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Berkshire Encyclopedia of
Berkshire Encyclopedia of
William H. McNeill
Senior Editor

Jerry H. Bentley, David Christian,

David Levinson, J. R. McNeill,
Heidi Roupp, Judith P. Zinsser

a berkshire reference work

Great Barrington, Massachusetts U.S.A.
Copyright 2005 by Berkshire Publishing Group LLC

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means,
electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Cover design: Lisa Clark, LKC Design

For information:
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314 Main Street
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Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Berkshire encyclopedia of world history / William H. McNeill, senior editor ; Jerry H. Bentley ...
[et al.] editorial board.
p. cm.
Summary: A comprehensive encyclopedia of world history with 538 articles that trace the develop-
ment of human history with a focus on area studies, global history, anthropology, geography, science,
arts, literature, economics, womens studies, African-American studies, and cultural studies related to
all regions of the worldProvided by publisher.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-9743091-0-9 (alk. paper : v. 1)
1. World historyEncyclopedias. I. McNeill, William Hardy, 1917 II. Bentley, Jerry H., 1949
III. Christian, David, 1946

D23.B45 2004
Editorial &
Production Staff
Project Director Designers
Karen Christensen Lisa Clark and Jeff Potter

Editorial and Production Staff Printers

Karen Advokaat, Rachel Christensen, Thomson-Shore, Inc.
Tom Christensen, Emily Colangelo, Sarah Conrick,
Benjamin Kerschberg, Junhee (June) Kim, Map Maker
Jess LaPointe, David Levinson, Courtney Linehan, XNR Productions
Janet Lowry, Marcy Ross, Gabby Templet
Composition Artists
Photo Researcher Steve Tiano, Brad Walrod, and Linda Weidemann
Gabby Templet
Production Coordinators
Copyeditors Benjamin Kerschberg and Marcy Ross
Francesca Forrest, Mike Nichols, Carol Parikh,
Mark Siemens, Daniel Spinella, and Rosalie Wieder Proofreaders
Mary Bagg, Sue Boshers, Robin Gold, Libby Larson,
Information Management and Programming Amina Sharma, and Barbara Spector
Deborah Dillon and Trevor Young
Peggy Holloway and Barbara Lutkins

List of Entries, ix
Categories, xv
Readers Guide, xvii
Maps, xxvii
Contributors, xxix
Preface, xli
A Long March: Creating the
Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History, xlv
Acknowledgments, xlix
Editorial Board, li
About William H. McNeill, Senior Editor, liii
About the Editors, lv
Photo and Quotation Credits, lvii
Berkshire World History Library, lix
World HistoryAbout the Design, lxi
How to Spell It and How to Say It:
100 Important People, Places, and Terms in World History, lxiii

This Fleeting World: An Overview of Human History, TFW1

CHAPTER ONE: Foraging Era, TFW2
C H A P T E R T WO : Agrarian Era, TFW15


Cold WarGlobal Imperialism and Gender
viii berkshire encyclopedia of world history


Global Migrations in Modern TimesMysticism

NapoleonSun Yat-sen

Tang TaizongZoroastrianism

This Fleeting World: An Overview of Human History, TFW1

CHAPTER ONE: Foraging Era, TFW2
C H A P T E R T WO : Agrarian Era, TFW15

Index, 2123

This Fleeting World, Anthropology Babi and Bahai

by David Christian Anthroposphere Babylon
Agrarian Era Apartheid in South Africa Balance of Power
Foraging (Paleolithic) Era Arab Caliphates Bands, Tribes, Chiefdoms,
Modern Era Arab League and States
Archaeology Barter
Abraham Architecture Benin
Absolutism, European Aristotle Berlin Conference
Adolescence ArtAfrica Biological Exchanges
Africa ArtAncient Greece and Rome Bolvar, Simn
Africa, Colonial ArtCentral Asia British East India Company
Africa, Postcolonial ArtEast Asia British Empire
African Religions ArtEurope Buddhism
African Union ArtNative North America Bullroarers
African-American and ArtOverview Byzantine Empire
Caribbean Religions ArtRussia
Afro-Eurasia ArtSouth Asia Caesar, Augustus
Age Stratification ArtSoutheast Asia Caesar, Julius
Agricultural Societies ArtWest Asia Capitalism
AIDS Art, Paleolithic Caravan
Airplane Asia Carrying Capacity
Akbar Asian Migrations Cartography
Aksum Asoka Catherine the Great
Alchemy Association of Southeast Catholicism, Roman
Alcohol Asian Nations Celts
Alexander the Great Assyrian Empire Cereals
al-Khwarizmi Augustine, St. Charlemagne
al-Razi Aurangzeb Charles V
American Empire Austro-Hungarian Empire Child, Lydia
Andean States Automobile Childhood
Animism Aztec Empire China

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Chinese Popular Religion Decolonization Ethnic Nationalism

Churchill, Winston Deforestation Ethnicity
Cinchona Delhi Sultanate Ethnocentrism
Citizenship Democracy, Constitutional Eurocentrism
Civil Disobedience Descartes, Ren Europe
Civil Law Desertification European Union
Civilization, Barbarism, Savagery Dtente Expansion, European
Climate Change Diasporas Expeditions, Scientific
Coal Dictionaries and Encyclopedias Exploration, Chinese
Coffee Diplomacy Exploration, Space
Cold War Disease and Nutrition Extinctions
Colonialism DiseasesOverview
Columbian Exchange Diseases, Animal Famine
Columbus, Christopher Diseases, Plant Fascism
Comintern Displaced Populations, Festivals
CommunicationOverview Typology of Feudalism
Communism and Socialism Dress Fire
Comparative Borders and Drugs Firearms
Frontiers Du Bois, W. E. B. First, Second, Third, Fourth
Comparative Ethnology Dutch East India Company Worlds
Comparative History Dutch Empire Food
Computer Foraging Societies, Contemporary
Confucianism Early Modern World Forms of GovernmentOverview
Confucius Earthquakes Freedom
Congress of Vienna Eastern Europe French Empire
Constantine the Great Economic Growth, Extensive and Frontiers
Consumerism Intensive Fur Trade
Containment Ecumenicism
Contraception and Birth Control Education Galileo Galilei
Contract Law EgyptState Formation Gama, Vasco da
Creation Myths Egypt, Ancient Games
Crusades, The Einstein, Albert Gandhi, Mohandas
Cultural and Geographic Areas Electricity Gay and Lesbian Rights
Cultural Ecology Elizabeth I Movement
Culture Empire General Agreement on Tariffs
Cyrus the Great Energy and Trade
Engines of History Genetics
Dance and Drill Enlightenment, The Genghis Khan
Daoism Equatorial and Southern Africa, Genocide
Darwin, Charles 4000 BCE1100 CE Geographic Constructions
Dating Methods Erosion German Empire
Decipherment of Ancient Scripts Esperanto Glass
list of entries xi

Global Commons Inca Empire Language, Standardization of

Global Imperialism and Gender Indigenous Peoples Laozi
Global Migration in Modern Indigenous Peoples Movements Latter-day Saints
Times Indo-European Migration League of Nations
Globalization Industrial Technologies Leisure
Gold and Silver Information Societies Lenin, Vladimir
Grand Tour Initiation and Rites of Passage Leonardo da Vinci
Greece, Ancient Inner Eurasia Letters and Correspondence
Green or Environmental International Court of Justice Liberalism
Movements International Criminal Court Libraries
Green Revolution International Law Lincoln, Abraham
Gregory VII International Monetary Systems Literature and Women
Guevara, Che International Organizations Locke, John
Guilds Overview Logistics
Gum Arabic Interregional Networks Long Cycles
Interwar Years (19181939) Luther, Martin
Hammurabi Isabella I
Han Wudi Islam Macedonian Empire
Hanseatic League Islamic Law Machiavelli, Niccolo
Harappan State and Indus Islamic World Magellan, Ferdinand
Civilization Mahavira
Harun al-Rashid Jainism Malaria
Hatshepsut Japanese Empire Mali
Hausa States Jefferson, Thomas Manichaeism
Henry the Navigator Jesus Manorialism
Herodotus Joan of Arc Mansa Musa
Hinduism Judaism Mao Zedong
Hitler, Adolf Justinian I Maritime History
Ho Chi Minh Marriage and Family
Holocaust Kamehameha I Marx, Karl
Homer Kanem-Bornu Mass Media
Hong Merchants Kangxi Emperor Mathematics
Horticultural Societies Kenyatta, Jomo Matriarchy and Patriarchy
Hudsons Bay Company Khmer Kingdom Mehmed II
Human EvolutionOverview King, Martin Luther, Jr. Mencius
Human Rights Kinship Mercantilism
Kongo Mero
Iberian Trading Companies Kushan Empire Mesoamerica
Ibn Battuta Mesopotamia
Ibn Khaldun Labor Systems, Coercive Metallurgy
Ibn Sina Labor Union Movements Migrations
Imperialism Language, Classification of Military Engineering
xii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Military Strategy and Tactics Pacific, Settlement of ReligionOverview

