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profen4
08-20-2012, 07:33 PM
What is the oldest recorded civilization (and when was it?)

Also, what is the oldest recorded written words (like actual words on stone tablets ... ) I thought Egyptians, 2000BC, but isn't there something older than that?. Not cave paintings, but actual written language.
do ngu goi cam (http://doxinh.com/danh-muc/do-ngu/) do ngu nam goi cam (http://doxinh.com.vn/danh-muc/do-ngu/do-ngu-nam/) do so sinh (http://doxinh.vn/) ban buon (http://trangbanbuon.com/) vay cong so (http://trangbanbuon.vn/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/vay-cong-so/) album anh be dep (http://roses.vn/album/)
Google (even Google scholar) is giving me all kinds of answers to these questions and I'm having a hard time getting a solid answer.

RichardGarfinkle
08-20-2012, 07:43 PM
The answers are not simple.

1. The meaning of the word civilization is fuzzy at best, so what are you defining as civilized.

2. Most forms of writing evolve from pictographs so the line between pictures and writing is not a sharp one.

There was some form of civilization and possibly writing in China 8000 years ago, but the writing is a matter of opinion.

There was a civilization in India at least 5000 years ago, possibly a fair bit earlier.


There were settled societies in South American 10,000 years ago, but again what are you defining as civilized.

And, of course, peoples have been living in Africa in various social structures, settled and unsettled since before humans were human.

Dave Hardy
08-20-2012, 08:01 PM
Written Sumerian pre-dates 3000 BC. I recall some early Harappan also pre-3000 BC. If you want to stretch a bit, there's always Marija Gimbutas' theories about Old European script encoded in pottery c7000 BC.

benbenberi
08-20-2012, 08:03 PM
Depends how you define "civilization."

There have been some recent finds in Turkey that push back the horizon on towns a fair bit (rather substantial urban settlements ca 8-10,000 BCE -- definitely well before actual agriculture of domesticated crops existed).

Snick
08-20-2012, 08:13 PM
Garfinkle is basically right, but there have been settled cultures in various places for 10,000 years. The matter does rest on the definition of civilization. The oldest civilizations with continuity that is related to modern civilization were Sumeria and Egypt. There were settled cultures in India (Harappan), but that appears to have ended and there was a gap until the next civilization. While there were settled cultures in China a long time ago, all of those were temporary until about 1700 BCE.

If you count pictographs as writing, then writing goes back tens of thousands of years. If you define writing as a translatable set of symbols that are similar to what we have now, then Sumerian was the oldest. There were some interesting seals in the Harappan culture, but their meanings are not known, and they may have been personal seals.

Medievalist
08-20-2012, 08:26 PM
Written Sumerian pre-dates 3000 BC. I recall some early Harappan also pre-3000 BC. If you want to stretch a bit, there's always Marija Gimbutas' theories about Old European script encoded in pottery c7000 BC.

Yeah, skip Gimbutas. She made shit up.

profen4
08-20-2012, 08:39 PM
I'm defining civilization as, human (Homo sapiens sapiens), with a settlement. It could be simple government, but a system of order. As for language, pictograph is fine as long as it's a standard and if not translatable, something that is clearly a form of standardized written communication. I was hoping for something 10,000 BC. The furthest I was coming up with on Google was 3000 BC
do ngu dep (http://doxinh.com/danh-muc/do-ngu/) do ngu nam dep (http://doxinh.com.vn/danh-muc/do-ngu/do-ngu-nam/) do dung sau sinh (http://doxinh.vn/danh-muc/do-dung-cho-me/do-dung-sau-sinh/) quan ao ban buon (http://trangbanbuon.com/) vest cong so (http://trangbanbuon.vn/danh-muc/thoi-trang-cong-so/vest-cong-so/) album anh cuoi dep (http://roses.vn/album/)
Thanks for all the information so far, guys. Great stuff!

Dave Hardy
08-20-2012, 08:45 PM
Yeah, skip Gimbutas. She made shit up.

Well, I guess I have a soft spot for her since as a fictioneer I make shit up too! Last I checked Gimbutas' Kurgan thesis is still regarded as pretty important in Indo-European studies. I think she got really New-Agey later on with the "Old European" goddess-matriarchy getting run-over by patriarchal Indo-Europeans in chariots. I'm not sure how seriously to take that, but it can be a lot of fun. ;)

flapperphilosopher
08-20-2012, 09:21 PM
Google (even Google scholar) is giving me all kinds of answers to these questions and I'm having a hard time getting a solid answer.

