Problems Associated with the Expansion of Civilized Society

Civilization: The Age of Masked Gods and Disguised Kings – Volume I

There is general agreement in the scientific discussion of our key question: when and where did the world’s current dominant civilization develop? The location of this development was in the Upper and Lower basins of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. And, indeed, my analysis in the previous two sections indicates that the mountain basin skirting the Upper Tigris and Euphrates is the root of civilization—the ovule. The fertilization of the ovule by the Sumerian priests led to the foundation of civilized society. The process that I have described in one sentence, however, took place over thousands of years of trial and error.

As there is not a single event, notion, institution, action, personality or society that does not bear the effects of time and location, a method of investigation that takes these two factors into account will necessarily add to a meaningful result. Thus, in agreement with Fernand Braudel, I hold that it is essential for the establishment of a meaningful sociology that the concept of term—or duration—forms a fundamental part of the methodology. But I want to go further than Braudel and propose that location should also be included. (It remains a puzzle to me why Western scientists generally ignore the factors of location and time. Could it be a result of a Eurocentric approach or a tendency to universalize Europe?) A methodology of sociological investigation that includes history and location will reveal not only what we have been and what we are now, it will also reveal how life could proceed. If past and present are within reach of one another, and if locations complement one another like the steps of a staircase, then it follows that humanity is a whole and it can live up to this unity without the need for ethnicity, religions, nations, states, alliances, and international bodies like the UN and Socialist Internationals.

These introductory notes indicate the approach I will follow in my analysis of civilization’s expansion over location and time.

a. Problems with the expansion of the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations

As previously stated, the Neolithic institutionalization was the ovule out of which civilization grew. Without this ovule, the Sumerian fertilization would have been meaningless; there was no other ovule from which it could have sprouted. Just as we can’t think of the United States without the existence of Europe, one can’t think of the Lower Tigris and Euphrates becoming what it is without the existence of the Upper Tigris and Euphrates civilization.

An important question regarding expansion is why were advanced settlements in the Middle Tigris and Euphrates region, and even in Anatolia, unable to make the transition to urbanization. Looking back 5,000 years, we see that there were many regions that nearly reached the civilization stage and many big villages that entered into the stage of urbanization. However, for reasons still unclear, they collapsed before making the transition to a more advanced level. Examples of this are Çatalhöyük in southern Anatolia and the excavated villages in the border region between Iran and Turkmenistan.61

Urbanization will occur only in the presence of a sizeable and permanent population. Populations expand drastically only when there is a surplus in food production. Oversupplies of food occur only where there is artificial irrigation of the alluvial earth at river mouths, as in the alluvial region around the Nile and the Tigris-Euphrates rivers. Besides the preconditions of population size and permanence, certain cultural factors must be present in the surrounding regions. No single alluvial region could have formed the Neolithic culture because the pre-conditions were not all met. On the other hand, not all the pre-conditions needed for urbanization existed in the Neolithic culture.

At around 3,500 BCE, the Uruk urban civilization developed at the lower end of the basin. It established a colonial order and developed a system that multiplied the number of cities under its domain. It has the honor of being the first civilization in history. It collapsed around 3,000 BCE—likely due to the rivalry of systems with more fertile and numerous cities—but the survival of the cult of the goddess Inanna and the Gilgamesh legend attest to the immortality of the culture.

The dynastic period of Ur began at about 3,000 BCE. It continued to exist in the form of three dynasties until it collapsed at around 2,000 BCE. The first written law codes, literary epics, academies, conflicts between cities just as ruthless as those of today (striking examples of this are found in epics such as the Nippur Lament and the Curse of Akkad), are just a few things that come to mind about this period. It seems that Ur had an extensive colonial system. In fact, many of the early colonies in the Zagros-Taurus arch were theirs, but they ceased to exist just as quickly as they developed. One may conclude that this was due to the cultural strength of the society within which they formed their colonies.

The age of Babylon began at around 2,000 BCE. Although it adopted the written Akkadian language for official use, Sumerian was retained as sacred language. In essence, Babylon formed part of the Sumerian civilization and Babylon, especially with regards to science and institutionalization, can be seen as the apogee of the Sumerian civilization. The city of Babylon can be likened to the European city of Paris. It was a city of science, culture and commerce; cultures from all over converged there, and there, for the first time, cosmopolitanism occurred. The age of the Nimrods (the initial strong kings) started in Babylon. Keeping in mind that many of the Greek philosophers (including Solon) took their first schooling in Babylon, will help us appreciate that its influence spread like a chain reaction. The Enuma Elish myth, depicting the sorrowful story of women’s plight, is renowned for its description of the struggle between the god Marduk and the goddess Tiamat. Its astronomy, its sages’ prophecies, its captivity of the Israelites, its huge written literature and its resistance to the Assyrians are some aspects of this culture that cannot be forgotten. Despite it being conquered and ruled by, amongst others, the Kassites, the Assyrians and the Persians, Babylonian culture never lost its influence in this region. The Babylonian era, in total a period of 1,500 years, has left a strong imprint on human memory, albeit nowadays not always consciously noticed.

The Assyrian era can be divided into three periods. The first period (about 2,000-1,600 BCE) was the period of the merchant kings. They constructed trade colonies in Cappadocia, for instance Kanesh (close to today’s Kültepe in central Anatolia). The trade colonies stretched from the eastern Mediterranean to the shores of the Punjab and from the Black Sea to the Red Sea, with Nineveh—located near today’s Mosul—as the center of their activities. This was a blossoming period not only for trade but for architecture too, as can be seen from the remains of temple-palaces in ancient cities like Nineveh. In the next period (approximately 1,500-1,300 BCE) Assyria lost its influence when it became a vassal of Mitanni, a Hurrian-speaking state. In the Neo-Assyrian Period (approximately 1,300-612 BCE) Assyria became the most powerful and largest empire the world had ever seen. Neo-Assyria is infamous for its brutality in war, for ethnic cleansing and for the total evacuation of a region. In the Assyrian era, strong resistance grew amongst the various peoples; the strongest resistance coming from the proto-Kurds (the Hurrians) under the leadership of the Urartu kings.62 The fact that the Kurdish people still exist in this area is due to that resistance. As a matter of fact, the alliance of the Medes (who also had Hurrian roots) with the Babylonians led to the collapse of this huge empire around 612 BCE. Assyria was the last empire of Sumerian origin and made a huge contribution to the development and expansion of this civilization, especially with regard to trade and architecture.

Central Mesopotamia was the likely conduit through which the Sumerian civilization expanded when the first centers of civilization (aside from those of Lower Mesopotamia) developed, even though differences of form and essence occurred in the new centers of civilization. This area was the homeland of the Hurrians. The Hurrians are the first group to be identified in written sources as being related to the Aryan language and culture group. It may be meaningful to postulate them as the proto-Kurds. The structural similarities of the languages, as made obvious by etymological and linguistic analyses, show their connection to the Kurds. What information we have about them came from archaeological, linguistic, and ethnological research. The records indicate that they were an ethnically identifiable group since 6,000 BCE. They probably settled in the Zagros-Taurus system during the last ice age, where they were part of the Neolithic village and agricultural revolution and the development of animal husbandry. It seems that some Hurrians lived a sedentary life in the open plains while others lived a nomadic life in the mountains and plateaus.63 During the Neolithic, the inhabitants of this zone had the most contact with the Sumerians, followed by the Arameans—a Semitic group.

Indications of the first civilization with Hurrian origins (if the period of Neolithic institutionalization from 6,000 to 4,000 BCE is ignored) can be seen from 3,000 BCE. Those Hurrians that settled in the Sumerian region made an early transition to urban civilization; those that stayed behind turned their settlements into city-states as well, but this happened very slowly due to irrigation and weather conditions. Findings at archaeological sites in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins such as Kazane, Titriş, Gre Virike, Zeytinlibahçe and lately Göbekli Tepe (close to Urfa), including castle walls, internal and external settlements, structures resembling temples, statuettes and samples of trading goods, prove the formation of cities.64 With some of these cities going back as far as 3,000 and 2,750 BCE, it is realistic to say that they were the first non-Sumerian city groups.65 New archaeological work may well show that the Middle Tigris and Euphrates river basin was the next big center of the civilization. The findings and the consequent analyses at Göbekli Tepe may even rewrite history.66

The next civilization of Hurrian origin expanded to such a degree that its political administration resembled that of an empire. The state of Mitanni, with its origins in Central Mesopotamia, lasted from 1,600 BCE until the rise of the Assyrian empire around 1,250 BCE. The Mitanni capital city, Washukanni, was probably located on a tributary of the Euphrates, the Kabhur River, in Syria.67 At its height, the Mitannian Empire controlled northern Mesopotamia and Syria—from the Tigris and the region of Assyria to the Mediterranean. The fact that Thutmosis I described Mitanni as an important military force, indicates just how influential the empire was.—as does the fact that it was able to hold off the Assyrians and Babylonians for four hundred years and prevented Thutmosis III from expanding over the Euphrates. The Mitannians used hieroglyphics and cuneiform script. Their cultural legacy includes a unique architecture and a manual on chariotry by a Mitannian named Kikkuli. Recovered tablets indicate that the language structure of the Mitanni differed from Hurrian, but the two languages had the same origins. The Mitanni and the Hittites both spoke Aryan languages.68