Military Training and Discipline Paleoanthropology Religion and Government
Millennialism Pan-Africanism Religion and War
Miranda, Francisco de Paper Religious Freedom
Missionaries Parliamentarianism Religious Fundamentalism
Mississippian Culture Pastoral Nomadic Societies Religious Syncretism
Modernity Paul, St. Renaissance
Money Peace Making in the Modern Era RevolutionChina
Mongol Empire Peace Projects RevolutionCuba
Moses Pentecostalism RevolutionFrance
Motecuhzoma II PeriodizationOverview RevolutionHaiti
Mughal Empire Periodization, Conceptions of RevolutionIran
Muhammad Persian Empire RevolutionMexico
Multinational Corporations Peter the Great RevolutionRussia
Museums Pilgrimage RevolutionUnited States
MusicGenres Piracy Revolutions, Communist
Music and Political Protest Plastics Ricci, Matteo
Mysticism Plato Roman Empire
Political Thought Roosevelt, Eleanor
Napoleon Polo, Marco Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
Napoleonic Empire Population Rubber
Nationalism Population Growth as Engine Rumi
Nation-State of History Russian-Soviet Empire
Native American Religions Porcelain
Natural Gas Portuguese Empire Sacred Law
Natural Law Postcolonial Analysis Sailing Ships
Nature Postmodernism Saladin
Navigation Production and Reproduction Salt
Newton, Isaac Progress Sasanian Empire
Nkrumah, Kwame Property Rights and Contracts ScienceOverview
Nonviolence Protestantism Scientific Instruments
North Atlantic Treaty Scientific Revolution
Organization Qin Shi Huangdi Secondary-Products Revolution
Nubians Quinine Secularism
Senghor, Lopold
Oil Race and Racism Sex and Sexuality
Oral History Radio Shaka Zulu
Organization of American States Railroad Shamanism
Orientalism Ramses II Shinto
Orthodoxy, Christian Raynal, Abb Guillaume Siddhartha Gautama
Osman I Red Cross and Red Crescent Sikhism
Ottoman Empire Movement Silk Roads
list of entries xiii

Sima Qian Trading Patterns, Ancient American WarfarePre-Columbian Meso-

Slave Trades Trading Patterns, Ancient European america and North America
Smith, Adam Trading Patterns, China Seas WarfarePre-Columbian South
Social Darwinism Trading Patterns, Eastern America
Social History European WarfareSouth Asia
Social Sciences Trading Patterns, Indian Ocean WarfareSoutheast Asia
Social Welfare Trading Patterns, Mediterranean WarfareSteppe Nomads
Sociology Trading Patterns, Mesoamerican Warfare, Air
Socrates Trading Patterns, Pacific Warfare, Comparative
Sokoto Caliphate Trading Patterns, Trans-Saharan Warfare, Land
Songhai TransportationOverview Warfare, Naval
Spanish Empire Travel Guides Warfare, Origins of
Spice Trade Treaty of Versailles Warsaw Pact
Sports Tpac Amaru Water
Srivijaya Turkic Empire Water Management
Stalin, Joseph Tutu, Desmond Western Civilization
State Societies, Emergence of Womens and Gender History
State, The Ugarit Womens Emancipation
Steppe Confederations Umar ibn al-Khattab Movements
Sugar United Nations Womens Reproductive Rights
Sui Wendi Universe, Origins of Movements
Sui Yangdi Urban II Womens Suffrage Movements
Sleyman Urbanization World Cities in History
Sumerian Society Utopia Overview
Sun Yat-sen World Maps, Chinese
Victoria World System Theory
Tang Taizong Viking Society World War I
Tea World War II
TechnologyOverview Wagadu Empire Writing Systems and Materials
Telegraph and Telephone War and PeaceOverview Writing World History
Textiles WarfareAfrica
Thomas Aquinas, St. WarfareChina Yijing
Thucydides WarfareEurope Yongle Emperor
Timber WarfareIslamic World
Time, Conceptions of WarfareJapan and Korea Zheng He
Timur WarfarePost-Columbian Latin Zhu Yuanzhang
Totemism America Zimbabwe, Great
Tourism WarfarePost-Columbian North Zionism
Trade Cycles America Zoroastrianism

Africa Conflict and Peace Making Migration

Americas War and Conflict Periodization
Asia Cultural Contact and Relations Philosophy, Thought, and
Europe Daily Life Ideas
Arts and Literature Disciplines and Fields of Population
Biography Study Religion and Belief Systems
CommerceOrganizations and Environment and Ecology Research Methods
Institutions Eras, Empires, States, and Social and Political Movements
CommerceSystems and Patterns Societies Technology and Science
CommerceTrade Goods and Evolution ThemesModels and Processes
Products Government, Politics, and Law ThemesPlaces
Communication Health and Disease Transportation
Conflict and Peace Making International and Regional Ways of Living
Diplomacy and Peace Making Organizations Women and Gender


Africa Sokoto Caliphate RevolutionHaiti

Africa Songhai RevolutionMexico
Africa, Colonial Trading Patterns, Trans-Saharan RevolutionUnited States
Africa, Postcolonial Tutu, Desmond Roosevelt, Eleanor
African Religions Wagadu Empire Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
African Union WarfareAfrica Slave Trades
African-American and Caribbean Zimbabwe, Great Sugar
Religions Trading Patterns, Ancient American
Afro-Eurasia Americas Trading Patterns, Mesoamerican
Aksum American Empire Tpac Amaru
Apartheid in South Africa Andean States WarfarePost-Columbian Latin
ArtAfrica ArtNative North America America
Benin Aztec Empire WarfarePost-Columbian North
Diasporas Biological Exchanges America
EgyptState Formation Bolvar, Simn WarfarePre-Columbian
Egypt, Ancient Child, Lydia Mesoamerica and
Equatorial and Southern Africa Du Bois, W. E. B. North America
Hausa States Einstein, Albert WarfarePre-Columbian South
Kanem-Bornu Fur Trade America
Kenyatta, Jomo Guevara, Che Western Civilization
Kongo Hudsons Bay Company
Mali Inca Empire Asia
Mansa Musa Jefferson, Thomas Afro-Eurasia
Mehmed II King, Martin Luther, Jr. Akbar
Mero Latter-day Saints ArtCentral Asia
Nkrumah, Kwame Lincoln, Abraham ArtEast Asia
Nubians Mississippian Culture ArtSouth Asia
Pan-Africanism Motecuhzoma II ArtSoutheast Asia
Pastoral Nomadic Societies Native American Religions ArtWest Asia
Senghor, Lopold Organization of American States Asia
Shaka Zulu Pentecostalism Asian Migrations
Slave Trades RevolutionCuba Asoka

xviii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Association of Southeast Asian RevolutionChina ArtEurope

