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civilization, 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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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 ?
"We have only one date so far so we can say it is one of the earliest civilizations in the region, but with more dates, we will be able to verify whether it is the oldest civilization in the region," he added.
He said the Province of Sindh possesses a long history of pride and honour with its oldest civilization of the world.
A senior officer of Sindh Tourism Development Corporation talking to from Sukkur said that after overnight stay in Sukkur, the car rally will proceed to Mohenjo-Daro Friday morning where the participants will be briefed about the history of the oldest civilization - Mohenjo-Daro.
Mohenjodaro is the oldest civilization of Sindh and the provincial government is undertaking effective measures to preserve this great archaeological site from different threats icluding water logging and salinity.
The ruin of Moen jo Daro, one of the oldest civilization in the world with five thousand years of glory and an area of 8 square kilometers, the city mesmerized the visitors mind and hearts, said prof Li.
The ambassador also referred to the tourism potential in Pakistan, which was home to the oldest civilizations, architectural, grandeur, cold and hot deserts, five over 8000 meters high peaks, fertile planes, awe-inspiring valleys, amazing people and heterogeneous cultures with different shades and colours.
The Ambassador also referred to the potential of tourism in Pakistan which is home to the oldest civilizations, architectural, grandeur, cold and hot deserts, five over 8000 meters high peaks, fertile planes, awe-inspiring valleys, amazing people and heterogeneous cultures with different shades and colours.
Explaining the title of the book Ambassador Lodhi said that the banks of the mighty Indus river have been home to one of the world's oldest civilizations. So the title of this book reflects what has also come to define the cuisine that has evolved as part of Pakistan's journey.
Mashat noted that Egypt and China represent the oldest civilizations in the history of humanity, stressing the depth of relations between the two countries at the official and public levels.
They claim that the bill will separate them from their rights of continuing the old cultures and threaten the heritage of one of the oldest civilizations in the world.
8- Pakistan also has one of the oldest civilizations in history, Mehrgarh, dating back to 6000 B.C.