It is often claimed that the Hittites came through the Straits or that they were Caucasian and came from the east through Iran. Neither of these assumptions seem plausible. From the significant traces of Hurrian language and culture in the Hittite artifacts, we can deduce that the Hittites were a ruling group of Hurrian noblemen. Their gods, literature, diplomatic relations, and remnants of Egyptian palaces display their similarity to the Mitanni of Central Anatolia. In the same period that the Mitanni took control of the center of the Assyrian empire, the Hittites overwhelmed the Assyrian colonies and established the Hittite empire. It lasted from about 1,600 to 1,250 BCE. It is quite possible that the Mitanni and Hittite states were actually two large regions of one huge Hurrian state that we know nothing about, with a “missing link” between the Mitanni and Hittite regions. I believe that further investigation may yet uncover evidence to this effect. Excavations of the important Hittite centers, such as the capital of the empire, Hattusa, indicate the significant contribution the Hittites made to the progress of civilization. For instance, Hattusa far surpassed the sacred settlements of the Ziggurat: temples for religious activities, palaces for the administration, residence for the workers and storage rooms for produce were separated and a larger area was protected by castle walls. Many similar cities can be encountered. As far as governance is concerned, significant political reforms were proclaimed in the constitutional edict of Telipinus—for instance, he prescribed that nobles should have legal means to seek redress should they be dissatisfied with the conduct of the king or royal family and to not take the law into their own hands. He also decreed that the pankus (“whole body of citizens”) should constitute the supreme court for punishment of lawbreakers. Furthermore, in the military field, the Hittite state was the most advanced of its time.

The cities of Troy and Ahhiyawa to the west of the Hittite empire, Aşkava and Kaska to the north, and Cilicia were all neighbors of the Hittites and had relations with their infamous rival in the south, the Egyptian pharaoh-state.69 In the central region lived the unique people, the Hattians. They called themselves the people from the “country with thousand gods”—an indication that their relationship with their gods was one of friendship, not of rivalry.70 One of the most famous documents in history is the treaty between the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II and the king of the Hittites, Hattusili III.71

Much has already been said about the Egyptian civilization on the banks of the Nile. Although this civilization seems to have developed independently, we have to acknowledge that it carried traces of Aryan cultural values, as shown below. Neither the inner dynamics of the society on the Nile nor that of its close neighbors had the ability to produce such a civilization. There is a third possibility, namely that the Egyptian culture is a reflection of the Aryan culture, absorbed through the widespread reciprocal migration of the time. The greatness of the Egyptian civilization cannot be disputed, but neither can the fact that it did not permanently expand beyond the Nile, nor the fact that there was no native culture in the Nile area capable of developing into the Egyptian civilization. The development of the Nile culture, then, must either be a miracle from above or the result of the Neolithic revolution in the Taurus-Zagros system. On the other hand, I believe that the influence the Egyptian civilization had on the Sumerian civilization was far smaller than its influence on the Greco-Roman civilization.

The center of the Old Kingdom (more or less 2,700-2,200 BCE and encompassing many dynasties) was the alluvial area in Lower Egypt around the capital Ineb-Hedg (called Memphis by the Greeks) close to modern-day Cairo. The numerous monumental gravesites that were built by the pharaohs during the Old Kingdom, also known as the Age of Pyramids, display the god-like power of the kings. The abundance of temples built during the Middle Kingdom (about 2,030-1,640 BCE) reflects the strong influence of the priests during this period. During part of the Middle Kingdom, the capital was in Upper Egypt at Waset (Thebes) at today’s Luxor; Amenemhat I built his capital at Itj-Tawi in Lower Egypt (probably at today’s town of El-Lisht, close to Cairo). The Middle Kingdom ended when the Hyksos, a group of mixed Semitic-Asiatic origin, overthrew the pharaoh regime in about 1,630 BCE. This accomplishment, something that no one before them could achieve, shows their cultural and organizational strength. They ruled Egypt for about one hundred and fifty years. The period of the New Kingdom started in about 1,550 BCE. This period coincided with a period of development in trade, just as it did in Assyria. Initially, the New Kingdom had its center in Upper Egypt (the formidable temple complex of Karnak is an indication of the power of the Theban priests); later, the capital was moved back to Lower Egypt—to Avaris (close to the Nile Delta) and Memphis. Although the priests were still strong during this period, they were secondary to the kings—except in isolated cases as during the reign of Ramses II, when the high priest of Amun at Thebes in effect ruled Upper Egypt. The Semitic Hebrew tribe arrived in Egypt in about 1,600 BCE (that is, after the arrival of the Hyksos) and returned to the Middle East after three hundred years, in about 1,300 BCE. Their stay in Egypt thus coincided with the rule of King Akhenaton (1,350 to 1,334 BCE), famous for declaring the first monotheistic state religion in history. Many princesses from both the Hittite and Mitanni kingdoms were sent to the Egyptian palaces as brides.72 Since about 1,000 BCE, tribal attacks from the south by groups of Sudanese-Abyssinian origin, and attacks by the Assyrians since 670 BCE, weakened the Egyptian state. In 664 BCE, the Assyrians conquered Memphis and Thebes. Egypt, then, was no match for the Achaemenid Persians, and in 525 BCE it became part of the Persian Empire. Alexander conquered Egypt in 333 BCE. When in 30 BC, toward the beginning of the Christian era, the Ptolemaic queen Cleopatra was defeated by Rome, it meant the end of the third phase of the four thousand year old civilization.

The question will always be: Sumer or Egypt, who influenced whom? The Egyptian civilization shows authenticity in terms of shipbuilding, the erecting of stone columns, wall paintings, the art of calendar making, medicine, astrology and mummification. But the hieroglyphic writing system is more primitive than the cuneiform system of the Sumerians—its functionality is limited. The Egyptian religious structure is more like a complex copy of the Sumerian system: while the Isis-Osiris tradition could be derived from the Inanna-Enki tradition, the Amon Ra tradition is very close to the Ziggurat system of the Sumerian priests.

Excavated tombs attest to the advanced architecture of the Egyptians. Though these are architectural wonders, they also are the manifestation of a frenzy that consumed a frightening amount of slave labor. This civilization, which has left as big a footprint in history as Sumer, practiced the classical slave system in its purest form. In no other civilization has the unity of slave and master reached the level it had in Egypt. As in Sumer, the promise of an after-world offered by Egyptian religion was a strong legitimization device needed to convince the slaves, who certainly did not have an easy life. It is this strong civilizational region that invented the paradigm of heaven, hell and the life to come. There is a strong possibility that Egyptian religion influenced the Abrahamic religions as much as the Sumerian and Babylonian religious beliefs did. The fact that Moses was brought up in the Egyptian culture, and that his ancestor Abraham fled from the Babylonian Nimrods, reminds us of the strong influence of these two cultures upon, and their synthesis in, the Abrahamic religions. In its original form, the Egyptian pharaoh regime shows many characteristics of what today we would describe as state communism.

Urartu was also a first generation civilization. It is believed that after a long era of being a confederation, the Urartu civilization took its first step toward becoming a centralized kingdom around 870 BCE due to a continuous struggle between the Assyrians and the Nairians.73 The Assyrian inscription stating that King Sarduri defeated all those that crossed him with the support and protection of the god Haldi may have heralded his magnificent march to a centralized kingdom.74 It is presumed that Urartu was the first state consisting of provinces with a centralized government. This strong, centralized state stretched from the eastern skirts of the Zagros to the western shores of the Euphrates, from the Aras valleys in the north to the Assyrian region in the south, as far as the northern border of today’s Syria. The area around today’s Van was their headquarters. It was named Tushpa, most probably after the ancient god of the sun, Teshup. Many castles were built in the area of their headquarters. Their system of belief was strongly influenced by the Sumerians and the Assyrians. They exchanged their hieroglyphic script for Assyrian cuneiform script. Besides Urartu (which seems to be related to Hurrian and the languages of the tribes migrating from north-eastern Caucasia) Assyrian was used as court language. After the fall of the Urartian state in the sixth century BCE, the use of Urartu was limited to the elite while the common people spoke a language related to proto-Armenian.

It may not be unwarranted to call Urartu the strongest civilization of the Iron Age. Many weapons, cauldrons, plates and clothes made of an iron-copper mixture have survived. It seems that they were the earliest civilization to have used processed iron ona huge scale. Besides advancing to a civilization stage of urbanization and having an official capital, they developed the new concept of a centralized state. Their road network was excellent—one can still make out the routes. The royal tombs carved into rocks are magnificent. Enslaved neighboring peoples were used in the construction of castles and cities. They were quite advanced in their water channel systems and the making of ponds. They resisted the Assyrians for three hundred years—a conflict that led to both states being defeated by the Medes and their allies. History has not witnessed a similar political formation in this geographical since.

The Medo-Persian Empire constituted the final, magnificent rise of this first generation of civilizations. The word Mede came from the ancient Greeks. The historian Herodotus said, “The Medes were called ‘ancient’ by all people Aryan” and, indeed, we can call the culture of the Median descendants authentically Aryan because no other group has succeeded in occupying their land. The Median culture was shaped at the Zagros mountain range and can be traced back to the Gutians and Kassites. (A common approach is to classify all these tribes as Hurrian.) These tribal clans were probably the groups that suffered most from constant clashes with the Assyrians and we can surmise that this resistance was the reason behind their statehood, although they also had clashes with the Scythians that came from the Caucasus.