Nations RevolutionIran ArtRussia
Aurangzeb Revolutions, Communist Berlin Conference
Babi and Bahai Ricci, Matteo British East India Company
British East India Company Rumi British Empire
Buddhism Sasanian Empire Caesar, Augustus
China Shinto Caesar, Julius
Chinese Popular Religion Siddhartha Gautama Catherine the Great
Confucianism Sikhism Catholicism, Roman
Confucius Silk Roads Celts
Cyrus the Great Sima Qian Charlemagne
Daoism Spice Trade Charles V
Delhi Sultanate Srivijaya Churchill, Winston
Dutch East India Company Steppe Confederations Columbian Exchange
Genghis Khan Sui Wendi Columbus, Christopher
Han Wudi Sui Yangdi Congress of Vienna
Harappan State and Indus Sleyman Crusades, The
Civilization Sun Yat-sen Darwin, Charles
Hinduism Tang Taizong Descartes, Ren
Ho Chi Minh Tea Dtente
Hong Merchants Timur Dutch East India Company
Inner Eurasia Trading PatternsChina Seas Dutch Empire
Islamic Law Trading PatternsIndian Ocean Early Modern World
Islamic World Trading PatternsPacific Eastern Europe
Jainism Turkic Empire Elizabeth I
Japanese Empire Umar ibn al-Khattab Enlightenment, The
Khmer Kingdom WarfareChina Eurocentrism
Kushan Empire WarfareIslamic World Europe
Laozi WarfareJapan and Korea European Union
Mahavira WarfareSouth Asia Expansion, European
Mao Zedong WarfareSoutheast Asia Fascism
Mencius WarfareSteppe Nomads Feudalism
Mesopotamia World Maps, Chinese French Empire
Mongol Empire Yijing Galileo Galilei
Mughal Empire Yongle Emperor Gama, Vasco da
Orientalism Zheng He German Empire
Pacific, Settlement of Zhu Yuanzhang Grand Tour
Pastoral Nomadic Societies Zoroastrianism Greece, Ancient
Persian Empire Gregory VII
Polo, Marco Europe Guilds
Porcelain Afro-Eurasia Hanseatic League
Qin Shi Huangdi Alexander the Great Henry the Navigator
readers guide xix

Herodotus Thucydides Renaissance

Hitler, Adolf Trading Patterns, Ancient Writing Systems and Materials
Holocaust European Writing World History
Homer Trading Patterns, Eastern Yijing
Iberian Trading Companies European
Indo-European Migration Trading Patterns, Mediterranean Biography
Interwar Years (19181939) Treaty of Versailles Abraham
Isabella I Urban II Akbar
Joan of Arc Victoria Alexander the Great
Lenin, Vladimir Viking Society al-Khwarizmi
Leonardo da Vinci WarfareEurope al-Razi
Locke, John Warsaw Pact Aristotle
Luther, Martin World War I Asoka
Macedonian Empire World War II Augustine, St.
Machiavelli, Niccolo Aurangzeb
Magellan, Ferdinand Arts and Bolvar, Simn
Manorialism Literature Caesar, Augustus
Marx, Karl ArtAfrica Caesar, Julius
Mercantilism ArtAncient Greece and Rome Catherine the Great
Napoleon ArtCentral Asia Charlemagne
Napoleonic Empire ArtEast Asia Charles V
Newton, Isaac ArtEurope Child, Lydia
North Atlantic Treaty Organization ArtNative North America Churchill, Winston
Orthodoxy, Christian ArtOverview Columbus, Christopher
Ottoman Empire ArtRussia Confucius
Parliamentarianism ArtSouth Asia Constantine the Great
Peter the Great ArtSoutheast Asia Cyrus the Great
Plato ArtWest Asia Darwin, Charles
Polo, Marco Art, Paleolithic Descartes, Rene
Portuguese Empire Bullroarers Du Bois, W. E. B.
Protestantism Child, Lydia Einstein, Albert
Raynal, Abb Guillaume Creation Myths Elizabeth I
Renaissance Dance and Drill Galileo Galilei
RevolutionFrance Dictionaries and Encyclopedias Gama, Vasco da
RevolutionRussia Enlightenment, The Gandhi, Mohandas
Roman Empire Letters and Correspondence Genghis Khan
Russian-Soviet Empire Leonardo da Vinci Gregory VII
Smith, Adam Libraries Guevara, Che
Socrates Literature and Women Hammurabi
Spanish Empire Museums Han Wudi
Stalin, Joseph MusicGenres Harun ar-Rashid
Thomas Aquinas, St. Music and Political Protest Hatshepsut
xx berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Henry the Navigator Polo, Marco Iberian Trading Companies

Herodotus Qin Shi Huangdi Multinational Corporations
Hitler, Adolf Ramses II
Ho Chi Minh Raynal, Abb Guillaume Commerce
Homer Ricci, Matteo Systems and
Ibn Battuta Roosevelt, Eleanor Patterns
Ibn Khaldun Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Barter
Ibn Sina Rumi Capitalism
Isabella I Saladin Columbian Exchange
Jefferson, Thomas Senghor, Lopold Economic Growth, Intensive and
Jesus Shaka Zulu Extensive
Joan of Arc Siddhartha Gautama General Agreement on Tariffs and
Justinian I Sima Qian Trade
Kamehameha I Smith, Adam International Monetary Systems
Kangxi Emperor Socrates Labor Systems, Coercive
Kenyatta, Jomo Stalin, Joseph Mercantilism
King, Martin Luther, Jr. Sui Wendi Money
Laozi Sui Yangdi Piracy
Lenin, Vladimir Sleyman Property Rights and Contracts
Leonardo da Vinci Sun Yat-sen Silk Roads
Lincoln, Abraham Tang Taizong Slave Trades
Locke, John Thomas Aquinas, St. Trade Cycles
Luther, Martin Thucydides Trading Patterns, Ancient
Machiavelli, Niccolo Timur American
Magellan, Ferdinand Tpac Amaru Trading Patterns, Ancient
Mahavira Tutu, Desmond European
Mansa Musa Umar ibn al-Khattab Trading Patterns, China Seas
Mao Zedong Urban II Trading Patterns, Eastern
Marx, Karl Victoria European
Mehmed II Yongle Emperor Trading Patterns, Indian Ocean
Mencius Zheng He Trading Patterns, Mediterranean
Miranda, Francisco de Zhu Yuanzhang Trading Patterns, Mesoamerican
Moses Trading Patterns, Pacific
Motecuhzoma II Commerce Trading Patterns, Trans-Saharan
Muhammad Organizations World System Theory
Napoleon and Institutions
Newton, Isaac British East India Company Commerce
Nkrumah, Kwame Dutch East India Company Trade Goods
Osman I Guilds and Products
Paul, St. Hanseatic League Alcohol
Peter the Great Hong Merchants Cereals
Plato Hudsons Bay Company Coal
readers guide xxi

Coffee Containment WarfarePre-Columbian Meso-

Drugs Dtente america and North America
Food Diplomacy WarfarePre-Columbian
Fur Trade Interwar Years (19181939) South America
Glass Nonviolence WarfareSouth Asia
Gold and Silver Peace Making in the Modern Era WarfareSoutheast Asia
Gum Arabic Peace Projects WarfareSteppe Nomads
Natural Gas Treaty of Versailles Warfare, Air
Oil Warfare, Comparative
Paper Conflict and Warfare, Land
Plastics Peace Making Warfare, Naval
Porcelain War and Conflict Warfare, Origins of
Rubber Cold War World War I
Salt Crusades, The World War II
Slave Trades Firearms
Spice Trade Genocide Cultural Contact
Sugar Holocaust and Relations
Tea Logistics Colonialism
Textiles Military Engineering Comparative Borders and
Timber Military Strategy and Tactics Frontiers
Military Training and Decolonization
Communication Discipline Diasporas
CommunicationOverview Religion and War Displaced Populations,
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias RevolutionChina Typology of
Esperanto RevolutionCuba Ethnic Nationalism
Language, Classification of RevolutionFrance Ethnicity
Language, Standardization of RevolutionHaiti Ethnocentrism
Letters and Correspondence RevolutionIran Eurocentrism
Libraries RevolutionMexico Expansion, European
Mass Media RevolutionRussia Expeditions, Scientific
Radio RevolutionUnited States Exploration, Chinese
Telegraph and Telephone Revolutions, Communist Exploration, Space
Writing Systems and Materials War and PeaceOverview Grand Tour
WarfareAfrica Indigenous Peoples
Conflict and WarfareChina Interregional Networks
Peace Making WarfareEurope Maritime History
Diplomacy and WarfareIslamic World Missionaries
Peace Making WarfareJapan and Korea Navigation
Balance of Power WarfarePost-Columbian Orientalism
Berlin Conference Latin America Pilgrimage
Cold War WarfarePost-Columbian Race and Racism
Congress of Vienna North America Slave Trades
xxii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Social Darwinism Desertification Hausa States

