Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Early Iron Age Civilizations


Q1. Describe the importance of iron in the growth of civilization?

Ans. Previous civilizations made use of copper and its alloy bronze for making tools and Implements. The clearing of jungles were not on a large scale and the growth of cities were not on a large scale. But when iron was discovered, large scale development took place because around that time, the states were expanding on a large scale and food production had to be done on a much larger scale and implements made of iron proved to be much more beneficial as they helped in clearing of jungles on a large scale. The discovery of iron at this point of time played an important role in the development of civilizations. Iron is harder than copper and bronze and was easily available. Iron could be used to make a variety of agricultural tools like ploughshares, sickles, shovels and spades on a large scale. The effect of the discovery of iron is found on others crafts as it helped in making of variety of tools which improved the quality of articrafts . Iron helped in the progress of all civilizations at a very fast rate and the development was such which was not thought of earlier. Though the tools had improved from stone age to copper and bronze but the quality of iron implements have been of great help to the development of the early civilizations.
Archeaologists have found a variety of iron objects such as hammers, tongs, nails, chisels, saws etc which indicate a wide variety of specialized jobs for which these tools could be used. By now the expansion of states were taking place and also the states were always involved in either expansion or warding off the invaders. The discovery of iron led to the development of better warfare equipments.
The discovery and use of iron facilitated the growth of civilization and its spread to many new areas of the world. The discovery and use of iron has played a very important role in the growth of many civilizations.

Q 2. Name the civilizations to which each of the following leaders are associated and mention one or more of his special achievements.
1. Pericles : associated with Greek civilization and Athenian democracy reached its greatest heights under the leadership of Pericles.

2. Julius Caeser : associated with Roman Civilization. He was a great general and an emperor.

3. Emperor of Chin : associated with Chinese civilization. He started the building of the Great wall of China.

4. Cleisthens : associated with Greek Civilization. He is known to be a great law giver.

5. Confucius : associated with Chinese Civilization. He was a great philosopher and his Philosophy was used as late as the 20th century.

6. Chandragupta I : associate with ancient Indian civilization. He was a great ruler and he founded the Maurayan dynasty.

7. Augustus : associated with Roman Civilization . He was a Roman emperor who ruled for nearly 44years and his period led to lot of peace and development in the Roman empire. His rule is known as PAX ROMANA, which means Roman Peace.

8. Ashoka : associated with ancient Indian civilization. His empire was so vast that it united India in one single country and after the bloody war with Kalinga, he changed his religion to Buddhism and he is responsible for the spread of Buddhism not only in India but also in the eastern part of Asia.

9. Marcus Aurelius : associated with the Roman civilization. He is known as a great general and a great philosopher.

10. Harsha : ancient Indian civilization. He is one of the last great Hindu emperor of ancient India. After his death the empire divided into small stated and could no longer remain as one as it was during the time of Harsha.

11. Solon : associated with Greek Civilization. He is responsible for bringing about such laws which benefited both the poor and the middle classes. He abolished slavery among the Athenians but the prisoners of war did remain as slaves. He is also responsible for codifying the laws.

12. Darius I : associated with Iranian Civilization. He was a great emperor of Iran and his empire included entire Iran, Mesopotamia, Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor and North western India.

13. Adarshar : associated with Iranian Civilization. He is responsible for the growth and flourishing of the Sassanid empire.

14. Zarathustra : associated with Iranian Civilization. A great philosopher, he is the founder of Zorastarism.

Q 3. Give the names of the person and or civilization responsible for the cultural advances as reflected in the following works of literature and art and describe them briefly :

Atharva Veda : It is one of the four Vedas of Hinduism and has an important place in the Hindu religion. The Vedas form the most important part of Hindu religious ceremonies and it is written in Sanskrit.

Iliad : It is one of the greatest epic poems of all times and has come from Greek civilization and is written by Homer.

Ajanta : These caves are full of Buddhist paintings where the caves would be formed by boring and caving into rocks and then painting on the walls of the caves. The Ajanta caves carry much information about the Buddhist literature like Buddha’s life and Jataka tales.

Acroplolis : Pericles appointed Phidias to supervise the construction of Acropolis in Athens.

Parthenon. : It is a temple built for Athena the Parthenon which is a fine example of Greek architecture.

Upanishads : Like the Vedas the Upanishads too form an important part of the Hindu religion. Written in Sanskrit they contain many important aspects of Hinduism.

