dan b;117102 wrote:
I'm not refering to either spoken language or written language in particular. I don't know wich it was or if it was language at all that got us so ahead in the game of inventions and making the modern world that everybody wants. I'm just trying(and it's been particularly hard for some reason) to put forth the question. Why did everything get going in Mesopotamia about 4000BC and why did we in the west invent the modern world, and why does everybody else in the world want it so bad. Why don't they just invent it themselves? dan b
Prior to the "leap of civilization" or "urban revolution", back around 10,000 (?) BC there was the "leap of agriculture", going from hunters/gatherers to growing and processing cereal grains. That, too, is considered an un-natural leap. Going back further, although the fossil record is very, very sparse, homo sapiens sapiens were around for about 50,000 years making no apparent cultural progress until the rather rapid advent of "modern human behavior" approximately 50,000 years ago, perhaps roughly correlating with the "out of africa" migration (not walking through N Africa, but apparently "sailing" from the coast of S Africa? still a mystery). And how is it that modern genetics tells us we ALL came from a very small gene pool of 1,000 to 10,000 "breeding couples", when there had apparently been many more homo sapiens sapiens around?
I believe that modern scholarship considers Southern Mesopotamia as one of the three cradles of civilization, the other two being the Indus Valley and Egypt. There is some developing archaeology in Northern China which could yield a smaller fourth area, perhaps a river or sea port, but I'm not well versed on what's happening there.
The triad of ancient Sumeria (in Southern Mesopotamia), Egypt and the Indus Valley has largely been established through continued Egyptian archaeology and examination of Mesopotamian trade records. The three were clearly connected. Unfortunately, we cannot get to some critical areas of Iraq, and many of the museum records and archaeological sites and artifacts formerly in that region are gone, either looted or blown up. The Indus Valley climate is not a good one for preservation. Much of what has been recently determined comes from continued, painstaking examination of extant clay Mesopotamian tablets cuneiform tablets, and continued digging in Egypt.
There is still no answer as to "why" the cultural revolution. As one archaeologist noted (concerning Mesopotamia), we've been digging for over a hundred years and we have nothing. No footprints (migration), no transition layers, nothing. Same with Egypt, I believe. A "high" civilization just appeared out of the blue. Interesting, too, that the oldest Sumerian written tablets are, per linguistic examination, indicative of a culture which had been established for some time, probably already peaked and was in decay. What these "high civilizations" gave us are, per their own descriptions of what the "seven sages" gave them, were "the arts and skills of civilization". Writing, math, tools and technology in myriad fields such as building, metallurgy, mining techniques, architecture, weaving, food processing and serving, vehicles and roads and transporation methods, canals, extensive trade by land and sea routes with inventories and records, etc, etc. Music, literature and art were highly developed, important parts of these societies. Irrigation and some agricultural tools had already been part of the leap of agriculture, but were much improved after the leap of civilization.
There are serious, legitimate questions to be answered here, and no scholarly consensus since we all seem to be speculating from silence.