Tourism Earthquakes Inca Empire
Travel Guides Energy Islamic World
World System Theory Erosion Japanese Empire
Extinctions Kanem-Bornu
Daily Life Famine Khmer Kingdom
Adolescence Fire Kongo
Age Stratification Green or Environmental Kushan Empire
Childhood Movements Macedonian Empire
Dress Green Revolution Mali
Education Nature Mero
Festivals Time, Conceptions of Mesoamerica
Games Water Mesopotamia
Initiation and Rites of Passage Water Management Mississippian Culture
Kinship Mongol Empire
Leisure Eras, Empires, Mughal Empire
Marriage and Family States, and Napoleonic Empire
Sex and Sexuality Societies Nubians
Sports Africa, Colonial Ottoman Empire
Textiles Africa, Postcolonial Persian Empire
Aksum Portuguese Empire
Disciplines and American Empire Roman Empire
Fields of Study Andean States Russian-Soviet Empire
Anthropology Assyrian Empire Sasanian Empire
Archaeology Austro-Hungarian Empire Sokoto Caliphate
Cartography Aztec Empire Songhai
Comparative Ethnology Babylon Spanish Empire
Comparative History Benin Srivijaya
Genetics British Empire State Societies, Emergence of
Museums Byzantine Empire State, The
Paleoanthropology Celts Steppe Confederations
Social History China Sumerian Society
Social Sciences Delhi Sultanate Turkic Empire
Sociology Dutch Empire Ugarit
Womens and Gender History Early Modern World Viking Society
EgyptState Formation Wagadu Empire
Environment Egypt, Ancient Zimbabwe, Great
and Ecology French Empire
Anthroposphere German Empire Evolution
Biological Exchanges Greece, Ancient Extinctions
Climate Change Harappan State and Indus Foraging (Paleolithic) Era (please
Deforestation Civilization see This Fleeting World)
readers guide xxiii

Human EvolutionOverview Disease and Nutrition Pastoral Nomadic Societies

Paleoanthropology DiseasesOverview Urbanization
Universe, Origins of Diseases, Animal
Diseases, Plant Periodization
Government, Malaria Agrarian Era (please see This
Politics, and Law Quinine Fleeting World)
Absolutism, European Civilization, Barbarism, Savagery
Arab Caliphates International Foraging (Paleolithic) Era (please
Bands,Tribes, Chiefdoms, and States and Regional see This Fleeting World)
Citizenship Organizations Long Cycles
Civil Disobedience African Union Modern Era (please see This
Civil Law Arab League Fleeting World)
Communism and Socialism Association of Southeast Asian Periodization, Conceptions of
Confucianism Nations PeriodizationOverview
Contract Law Comintern
Democracy, Constitutional European Union Philosophy,
Fascism International Court of Justice Thought,
Feudalism International Criminal Court and Ideas
Forms of GovernmentOverview International Organizations Anthroposphere
Global Commons Overview Civilization, Barbarism, Savagery
Global Imperialism and Gender League of Nations Confucianism
Human Rights North Atlantic Treaty Culture
Imperialism Organization Freedom
International Law Organization of American States Modernity
Islamic Law Red Cross and Red Crescent Orientalism
Liberalism Movement Political Thought
Manorialism United Nations Postcolonial Analysis
Nationalism Warsaw Pact Postmodernism
Natural Law Progress
Parliamentarianism Migration Western Civilization
Religion and Government Asian Migrations World Maps, Chinese
Sacred Law Diasporas
Secularism Displaced Populations, Population
Social Welfare Typology of Age Stratification
Utopia Equatorial and Southern Africa, Carrying Capacity
Zionism 4000 BCE1100 CE Contraception and Birth Control
Expansion, European Population
Health and Global Migration in Modern Population Growth as Engine
Disease Times of History
AIDS Indo-European Migration Urbanization
Biological Exchanges Migrations World Cities in History
Cinchona Pacific, Settlement of Overview
xxiv berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Religion Research Technology

and Belief Methods and Science
Systems Cultural and Geographic Areas Alchemy
African Religions Cultural Ecology Architecture
African-American and Caribbean Dating Methods Computer
Religions Decipherment of Ancient Scripts Electricity
Animism Oral History Energy
Babi and Bahai Periodization, Conceptions of Enlightenment, The
Buddhism Postcolonial Analysis Expeditions, Scientific
Catholicism, Roman Writing World History Industrial Technologies
Chinese Popular Religion Information Societies
Creation Myths Social and Mathematics
Daoism Political Metallurgy
Ecumenicism Movements Paper
Hinduism Apartheid in South Africa Renaissance
Islam Consumerism ScienceOverview
Jainism Contraception and Birth Control Scientific Instruments
Judaism Decolonization Scientific Revolution
Latter-day Saints Ethnic Nationalism Secondary-Products
Manichaeism Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement Revolution
Millennialism Green or Environmental TechnologyOverview
Missionaries Movements Water Management
Mysticism Human Rights
Native American Religions Indigenous Peoples Movements Themes
Orthodoxy, Christian Labor Union Movements Models and
Pentecostalism Pan-Africanism Processes
Pilgrimage Religious Fundamentalism Empire
Protestantism RevolutionChina Engines of History
ReligionOverview RevolutionCuba First, Second, Third, Fourth
Religion and Government RevolutionFrance Worlds
Religion and War RevolutionHaiti Globalization
Religious Freedom RevolutionIran Long Cycles
Religious Fundamentalism RevolutionMexico Matriarchy and Patriarchy
Religious Syncretism RevolutionRussia Nation-State
Sacred Law RevolutionUnited States Production and Reproduction
Shamanism Revolutions, Communist State, The
Shinto Womens Emancipation World System Theory
Sikhism Movements
Totemism Womens Reproductive Rights ThemesPlaces
Zionism Movements Africa
Zoroastrianism Womens Suffrage Movements Afro-Eurasia
readers guide xxv

Asia Ways of Living Global Imperialism and

Eastern Europe Agricultural Societies Gender
Europe Foraging Societies, Contemporary Human Rights
Frontiers Horticultural Societies Initiation and Rites of Passage
Geographic Constructions Indigenous Peoples Kinship
Inner Eurasia Information Societies Letters and Correspondence
Pastoral Nomadic Societies Literature and Women
Transportation Marriage and Family
Airplane Women and Matriarchy and Patriarchy
Automobile Gender Sex and Sexuality
Caravan AIDS Womens and Gender History
Navigation Childhood Womens Emancipation
Railroad Contraception and Birth Control Movements
Sailing Ships Dress Womens Reproductive Rights
Transportation Gay and Lesbian Rights Movements
Overview Movement Womens Suffrage Movements

Headword Map Title

Agrarian Era THIS FLEETING WORLD: Distribution of Agriculture by 500 BCE
Agrarian Era THIS FLEETING WORLD: Early Farming Communities in Southwest Asia and Egypt
Africa Africa in 2004
Africa, Colonial European Colonization of Africa as of 1914
Aksum Aksum in Modern Northeast Africa
Aztec Empire Aztec Empire in 1520 CE
Benin Benin in Modern West Africa
Buddhism Spread of Buddhism 500 BCE600 CE
British Empire English Voyages of Exploration 14971610
Byzantine Empire Byzantine Empire at 565 CE
China Han Dynasty 202 BCE220 CE
Crusades The First Crusade in 1096
Eastern Europe Eastern Europe in 2004
Egypt, Ancient Ancient Egypt in 1000 BCE
Europe Europe in 2004
Europe Italian City-States Trade Routes
Europe Major European Trade Routes from 12801500
French Empire French Voyages of Exploration
Greece, Ancient Greece and Its Colonies in 500 BCE
Hanseatic League Hanseatic League Trade Routes
Harrapan State Greater Indus Valley
and Indus Civilization
Hausa States Hausa States Superimposed on Modern West Africa
Human Evolution Important Sites in Africa Associated with Human Evolution
Inca Empire Inca Empire in 1525 CE
Industrial Technologies Centers of European Industrialization in 1850