The Medes had a reasonably successful confederation after the tribal clans loosely united in 715 BCE. The continuous oppression by Assur and Urartu led the Medes into an alliance with the Scythians (forming alliances seem to be a historical tradition). Despite the fact that the leadership often changed hands, they destroyed the Urartu palaces (around 615 BCE) and shortly afterwards burnt down the city of Assur—one of the capitals of Assyria—to end these last two strong civilizations of Mesopotamia. According to Herodotus, their famed capital Ecbatana (present-day Hamadan in Iran) was surrounded by seven circular walls of different colors. Their short-lived period of rule was closely linked to their relation with the Persian tribes, who were close relatives. The political formation that they had built up over three hundred years was snatched by the Persian Achaemenid Empire. The Persian Cyrus the Great, grandson of the Median king Astyages, allied with the military commander of the palace, Harpagus, in order to overthrow his overlord, King Astyages, in a terrible coup. The historical records of Herodotus claim that, faced with this coup, Astyages said to Harpagus, “What a wretched soul! Now that you have overthrown me, why have you given the power to a Persian bastard? Why did you transfer the power to the Persian and not be ruler yourself? At least it could have stayed with the Medes!”

I believe Herodotus called all those of Hurrian cultural origin “Medes.” He respected them highly, seeing the Persians as secondary to them. He was correct in conceiving the cultural stamp of the region to be that of the Medes. The Persians, at the time, were at the beginning of their fame in history. The magnificence of the Hurrian culture was even then famous from the shores of the Aegean to Elam and from the Caucasus to the Egyptian palaces, as disclosed by Herodotus.

A similar role as the one played by the initial priests, namely to construct the new mentality and gods within the Sumerian civilization, was played by priest in the establishment of the Urartu and Medo-Persian civilizations. The priests called the Magi were probably symbolic figures or else magi was the title for the Zoroastrian priests, who had their central, sacred town at Musasir.75 We can thus assume that the initial pantheon of their gods was established there and later taken to Tushpa, Ecbatana and Persepolis.

Without an old tradition of priesthood it is difficult to build important civilizations. The philosophers and their philosophy in the Greek culture, and the intellectuals of the Age of Enlightenment in the European civilization, played a similar role. (It may be instructive to see the sheikh of the Semitics and the Hebrew prophets in the same role.) The role played by the Magi and Zoroaster should also be recognized—especially in the rise of the Medes. It is my conviction that the Magi and the foundation of the Zoroastrian belief and morals reflect the values of the Neolithic society by seeing fire, agriculture and livestock as sacred. A belief and moral system like that could not have been contaminated with the impurities of civilization. It is different from the inventions of the Sumerian priests, such as their masked god-kings. In fact, it is the opposite. It rests on the idea that the universe is full of contention between good and evil, light and darkness. The fundamental norm within the Zoroastrian priesthood is the existence of free morality—it does not speak of how to manufacture gods, but of the sacredness of agriculture, livestock and the characteristics of free human beings.76 These morals played a determining role in the defeat of Assur and the rise of the Medo-Persian Empire.

After the death of Cyrus, a group of Mede origin gained power during a coup in 528 BCE. However, they were easily eliminated and the infamous rule of Darius began.77 In a very short time, after the collapse of the Ionian cities in Babylonia, Egypt and the Aegean shores, the most extensive empire was established that history had seen till then—stretching from the Aegean to the shores of the Pençav (“Five waters,” the Punjab River). It was the strongest civilization of its time, excluding China. Undoubtedly, it had been influenced by the cultures of the Sumerian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Urartu civilizations. On the other hand, it had been nurtured by the free spirit of the Aryan culture. It also had relations with the Scythians coming from the north via the Greek culture and the proto-Turks from the East, and certainly had been influenced by these cultures as well. It thus presented history with a unique example of a synthesis of numerous cultures.

The Medo-Persian Empire is the final and most extensive representative of the first generation civilization.78 It reached the highest level attainable in a first generation civilization. Their innovative architecture and the magnificence of their headquarters can still be seen in the remnants of Persepolis. The power of the state centers was almost on par with that of the Roman Empire and it prepared the ground for the Greco-Roman world. The Medo-Persian Empire is famous for its political system of multi-states, each with a degree of autonomy and governed by a satrap—a vassal king. It is also famous for its tremendous postal and transportation systems, its special security forces, the Immortals Regiment, and an army consisting of hundreds of thousands of people.79 The Zoroastrian belief system and religious rituals were totally new. A distinction developed between the religion of the nobles, who were Zoroastrians, and the ordinary people, who continued the ancient worship of the sun god Mithra. The development they brought to the different fields of civilization was greater than the sum of those who preceded them. They were the first to unify numerous numbers of tribes, clans, religions, sects, languages and cultures. It is the last glorious and dazzling Middle-Eastern civilization of antiquity and superior in all aspects to the newly developing Greek civilization. Alexander, the student of Aristotle, was one of the new breed of barbarian invaders craving to possess this magnificence, but with a profound feeling of inferiority toward the Eastern culture. What the Roman Empire meant for the Goths, the Persian Empire meant for the Macedonian and Greek tribal chiefs and petty kings. If we look at Alexander’s invasion from this perspective, a more meaningful and accurate interpretation may be achieved.

Let us conclude this section with a few additional points, the first of which concerns the Hebrew clan. Let me reiterate that from 1,700 BCE onward, the Aryan language and culture, the Semitic language and culture, the civilizations of Sumerian origin and the civilizations of Egyptian origin shared some characteristics. In the sacred book of the Hebrews the names of Suruç, Urfa and Harran are explicitly mentioned as the ancestral location of Abraham, from where the tribe seemed to have travelled to Egypt.80 They made a living mainly through animal husbandry, although they seemed to have practiced some trade as well. Their religious belief apparently hovered between Yahweh and El (which was later to become Allah). They resisted assimilation into civilization—their monotheistic belief may have much to do to with this resistance. They have the privilege of developing tribal theism. It began with Abraham’s opposition to the Babylonian King Nimrod and continued with Moses’s opposition to the pharaoh, and would later continue in Palestine as conflicts with many of the tribes and their gods. They continued to preserve their uniqueness for a long time under the leadership of priests of which Aaron, Moses’ younger brother, was the first.

The initial period of leadership by priests, initiated by Moses, ended with the renowned priest Samuel. In 1,020 BCE started the period of the kingdoms with kings like Saul, David, Solomon and others. They constructed a small kingdom with a strong military and political character. There seemed to have been continuous conflict between the kings and the priests. Both those who resisted and those who collaborated with the Assyrians were defeated around 720 BCE and around 540 BCE their exodus to Babylon began. They were freed when the Persians ended the rule of the Babylonians. Two collaborationist parties, the Sadducees and the Pharisees, came to the fore during the conflicts between the Persians and the Greeks. Later, resistance against the Romans resulted in the first and second waves of exiles, first to Egypt and Anatolia and later to all parts of the known world.81 Then the resistance of Jesus followed. His death by crucifixion started the second religion of Abrahamic origin—and the troublesome relationship between the Greco-Roman and European civilizations on the one hand and the small Hebrew tribe on the other. Most leaders of the Hebrew tribe were rabbis or nabis; the long list of prophets ending with Jesus and Mohammed (though the last two are not recognized as prophets in Judaism).82 Religious conflict accompanied by political conflict continued. The period of scribes started with the end of the Roman rule and this tradition continues to date with a generation of writers and intellectuals as strong as that of the prophets. In time, the pre-historic small step in the direction of trade played a leading role in the birth of capitalism and the dominance of today’s finance capital. The Hebrew tribe has always been small in numbers but they have a strong influence on the history of civilization. The Hebrew tribe should be studied as intensively as civilization itself as, even today, they appear to be the emperors of science, law and money. My personal story reflects the history of this tribe in the miniature: I too started my resistance by making my exit from Suruç in Urfa, similar to Abraham. However, my resistance led to a crucifixion different to that of Jesus.83

Another point that needs to be noted is the Scythian influx from the north around 800 BCE. The Scythians had Caucasian roots. These tribes, who expanded to inner Europe and Asia and from the Russian steps to Mesopotamia, did not really leave strong traces behind, as their expansion was physical rather than cultural. However, they did play a role in the establishment and collapse of many empires, including that of the Hebrew tribe. They served as soldiers and chamber women in the palaces. This continued in the time of the Ottoman Empire and even today in the Republic of Turkey. It is evident that they could not protect their own identity as well as the Hebrews did. Scythian and similar peoples of the first generation civilized society should also be studied thoroughly.

