Markers In The Evolution Of Civilization
Insite|January 2019

Civilisation is shared by numerous cultures! The hallmarks of civilisation are the agreed upon rules, guidelines and charters that communities and nations agree upon as the legal and acceptable codes of conduct, particularly regarding matters of justice, freedom and equality. One can see hints of the emergence of “civilisation” in the forms of primordial settlements, where single household huts begin to cluster into a circle-like form around a central, shared open space, implying that a group has reached some civil understanding of how a collection of families will live together, sharing and supporting their mutual needs, interests and meaning systems. This open, inner space in the center of a ring of dwellings is the first form of an ‘institutional space’, because this space not only becomes representative of, and a symbol of, but also a physical container of a society that physically brings it together into a meeting place, where common, public values, ideas and means to achieve them are discussed and rationalism in human behavior emerges. The institutional spaces can be seen both in rudimentary places like rustic villages, and in highly articulated public places like the Greek amphitheatres and the Roman forums.

Rishav Jain

Since time immemorial one-room shelters have formed the built fabric of human settlements. Within these single-room dwellings, where the essentials of day to day life were performed, families lived their lives over days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries and millennia. Even today, a majority of the world’s households reside in a single room, anonymous, dwellings. Yet, within these simple structures, cultures evolved and matured - setting sleeping, conjugal, food preparation, eating, dress, sanitary, language, symbol and child-rearing patterns, passed down from generation to generation. These ‘patterns of behavior’, which persist over time, are what we call culture.

Though people confuse the word ‘culture’ with its artefacts, like paintings hanging on a wall, these things are just cultural flotsam, that hold representational meanings of the cultures that produced them, with little more putative value than nostalgia. Consumerism has attached artificial bid-pricing values on these objects, yet no matter how high the bids go, these artistic pieces are not culture, just cultural byproducts, whose only real meanings can lie within the emotions of the actual producers, artisans, artists, and their shared meanings and feelings within the communities where they lived and worked.

As opposed to the culture there is something called civilisation, that has evolved over the millennium, parallel to the emergence and tempering of numbers cultures. Civilisation is shared by numerous cultures! The hallmarks of civilization are the agreed upon rules, guidelines and charters that communities and nations agree upon as the legal and acceptable codes of conduct, particularly regarding matters of justice, freedom and equality.

One can see hints of the emergence of “civilisation” in the forms of primordial settlements, where single household huts begin to cluster into a circle-like form around a central, shared open space, implying that a group has reached some civil understanding of how a collection of families will live together, sharing and supporting their mutual needs, interests and meaning systems. This open, inner space in the center of a ring of dwellings is the first form of an ‘institutional space’, because this space not only becomes representative of, and a symbol of, but also a physical container of a society that physically brings it together into a meeting place, where common, public values, ideas and means to achieve them are discussed and rationalism in human behavior emerges.

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