xxviii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Headword Map Title

Inner Eurasia Inner Eurasia in 2004
Islamic World Trade Routes of the Islamic World in 1000 CE
Japanese Empire Japanese Empire in 1942
Kanem-Bornu Kanem-Bornu in Modern North Central Africa
Khmer Empire Khmer Empire in Modern Southeast Asia
Kongo Kongo in Modern West Africa
Macedonian Empire Alexander the Greats Empire334323 BCE
Mali Mali in West Africa
Mero Mero in Modern Northeast Africa
Mesoamerica City States of Mesoamerica
Mesopotamia Mesopotamia in 2500 BCE
Mississippian Cultures Cahokia and Satellite Communities c. 10501200 CE
Mongol Empire Mongol Empire in the Late Thirteenth Century
Napoleonic Empire Napoleonic Empire in 1812
Nubians Nubia in Modern Northeast Africa
Ottoman Empire Ottoman Empire in 1566
Pacific, Settlement of Islands of the Pacific
Persian Empire The Persian Empire in 500 BCE
Portuguese Empire Portuguese Voyages of Exploration
Protestantism Protestant Region of Europe c. 1600 CE
Roman Empire Roman Empire in 117 CE
Russian Empire Kievan Russia in 900 CE
Russian Empire Russian Empire in 1796
Silk Road Silk Roads From China to Europe
Slave Trades Atlantic Slave Trade
Sokoto Caliphate Sokoto Caliphate in Modern West Africa
Songhai Songhay (Songhai) in Modern West Africa
Spanish Empire Spanish Voyages of Exploration
State, the Locations of Major Classical States
Sumerian Society Sumer
Urbanization Largest Urban Areas in 2004
Wagadu Empire Wagadu Empire in Modern West Africa
WarfareSteppe Nomads Steppe Nomad Invasion and Migration Routes
Zimbabwe, Great Great Zimbabwe in Modern Southeast Africa

Adams, Paul Andrea, A. J. Banerji, Debashish

Shippensburg University University of Vermont University of California,
Production and Reproduction Byzantine Empire Los Angeles
Crusades, The ArtSouth Asia
Adas, Michael
Rutgers University Andressen, Curtis A. Bard, Mitchell G.
Race and Racism Flinders University American-Israeli Cooperative
Social Darwinism Association of Southeast Asian Enterprise
Nations Holocaust
Afsaruddin, Asma
University of Notre Dame Arkenberg, Jerome Barfield, Thomas J.
Islamic World California State University, Boston University
Rumi Fullerton Pastoral Nomadic Societies
Constantine the Great
Agoston, Gabor Barkin, J. Samuel
Georgetown University Arora, Mandakini University of Florida
WarfareIslamic World Overseas Family School, Singapore International Organizations
Asoka Overview
Ahluwalia, Sanjam
Northern Arizona University Austen, Ralph A. Bartlett, Kenneth R.
Contraception and Birth Control University of Chicago University of Toronto
Trading Patterns, Trans-Saharan Grand Tour
Alexander, William H.
Leonardo da Vinci
Norfolk State University Baer, Hans A.
Raynal, Abb Guillaume University of Arkansas
Pentecostalism Beach, Timothy
Ali, Omar H.
Georgetown University
Towson University, Baltimore Bagchi, Kaushik
Labor Union Movements Goucher College
Ethnocentrism Beasley, Edward
Anderson, Atholl
San Diego State University
Australian National University Bainbridge, William Sims
British Empire
Pacific, Settlement of National Science Foundation

xxx berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Beck, Roger B. Blom, Ida Burstein, Stanley

Eastern Illinois University University of Bergen California State University, Los
Apartheid in South Africa Womens and Gender History Angeles
Missionaries Aksum
Boeck, Brian J.
Tutu, Desmond Alexander the Great
DePaul University
Benjamin, Craig Comparative Borders and Frontiers
Macedonian Empire
Grand Valley State University
Bouchard, Carl Mero
ArtCentral Asia
Universit du Qubec Montral
Kushan Empire Buschmann, Rainer F.
Peace Projects
California State University,
Berdan, Frances
Bowman, Sally Channel Islands
California State University, San
Oregon State University German Empire
Age Stratification Museums
Aztec Empire
Oral History Breiner, David Buzzanco, Robert
Trading Patterns, Mesoamerican Philadelphia University University of Houston
Architecture American Empire
Berg, Herbert
University of North Carolina, Broers, Michael Campbell, Gary
Wilmington Oxford University Michigan Technological University
Islamic Law Napoleonic Empire Gold and Silver

Berglund, Bruce Brooks, Christopher A. Capet, Antoine

Calvin College Virginia Commonwealth Universit de Rouen, France
Eastern Europe University Comintern
Africa, Postcolonial League of Nations
Berry, Brian
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
University of Texas, Dallas Broom, John T.
Urbanization Park University and Metropolitan Carrillo, Elisa A.
Community Colleges Marymount College of Fordham
Biltoft, Carolyn N.
WarfarePost-Columbian North University
Princeton University
America Augustine, St.
Interwar Years (19181939)
Catholicism, Roman
Broude, Gwen J.
Blitz, Mark Galileo Galilei
Vassar College
Claremont-McKenna College Joan of Arc
Forms of GovernmentOverview Machiavelli, Niccolo
Initiation and Rites of Passage
Blockmans, Wim P. Carton, Adrian
Burgh, Theodore
Netherlands Institute for Macquarie University
Notre Dame University
Advanced Study Food
Charles V
Ramses II
contributors xxxi

Castleman, Bruce A. Chick, Garry Colli, Andrea

San Diego State University Pennsylvania State University Universit Bocconi, Italy
WarfarePost-Columbian Latin Games Multinational Corporations
America Leisure
Collinson, David
Catlos, Brian A. Christian, David Lancaster University
University of California, Santa San Diego State University Elizabeth I
Cruz Agrarian Era
Collinson, Margaret
Harun al-Rashid Alcohol
Lancaster University
Saladin Creation Myths
Elizabeth I
Umar ibn al-Khattab Foraging (Paleolithic) Era
Inner Eurasia Conrad, David
Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca
Modern Era State University of New York,
Stanford University
PeriodizationOverview Oswego
Population Growth as Engine of Mali
Centeno, Miguel A. History Songhai
Princeton University ScienceOverview
Conrad, Stephen A.
Globalization Silk Roads
Indiana University
Interregional Networks Steppe Confederations
RevolutionCuba Universe, Origins of
Courtwright, David T.
Cernea, Michael M. Cioc, Mark
University of North Florida
World Bank University of California, Santa Cruz
Displaced Populations, Typology of Railroad
Croizier, Ralph C.
Chambers, Erve Cioffi-Revilla, Claudio
University of Victoria
University of Maryland George Mason University
Tourism Warfare, Origins of
Qin Shi Huangdi
Chan, Wellington K. Clossey, Luke RevolutionChina
Occidental College Simon Fraser University
Crosby, Alfred W.
Hong Merchants Early Modern World
University of Texas, Austin
Chapple, Chris Columbian Exchange
Portuguese Empire
Loyola Marymount University
Cumo, Christopher M.
Jainism Cohen, Mark Nathan
Independent Scholar
State University of New York,
Charlston, Jeffery Diseases, Plant
U.S. Army Center of Military Gama, Vasco da
Carrying Capacity
History Magellan, Ferdinand
Disease and Nutrition
Military Strategy and Tactics
Curran, Cynthia
Coleman, Simon
Chew, Sing C. Saint Johns University, College of
University of Sussex
Humboldt State University Saint Benedict
Timber Womens Emancipation Movements
xxxii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Curtis, Kenneth R. Dickson, D. Bruce Eagleton, Catherine