The center-periphery model is useful when studying the formation of historical systems.84 When talking about centers of civilization, the question of what happened in the periphery is obviously important. When Sumer and Egypt, the first centers of civilization were constructed, the Amorite and the Apiru were the peripheral powers in their areas of influence; for the Chinese it was the proto-Turk Huns and for the Romans the Goths. When the chiefs of these tribes acquired and learnt how to use the weapons of civilization, they were either in a continuous state of offense or defense with the civilized states. Their fate was either to dissolve in one of the dominant centers of civilization or to establish a similar center of civilization in the periphery. For example, the Amorite Akkadians constructed their own dynasty after being on the offensive for a long time. The Hebrews established their own kingdom based on what they learnt from Egypt. Although the Huns were one of the strongest peripheral groups, they finally dissolved within the civilization centers of China, Europe and Iran. Usually, the chief of a peripheral tribe remained in the center of the civilization as an administrative chief and became totally integrated; the clansman, on the other hand, remained marginal for a long time or made new attempts at establishing their own center of civilization under a new chief. The Gothic attacks on Rome laid the basis for the German princedoms—at times Gothic leaders even wore the Roman crown. An interesting example is the Mongolian and Oghuz tribes that developed as a peripheral force to the Byzantine Empire’s central force. However, the conflict that continued for hundreds of years ended with these tribes transforming themselves into central powers. The Scythians were a peripheral force for the first generation centers of civilization, playing their role mostly in the north, especially in the Caucasus. When they became acquainted with the various civilizations and took up their arms, they became a force of extraordinary offensive strength. It is thought that they were quite active between 800 and 500 BCE. Although they played their role well as mercenaries and palace servants, they were not able to establish significant centers of civilization on their own behalf.

b. Developments in the Chinese, Indian and Native American cultures

It will be instructive to look at the developments in other systems of civilization with their own specific characteristics, namely the Chinese, Indian and Native American cultures.

China was one of the most important regions to which migrating groups from south-east Siberia had moved at the end of the last ice age (around 10,000 BCE). The fertile land at the shores of the seas and streams, and its resulting rich fauna and flora, was conducive to both the Neolithic culture and city-civilizations. Around 4,000 BCE, history notes the development of the Chinese Neolithic revolution. For us, the important question is to what degree this was an authentic Neolithic agricultural revolution or whether it was strongly influenced by the expansion of the Aryan culture. Indications are that the Aryan Neolithic culture had been established at least six thousand years before the Chinese Neolithic and thus could have influenced the latter. However, the question remains whether this was a determinant influence. History tells us that big cultural revolutions do not form very easily and that their formation needs unique conditions and the longue durée. I think that the Chinese Neolithic and civilization were as original and native as Chinese socialism and capitalism. (There should not be a misunderstanding here: I have no doubt that even the most nationalist capitalism is imported. This also holds true for China.) It may then follow that the Chinese Neolithic could not have expanded into Vietnam, the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, Japan, Indonesia and the Korean Peninsula before 4000 BCE.

The birth of the Chinese slave-owning civilization took place around 1,500 BCE. The initial central empire was established around this date and was considered sacred. It was the Uruk of China. Just as with the Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations, around 1,000 BCE a period of disintegration and expansion followed the establishment of the Chinese civilization. During this second period, many city-states were established and, similar to what happened during the Ur period in the Sumerian civilization, intense city rivalry caused numerous wars. During the third period (from 250 BCE to the year 250), the feudal, centralized dynasties (of native or foreign origins) grew strong once again and outweighed the rest. This continued until the beginning of the twentieth century. The Chinese civilization is thought to have expanded to Indochina, the Japanese islands and Central Asia—including the areas of the Mongolians and proto-Turkish peoples.

What is interesting is not the inventions of gods similar to that of the Sumerian priests, but the wise men’s interpretation of the universe. The way they comprehended and interpreted the universe and nature was more scientific than that of Sumer, and it is instructive to see how they defined energy. They envisioned that the universe was alive. In general, Chinese philosophy can be described as Taoism—it can also be called sagacious. Confucius (500 BCE) tried to establish the principles and morals of a civilized city and state order. The cornerstone of his doctrine is that the governance of the state society must be based on sound moral principles instead of official laws. Confucius lived in the same period as Zoroaster and Socrates and influenced civilized society as much as they did. These great sages all emphasized the importance of morals and core virtues.

The Chinese made important advances with regard to material civilization. In terms of industrial development they were ahead of the West. They were the inventors of paper, gunpowder and printing. The Chinese were positioned at the east end of trade, where the ancient Silk Road began. China had opened itself to capitalism around the middle of the 19th century. Today, it has grown gigantically and, as a new Leviathan, it is watched with close interest as to what it will do and how it will expand.

The other civilizations of Chinese origin—such as Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam and Korea—advanced in a similar way, spreading the main civilization. It is not important for our topic to explore this in more detail.

A local Neolithic development cannot be observed in India. The Aryans probably entered India for the first time circa 2,000-1,500 BCE. The Neolithic revolution there was indeed related to this influx. Priests, just as with the Sumerians, led not only this revolution but also the revolution of the civilization that began circa 1,000 BCE. The Veda, the primary sacred book of the priest class, the Brahmin priests, was probably created around 1,500 BCE.85 It is the story of the construction of the priest class on the basis of their supreme divinity. This became the foundation for the caste regime. Around 1,000 BCE, the Rajahs—the political and military strong men—appeared. They waged fierce battles against the Brahmins and established themselves as the new rulers of the state, just as it had happened in all other civilizations. They then formed the second caste. As in China, the fertile river and seashores were suitable for farming. Around 1,000 BCE, the cities started to expand, but they were still characterized by their large palaces and temples. Agriculture developed quickly and farmers and craftsmen constituted the third caste. At the bottom were the Untouchables. Even coming into contact with them was considered a sin.

The priests created a very colorful theology. They constructed, besides the main gods, numerous divine entities. A profound Sumerian influence can be detected in Hindu religion. The mind-boggling abundance of deities may be attributed to the fact that this pantheon has its origins elsewhere and a thorough synthesis has not yet been achieved.

As in all the other important civilizations of the time, in India a great religious reformist was born around 500 BCE named Buddha.86 Buddha based his reform on morals and not on gods. Seeing the great pain in nature and society, he tried to develop a compensatory metaphysical doctrine. Buddhism is a doctrine with a strong environmentalist character and is critical of civilization. It is a doctrine that needs to be considered seriously, especially in terms of its moral metaphysics. It is a regime of vigorous implementation, self-control and self-improvement. It expanded swiftly in China, Indochina and Japan. Another religious tradition, reminiscent of the Dionysian cult, took root in India, namely that of the god Krishna. It was strongly influenced by the Neolithic and mountain cultures, nomadic life, free women and love stories—it was based on a morality that highly valued the desire to live freely. The contrast between the religion of the Brahmins and these last two religions with their radically different metaphysics and their disregard for materialistic values, reflects the complexities of the Indian society and the profound differences in life styles in this country.

The Indian civilization became a centralized political structure after the invasions of the Persians and Alexander the Great. Around 300 BCE, the Emperor Ashoka adopted the Buddhist reforms. He was the first to achieve a thorough centralization of the maverick and widespread Rajahs (reminiscent of the relationship between the Zoroastrian religious reform and the establishment of the centralized Medo-Persian Empire). Ashoka was unable to completely eradicate the maverick and chaotic life of the Rajahs. Around the year 1,000 CE, they faced incursions from the Muslim states and in the early 1,500s, they once again became part of a centralized state under the leadership of the Moghuls—Muslim emperors of Mongolian origin. A certain civilizational progress was attained and therefore expansion continued. The infiltration that began around 1,500 and that rested upon capitalism entered a new phase in the mid 19th century with the colonialism of English capitalism. After World War II India gained independence, though it lost its north-eastern and north-western parts to the new Muslim states of Pakistan and Bangladesh. Nevertheless, in order to continue its existence, the Subcontinent as a whole—from the skirts of the Himalayas to the wide shores of its seas and rivers—needs to infuse its complex cultural richness with that of capitalist civilization. It will be very interesting to see how the Subcontinent will progress as it becomes acquainted with democracy, seeing that it has such a complex religious, artistic and moral structure and such diverse language and political structures.

The expansion of civilization to the American continent occurred in two stages. The first stage may have occurred around 10,000 BCE, when some groups migrated to North America via the Bering Strait, and from there they spread to South America.87 They became acquainted with the Neolithic revolution around 3,000 BCE and by the year 500 BCE the initial stages of civilization occurred. In the east of the Americas, from Mexico to Chile, the Native Americans established initial civilizations, known as the Aztec, Mayan and the Inca civilizations. These civilizations, which resembled the Uruk civilization of the initial Sumer period, petered out, unable to establish big cities and multiply their numbers—possibly because of weather and geographical conditions. When the Europeans arrived these civilizations were still in existence, albeit weakly. The strong structure of their cities and the remnants of their temples are impressive. If they had the opportunity to expand into the continent, they might have succeeded in establishing multiple centers and attain centralization. In these civilizations too one can see the weight of the priests, indeed, they may also be called “priest-civilizations.” They practiced the frightening ritual of sacrificing youngsters.88 They developed the use of a sign system that resembled writing. They had an advanced calendar and they introduced a variety of plant and animal species to the world. At the time, North America had not yet come into contact with civilization. The boom of the civilization in the American continent really began with the European invasion and colonization of the 16th century. In the 19th century, as part of the new capitalist development of civilization, seemingly independent nations were born in the Americas. In reality, they were nation-states of capitalism; they joined and became integrated with the world system. After World War II, America—specifically the United States—has continued its ascent as the system’s hegemonic power. The exciting quest by South America (for instance Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia) to seek a new model of civilization as an alternative to the capitalist civilization of European and USA origin continues.

The role that Europe, the huge Leviathan of our age, played during the time that the initial civilization came into being was that of institutionalizing the Neolithic culture. Around 100 BCE, at the time of the expansion of the Roman Empire, there were no signs of civilization in the rest of Europe. Many battles were waged between the tribes—the Scythians, Huns, Goths, Celtics, Nordics and so forth. Migration was common at the time. Apart from village and agricultural development, there was also a small trade in metals. I keep the Greek and Roman cultures separate from the rest of Europe because I discuss these two regions at the western end of the Middle Eastern civilization under a separate heading.

