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TitleCivilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature
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Table of Contents
Introduction: The Itch to Civilize
	Civilizations and Civilization
	The Civilizing Ingredient
	The Glutinous Environment
	The Mask and Apollo: Recent Definitions and Approaches
	Reaching Between Civilizations—and Reaching for the Unity of Civilization
	Process and Progress
	The Checklist of Civilization
	Back to Nature: Array by Environment
	Two Cheers for Civilization
Part One: The Waste Land – Desert, Tundra, Ice
	Chapter One: The Helm of Ice – Ice Worlds and Tundra as Human Habitats
		The Ice Age in Europe—Northern Scandinavia—Asiatic Tundra—Arctic America—Greenland
		Beyond the Gates of Gog: The Savage North
		Followers of the Ice
		The Tamers of Reindeer
		Companions of the Seal Bladders: Deference to Nature in Arctic America
		Better Than Civilization: The Inuit in Competition with Europeans
	Chapter Two: The Death of Earth – Adaptation and Counter-Adaptation in Deserts of Sand
		The North American Southwest—Northern Peru—the Sahara—the Gobi—the Kalahari
		Learning from Hohokam: How to Build Civilization in the Desert
		The Lakes of Worms: The Limits of Civilization in the Sahara
		Lands of Unrest: Desert Highways Between Civilizations
		Spirits of the Slippery Hills: Bushmen and Civilization
Part Two: Leaves of Grass – Barely Cultivable Grasslands
	Chapter Three: The Sweeping of the Wind – Prairie and Grassy Savanna
		The Great Plains—the African Savanna—the Sahel
		The Intractable Grasslands
		The Architects of the Savanna
		Imperialists of the Sahel
	Chapter Four: The Highway of Civilizations – The Eurasian Steppe
		The Wastes of Gog
		A Confucian Contemplates the Wild
		The Making of Mongol Imperialism
		The Mongol Roads: Causeways of Civilization
Part Three: Under the Rain – Civilization in Tropical Lowlands and Post-Glacial Forests
	Chapter Five: The Wild Woods – Post-Glacial and Temperate Woodland
		Cases of Deforestation-—the American Bottom—North American Temperate Forests—Europe
		The Fear of Trees: Learning to Clear the Forests
		The Great Wet: Early Civilizations of the North American Woodlands
		The Longhouse of Elm: Civilization by the Evergreen Frontier
		Riding the Lumber Raft: Europe After the Forest
		The Retreat of the Trees: From Forests to Cities in Twelfth-Century Europe
	Chapter Six: Hearts of Darkness – Tropical Lowlands
		Frederik Hendrik Island—the Olmec Heartland—Low Amazonia—the Lowland Maya Lands—the Valleys of the Khmer—Benin City
		The Habitable Hell: Cultivating the Swamp
		Amazon Lands: The Challenge of the Rain Forest
		The Tongue in the Stones: The Lowland Maya
		The Beloved of the Snake: Khmer Civilization on the Mekong
		The City of Death: Benin
Part Four: The Shining Fields of Mud – Alluvial Soils in Drying Climates
	Chapter Seven: The Lone and Level Sands – Misleading Cases in the Near East
		The Çarsamba floodplain—the Jordan Valley—Sumer and Egypt
		The Yielding Soil: Early Intensifiers of Agriculture
		The Garden of the Lord: Alluvial Archetypes
		Back from Diffusion: The Great River Valleys
		From Sumer to Babylon
		Out of the Underworld: The "Gift of the Nile"
	Chapter Eight: Of Shoes and Rice – Transcending Environments of Origin in China And India
		The Indus, Yellow, and Yangtze Rivers
		Seals in the Sand: Lost Cities of the Indus and the Origins of India
		Millet and Rice, River and River: The Making of China
		The Checklist of Shang Civilization
		The Phoenix of the East: The Survival of China
		Expansion Without Mutation: The Chinese Grossraum
Part Five: The Mirrors of Sky – Civilizing Highlands
	Chapter Nine: The Gardens of the Clouds – The Highland Civilizations of the New World
		Mesoamerica and the Andes
		Altitude and Isolation: Classifying Highland Civilizations
		Ascent to Tiahuanaco: Predecessors of the Inca
		Places for the Gods: The Context of the Aztecs
		Contrasting Worlds: The Aztecs and Inca Juxtaposed
		The Vengeance of the Tribute-Bearers: Environment and Empire
	Chapter Ten: The Climb to Paradise – The Highland Civilizations of the Old World
		New Guinea—Zimbabwe—Ethiopia—Iran—Tibet
		The Last El Dorado