Aeneid : It is a famous epic written by Virgil, a great poet of Roman civilization. It has been written in the style of the Greek epics Iliad and Adyssey. The Aeneid describes the wanderings and adventures of Aeneas, a legendary hero of Troy.

Oedipus Rex : A great Greek tragedy which was written by Sophocles who is considered one of the greatest Greek Tragedians. His other works include Antigone and Electra and all his plays are admired all over the world even today.

Panchatantra.: It is a collection of moral stories based on animals, birds and human beings which have been written by Vishnu Sharma who belonged to the Gupta period.

Dharma Sastra : The Dharma sastras are associated with ancient Hindu religious practices. It gives full spiritual sanctity to the caste system and provided very harsh treatment to the Sudras. However in few respects the system is still flexible.

The Republic ; It is an important book written by Plato who was associated with Greek civilization. In this book Plato proposed a society which would be divided into three classes – the lowest class consisting of farmers, artisans and merchants, the second class of soldiers and the highest class of intellectuals who would have all the political power.

Hermes and Dionysus : They were the Gods of Greek civilization. The Greeks had many Gods whom they imagined to be like human beings but with more strength and immortal. Dionysus was the god of wine.

Medidations : This is a book written by Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor who was a Stoic philosopher. In this books he explains his thoughts on how life should be lived. He believed that the purpose of life was not pleasure but equanimity which means the ability to live with reason and self control in any situation.

The Pantheon : It is a temple in Rome which was built in 2nd century A.D. It was dedicated to the Roman Gods.

Avesta – e – Zend : It is the holy book of the Parsees and it is written by Zarathustra in the Iranian Civilization. It explains the there are two forces good and evil and both are at war with each other and the human being has always to cultivate a number of positive virtues by which the good will triumph over the evil.

Q 4. Cite evidences or examples of the Romans’ contributions to law and government. What special achievement in government should be credited to the Greeks ? What achievement to the Han Emperor?

Ans. : The Roman empire included Egypt, Babylon and Greece as well as western Erupor and North Africa. The vast empire of the Romans needed to be controlled with a lot of discipline and thus the Roman Empire has made certain important contributions of their own while making use of the ideas they inherited from the Greeks.

The Roman law and principles of governance are Rome’s greatest contribution to the world. This achievement began with the Law of the Twelve Tables. In course of time it was developed into three main branches – Civil law, Peoples law and Natural law. The idea of republicanism was developed by the Romans. The idea was so strong that for a long time the Roman rulers did not dare to assume royal titles, but called themselves the Servants of the State. It was because of this system of law and administration that the Romans were able to manage such a large empire. For eg. Laws encouraged the development of trade and travel. The roads built primarily for the movement of armies now were being used for the transportation of goods from one place to another. So complete was the system of road link of Rome that people would say “All roads lead to Rome” . This system of disciplined and controlled law and order helped the Romans to control this vast empire which the Greeks could not. But the real foundation of the Roman civilization is based on the Greeks. The early settlers were Greeks. The early Romans or the Italians learned much from the Greeks – their alphabet, their religious belief and art. The name Italia itself is Greek and this civilization started developing when the Greek civilization declined.

The Han emperors too have contributed to the Roman law and order or in other words the Roman civilization has taken certain points from the Han emperors for the development of their law and order.

1) A council was set up to help the King. In the Roman civilization, the Senate was the strongest which helped the King to maintain such a large empire.

2) Thought of welfare of the People. The welfare of the people was the first act of the King.

3) The Philosophy of Confucius which was based on high moral principles that would promote peace and welfare in the State.

4) The idea of selecting talented and educated persons not based on Caste and who were trained to be the beauracrats in the administrative set up of the kingdom.

Q 5. Describe the contribution of the Iranian civilization in the field of Art and Architecture.

Ans. The Iranians were basically followers of the religion of Zoroastrianism which was simple and did not need elaborate temples . The temples are simple and do not contain much of the art and architecture of the Iranian civilization. But the people of Iran during that time have built elaborate palaces which were basically intended to dazzle the visitors and they went out of the way to spend when building their palaces.

The buildings built during the Achaemenid period are notable for their architectural splendor. The empire being vast and powerful, the kings called themselves the kings of kings and so spent heavily when building their buildings and palaces. The artists and the materials to build the buildings were drawn from every part of this vast empire and there is no parallel in the architecture of any other culture of that time.

But after the invasion of Alexander, most of the buildings were destroyed and the period of Sassanid rule saw the revival of Iranian art and architecture to its former glory. During this time the Iranians excelled in the art of gem cutting, metal carving, glass moulding and weaving of valuable cloth. The art and architecture of medival Europe is particularly influenced by the ancient Iranian art and architecture.