Mother Africa—where man learnt to walk, search for food with tools in hand, and attained speech—continued to be devoted to this deep-rooted culture of hers. Further than the Sudan, the Egyptian civilization was unknown and the Christian civilization only advanced as far as Ethiopia. The entire northern part of the continent became Muslim as it was occupied by the Semitic Arabs, who flourished with the Islamic civilization. Finally, in the 19th century, Africa was overrun by the European capitalist civilization. Africa, with its difficulty to digest the different civilizations due to its internal structure, is a bewildering conglomerate of different cultures and stages of civilization. As with South America and the Middle East, we are anxiously waiting to see whether it will integrate with civilization and modernity or whether it will choose free life.

c. Greco-Roman civilization and problems associated with its expansions

We examined the expansion of the Sumerian and Egyptian based civilizations together, because they developed more or less at the same time, mutually influencing each other during their development stages and continuing to do so during their periods of expansion. Furthermore, their shared Middle Eastern roots are another reason for their unison. It is a characteristic feature of this region that at birth they are already intertwined.89 These two cultures were the inventors of many of the “firsts” of history. It cannot be denied that all the other expansions that succeeded them were formed on the basis of the essence and on the pattern of these two civilizations. Although the successor civilizations were not exactly similar, there is no doubt that they were bound by their shared roots. The initial slave-owning civilization was the Sumerian one, followed by the Egyptian civilization; this model then spread itself around the world with little change. I doubt that any civilization can be analyzed effectively if the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations are not taken into account.

However, there are problems associated with this model. Firstly, we need to clarify what the level of influence between the Sumerian and the Egyptian civilizations was, and secondly, we need to determine whether the Medo-Persian civilization, the first to be constructed outside of the Mesopotamian centers, originated from the same or a different source. It is clear that the Medo-Persian civilization adopted many of its essential characteristics from Sumer, and later from Babylonia, Assyria and Urartu. However, they achieved areas of major and unique reform, of which the Zoroastrian moral revolution (quite similar to the moral of freedom), a centralized state system, and an immensely effective military order were the most important. For this reason, I treat the Medo-Persian Empire as a civilization distinct from the Sumerian-Egyptian civilization, but as the connecting link between the Sumerian-Egyptian and the Greco-Roman civilizations. If seen in the correct historical perspective, such similarities and differences can play an important role in determining the phases of civilization. If we discard these factors, the Greco-Roman civilization will not be analyzed properly or the analysis will be overly complex due to unscientific interpretations and because some characteristics will have to be attributed to miraculous origins.

Thirdly, there is the question of the origins of the Chinese and Indian civilizations. I believe that we should not treat them as independent. This approach will allow us to analyze the similarities and the differences between civilizations. Even if we accept the South American, Harappa and Mohenjo-daro civilizations as distinct, it is clear that they were not able to move beyond the initial city-states phase (the Uruk-type state) and faded away. As a result, Africa, Europe (apart from the Greco-Romans) and even Australia became civilized during a much later expansion; all these areas, including the Americas, became civilized only with the expansion of capitalism.

I hope that these short remarks will aid me in defining the Greco-Roman civilization and analyzing its expansion.

Undeniably, the Greco-Roman civilization was superior to that of the Medes and Persians. However, it would be a historical distortion and short-sightedness to claim that this superiority resulted solely from conditions in continental Greece and the Greek peninsula; we also have to consider the widespread expansion and the characteristics of the civilization from the Middle East—started by the Egyptians and Sumerians and then developed further by their successors, the Babylonians, Assyrians, Mitannians, Hittites, Urartus, Medes and Persians. All the inventions and the developments in the area of religion, morals, philosophy, arts, politics and science came into being during the birth, progress, strife and conflict of these civilizations. Furthermore, they came about as a result of the significant inheritance from Neolithic society. The Europeans were ignorant of these fields of knowledge until much later—such knowledge only became firmly established amongst Europeans with the Renaissance of the Greek and Roman cultures. They then proclaimed that all were the inventions and innovation of the Greeks and Romans themselves. Hence, they now carry the sole responsibility for this faulty understanding of the Greco-Roman civilization.

If Herodotus’s history were read more carefully, discovering the sources of Greek culture wouldn’t have been that difficult. All available historical documents suggest that continental Greece and the Greek peninsula were penetrated by the Indo-European language and culture from about 5,000 BCE, and that it underwent a Neolithic revolution. To obtain a proper historical understanding of this period, we need to establish the source of these influences. It is possible that a later wave of migration, around 1,800 BCE, brought the inventions of the civilization to this area. These immigrants later progressed to the stage of the city-state (similar to that of Uruk) around 400 BCE. This attainment was influenced significantly by the Hittites, who referred to this region in their documents as Ahhiyawa.

Reciprocal trade within the region began around 3,000 BCE via Troy—a city vital for Continental Greece and the Greek peninsula at the time.90 The Hittites brought to this region both the ideological inventions (gods, literature, science, etc.) and material inventions (especially things that could be traded such as metal, pottery and weaved goods) of the Middle East. They played a significant role in channeling these inventions into civilization. The Phoenicians, on the other hand, taught the early Greeks the art of navigation and their alphabet. Egypt also had a significant influence on them—both directly and through the Minoans on Crete. Thus, all the inventions of the Middle Eastern civilizations nurtured the Greek culture continuously via these four channels. Later, Solon (638–558 BCE), Pythagoras (570-495 BCE) and Thales (624–546 BCE) visited the Egyptian, Babylonian and the Medo-Persian palaces and schools in order to learn and bring back the lessons and its system of rule.

After the fall of Troy around 1,200 BCE, the area was invaded by the Ionian, Dorian and Aeolian tribes. The Egyptians called the people who made these early attacks the “Sea Peoples,” and, according to the Egyptians, they were involved with the fall of Troy as well.91 These groups, which crowded in to western Anatolia and the Aegean Islands, were seen as barbarians by the Troy and Hittite civilizations. Indeed, the Hittite country and the small kingdom of Troy were the centers of civilization in the area. Barbarians can only become civilized after a long period of settlement in an established, civilized culture and this is indeed what happened: after a long period of settlement in continental Greece, the peninsula and the Aegean regions, the establishment of cities began after 700 BCE.92 Besides influence from the Middle East, the urbanization around the Aegean shores also had an element of authenticity. This unique synthesis of a rich and diverse cultural heritage combined with the extraordinary flora and fauna of the region, gave the new cities their own unique identity. The cultural and ideological components inherited from the Middle East were adapted; some important changes were made and then synthesized with a partially new essence. Thus, their inventions and innovations encompassed (and excelled) those of the Neolithic, Sumerian, Egyptian, Hittite, Urartu and Medo-Persian cultures.

The most important question here is: Where was the center of this, the biggest intellectual revolution in history? The initial city of the region was destroyed around 1,200 BCE and a period of chaos—the so-called Greek Dark Ages—followed.93 In this period, the only settlements were a few Phoenician trade colonies. Thus, until around 700 BCE, there was no civilization in continental Greece or the Greek peninsula. The Achaeans leaders of the time were not called kings (that would require a city-state) but tribal chiefs—they were clearly still in a phase of barbarism. Although Athens was already well known in the 7th century BCE, it was still far from being a center of civilization. The cities formed by the tribes on the eastern shores of the Aegean played a more central role.

The most famous names of the Greek intelligentsia of the time (for instance Homer, most of the Seven Sages, Thales, Heraclitus, Democritus and Pythagoras) were all from the cities on the east Aegean shores and islands. Many of the famous gods (including Apollo) were from this or nearby regions. The most famous temples and centers of prophecy were also in this region. At the time, the material civilization here was much more advanced than in Continental Greece and on the Peninsula.

Other evidence may include the existence of the Ionian cities—as the new Aegean centers of civilization—at the same time as, or just after, the Hittites, Phrygians and Lydians.

Thus, continental Greece and the peninsula have the attributes of being sequels to the cities of the eastern Aegean. The invasion of this region by the Medo-Persian Empire around 545 BCE resulted in the center of Greek civilization shifting to Athens. All the ideological and material achievements of the civilization on the Aegean shore were moved to Athens. Most of the intellectuals took refuge in Athens or southern Italy. Under Persian rule, the region slowly lost its importance and Athens had a period of glory.

Undoubtedly, the Persian civilization was the most magnificent civilizations of its time. It not only took from the Greek regions, it also contributed in many ways. However, because the region on the eastern shore of the Aegean lost its independence, it lost its first and last chance to establish a great civilization. If this had not happened, I believe that they would have spread all over Anatolia, establishing a magnificent civilization, larger than that of the Sumerians, Egyptians, Chinese, Hittites, Persians and even the Byzantines. Then the Greek and the Italian Peninsulas probably would have been states dependent to them. The presence of the Persians in the Aegean not only caused the end of the Persian Empire itself, but also prevented the Aegean from leading a great system of civilization. We can but lament this. Alexander tried to establish such a center in the name of Macedonia, but all he achieved was a complex, poly-centric culture that was a synthesis between the East and the West. Although it is called the Hellenic “culture,” it did not progress beyond being an eclectic synthesis; it is by no means an authentic creation. Later, under the Roman Empire, the Aegean had no opportunity to develop apart from it being a state with Pergamum as its center. Thus, again development in the eastern Aegean was stunted.

