be superior to all things. People tend to not see those which they follow to be at a constant struggle, but instead guiding their lives and aiding in their personal struggles. Another prominent aspect is how the Aztecs pleased their Sun God as opposed to how many people please their Gods these days. The Aztecs main contribution to their Sun God was by sacrifice. It goes that sacrifices had to be done in order to please the Sun God and keep him available to do his work to protect them and the world. The sacrifices did not have to be human sacrifices, but a sort of sacrifice did have to be made in order for the Aztecs to please the Sun God. In many – but not all – cultures today, this idea is terrifying. The thought of taking the life of a living being is not ideal to many people, and many would actually see this more as a sin than as a way of pleasing whomever they worship. Many religions today express their faith though actions such as attending church, praying, helping in communities, going to confession, etc. This is quite a significant change in how individuals feel about nourishing their Gods. One thing that I do not think has changed, however, it how the Aztecs used their faith and actions toward the Sun God in order to produce power. The sacrifices which the Aztecs made is thought to have assisted in how they prospered, because it scared those around them. They were not trying to scare others purposefully, but they still put their faith first. Today many people who follow a certain God believe that their religion is superior to others, and when they try to express it do not consider others opinions or feelings. It is funny to think that with as much as the ways that people express their faith have changed, in the end people still use their faith or devotion to a God as a way to overpower others. In the end, people will always think the same in some ways.

The Overview of Croatian Underwater Heritage – Bonus Blog

The Overview of Croatian Underwater Heritage presentation discussed the types of shipwrecks that are generally found in the area. Of the more than four hundred underwater archaeology sites here, more than two hundred are shipwrecks. Of those two hundred, three are prehistoric sites, one hundred-twenty five are Roman, four are medieval and seventy one are modern. Believe it or not, neanderthals play a significant role in croatian underwater archaeology because many remains from them tend to be found at underwater sites, these remains also include tools. Submarine Mousterian is the largest collection of Neanderthal skeletal remains.

Maritime complexes from the first to fifth centuries are often found. At these sites, a lot of pottery and kitchenware tend to be found. Sometimes, what is considered special gifts are found. These have included items like combs or oddly shaped pottery. At one site hundreds of clay pipes were found in a shipwreck. Project adriaS (Adriatic shipbuilding and seafaring) is a current project that is working with these shipwrecks and modern ones. The technology views how these ships were constructed in comparison to how we are constructing ships today to view the similarities and differences, as well as what may be weak points in the building process.

Roman shipwrecks were also discussed. Five specific sites were discussed in the lecture. Calvin Island of Murter has brought us to find pottery, lamps, bronze shaped ducks, oil lamps, and many other household type items. These findings lead the instructor to say “If you want to know where the ship comes from you have to dive for the kitchen.” Island of Ilovik is a wreck where about six hundred individuals were found. Island of Brac contains very interesting cargo with the ship. This cargo included Sarciphagi’s of adults and children with lids as well as extremely large stone blocks and funerary slabs. Vela Dolina, Island of Mljet was a ship carrying specific cargo in small amounts. This leads researchers to believe that it was a ship which traded for other items, making them carry only small amounts of each.

Medieval shipwrecks are not very popular for a few reasons. At this time, it would have been very dangerous to travel by boat, both because of the sea and the risk of pirates kidnapping individuals and their ships. Also, if there are more medieval shipwrecks this goes to show that they are too deep to be excavated. The two sites discussed were Stoba Promontory, Island of Mljet and St. Paul, Island of Mljet. Stoba Promontroy had a lot of glass cups and vessels within its contents. This could mean that it was a commercial boat, or someone who was traveling to visit different places. St. Paul contains pottery that is more precious than gold. A large amount of decorated pots and plates were the main items found. There were also coins, bowls, and a very rare finding which was a bell that still had the date (1567) engraved.

There are also many shipwrecks from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and a variety of them are from World War I and World War II. Thus being said, they often contain items used by the military at the time, such as machine guns. In the end, there are a decent variety of shipwrecks under the Croatian Underwater Archaeology sites, all of which teach us about the people of the time, which in the end is our biggest interest.

Harrapa Compared to Today

Within recent class discussion, the many aspects of the Harrapan have stood out in my mind. It is always awesome to see how societies change over time, but it can also be interesting to take a close look at how developed certain aspects of ancient states are while comparing them to the current times in which we live.

Taking a look first at the early Harrapa, they handled urban planning very well. Due to the amount of water in the region, they could have wonderful crops of many natural resources such as barely and wheat, but they had to work to ensure flood prevention as to not destroy the crops. Compare this to today with the many systems which we have to save our crops, particularly because of how the destruction of certain crops may have a huge negative impact on places around the world. The early Harrapan also had social stratification, which of course we have seen prior to this, but consider the fact that had these ancient societies not carried on the stratification within them, we may not have as many stratifications – stereotypes, economic rankings, etc. – as we do today. Trade and exchange also played a large role in Early Harrapan societies, if we take a look at that and compare their trade then to our trade now, not much has changed aside from the technological advances, which blows my mind that we are still using these techniques which were introduced so long ago.

