Category Archives: ancient civilizations
This isn’t quite in the same vein as my earlier “Plato or Aristotle”, that is, in terms of asking preferences. Rather, it’s more about our society’s imagination and “preference” if you want to put it that way. In case you’re interested, if I were asked this as a preference, my answer would be “Egypt”. Let’s move to the main subject, though.
I’ve been reading Our Gods Wear Spandex and The Cult of Alien Gods of late, and Egypt comes up tangentially in both. That got me to reading some of my books on Egyptian archaeology and mythology; and that got me to thinking. The two oldest Western cultures are Egyptian and Mesopotamian. I’m not going to go to much trouble to defend the term “Western”. Egypt is in Africa, and Mesopotamia in what is now usually termed the “Middle East”, of course. However, historically they have both had extensive contacts with the Mediterranean and later the Greco-Roman world, especially from the Hellenistic Era onward. Since both were absorbed into the Arabic/Islamic world from the 7th Century onward, we tend to think of them both as “Middle Eastern”; but for millennia the two cultures exercised profound influence on what would become the West. Certainly there are long connections and cultural commonalities of a type not seen in our relationship, say, with the also-ancient Chinese culture, or for that matter with the better-known (in Antiquity) but still distant culture of India. Thus, “Western” they are for this essay. Read the rest of this entry