		The African Predicament
		The Mountains of Rasselas: Civilization in Ethiopia
		High Roads of Civilization: Overlooking Asian Trade Routes
		Looking Down from Tibet
Part Six: The Water Margins – Civilizations Shaped by the Sea
	Chapter Eleven: The Allotments of the Gods – Small-Island Civilizations
		The "South Seas"—Hawaii and Easter Island—the Aleutians—the Maldives—Malta—Minoan Crete—Venice
		The Tangle of Isles: Polynesian Navigation
		Surviving Isolation: Hawaii and Easter Island
		The Wind's Nest: The Islands of the Aleut
		Ports of Call: From the Maldives to Malta
		The Wreck of Paradise: Minoan Crete
		The Creature of the Lagoon: Venice as a Small-Island Civilization
	Chapter Twelve: The View from the Shore – The Nature of Seaboard Civilizations
		The Oran Laut—Phoenicia and Scandinavia—the Maritime Netherlands
		The Sea People: Adapting to the Waves
		The Narrow Shores: Phoenicia and Scandinavia
		The Atlantic Edge
		The Frustrations of Rimland: The Early Phase
		"An Equilibrium of Mud and Water": Coaxing Civilization from the Shoals
		Beyond the Beach: Identifying Seaboard Civilizations
	Chapter Thirteen: Chasing the Monsoon – Seaboard Civilizations of Maritime Asia
		Japan—Maritime Arabia—Southeast Asia—Coromandel and Gujarat—Fukien
		Riders of the Typhoon: Maritime Japan
		Caravans of the Monsoon: The Arabs and Their Seas
		The Ring of the Snake: The Seas of Southeast Asia
		The Seas of Milk and Butter: Maritime India
		China's Frontier to the Sea: Fukien
	Chapter Fourteen: The Tradition of Ulysses – The Greek and Roman Seaboards
		Boestia—the Greeks Overseas—Athens—the Aegean and Ionian Seas—Rome—the Roman Empire—the Renaissances and Their Settings
		The Plow and the Prow: A Conversation with Hesiod
		The Pursuit of Galatea: Greece Takes to the Sea
		The Claim of Poseidon: Athens and the Sea
		A Hellenic Cruise: Five Wonders of Antiquity
		Around the Middle Sea: Ancient Rome as a Seaboard Civilization
		The Reach of the Classics: The Global Spread of the Greek and Roman Legacies
Part Seven: Breaking the Waves – The Domestication of the Oceans
	Chapter Fifteen: Almost the Last Environment – The Rise of Oceanic Civilizations
		From the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic—from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean
		The Muslim Lake
		The Precocity of the Indian Ocean
		From the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic: The Shadow of Vasco da Gama
		The Round Trip of Vasco da Gama
	Chapter Sixteen: Refloating Atlantis – The Making of Atlantic Civilization
		Cultural Transmission from Europe to America and Back
		The Origins of the European Atlantic
		The Technological Strand
		The Power of Culture
		The Tyranny of the Timing
		Atlantic Civilization in Black and White: The Imperial Phase
		The World the Slaves Made
	Chapter Seventeen: The Atlantic and After – Atlantic Supremacy and the Global Outlook
		From the Atlantic to the Pacific—from the Pacific to the World
		Crises and Renewals of Atlantic Civilization
		The Limits and Limitations of Western Civilization
		Next Stop after the Atlantic: The Revenge of Nature
		The Self-Threatened Menace
		The Last Ocean
		Epilogue: In Derek Jarman's Garden
	Introduction: The Itch to Civilize
	Chapter One: The Helm of Ice
	Chapter Two: The Death of Earth
	Chapter Three: The Sweeping of the Wind
	Chapter Four: The Highway of Civilizations
	Chapter Five: The Wild Woods
	Chapter Six: Hearts of Darkness
	Chapter Seven: The Lone and Level Sands
	Chapter Eight: Of Shoes and Rice
	Chapter Nine: The Gardens of the Clouds
	Chapter Ten: The Climb to Paradise
	Chapter Eleven: The Allotments of the Gods
	Chapter Twelve: The View from the Shore
	Chapter Thirteen: Chasing the Monsoon
	Chapter Fourteen: The Tradition of Ulysses
	Chapter Fifteen: Almost the Last Environment
	Chapter Sixteen: Refloating Atlantis
	Chapter Seventeen: The Atlantic and After
Document Text Contents
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Page 281

Looking Down from Tibet In a sense, Tibet was Iran's successor: a much higher, more
defensible plateau farther
east, which, at about the time of Iran's collapse, became an im- perial homeland, similarly poised
to overawe
Eurasian trade routes.