California State University, Long Texas A&M University Cambridge University
Beach Extinctions Scientific Instruments
Africa, Colonial
Dieu, Nguyen T. Ebbesen, Martha A.
Daniels, Peter T. Temple University Instituto Tecnolgico y de Estudios
Independent Scholar Ho Chi Minh Superiores de Monterrey
Decipherment of Ancient Scripts British East India Company
Dimand, Robert W.
Hudsons Bay Company
Darwin, John G. Brock University
Smith, Adam
University of Oxford International Monetary Systems
Decolonization Trade Cycles Ehret, Christopher
University of California, Los
Daryaee, Touraj Dobbs, Charles M.
California State University, Iowa State University
Equatorial and Southern Africa,
Fullerton Organization of American States
4000 BCE1100 CE
Cyrus the Great WarfareChina
Persian Empire WarfareJapan and Korea
Sasanian Empire World War II Emerson, Thomas
Zoroastrianism University of Illinois, Urbana-
Doerr, Paul W.
Davis, Derek H. Acadia University
Mississippian Culture
Baylor University Congress of Vienna
Religious Freedom Containment Emmer, Pieter C.
Dtente University of Leiden
Davis, Jr., Donald G.
Diplomacy Dutch Empire
University of Texas at Austin
Libraries Doumanis, Nick Erickson, Patricia E.
University of New South Wales Canisius College
Davis, Stacy
Trading Patterns, Mediterranean Civil Disobedience
University of Notre Dame
Paul, St. Duara, Prasenjit Ezra, Kate
University of Chicago Columbia College, Chicago
DenBeste, Michelle
Nation-State ArtAfrica
California State University, Fresno
Cold War Dudley, Wade G. Fahey, David M.
East Carolina University Miami University
Deng, Kent G.
Warfare, Naval Churchill, Winston
London School of Economics and
Newton, Isaac
Political Science Duncan, Carol B.
Exploration, Chinese Wilfrid Laurier University Faruqui, Munis D.
Matriarchy and Patriarchy University of Dayton
Denny, Walter B.
University of Massachusetts, Dunn, Ross E.
Amherst San Diego State University
ArtWest Asia Afro-Eurasia
Ibn Battuta
contributors xxxiii

Featherstone, Lisa Gaastra, Femme Goudie, Andrew S.

Macquarie University Leiden University Oxford University
Marriage and Family Spice Trade Desertification

Feder, Kenneth Gabaccia, Donna R. Goudsblom, Johan

Central Connecticut State University of Pittsburgh University of Amsterdam
University Diasporas Anthroposphere
Dating Methods Migrations Fire

Feldman, Jerome Gelzer, Christian Grim, John A.

Hawaii Pacific University NASA Dryden Flight Research Bucknell University
ArtSoutheast Asia Center Native American Religions
Feldstein, Lori A. Hagelberg, Gerhard
Independent Scholar Georg, Stefan Independent Scholar
Catherine the Great University of Leiden Sugar
Language, Classification of
Finlay, Robert Hagens, Bethe
Language, Standardization of
University of Arkansas Union Institute and University
Porcelain Gillis, John Bullroarers
Yongle Emperor Rutgers University
Halper, Donna L.
Zheng He Europe
Emerson College
Firestone, Reuven Gilson, Tom Arab League
Hebrew Union College College of Charleston Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement
Abraham Dictionaries and Encyclopedias Mass Media
Giraldez, Arturo Hammerl, Christa
Fitch, Nancy Independent Scholar Central Institute for Meteorology
California State University at Trading Patterns, Pacific and Geodynamics
Fullerton Earthquakes
Glazier, Stephen D.
University of Nebraska, Lincoln Hardy, Grant
Flynn, Dennis O. African-American and Caribbean University of North Carolina,
University of the Pacific Religions Asheville
Trading Patterns, Pacific Du Bois, W. E. B. Sima Qian
Religious Syncretism
Harpham, Edward J.
Ford, Charles Howard
Golden, Peter University of Texas, Dallas
Norfolk State University
Rutgers University, Newark Locke, John
Absolutism, European
Turkic Empire
Slave Trades Hart, John M.
Goldstein, Eli University of Houston
Frank, Andre Gunder
Bar-Ilan University, Israel RevolutionMexico
Northeastern University
Natural Gas
Long Cycles
xxxiv berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Hassig, Ross Hughes-Warrington, Marnie Joyner, Christopher C.

Tucson, Arizona Macquarie University Georgetown University
WarfarePre-Columbian Meso- Postmodernism General Agreement on Tariffs and
america and North America Writing World History Trade
Global Commons
Headrick, Daniel R. Huiza, Claudia M.
International Court of Justice
Roosevelt University National University
CommunicationOverview Literature and Women Kaser, Michael
TechnologyOverview Oxford Universty
Hunt, Robert C.
Telegraph and Telephone Trading Patterns, Eastern European
Brandeis University
Hemmerle, Oliver Benjamin Water Management Kea, Ray A.
Chemnitz University, Germany University of California, Riverside
Hwa, Lily
WarfareEurope Kanem-Bornu
University of St. Thomas,
Wagadu Empire
Hornborg, Alf Minnesota
Lund University, Sweden Han Wudi Keegan, William F.
Cultural Ecology Laozi Florida Museum of Natural History
WarfarePre-Columbian South Tang Taizong Horticultural Societies
Jennings, Justin Kellman, Jordan
Horowitz, Richard University of California, Santa University of Louisiana, Lafayette
California State University, Barbara Expeditions, Scientific
Northridge Andean States Sailing Ships
Sun Yat-sen Inca Empire
Kennedy, Dane K.
Howell, Chris Johnson, Ann George Washington University
Walla Walla Community College University of South Carolina Empire
Capitalism Automobile
Kerschberg, Benjamin S.
Warfare, Comparative
Johnson, Denise R. Berkshire Publishing Group
Warfare, Land
Southern Illinois University, Ibn Sina
Huehnergard, John Carbondale
Khan, Abdul-Karim
Harvard University Womens Suffrage Movements
University of Hawaii, Leeward
Johnson-Roullier, Cyraina al-Khwarizmi
Hughes, J. Donald Notre Dame University Arab Caliphates
University of Denver Modernity Muhammad
Green or Environmental
Jones, Richard A. Kimball, Kathleen I.
Independent Scholar Independent Scholar
Hughes, Lindsey Darwin, Charles ArtOverview
School of Slavonic and East
Joslyn, Mauriel Klenbort, Daniel
European Studies
Independent Scholar Morehouse College
Warfare, Air Social Sciences
Peter the Great
contributors xxxv

Klostermaier, Klaus Leadbetter, Bill Lockard, Craig A.

University of Manitoba Edith Cowan University University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
Hinduism Aristotle Asian Migrations
Genocide Khmer Kingdom
Koehler, Christiana
Jesus Srivijaya
Macquarie University
Justinian I
EgyptState Formation Long, Thomas L.
Hatshepsut Thomas Nelson Community
Kwok, Daniel W. Y. Trading Patterns, Ancient European
University of Hawaii
Leaf, Murray J. Periodization, Conceptions of
University of Texas, Dallas Utopia
Laberge, Martin Agricultural Societies
Lopez, Maritere
University of Montreal, Northside
Lefebure, Leo California State University, Fresno
Fordham University Daoism
Peace Making in the Modern Era
Siddhartha Gautama
Low, Michael C.
Laird, Peter F.
Levinson, David Independent Scholar
Independent Scholar
Berkshire Publishing Group al-Razi
Colonialism Ibn Khaldun
Lambden, Stephen Comparative Ethnology Mansa Musa
Ohio University Foraging Societies, Contemporary
Lyons, John F.
Babi and Bahai Mesoamerica
Joliet Junior College
Langer, Erick D. Lewis, Frank D. Jefferson, Thomas
Georgetown University Queens University
Macfarlane, Alan
Frontiers Fur Trade
University of Cambridge
Indigenous Peoples
Lewis, James G. Glass
Indigenous Peoples Movements
Durham, North Carolina Tea
Labor Systems, Coercive
Einstein, Albert
World System Theory Mahdavi, Farid
King, Martin Luther, Jr.
San Diego State University
LaPlaca, Jaclyn A. Lenin, Vladimir Ilich
Kent State University Roosevelt, Eleanor
Education Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Mahoney, Justin
Social Welfare Vassar College
Lewis, Martin
Property Rights and Contracts
Lauzon, Matthew J. Stanford University
University of Hawaii, Manoa Cartography Mallory, J. P.
Enlightenment, The Cultural and Geographic Areas Queens University
Geographic Constructions Indo-European Migration
Lazich, Michael C.
Buffalo State College
Chinese Popular Religion
xxxvi berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Markham, J. David McChesney, Lea S. Mishra, Patit Paban