Indeed, in terms of expansion in size and increase in the number of cities, the Athens-centered civilization should be viewed as a true civilization. It left its mark on the era in terms of ideological and material civilization. When analyzing Athens, we should view it as a new compound formed out of all the previous civilizations. All the progress of the Neolithic culture, the ideological and material inventions gained during the long history of civilization, were integrated with the local influences, realizing the biggest revolution of civilization. The most important characteristic of the Athenian revolution was the embracing of philosophy as ideology and as an alternative form of belief to paganism. Philosophy paved the way for a blossoming of knowledge and understanding. This is the era when the seeds of all the different philosophical branches were sown: idealism, materialism, and dialectics. Before Socrates, natural philosophy was the priority; with Socrates, social philosophy became more influential. The growth of the social question as a result of suppression and exploitation played a role in this development. (With “social question” I mean the establishment of the city-trade-state-administrational chain of events.) Furthermore, the city as a material civilization more or less forced this philosophical thought: The city itself means a break with organic society; thus, a mentality removed from nature will easily be shaped in the city. The city civilization is established on the basis of betrayal of the environment and is the root of all abstract, vulgar metaphysic and materialistic thought.

Therefore, although philosophy is on the one hand a breakthrough in thinking, on the other it creates alienation from the environment. The sages who spread philosophy and knowledge were the intellectuals of their era—just like the 18th century European intellectuals. They taught the children of the well-off families in return for money. The philosophers established their own schools just as the priests of Sumer used religious inventions and temples. In a way, they established their own churches (or assemblies). Just like polytheistic religions, they formed multiple philosophical schools. Each of the schools may be viewed as a religion or a denomination. Religions, since they are forms of thought, may also be seen as philosophies that had become traditional, institutionalized and then took the form of a belief system. We should not think that the difference between religion and philosophy makes them complete opposites. Where religion is more the ideological nourishment of the ruled classes, philosophy is more nourishment for the youth and intellectuals of the privileged classes. Plato and Aristotle attempted to succeed in the priests’ duty to construct, defend and liberate the city-state through the use of philosophy. The main task of the philosophers was to determine how the city-state and society would be administered and defended and, more importantly, how it should be constituted.

The second important characteristic of the Athenian civilization was the emphasis it put on the theoretical and practical aspects of what democracy and republic meant. Although this was a democracy only for the aristocracy, it was an important phase in the history of civilization in general. Citizenship of the city was restricted to a small number of people—likely not even ten percent of society. Still, it was a critical innovation. It also played an important role in shaping philosophy and the art of politics. Democracy would entail that the people deal with politics themselves—they handled their own administrational work. The essence of democracy is that people think, discuss and decide on critical social issues. Thus, the democratic politics of the Athenian civilization is a vital contribution to civilization.

In the Athenian Parthenon, the Greek gods proclaimed themselves through a brand new form of architecture. Here, it was far more obvious that the gods were products of human invention than it was in the sacred houses of the Sumerian civilizations. The traditional religious belief was gradually losing its value—almost as if the Sumerian founders of cities and gods were living their last days in the civilizations of Athens and Rome. Athens, the founding city of the Greco-Roman civilization, received its name from the goddess Athena—the founder and protector of Athens. This is reminiscent of the goddess of Uruk, Inanna and, once again, we see the similarities and consecutiveness between civilizations. Other parts of the cities included the agora (the town’s civic and market center), theatre, stoa (a covered walkway), and arenas. The Greek cities attained more advanced institutional structures than those of the other civilizations. There were many palaces—some with, others without, the city having walled fortifications. These structures are reminiscent of those of the Hittites but they were more advanced and could accommodate bigger crowds.

Greek literature developed far beyond anything the world had seen before. It may even be the greatest recorded literary culture of all times. Theatre lived through its most revolutionary phase. The many historical works of art included written legends and tragedies. Often important events were the subject of the plays—heralding the formation of cinema. The remnants of the magnificent buildings indicate how highly developed the architecture was. Sculpture attained a level of near perfection. Impressive reliefs reflected scenes from mythology. Their strong mythological literature was a synthesis of all the mythologies of the ancient civilizations.

Music progressed in terms of variety of instruments as well as in variety of themes—ballads of the divine and the profane, of love and legend. The lyre was the outstanding instrument of this period. Poetic expression, although no longer as prominent as in the heroic era, continued its existence.

The arts of navigation and trade progressed as well. As far as navigation is concerned, the Athenians were second only to the Phoenicians. Although trade was not a favorite occupation in Athenian society, the early seeds of capitalism existed there—albeit at a marginal level.

After Athens, Sparta was the most important of the Greek city-states. Its most important characteristic was that it continued the ancient traditions of the kingdoms. Although there always were rivalry and war amongst the Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta became the models for the entire Continental Greece, the Peninsula, the islands and Asia Minor. Even the regions around the Black Sea and the shores of Marmara made the transition to the city-state. The increase in population and trade initiated an advanced era of new colonization. On nearly all the Mediterranean shores and islands Greek colonies were established—in Egypt we can still see the remnants of Greek cities of this time. Trade houses were established from Marseille to the south of France and on the Mediterranean shores of Spain. Even the south of Italy was colonized to a degree. Despite all these major developments, the Greeks were not able to attain the imperial power of the Persians or the Romans. The spirit of the time demanded becoming an empire or being swallowed up by another empire. Around 340 BCE the Greek civilization, led by Athens, faced the threat posed by the Macedonians, who had risen as a new kingdom in the north. The Greek civilization was not able to transform its extraordinary ideological and material power into a central political system surpassing that of the city-states. After a few battles of resistance, the Greek civilization lost its independence once and for all. But, just like Babylonia, it continued its existence for a long time as the new cultural center. The final blow to the democracy of Athens came from Macedonia when Philip, who wished to unite in a tight alliance all the tribes that, although from different language groups, belonged to the Greek culture, succeeded in taking Athens in 347 BCE.

Philip’s son Alexander was educated by Aristotle and was thus well equipped with knowledge of all the Greek cultural values and its mythology. Like all other Greek politicians, Alexander was well aware of the riches of the Persian Empire and it became an obsession of the Greeks to conquer the Persians (very similar to the desire of Islam to conquer the Byzantines). Alexander was better equipped than the rest to achieve this, partly because his army was not the traditional army of slaves. But it should be well understood that Alexander longed to possess not only the riches of the East but also this successful culture. He moved with his voluntary military units, organized into a new military formation called the phalanx, led by the chiefs of those tribes that newly left barbarism behind. He conquered everything from Egypt up to the Indus. When he mysteriously died at the age of thirty-three, he left a conquered area much larger than that of the Persian Empire, an area opened up for the Greek culture.

Although this area had been civilized before Alexander’s conquest, its ideological and material base was that of the first generation, slave-owning civilization. The Greek culture, on the other hand, had surpassed this culture long before this time and had a promising future. Hence, it had the ability to inculcate the area with new ideas. Just as the Sumerian priests inculcated the Neolithic culture to form the initial classed city and state culture, the Greek culture inculcated youth into the ancient areas of civilization; thus, during the Hellenistic period (323 BCE to 34 BCE), many kingdoms were established. The most important kingdoms at the time were those of the Ptolemies in Egypt, Pergamum in Anatolia and the Seleucid Empire in Syria and Mesopotamia. The Parthians, who formed a new empire after the defeat of the Achaemenid Empire, tried to restore the Persian Empire but they did not fully succeed. These approximately three hundred years of Hellenistic culture brought the construction of new cities and pantheons that represented a mixed culture of Greek and Persian gods. In addition, the fact that the Greek language and culture became the official language and culture of such a vast area led to the formation of an important synthesis. Not only was Alexander’s life itself a synthesis of the East and the West, but so were all the dominant cultures of the time. History has never again witnessed such a grand synthesis of cultures. A vivid example of this can be seen in the ruins of Antiochus’ tomb in Mount Nemrut.94 This tomb is flanked by statues of the fully syncretized deities Zeus-Oromasdes, Apollo-Mithra-Helios-Hermes and Artagnes-Herakles-Ares, symbolizing the East-West synthesis.

What is importance for the issue at hand is not the fact that the slave-owning society of Sumer civilized the empty regions or the Neolithic cultures, but that a new slave-owning society, the Greek-Hellenic civilization, which had progressed to a higher level, attempted to re-civilize, under their new cultural domination, the whole area from India to Rome, from the northern Black Sea to the Red Sea and from there to the Iranian Gulf. The younger and more militant representative of the new culture that was rising in Rome would develop the same policy and construct the biggest slave-owning empire of its time.

Defining the Roman culture is no less important than defining the Athenian culture. One important reason is the fact that this was the flowering period of the slave-owning society—with its fall, the slave-owning society declined rapidly. Secondly, it was the biggest representative of the imperial culture. No other empire in history has ever been as glorious as the Roman Empire. Thirdly, Rome was the last and the strongest representative of the masked god-king civilization. The Roman emperors considered themselves both human and god, saw no need to give account of their own actions but everybody else was forced to account to them. Fourthly, this was the state that introduced law and citizenship to many other communities. Fifthly, it was this empire that developed the concepts of world citizenship, cosmopolitanism and world religion (Catholicism). Sixthly, the Roman Empire was the dawn and foothold of the European civilization. Seventhly, it existed as a republic for a long time.