The Ti- betan plateau is on average nearly
three times as lofty as the Iranian, but
its history as a highland
crossroads intriguingly
echoes its predecessor's. If its history has a precedent, its ecology is unparalleled. Everyone has
two images of Tibet. First is the "icy land7'-as Tibetans themselves name it-of killer mountains and
wastes encrusted with soda and salt, roamed by the "abominable snowman." Yet the highest country in
the world, and one
of the harshest, is also the home
of the "Lost Horizon7'- the place where
dreams of Shangri-la can come true and
where long life and lasting peace could
flourish, if only the outside world kept away." These rival reputations correspond
with two real-life environments, which Tibet encloses, and with two aspects of highland civilization captured, with ref- erence to his own province, by a legendary king
of Shang-shung: "Seen from
without, it's a rocky escarpment! Seen from within it's all gold
and treasure."54 Shangri-la looks credible in lush
valleys like Lhasa's. The most complete tradi- tional geography
of indigenous authorship vaunts a semimythical, Edenesque Tibet, where the equable climate
is so commendable as to withstand repetition:
"Much higher than the other surrounding
countries, it is a region where both in
summer and
winter, the heat and cold are minimised and the fear of famine, beasts of prey, poisonous serpents, poisonous insects,
heat and cold is not great."55 But the region of rich soils and tolerable cold
occupies only a narrow strip of the country in the south.
Most of the rest is uninhabitable or, at
best, good only
for nomads. Tibet's natural defenses are the most daunting in the world, with the world's most formidable mountains, the Himalaya and the Kunlun,
to south and
north. On the east, where the plateau dips towards China, lesser ranges and vast deserts used to
keep neighbors at a distance.
On Sven Hedin's climb towards Lhasa, along passes over seventeen thousand feet high,
between mountain tor- rents turning to ice, his best
camel died, frozen inextricably
in mud, and
"men fled us
but the
ground held
us fast."56 At times, Francis Younghusband's
fool- hardy winter
march on Lhasa in 1904 reminded participants "more of the retreat from Moscow
than the advance of a British army,'' as they clawed their
way up the ice-filmed edge of "one of the fucking table-land's fucking table-legs7';
over four thousand
yaks were lost
in the course of it.57 Until the middle of this cen- tury, it took eight months to get from Peking
to the Tibetan capital. Some of the earliest known
Tibetan poems and inscriptions celebrate the commanding
posi- tion of the land:

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This core of the earth fenced round by snow, the headland of all rivers, where the mountains are high and the land is pure, 0, country so good, where men are born as sages and heroes!58 Tibet is a land where rivers rise, but only the Brahmaputra flows through the country. In its valley system, and in the more limited space
of the valleys of the stripling Salween, Mekong,
and Yangtze, agriculture today yields
wheat, peas, buckwheat, root vegetables,
peaches, apricots, pears,
and walnuts. The agriculture of this area may have
been of great antiquity, but is likely to have sup- ported, at
the time of its origin, only a small,
regionally confined population. Ti-
betans remembered their land as one "of grass at first, at last surrounded by yaks."59 At the time of the presumed beginnings
of the first Tibetan state in the sixth century A.D., the Chinese
spoke of Tibetans, in
the conventional language
they used to
describe barbarians,
as pastoralists who "sleep in
unclean places and never wash or comb their hair. They do
not know the seasons. They have no writing and keep records only
by means of knotted cords or
notched tally sticks." Such terms, however, were
becoming increasingly inappropriate. Barley has been the
staple crop since
a little-understood agricultural
revolution in the fifth century A.D.; it
is still consumed in
hand-rolled balls or
fermented in
beer. Barley created the economic basis of Tibetan civilization; the political develop-
ments which
followed provided
the necessary framework
of organization. Once a cereal
food-source was available in
abundant quantities, the advantages of a cold climate for storage helped to create the large food
surpluses on which
the greatness of Tibet was founded. A land from
which small numbers of nomads had formerly eked
a precarious
living became a breeding
ground of armies which could
march on
far campaigns, with "ten thousand"
sheep and horses in their supply
trains.60 Little is known of Tibetan kings before the seventh century,
but they were
divine monarchs, "descended," according to
early poems, "from mid-sky, seven- stages high." They were credited
by poets with
imperial pretensions, having
cho- sen Tibet as the place from which
to become "lords of all under heaven." Like
other divine kings, they were likely to
be sacrificed when their usefulness ex- pired, and their chosen companions
were put to death with them. They were given no tombs, for they were supposed to
be assumed back into heaven at death. At an unknown date
in the sixth century A.D., this system was replaced by natural-life kingship.