International Napoleonic Society Independent Scholar Sambalpur University
Caesar, Augustus ArtNative North America Delhi Sultanate
Caesar, Julius Mughal Empire
McComb, David G.
Colorado State University Mitchell, Dennis J.
Mrquez, Carlos E. Sports Mississippi State University,
Independent Scholar Meridian
McKeown, Adam M.
Gregory VII Victoria
Columbia University
Isabella I
Global Migration in Modern Times Modelski, George
Urban II
University of Washington
McNally, Mark
Martin, Dorothea World Cities in HistoryOverview
University of Hawaii
Appalachian State University
Shinto Mokyr, Joel
Mao Zedong
Northwestern University
McNeill, J. R.
Martin, Eric L. Industrial Technologies
Georgetown University
Lewis and Clark State College Information Societies
Biological Exchanges
Guevara, Che
Moore, Robert Scott
Nkrumah, Kwame McNeill, William H.
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
University of Chicago
Marty, Martin E. Hanseatic League
University of Chicago Water
Dance and Drill
DiseasesOverview Morillo, Stephen
Engines of History Wabash College
Religious Fundamentalism
Greece, Ancient Charlemagne
May, Timothy M. Population Feudalism
North Georgia College and State Progress Firearms
University Salt Manorialism
Genghis Khan TransportationOverview War and PeaceOverview
Mehmed II Western Civilization WarfareSteppe Nomads
Mongol Empire
Mears, John A. Morris, Peter
Osman I
Southern Methodist University The Science Museum
Austro-Hungarian Empire Plastics
McCallon, Mark Human EvolutionOverview Rubber
Abilene Christian University
Mennell, Stephen Morzer Bruyns, Willem F. J.
University College, Dublin Nederlands Scheepvaartmuseum
McCarthy, Joseph M. Sociology Navigation
Suffolk University
Michael, Bernardo A. Mossoff, Adam
Messiah College Michigan State University
Culture Natural Law
Postcolonial Analysis
contributors xxxvii

Motavalli, Jim Page, Jr., Hugh R. Perrins, Robert John

E: The Environmental Magazine University of Notre Dame Acadia University
Automobile Alchemy Kangxi Emperor
Celts Mencius
Muldoon, James
Egypt, Ancient Polo, Marco
Brown University
Esperanto Ricci, Matteo
Columbus, Christopher
Sumerian Society Sui Wendi
Expansion, European
Ugarit Sui Yangdi
Neill, Jeremy H. Viking Society
Picon, Andres Sanchez
Northeastern University Writing Systems and Materials
University of Almeria, Spain
Page, Melvin E. Coal
Neumann, Caryn E. East Tennessee State University
Pierotti, Raymond
Ohio State University African Union
University of Kansas
International Criminal Court Kenyatta, Jomo
Diseases, Animal
Sokoto Caliphate
Newton, Douglas
WarfareAfrica Plant, Ian
University of Western Sydney
Macquarie University
Treaty of Versailles Paine, Lincoln P.
World War I Portland, Maine
Henry the Navigator Podany, Amanda H.
Norwood, Vera
Homer California State Polytechnic
University of New Mexico
Maritime History University, Pomona
Piracy Babylon
Oliver, Paul Mesopotamia
Painter, David S.
University of Huddersfield
Georgetown University Pomeranz, Kenneth L.
Oil University of California, Irvine
Economic Growth, Extensive and
Palmer, Douglas
Ordonez, Margaret Intensive
Emory University
University of Rhode Island
Contract Law Poole, Ross
Sacred Law Macquarie University
Osterhammel, Juergen Nationalism
Parker, Bradley
University of Konstanz
University of Utah Poor, Robert J.
Trading Patterns, China Seas
Assyrian Empire University of Minnesota
Owens, J. B. ArtEast Asia
Paul, Chandrika
Idaho State University
Shippensburg University Possehl, Gregory L.
Spanish Empire
Womens Reproductive Rights University of Pennsylvania
Movements Museum
Harappan State and Indus
Penna, Anthony N.
Northeastern University
Climate Change
xxxviii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Prashad, Vijay Roshwald, Aviel Sethia, Tara

Trinity College Georgetown University California State Polytechnic
First, Second, Third, Fourth Worlds Ethnic Nationalism University
Gandhi, Mohandas
Pratt, Dorothy O. Ryan, Michael A.
Notre Dame University University of Minnesota
Lincoln, Abraham Iberian Trading Companies
Travel Guides Sewell, Elizabeth A.
Quataert, Donald
Brigham Young University
State University of New York, Salamone, Frank A.
Latter-day Saints
Binghamton Iona College
Religion and Government
Ottoman Empire African Religions
Festivals Shapiro, Warren
Quirin, James A.
Hausa States Rutgers University
Fisk University
MusicGenres Kinship
Satterfield, George
Racine, Karen
State University of New York, Sheedy, Kenneth
University of Guelph
Morrisville Macquarie University
Bolvar, Simn
Sleyman Barter
Miranda, Francisco de
Sawan, Douglas
Ragan, Elizabeth A.
West Roxbury, Massachusetts Sherratt, Andrew
Salisbury University
WarfareSoutheast Asia Oxford University
Bands, Tribes, Chiefdoms, and
Secondary-Products Revolution
States Sayegh, Sharlene S.
California State University, Long Simonetto, Michele
Redles, David
Beach ISTRESCO, Italy
Cuyahoga Community College
Letters and Correspondence Cereals
Schechter, Ronald
Reeves, Caroline
College of William and Mary Smil, Vaclav
Williams College
RevolutionFrance University of Manitoba
Red Cross and Red Crescent
Movement Schmidt, Heike I.
San Diego State University Smith, Jr., Allyne L.
Renick, Timothy M.
Kongo St. Joseph Center
Georgia State University
Zimbabwe, Great Orthodoxy, Christian
Religion and War Segal, Daniel A. Smith, Michael E.
Pitzer College State University of New York,
Reynolds, Jonathan
Anthropology Albany
Northern Kentucky University
Civilization, Barbarism, Savagery Motecuhzoma II
Trading Patterns, Ancient
Rhodes, Robin F. American
University of Notre Dame
ArtAncient Greece and Rome
contributors xxxix

Smith, Richard J. Strayer, Robert W. Tent, James F.

Rice University State University of New York, University of Alabama, Birmingham
World Maps, Chinese Brockport Hitler, Adolf
Yijing Communism and Socialism
Tishken, Joel
Sneh, Itai Nartzizenfield Colombus State University
Revolutions, Communist
John Jay College of Criminal Benin
Justice, CUNY Streets, Heather
Topik, Steven
Balance of Power Washington State University
University of California, Irvine
Civil Law Global Imperialism and Gender
Democracy, Constitutional
Stremlin, Boris
Parliamentarianism Tschudin, Peter F.
Independent Scholar
Secularism The Basel Paper Mill, Swiss
Russian-Soviet Empire
Museum of Paper
Spongberg, Mary
Stuchtey, Benedikt Paper
Macquarie University
German Historical Institute
Child, Lydia Uriarte Ayo, R.
Universidad del Pais Vasco, Italy
Starr, Kristen
Sundaram, Chandar S. Metallurgy
Auburn University
Lingnan University
Exploration, Space Van Dyke, Jon
WarfareSouth Asia
University of Hawaii
Stavig, Ward
Sutton, John Human Rights
University of South Florida
Macquarie University International Law
Tpac Amaru
Descartes, Ren
Van Sant, John E.
Stearns, Peter N.
Svoboda, Jiri University of Alabama, Birmingham
George Mason University
Institute of Archaeology, Czech Japanese Empire
Consumerism Vink, Markus
Art, Paleolithic
Mercantilism State University of New York,
RevolutionUnited States Tarver, H. Micheal Fredonia
Social History Arkansas Tech University Dutch East India Company
Gregory VII
Sterling, Christopher Vlahakis, George N.
Isabella I
George Washington University Independent Scholar
Urban II
Radio Electricity
Tattersall, Ian Scientific Revolution
Stillman, Peter G.
American Museum of Natural
Vassar College Voll, John O.
Property Rights and Contracts Georgetown University
Stokes, Gale
Templet, Gabby K.
Rice University Wallerstein, Immanuel
Berkshire Publishing Group
Warsaw Pact Yale University
United Nations
xl berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Ward, Kerry Wendelken, Rebecca Wong, R. Bin