The city of Rome did not miraculously attain these big developments. It obtained the latent power from the four important cultures that preceded it. Firstly, there was the Neolithic revolutionary culture. Around 4,000 BCE this culture not only influenced the whole of Europe but also the Italian Peninsula and the last representatives of this culture were the Italic tribes. It is probably correct to assume that these tribes began to define the ethnic identity of the present day Italy around 1,000 BCE. It can thus be said that it is this identity that would have been influenced by the Neolithic institutions and mentalities. They are probably of European roots. The second group that served as a channel for cultural identity was the Etruscan civilization. This civilization with its Mesopotamian roots was half-Neolithic, half slave-owning; they brought the Aryan language and culture to Italy via Anatolia. They probably settled in the North of Italy around 800 BCE and spread from there. They are the ones that should get the honor for bringing the first scatterings of civilization to Italy and the city of Rome. Thirdly, the Greek culture, centered in Athens, had one of its branches as a colony in southern Italy in the early days of Rome’s formation.95 Fourthly, Carthage and the colonies established by the Phoenicians channeled the eastern Mediterranean culture of Egyptian and Semitic origins to the Italian Peninsula.

The essence of Rome’s success lies in this mixture of all (with the exception of the Chinese) cultures. A synthesis far superior to that of Athens and the eastern Aegean resulted from the unity of the latent powers inherent in these four cultures. The mythological construction of Rome by the twins Romulus and Remus, who were abandoned by their parents and raised by a she-wolf, is a tale that was used to explain the origin of many similar cultures—it is an interesting way of explaining an external source and a culture of mixed origins.

The mythological story of the construction of the Roman Empire after the fall of Troy by Aeneas, fellow warrior of Paris, is quite instructive in terms of its Anatolian characteristics; it is an epic expression of my own approach. The story of construction by the priest-kings around 700 BCE would have been suitable for the construction of any of the similar main city-civilizations. The many conflicts with the surrounding tribal clans explain the relationship between class and statehood in the construction of the cities. The rivalry and battle between the Etruscan and Latin tribes exemplifies all conflicts between a local Neolithic culture and the cultures of a civilization that were seen as external.

Rome had the luck that it was located at the western end of all the other civilizations, that it was on a peninsula, and that there was no strong civilization with European roots on its northern boundaries. All of this allowed the rise of the Roman city-state. It could have been threatened by either the Athens-centered civilization in Greece or Carthage, the strongest colony of the Phoenicians in North Africa, that later became an independent city-state. But it soon became clear that the Greeks would not become a serious threat for the Romans. The Greek civilization was prevented from turning itself into an empire or centralized monarchy by the continuous pressure of the Persians from the east and by the severe rivalry between the city-states. The result was that the Greeks were soon ruled by the Macedonian Kingdom.

Carthage was a more serious rival. Rome and Carthage were geographically not far from each other and thus expanded into the same regions. The fact that they both had the civilizational characteristic of prospective domination would sooner or later have them fighting. A century of battles finally removed the only real obstacle in the way of Rome’s success. The biggest threat could have been Alexander, as he identified Rome as his next target just before his death. Instead of Rome, the Alexandrian empire could have easily become the strongest power in the world. Alexander had all the requirements. But his early death allowed for the rise of Rome. Except for the Parthians far to the east and the Iranian-Sassanid Empire, from 150 BCE onward, all the ancient civilizations and the world of the Neolithic culture lay open to Roman conquest.

Rome’s establishment of a republic in 508 BCE can be attributed to it being an institutional continuation of Athenian democracy. Although the new cultural basis played a role in this, the strength of the aristocracy was the determining factor. Monarchies are usually conservative and do not allow aristocracies to grow.

The Republic raised the self-awareness of the Roman people and gave them the will to stand up for their own interests. The Roman Republic’s two assemblies (one for the aristocracy and the other for the citizens), the consul, the development of the judiciary as a separate institution and the institutionalization of the city guard made the democracy of Athens look amateurish. The governance of the Republic became the main resource for the development of the art of politics. It not only illustrates the connection between politics and law, it also illustrates that law is indeed negotiated and institutionalized politics. As a republic, Rome attained a splendid cultural development internally and glorious conquests externally. Becoming a republic allowed the Roman civilization to reach its natural potential. The transition from republic to empire was the result of growing conflicts and of both internal and external threats. The conflict between Julius Caesar and his rivals can be viewed as a conflict between the center and periphery and between the aristocracy and the plebeians. This evaluation seems to be substantiated by the fact that Brutus justified his treason by claiming that under Caesar, the glorious dignity of Rome was sacrificed for the provinces, that the plebeians mostly took sides with Caesar, that the distinguished representatives of the city aristocracy took part in the conspiracy, and that the provinces mostly supported Caesar.

Externally, the rebellions continued and the Persians arrived at the Euphrates. The enormity of the threat can be seen from Caesar’s expeditions to Gaul, Britain and Germania, the rebellions in Anatolia, the death of Crassus—the third most powerful person in Rome—during a battle with the Persians, the rebellion of the Jews in the eastern Mediterranean, the never ending fights in Greece and the Balkans, the emerging attacks by the Goths, Scythians and the Huns, the looting expeditions of the Arabic tribes at the far south and the continuing existence of the strong monarchic remnants in Egypt. The republic’s never ending senate discussions, rival factions’ disputes over consul nominees, and the fact that people had become accustomed to external looting complicated things for the republican regime when fighting off the external threats and making historical decisions.

This formed the basis for the policies of Augustus, the great-nephew of Julius Caesar, who led the transition from republic to empire. Rome required policies that would bring stability on the inside and reliability on the outside. Thanks to these policies, the glorious period of the Pax Romana lasted until 250 CE. Thanks to Augustus’s policies, the senate was reduced to an assembly of consultation; the institutions were no longer administered by those elected but by those appointed; the people were entertained every day and hence kept busy; strong security stations were formed, reinforced by walls; and the transition to defensive wars was made. Augustus was the first in a list of very famous emperors—the last of the half-god and half-human kings! What is interesting is that the Roman emperors were also becoming aware that the classical pantheon of gods was meaningless. They could see that legitimacy could not be obtained through the masks of gods.

The great turmoil following the invasions of the Franks, Alamanni, and Goths around 250 CE and the inability to centralize the empire signaled its disintegration and collapse. Even Zenobia, the famous queen of Palmyra, pursued an empire encompassing what we today call Egypt, Syria, Anatolia and Iraq. In the East first Ardashid I, the founder of the Sassanid dynasty, and then the great emperor Shapur I, who can be seen as equal to Augustus, defeated the Roman armies. They proceeded all the way to the Eastern Mediterranean and the Taurus mountains. In the meantime, the famous garrison city of Zeugma, close to today’s Birecik, was destroyed, never to revive again. A town and district of Urfa in Turkey on the river Euphrates. Upper Mesopotamia became a region of battle and continuously changed hands between the Roman Empire and the two Persian Iranian Empires of the Parths and the Sassanids. It thus became a region that was no longer a source of civilizations, but a region of destruction. After Urartu, this region has never been able to procure its own central formation. It is one of the most tragic developments of history that it has always been subjected to incursion, occupation, annexation and exploitation by other forces. It is like the fate suffered by women: although she has achieved the biggest cultural revolution, she has been violated the most.

The end of the era of the big Roman emperors arrived with Emperor Julian’s tragic death during a fierce battle at the shores of the Tigris in 363. It was clear from these battles in the East and on the European continent that the empire could not be ruled from Rome. After the abdication of the famous Emperor Diocletian in 305 CE, six other emperors ruled simultaneously. Constantine I rose above the rest and changed the religion of the empire in 313 and moved its capital in 325. After the death of Julian, the last emperor in Constantine’s line, the empire was officially split in 395. The Western Roman emperors were at the mercy of the Gothic chiefs. Even the chief of the Huns, Attila, could have invaded Rome in 451 if he had wished. In 476 the last Roman Empire was killed by King Odoacer of the Goths. But its culture lied beneath the earth, alive, waiting to resurface.

Although the story of the Second Rome, Byzantium, continued for a long time, this story was both insignificant and an imitation. The efforts of Justinian between 527 and 565 to hold together all the regions of the empire were effective but the provinces were all slowly detaching themselves. Byzantium defined itself as the Second Rome, but I think the claim that Constantinople is the Second Rome is an exaggeration. Constantinople was just an ineffective replication of the old Rome. Its Christian aspects will be handled under another topic. The Ottomans (and also the Moscow-centered Russian Slavs) like to see themselves as the Third Age of Rome. Their claim to be the third Rome is not only an exaggeration, it also leads to great confusion because it mixes different periods and cultures. I will try to interpret problematic concepts such as the Christian civilization, Islamic civilization and Hebrew civilization in the following section.

From England to the Black Sea, many new empires appeared after the fall of Rome. With the collapse of the belief in paganism there was an enormous religious vacuum. European paganism and mythology could not provide what was needed. The new age not only demanded a material, political and economic revolution, but one that was moral and religious.

But before I discuss the rise and meaning of the Christian and Islamic revolutions, I must give a rough overview of the cultural and monetary situation of Rome.

