August 26, 2008

Earthquakes and civilizations

The author writes:
Duration of ancient civilizations is relatively easy to calculate for most of them
Not at all easy, and quite arbitrary. For example, China and Egypt are assigned the longest durations, whereas Mycenaeans and Greeks are divided, even though the Mycenaeans spoke Greek, and Roman civilization, at least in the eastern provinces was never anything other than Greek. It could be argued that foreign political dominance would render Roman-era Greek civilization as non-Greek, but then it should render large periods of Egyptian and Chinese civilization non-Egyptian and non-Chinese as well.

And, what of the decision to use Corinth's co-ordinates for Greek civilization, since none of the important elements of post-Mycenaean Greek civilization originated in Corinth.

Without a clear rule about what constitutes a civilization, when/where it begins and when it ends, this is just a futile exercise. There may be something to earthquakes and civilization, since earthquakes may facilitate change and adaptation, but this is certainly not the way to demonstrate it.

Geoarchaeology Volume 23 Issue 5, Pages 644 - 653

Tectonic environments of ancient civilizations in the eastern hemisphere

Eric R. Force


The map distribution of ancient civilizations shows a remarkable correspondence with tectonic boundaries related to the southern margin of the Eurasian plate. Quantification of this observation shows that the association is indeed significant, and both historical records and archaeoseismological work show that these civilizations commonly suffered earthquake damage. Close association of ancient civilizations with tectonic activity seems to be a pattern of some kind. In the hope that dividing the civilizations into subsets might clarify the meaning of this relation, primary and derivative civilizations were compared. Derivative civilizations prove to be far more closely related to the tectonic boundaries. Similarly, the civilizations that endured the longest (and that have been described as most static) are systematically the farthest from plate boundaries. It is still unclear how the relation actually worked in ancient cultures, i.e., what aspects of tectonism promoted complexity. Linkages to water and other resources, trade (broadly construed), and societal response seem likely. Volcanism appears not to be involved.



McG said...

Do you accept Solon's/Platos comments by the Egyptian Priest about early Greece as true?? The Oseirion (sp) Egypts oldest "monument" had a fleet of ships buried next to it! Early Egyptian art and monuments are their greatest achievements. So when and where did Greece and Egypt really begin??

dienekesp said...

I think it's quite possible that this particular story was really told by an Egyptian priest to Solon. What its factual content was is another matter.

The idea that catastrophes have played a role in disrupting the memory of distant events definitely seems to be the case for Greece. Greek mythology had three great Floods (of Phoroneus, Ogygus, and Deukalion) which were placed in the 2nd millennium BC.

Antigonos said...

Blood and language are indicators of continuation of a civilization!
If the same stock speaks the same language over time (even in secret or unofficially) then it should be regarded as one unity.

Eric R. Force said...

About Dionekes'second paragraph, see my reply in, posting for April 23, in notes. It's been 2 1/2 years now, and Dionekes has been almost alone in objecting to addressing tectonic-culture interactions in the way I did in 2008. My blog will eventually cover a wide variety of different ways of looking at these interactions. Eric R. Force