Q 6. What are the evidences - specific objects, places and /or individuals that people in the ancient civilizations were beginning more and more to replace superstitions about nature, health and disease with more knowledge of science?

Ans. As the civilizations developed, the idea that all the forces of nature were god sent were fast loosing prominence. The superstitions were being replaced by knowledge of science in all spheres of life. In Chinese civilization, the invention of the Seismograph, helped the people to know the exact time when the earth quakes occurred and in the course of time this led to more study about the earth. So also in the field of medicines the Chinese never believed in the priestly incantations but they had a fair knowledge of human anatomy and they could distinguish diseases and know the symptoms of each and the relationship of health and diet was also known to them.
So also in the Early Indian civilizations many sastras were written on various branches of knowledge such as medicine, astronomy, maths, grammar. The real reason for writing and knowing these sastras was performing the religious functions well. For eg. The need to calculate auspicious days led to the study of astronomy in detail. The need to construct Vedic altars led to the knowledge of geometry , the decimal system and the knowledge of zero. The sacrifices led to the knowledge of anatomy and the early Indian civilizations had a very good knowledge of medicine, the Ayurvedic medicine is still being used today and they knew more about health and hygiene.

The Greek civilizations also had a very good knowledge about medicine, biology and astronomy. Hippocrates is known as the father of medicine and laid the foundation of modern medicine. Study in Maths and geography reached great heights after Alexander’s conquests. The Greek contribution to modern medicine is vast.

Thus as the civilizations progressed much advancement was made in the area of Science giving way to giving up of superstitions and ultimately the advancement of human civilizations.

Q 7. Explain the following terms :

Hellenes : The Greeks came from the north probably from the Danube river valley and each group that came had its own name like Achaeans, Ionians and Dorians. Soon they began to call themselves Hellenes which means Greek.

Demos : The city of Athens primarily consisted of nobles and the slaves. But besides these there were few people who were not slaves and were free and these people are known as Greek Demos.

Tyrant : The city states in Greece were ruled by monarchs but then the wealthy land owners took over the power from the monarchs and vested the political power in their own hands. The rise of commerce and industry gave rise of rich middle class who along with the poor farmers tried the lessen the power of the rich landowners. This conflict gave rise to dictators or tyrants as the Greeks call them.

Oligarchy : In the Greek civilizations in the course of time the rule of the dictators or the tyrants gave rise of states which had a kind of democracy or oligarchy means a rule by a few rich men.

Democracy : The term democracy means the rule by the people. The term is derived from the Greek word Democratia, which was coined from demos means people and kartos meaning rule, in the middle of the 5th century BC to denote the political systems that were existing in some Greek city states, notably Athens.

Republic : It is the book written by Plato which proposed a society were the main political power vested with the the intellectuals.
Republic also means a political system or form of government in which people elect representatives to exercise power for them. It was during the time of Pericles that Athenian democracy reached its pinnacle where the citizens constituted the minority and they enjoyed limited rights in politics and it was similar to todays republican form of government.

Lyric : These are the short poems written in Greek literature and usually they were sung with the Lyre as an accompaniment and so are called lyrics.

Patrician : A member of an aristrocratic family of ancient Rome whose privileges included the exclusive right to hold certain offices.

Plebeian : One of ordinary citizens of ancient Rome as distinct from the patricians.

Monarchy : A political system where the state is ruled by a monarch.

Matriarchy : A form of social order where women are in charge and are recognized as heads of families with power, lineage and inheritance passing where possible from mothers to daughters.

Patriarchy :A form of social order where men are considered as those in authority within the family and society and in which power and possessions are passed on from father to son.

Stoic: A member of an ancient Greek school of philosophy that asserted that happiness can only be achieved by accepting life’s ups and downs as products of unalterable destiny. It was founded around 308 BC by Zeno.

Pax Romana : The long period of peace and stability that existed under the Roman Empire especially in 2nd century AD.

Shrenis : Artisans producing specialized goods were organized into guilds called Shrenis.

Sudras : The lowest runk in the society ladder of Indian civilizations. They were mainly untouchables who were to live outside the cities and villages and did menial tasks.

Seismology : A scientific study of earthquakes first studied by the Chinese civilization.

Mandarin : The official language of People’s Republic of China . It belongs to the Chinese branch of sino-tibetian languages and is spoken by most of the Chinese in the world.

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