As others have pointed out, that's because there really isn't a solid answer. So much depends on definition and perspective, plus there's new finds all the time and new perspectives on old finds. Archaeologists and anthropologists are all coming at the question with different angles and biases and evidence. We don't and can't know enough to say anything with absolute certainty-- rather it's all theories and hypotheses based on the evidence that can change as the evidence does.

So, yeah, can of worms, haha. Maybe it would be helpful if you gave a bit of context on the kind of story you want to tell, and we can help you fit a society/"civilization" that would fit best?

WeaselFire
08-20-2012, 09:54 PM
Google (even Google scholar) is giving me all kinds of answers to these questions and I'm having a hard time getting a solid answer.
What about this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cradle_of_civilization

Of course, since nobody actually agrees on any of this, especially not the experts, why do you think we know? :)

Jeff

WeaselFire
08-20-2012, 09:57 PM
By the way, traditional history puts the Sumerians as the first "written language" group (about 6500 BC) although the Chinese might date as much as a half century earlier.

Jeff

Snick
08-20-2012, 10:51 PM
I'm defining civilization as, human (Homo sapiens sapiens), with a settlement. It could be simple government, but a system of order.

Such a broad definition could be applied to a tribe that was spending a year by a sea or a river more than 500,000 years ago. There is no direct evidence, but people probably were living in more or less settled situations most of the time 50,000 years ago. Take whatever you like, but don't expect to find much physical evidence, because it was mostly non-durable.


As for language, pictograph is fine as long as it's a standard and if not translatable, something that is clearly a form of standardized written communication. I was hoping for something 10,000 BC. The furthest I was coming up with on Google was 3000 BC


That 3000 BCE date is about right for anything that can be identified as language, as we understand it. There are older inscriptions that probably transmitted information, but they were not sufficiently widespread to be lanaguge. The Chinese were using symbols that were like I Ching symbols for a few thousand years before they created a real set of pictograph.

The Egyptians didn't have a system of pictographs until abuot 3000 BCE, but there are some symbols from earlier.

If you want something from 10,000 BCE, then you will have to write fiction. There is no reason to think that there could not have been written language from that time. It could have looked like what the American Indians used, which is not language in the strict sense, butit suggests meanings to one who looks at it.

Friendly Frog
08-20-2012, 11:17 PM
It's hard to give clear answers to vague questions since so much of concepts like settlements, writing or civilisation depend on interpretation or have no clear boundaries.


I'm defining civilization as, human (Homo sapiens sapiens), with a settlement. It could be simple government, but a system of order.
But going by this you might get lucky with Göbekli Tepe in Turkey which can fit some of your requirements.

It's not a settlement as such, but more of a temple complex. There were very likely actual settlements nearby but I don't think they have been found so far, if there is anything left to find. Some structures made of perishable materials like wood or hides generally doesn't preserve well if at all.

Last dating I heard was 9000BCE. So it will definitely not be the oldest settlement, but it is one of the oldest known built stone structures. It doesn't have actual writing, but some figurative carving which probably will have had a meaning.

Siri Kirpal
08-22-2012, 11:22 PM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Catal Huyuk on the Anatolian plain had a large settlement, centers of ritual, artwork in about 7000 BCE.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

blacbird
08-23-2012, 07:37 AM
What Garfinkle said. The definition of "civilization" is fuzzy at best. Human social evolution has a long history, most of which is recorded only in fragmentary archeological remains. Which immediately brings up the issue of how do you date these things? Scientific methods, e.g., carbon-14, give only a window of time, not a precise date. From all evidence I've seen, it seems humans in various regions of the globe (Egypt, China, Sumeria, western South America, MesoAmerica, progressed in a similar way over many millenia, before "written" records became extant. Some of the greatest "civilizations" (Incas, for example) had no writing. Others (Indus valley) left behind very little in archeological evidence because they didn't build or record things in stone, having none available to them.

Do we consider the builders of the swath of stone circle monuments and other similar things in northwestern Europe "civilizations"? Certainly they had a major level of societal organization, but they did not record anything in writing, and we don't even have much clue as to their spoken languages.

caw

RN Hill
08-24-2012, 03:02 AM
If you want settlements only, look up the Sultanian and Natufian cultures, and Catal Hyuk, all c. 10,000 - 8,000BC (Turkey). Indus Valley (Harappan) is fascinating too, but a bit later, as others have said.

Fenika
08-25-2012, 06:50 AM
I think you need to start early in history, read up on various cultures (using books, not just google ofc) and then move forward in time until you find what you like.