Under the imperial umbrella, agricultural production, mining, craftsmanship and trade grew considerably. The saying “All roads lead to Rome” signifies where the economic resources flowed. The whole world was nurturing Rome. Besides keeping Rome, these revenues built other magnificent cities. In the east, Hellenistic cities such as Antioch (Antakya), Alexandria, Pergamum (Bergama), Palmyra, Samosata, Edessa (Urfa), Amida (Diyarbakir), Erzen-i Rum (Erzurum), Kaisariyah (Caesarea, Kayseri), Tarsus and Trapezus flourished. The European architecture did not vary much from the Greek city architecture, but buildings were larger and even more magnificent. Splendid aqueducts, waterwheels and channels were built—a tremendous improvement on previous structures. The road network was enlarged enormously. Security was ensured—the Pax Romana really existed. Mines and architectural tools were also improved. Quarry works and stone carvings were incomparable, except for that of Egypt. Metallic armor coating and weapons were the products of a highly developed craftsmanship. Trade became totally institutionalized. In contrast to the Greek culture, under the Romans trade gained in reputation and was in high demand. It was a flowering period for trade.

Never before in history was law so developed and institutionalized. A natural result of law is the institution of strong citizenship. Being a Roman citizen was a great privilege. All of the aristocracy and merchants considered it a privilege to be a Roman citizen. Somewhat similar to today’s obsession with life in the states of capitalist modernity, the Roman life style was desired by everyone.

Pantheons and the temples built in the name of gods lost most of their importance. Roman theology embraced the Greek theology but changed the names of the gods. Virgil used the poetry of Homer—especially the epic poems the Odyssey and Iliad—as a model to write the Aeneid, the epic poem about the establishment of Rome. All elements of the Greek culture, including Greek literature, theatre, history and philosophy were Latinized and embraced. Still, important original work was produced in Rome as well. Oratory was an important form of art and the Roman language became the standard to which people aspired. Latin gradually became the standard diplomatic and international official language, replacing Greek. If the classical work of the Greeks had not been translated to Latin, they would have been lost by now. Although clothing still showed Eastern influences, it acquired a unique Roman style.

However, some Roman sporting events were quite barbaric. The gladiator fights, the fights with lions and other wild animals, the offering of imprisoned people to hungry lions—these practices were appalling. A decline in morals was achieved by accustoming people to such entertainment.

When comparing the Roman and Athenian cultures, it can be seen that the ideological aspect dominated the Athenian culture, whereas the Roman culture was dominated by its material and political aspects—in Rome, politics was turned into a form of art. However, it is important to see that the two cultures form a unit. It is as if Alexander first, then the kings of the Hellenistic period, and then later the Romans, harvested the cultural foundations that Athens sowed. It is impossible to think of Rome becoming a world empire without cherishing the Athenian culture. But what is more important is that these two cultures represent the final evolution of the Eastern culture. Despite contrary belief, it is not a culture or an empire of pure Athenian and Roman origin. They are syntheses resulting from local elements being nurtured by Eastern cultural sources. Even Europe was able to achieve its own cultural revolution by the re-fusion of these cultural sources with that of the Roman and Athenian synthesis. Without the East and the main cradles, Mesopotamia and Egypt, one cannot even imagine a European culture. If developments are considered from a material point of view, it will be seen that history is a whole. The formation and multiplication of cities are connected like a chain, beginning in Uruk. It is not a coincidence that nearly all civilizations have an Uruk of their own. It is the dialectic of urbanization. The same dialectic was present at the birth and expansion of the Neolithic culture. Thus, this discussion of the expansion of civilization illustrates that no societal development can be understood if we study the society detached from its historical and geographical contexts.

With the Romans, the conquest of our world by the systems of civilization was largely completed. Indeed, it had even entered the vicious circle of re-conquering the old regions. The act of re-conquering between civilizations has the characteristic of seizure and looting, because the civilizations share similar characteristics. The only purpose is to loot the accumulated property income and to appropriate it for yourself.96 Expansion based on clashes and change of hands between civilizations does not create new values but damages them.

When the monotheist religions are discussed, it will be seen that one of the most meaningful developments in history is their opposition to the regimes of civilization, which were polytheist and pagan, on the basis of a new mentality and new practices. Although some of the civilizations expanded on the basis of these religions, it is clear we face a new development. I will try to interpret these in the next section.

61 Çatalhöyük, the largest and best preserved Neolithic site found to date, existed from approximately 7500 BCE to 5700 BCE.

62 The ethnic origins of the Urartu kings are not clear. This is true for all the dynasties, since they all used the dominant culture and language of the time. Hence, in Urartu and later in the Persian palaces, Assyrian and Aramaic were the official state languages.

63 In fact, the period of the Gutian invasions (2,150 to 2,050), the Kassit invasion (around 1,600 BCE) and the Median and Persian counter-expansions indeed point to this.

64 Archeological work began at the Kazane mound in 1992 by Patricia Wattenmaker; Timothy Matnet led the work at the mound Titriş between 1991–1999; Gre Virike was first discovered by Guillermo Algaze and his team 1989; and the mound of Zeytinlibahçe was discovered by Guillermo Algaze in 1998. Archeological work began in 1999 under the leadership of Marcella Frangipane for the Rescuing Archeologic and Cultural Assets Project as they would fall in the catchment area of the Ilısu and Karkamış Dams.

65 Editor’s note: It seems that some of these sites originated in an even earlier time. Göbekli Tepe was erected by hunter-gatherers (who lived in villages for part of the year) about 11,500 years ago—before the advent of sedentism. Some scholars suggest that the Neolithic agricultural revolution took place here. They suggest that different nomadic groups cooperated to protect concentrations of wild cereals. See Klaus Schmidt: Sie bauten die ersten Tempel. Das rätselhafte Heiligtum der Steinzeitjäger (2006).

66 Editor’s note: This seems to be the case indeed. It seems that the erection of monumental complexes was within the capacities of hunter-gatherers, and not only of sedentary farming communities as had been previously assumed. In this way, Göbekli Tepe profoundly changes our understanding of a crucial stage in the development of human societies:. As excavator Klaus Schmidt concludes: ‘First came the temple, then the city.’”

67 The Kurdish equivalent to Washukanni, Bashkani, means “charming and beautiful fountain.”

68 Proof of this may be the written treaty between the Hittite king Suppiluliuma I, who had conquered Aleppo and Carcemish, and the Mitanni prince Shattiwaza, his son-in-law.

69 Troy was either a Hittite establishment or a close ally and a unique city civilization from the same cultural group. The dwellers of Ahhiyawa can be seen as belonging to the Aryans who were influenced by Anatolia or who migrated around 1,800 BCE. I believe that it is a mistaken claim that they had European origins from the north. The same mistake is made with regards to the Hittites.The Cilician state was located south of the central Anatolian plateau in the time of the Hittites (bordering on the Taurus Mountains in the north and east and the Mediterranean in the west).

70 It also reflects an alliance amongst the governors.

71 After the battle of Kadesh near the river Orontes and the city of Hama.

72 It has been suggested that Nefertiti, the chief consort of Akhenaton, was the Mitanni princess Tadukhipa.

73 The Assyrian word Nairdi was used to refer to both the land and the people around Lake Van. It means “people of the rivers and streams.”

74 Guda, Gudea and Got probably all originated from this god’s name. What Allah means for the Semitics, Guda means for the Aryans. Literally it means “to come into being by itself.” It is still used by the Kurds and Iranians rather than “Allah.”

75 Probably located near modern Bradost region in South Kurdistan.

76 Similar to the culture of the god Dionysus in the ancient Greek culture.

77 The period from 521 to 506 BCE.

78 The Medes always had been second in power and a fundamental force in the army. Being relatives of the Persians may have had a role in this.

79 The initial longest road known in history, the King’s Road, starting from the Aegean shores of Sard and ending in Persepolis.

80 Serug in Hebrew, the name of the great-grandfather of the prophet Abraham.

81 From 70 BCE to the year 70.

82 “Rabbi” means religious teacher, while “nabi” means“prophet” or “God’s emissary.”

83 With Jesus, Judas did the betraying; with me, this role was played by the alliance of MOSSAD and the CIA.

84 According to Oxford’s Dictionary of Sociology (1998), the “center–periphery (or core–periphery) model is a spatial metaphor which describes and attempts to explain the structural relationship between the advanced or metropolitan ‘center’ and a less developed ‘periphery’, either within a particular country, or (more commonly) as applied to the relationship between capitalist and developing societies. The former usage is common in political geography, political sociology, and studies of labor-markets.” This model is important in the world system theory of Wallerstein and Andre Gunder Frank, to name but a few.

85 A kind of a version of the Hebrew’s Sacred Book, the Torah, but much longer and more complex.

86 Confucius in China, Socrates in Greece, Zoroaster in the Medo-Persian Empire.

87 Although there are different historical interpretations, the most logical one would be right after a glacier period, which coincides with this date.

88 The sacrificing of humans to gods is not unique to these civilizations.

89 See David Wilkinson’s idea of a “Central Civilization” in: Andre Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills, eds., The World System: Five Hundred Years or Five Thousand? (1994).

90 3,000 to 1,200 BCE.

91 This term refers to a confederacy of seafaring raiders of the second millennium BCE who sailed into the eastern Mediterranean and attempted to invade Egyptian territory as well.

92 The heroic wars of this long period of settlement—and especially the events around Troy—were told in Homer’s great epics. The Odyssey tells the stories of island settlement.

93 Mycenae grew from a settlement started about 2,000 BCE.

94 Antiochus I was king of the Commagene Kingdom that had its capital at Samosata (modern day Samsat).

95 Pythagoras and his group, around 500 BCE.

96 Whether state or private property, all the values seized, after the people who work on the property are fed, are justified by the fact that property is owned.

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