The Mature Harrapan also gives us a few things to think about. For example, the urban planning at this time reveals a rectangular grid for certain habitations, which is pure brilliance. The simplicity of it is so that it is actually perfect, and I can imagine that from these ideas being passed on is how we began having blueprints and other floor plans as a basis for construction. In association with the grid on which certain cities are built also comes what the cities were made of, which is impressively enough, brick. These people using the bricks (and ensuring that they were all in order and the right size) could lead today’s minds to a variety of ideas, but the one which immediately comes to my mind is the idea of building a strong structured home for individuals to live in. Even in the ancient societies the individuals realized the importance of a sturdy home, leading to the brick-made society as well.

Though these may seem like very obvious observations, take a moment the let it sink in that many of the factors from ancient states create our everyday basis of life today. Trade and exchange (whether it be with our neighbors or halfway around the world), city systems, urban planning, and even just general ideas that we have today all developed due to historical times, such as Harrapa.

Are the “Fun Facts” True?

Knowing that we were going to start discussing Mesopotamia, a few days ago before class I decided to look up some “fun fact” type things regarding the region, just to have a very basic idea of what to expect in the lectures to come. I had only heard of Mesopotamia in very vague terms a few times in the past, so I must admit that I had – and still somewhat don’t have – many ideas about what to expect from learning of this society. One thing that has proven to be true so far, however, and that is that irrigation is universally known as one of the most important aspects of Mesopotamia. As we discussed Tuesday in class, irrigation is what really brought life to this ancient state and that is something that I am surprised I didn’t have previous knowledge of. I am also very surprised that I had never learned of the writing of Mesopotamia. Of course we all know of hieroglyphs from Egypt, so why had I never known that cuneiform was from Mesopotamia? Even upon my minor search, writing only popped up once or twice, and very briefly at that.

 

Another fact that I found while searching was that Mesopotamia is well known for many inventions that are extremely important today, such things including mathematics, astronomy, stronger bronze tools, and potentially the invention of the wheel. Culturally, I have found, that the people of Mesopotamia enjoyed entertainment in the wealthier cities. And in a religious sense, the Mesopotamians worshiped many Gods and Goddesses, and at one point in time there were even different Gods for each city. I am extremely curious to potentially discuss some of these aspects of their society in class, mainly because I have no prior knowledge aside from these “fun facts” that I just researched. I do not have any thoughts and stereotypes in my head from stories that were told growing up as I did with Egypt. With Egypt I had, what I thought was, an accurate perception of what we would be discussing, when in reality most of what I knew was simply stereotypical. I am extremely excited to learn of Mesopotamian culture, agriculture, society, and anything else that we may be discussing because I will be learning it on a clean slate with an open mind. And even more so, I am interested to see if these “fun facts” being portrayed on-line are accurate or if they too are stereotypes and misconceptions of Mesopotamian society.

Curiosity Regarding Egypt’s Unification

For years curiosity about Egypt has lingered in my mind. I knew all of the basics that every person learns – that there were pyramids and pharaohs and the Nile River. However, I have finally learned that there is so much more to the Egyptian historical record than just these things. What has intrigued me the most within the past few lectures are the three items that are viewed as “evidence for political control” in contribution to Upper and Lower Egypt’s unification. I for one did not even know that Egypt had been separated in the past, but now that I do I am extremely curious about the separation and more importantly how the two became one, and what these artifacts mean in respect to the unification.

In reference to the three items – Narmer Palette, Scorpion Macehead and Towns Palette – I have many thoughts. Now that we know that the stories these artifacts supposedly tell are not one-hundred percent accurate based on the archaeological record, I am anxious to know what these truly signify. I believe that the stories that we are told these express are relevant to what was really being portrayed, meaning that these events did happen. I would love to know, however,  what their absolute significance in Egypt’s history are if they are not the “actual” unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Taking into consideration the Narmer Palette, for example. We are told that this scene is showing Narmer destroying Buto and in turn taking control over the north, making this “the unification moment.” We know of course that there is not a specific unification moment, but I do wonder if this is still a significant event that assisted in the siege, if it was a siege at all. Knowing that Buto was the capitol of Lower Egypt, I cannot see why this wouldn’t take precedence over other instances which had happened prior. The palette is, in fact, showing a ruler taking over others, and if the dates are relevant, I wonder if this was one of many major events that assisted in the unification.

The Scorpion Macehead makes similar ideas cross my mind, but with one significant difference that I cannot help but notice. The difference is in reference to the Rekhyt birds that are shown. It is easy to jump to conclusions based on the depiction that they (the districts which the birds symbolize) are being sieged, but, what if they are going with the ruler willingly? What if, instead of being unwillingly taken over, the districts of Lower Egypt are choosing to join Upper Egypt. There are plenty of factors that could lead to this decision: resources, agriculture, trade, anything that we have seen cause unification of cultures in the past.

Of course there is no true way to find perfect answers on the matter without a time machine, but I do hope that within my lifetime more answers are found on this subject because my curiosity will forever linger.