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culture with a relatively high degree of elaboration and technical development. The term civilization also designates that complex of cultural elements that first appeared in human history between 8,000 and 6,000 years ago. At that time, on the basis of agriculture, stock-raising, and metallurgy, intensive occupational specialization began to appear in the river valleys of SW Asia. Writing appeared, as well as urban centers that accommodated administrators, traders, and other specialists. The specific characteristics of civilization are: food production (plant and animal domestication), metallurgy, a high degree of occupational specialization, writing, and the growth of cities. Such characteristics originally emerged in several different parts of the prehistoric world: Mesopotamia, Egypt, China, India, the central Andes, and Mesoamerica. However, some civilizations did not have all of these characteristics (e.g., the Classic Maya had no metallurgy, and true writing apparently never emerged in central Mexico or the central Andes). Many anthropologists now focus on a political factor—the development of hierarchical administrative bureaucracies—as the critical characteristic of all civilizations.


See P. Sorokin, Social and Cultural Dynamics (1981); R. Wothnaw, Meaning and Moral Order (1987); F. Fernández-Armesto, Civilizations: Culture, Ambition, and the Transformation of Nature (2001).

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  1. the advanced cultural forms (e.g. central government, development of the arts and learning, articulated concern with morals and manners) associated with cities and the wider societies in which these are located. The term derives from the Latin civis, citizen.
  2. a particular society or culture area possessing the above characteristics (e.g. ‘Chinese civilization’ or ‘Western civilization’).
Historically, use of the term was often strongly, and somewhat crudely, evaluative, e.g. the contrast with pre-existing stages such as SAVAGERY or BARBARISM. See also CIVILIZING PROCESS.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(1) A synonym for culture. In Marxist literature the word is also used to designate material culture.

(2) A level or stage of social development or material and nonmaterial culture, for example, ancient civilization and modern civilization.

(3) The stage of social development that follows barbarism (L. Morgan, F. Engels).

The concept of civilization originated in the 18th century along with the concept of culture. The French Enlightenment philosophers applied the term to a society based on the principles of reason and justice. In the 19th century the concept of civilization was used to a limited extent to characterize capitalism as a whole. Thus, N. Ia. Danilevskii formulated the theory of the general typology of cultures, or civilizations, in accordance with which universal history does not exist, but only the history of given civilizations having an individual, closed character. In the conception of O. Spengler, civilization is the distinct, final stage of development of any culture. Its primary signs are the development of industry and technology, the degradation of art and literature, the concentration of people in big cities, and the transformation of the people into faceless “masses.” In this interpretation, civilization as an age of decline is contrasted to the integrity and organicism of culture. These and other idealist concepts explain neither the nature of civilization nor the true essence of its development. The classics of Marxism analyzed the driving forces and contradictions of the development of civilization, substantiating the necessity of the revolutionary transition to its new phase—the communist society.


Marx, K. “Konspekt knigi L’iuisa G. Morgana ’Drevnee obshchestvo.’” In Arkhiv K. Marksai F. Engel’sa, vol. 9. Moscow, 1941.
Engels, F. Proiskhozhdenie sem’i chastnoi sobstvennosti i gosudarstva. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 21.
Morgan, L. Drevnee obshchestvo, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1935. (Translated from English.)
Markarian, E. S. O kontsepisiilokal’nykh tsivilizatsii. Yerevan, 1962.
Artanovskii, S. N. Istoricheskoe edinstvo chelovechestva i vzaimnoe vliianie kul’tur: Filosofsko-metodologicheskii analiz sovremennykh zarubezhnykh kontseptsii. Leningrad, 1967.
Emge, K. A. Die Frage nach einem neuen Kulturbegriff. Mainz, 1963.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The author of this book has published monographs on prehistory, the Bronze Age, and other early civilizations, with an anthropological and archeological focus and using results from the sciences of chemistry and biology.
But as the elites of these early civilizations pursued their own imperial agendas, including their self-aggrandizing construction projects, they made ever more unreasonable demands on their people in terms of taxes, coerced labor, and other forms of exploitation.
In early civilizations, mapping was linked to astronomy, geometry, and surveying', It was in 1579 that China developed a grid system to plot maps, making them more accurate than those in the European and Islamic areas of the time1.
War captives in early civilizations faced a different late, and it is both just and ironic that Scott deploys the word "gulag" to name the detention camps in which they were placed.
Businesses of house building, food making, utensils and dress manufacturing created the early civilizations, which rose to the present level after millions of the years interaction of human mind with the nature.
Scientists have gotten a view into how climate change affected early civilizations by matching up environmental events with historical information about ancient Egypt, finding that volcanic eruptions were connected to incidents like revolts.
As great scholar of Samarkand Ulughbek(1428) said: "Religion disperses like a fog, kingdoms perish, but the works of scholars, remain for an eternity." It is true in a sense that one of the great flourishing of early civilizations, which has led to the development of modern civilizations, has been sprouted from this region.
Societies with functioning financial systems outperformed those that lacked the same, and the fact that we see so many financial instruments emerging at the same time as early civilizations supports the view that finance is a necessary element of civilization.
Among other corrections and edits suggested by the academics, they had also recommended that the sections of Grade- 6 book titled ' The Early Civilizations of India' be changed to ' The Early Civilizations of South Asia'.
This book traces the history of typhoid fever, its possible presence in early civilizations and its impact on societies.
Additional lines available include Chalk Talk, Reveal and Citronella as well Chesapeake Bay Candle's sister brand Alassis, an exclusive collection of fragrances inspired by the most sophisticated early civilizations, cultures, and gardens.
Man has used measurements since early civilizations, to modern times, and the need for accurate measurement increased with technological progress and surge of production and global trade, the minister said.

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