Long reigns, with stability
and continuity, were now
possi- ble; and dead kings were consigned to mound-topped tombs. The first king to

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54 INDEX Wilson, Woodrow, 443 Winada-Propafica, 336 Winchester, Simon,
463 Winding Road, 71 windmills, 319 winds: easterlies, 321,406-7 monsoons, 163, 321, 327,328, 332, 384-87, 3907 401 trade7 3847 3907 3997 40-4027 405-67 4077 4097 412 westerlies, ~21,405,407,~08,409 Wolfson Lectures, 30 women: in Almoravid world, 90 Bushmen, 73 Khmer, 164 Maya7 159 Mongol, 110 Tuareg, 66 Wood, John Turtle, 361 Woolworth Building, 438 Works and Days (Hesiod), 388 "world orders," use
of term, 47in World War
I, 18,440, 441, 457,470n World War
II,20, 288,442,450 Wright, Frank Lloyd, 59,438 Wright brothers, 439 writing systems, 29, 64, 320 in China, 183,185,217,223 as criterion for civilization, 29 of Druids, 314 of Easter Island,
285 in Greece, 208, 352 Harappan, 204,206,486n in India,
208 invention of, 217 of Maya, 158~16~-61 Minoan, 305 oldest, 183,184 of Phoenicians, 305, 306 problems in defining
of, 185 runic, 305-6 Sumerian, 186, 305, 320 of Tuareg, 66
of Zapotecs, 238 Wu Ting, 219 wu wei7 393-94 Wuyang, 185 Wyckoff, Elizabeth, I Xerxes, King of Persia, 262, 349
Xochimilco, 244 Yahuar-Cocha, Lake, 245 yam, 1487 1697 1837 249 Yamato, 325 Yangtze River, 214,218 Yangtze Valley,
185,215-16,222 Yao country, 379-80 Yared the deacon, 258 Yaxchilan, 159 Yax Pac, King, 158-59 Yearsley, Ann, 431 Yeha, 253 Yekuno Amlak,
King, 255 Yellow Emperor, 220 Yellow River, 211,218,221 Yellow River Valley,
177,178,182,185, 202, 211-15, 222 Yemen, 328,329, 332 Yimrihane Krestos, King, 123,258 Younghusband, Francis, 264 Yucatin, Maya of, 159-60,161,234 Yum-bu-bla-sgang, portraits at, 266 Yunfa, King of Gobir, 96 Yung-lo Emperor, 344-45 Yupik, see Inuit Yu the Great, 217-18 Zafari, 381 Zagwe7 258-59 Zakros, 292,293 Zambezi River, 251,252 Zanzibar, 276, 345,410 Zapotecs, 238 Zara-Ya'qob, negus of Ethiopia, 394 Zaynab al-Nafzawi~a, 90 Zeila, 254,259

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Zeker Ba71, King of Byblos, 303 Zeno, Saint, 142 Zeromski, Stefan,
121 Zeus of Olympia, 362,364,365 Zhou Wei, 343 ziggurats, 188,189
zimbabwes, 252 see also Great Zimbabwe INDEX 545 Ziqwala, 258 Zivilisation, 16,470n Zoe, Tsarina of Russia, 373 Zong, slaves drowned on, 427 Zoroaster, 221,262 Zoroastrianism, 262 Zosima, 41-11 Zumbi, King of Palmares, 427-28

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