Rice University Methodist University University of California,
Trading Patterns, Indian Ocean Dress Los Angeles
Warrington, Bruce Wesseling, H. L.
Comparative History
National Measurement Laboratory Leiden University
State, The
Time, Conceptions of Berlin Conference
French Empire Wood, Alan T.
Watt, John
University of Washington, Bothell
Independent Scholar Wessinger, Catherine
Asia Loyola University
Zhu Yuanzhang Millennialism Yoffee, Norman
University of Michigan
Webb, Adam K. Westwood, David
State Societies, Emergence of
Princeton University Independent Scholar
Ecumenicism Military Engineering Young, Kanalu G. T.
Political Thought Military Training and Discipline University of Hawaii, Manoa
Kamehameha I
Webb, Jr., James L. A. Wheatcroft, Stephen
Colby College University of Melbourne Zachman, Randall C.
Caravan Famine University of Notre Dame
Cinchona Luther, Martin
Whigham, Phillip
Gum Arabic
Georgia Military College Zukas, Alexander M.
Buddhism National University
Green Revolution
Wiesner-Hanks, Merry
Weeks, Theodore R. Marx, Karl
University of Wisconsin,
Southern Illinois University Music and Political Protest
Sex and Sexuality Zukas, Lorna
Weiner, Douglas R. San Diego, California
Williams, Michael
University of Arizona Senghor, Lopold
Oriel College
Stalin, Joseph Shaka Zulu
Wells, Scott C. Zyla, Benjamin
Witzling, Mara R.
California State University, Los Independent Scholar
University of New Hampshire
Angeles European Union
Roman Empire
Thomas Aquinas, St.

W orld history is both very new and very old: new

because it entered high school and college class-
rooms only in the last fifty years, and old because it
dynasties from their beginnings, including their relations
with a wide circle of adjacent barbarians. Faint traces of
contact between the Chinese and Mediterranean worlds
dates back to the first historians attempts to answer an have been detected in Herodotuss remarks about myth-
age-old question, How did the world get to be the way ical peoples living somewhere beyond Scythia, but for all
it is? in a different, more adequate way.The most obvi- practical purposes the historiographical traditions of
ous answer was a creation story, and creation stories China, Greece, and the Biblical scriptures remained
were probably universal among our remotest ancestors independent of one another for many centuries.
since they sufficed to explain everythingas long as By the fifth century CE St. Augustine (354430) and
people believed that the world continued as it began, others gave the Christian version of world history an
with only seasonal and other cyclical repetitions, such enduring form, building on Jewish precedent, modified
as birth and death. by faith in human redemption through Jesus Christs
But in the second half of the first millennium BCE, in sacrifice and anticipating a Day of Judgment when
three different parts of the world, social and political God would bring the world to an end. This remained
changes became so swift and unmistakable that a few standard among Christians through succeeding cen-
individuals in Israel, Greece, and China pioneered what turies and soon was matched by a Muslim version of
we call historical writing.The historical books of the Jew- the same story, starting with creation and ending in the
ish scriptures, as edited after the return from exile in Day of Judgment as freshly set forth in Muhammads
Babylonia (subsequent to 539 BCE) recorded Gods uni- revelations.
versal jurisdiction over history in some detail from the In China the structuring of world history around the
time of Abrahamand more generally from the moment rise and fall of imperial dynasties, pioneered by Sima
of creation in the Garden of Eden. Soon afterward, the Qian, remained unchallenged among Confucian schol-
Greek historian Herodotus (484425 BCE) set out to ars until the twentieth century. But in the Western world
award a due meed of glory to the deeds of Greeks and religious narratives, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim,
barbarians within a wide circle extending from Egypt in began to compete with revived interest in ancient and
the south to Scythia (modem Ukraine) in the north, pagan Persian, Greek, and Roman historians as early as
touching on India to the east, and extending throughout the fourteenth century. Accelerating social change that
the Mediterranean coastlands to the west. About did not fit easily with religious expectations also dis-
three centuries later, the Chinese historian Sima Qian turbed older ideas. This provoked a handful of thinkers
(c. 14585 BCE) brought Chinese historical records, to propose new views of world history. Among Mus-
already voluminous, into comprehensible order by writ- lims, Ibn Khaldn (13321406) stands preeminent; he
ing a comparably far-ranging account of Chinas ruling developed a thoroughly secular, cyclical, and strikingly

xlii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

original theory of social change. Among Christians, At risk of caricature, this liberal-nationalist version of
Giambattista Vico (16681744) was perhaps the most world history can be summarized as follows: What mat-
provocative thinker.Vico set out to fuse the Christian and tered in the past was the history of liberty, since free
pagan traditions of historiography into what he called a men, acting voluntarily, were more efficient both in war
new science of social change that also featured cyclic and in peace and thus acquired collective power and
repetition. But such radical new ideas remained excep- wealth, as well as all the satisfactions of personal free-
tional. Nearly everybody remained content with at least dom. So Europe, and more specifically western Europe,
lip service to familiar religious accounts of Gods plan was where historysignificant history, that is
from Creation to the Day of Judgment, even when Mus- happened. Elsewhere endless repetition of insignificant
lim poets revived the Persian language as a vehicle for routines prevailed, so that Leopold von Ranke (1795
celebrating ancient pagan chivalry, and among Chris- 1886), the most revered German historian of his time,
tians the study of Greek and Roman classical authors, could say in his nine-volume World History (1882
including historians, began to infiltrate schools and 1888) that history ended for Muslims in 1258 with the
universities. Mongol sack of Baghdad, since by then they had fulfilled
In the early nineteenth century, however, when their world historical role of transmitting important
medieval and modern history first entered the curriculum Greek texts to medieval Europeans!
of leading German universities, liberal and nationalist Those texts were important because they helped to
ideas dominated the minds of those who set out to dis- show how ancient Greeks and republican Romans pio-
cover what really happened by investigating state neered the history of liberty. But ancient liberty did not
archives and medieval chronicles. They hoped to discard last and had to be refreshed in western Europe by bar-
superstitions and other errors by careful source criti- barian invasions in the early Middle Ages, followed by
cism, and, intent on detail, assumed that all the true and slow and precarious constitutional and legal innovation,
tested facts of history would speak for themselves. And so punctuated by sporadic revolutionary upheavals, all
they did, shaped, as they were, by questions asked about aimed at restraining tyrannical government and dog-
the national past by eager researchers who wanted to matic religion. By the end of the nineteenth century, the
understand why German states had come to lag so far principles of liberty embodied in representative govern-
behind the French in modern times. ment and religious freedom had become clear, and their
Simultaneously, source criticism began to challenge the fruits were apparent in the superior power and wealth
Christian version of history as never before by treating that Great Britain, France and, in potentia, the United
biblical texts as human handiwork, liable to error just like States enjoyed. But Germany and Russia were also eager
other ancient, often-copied manuscripts. This style of aspirants to greatness, and clashing national ambitions in
historical research soon spread from Germany to the due course provoked World War I.
English-speaking world, even infiltrating France after This was the view of history to which I was appren-
1870. Detail and more detail often became an end in ticed in the 1920s and 1930s, even though my teachers
itself, and the enormity of available source materials had half forgotten the reason for the distribution of
grew steadily as new subthemes for investigation prolif- attention that prevailed in their classrooms. Yet World
erated. Nonetheless, by the close of the nineteenth cen- War I had already profoundly challenged the theme of
tury, Lord Acton (18341902) and others, drawing progress toward constitutional perfection upon which
largely on classical precedents, created an overarching lib- this naive and ethnocentric version of human history
eral interpretation of history that flattered French, British, rested. Freedom to suffer and die in the trenches was a
and U.S. national sensibilities so well that it soon domi- questionable climax to liberal progress; and the pro-
nated schooling in those countries. longed depression that set in after 1929, followed by
preface xliii

World War II, cast still further doubt on the idea that the Marxists emphasized a world system in which better-
recent emergence of constitutional government as exer- organized core states exploited peripheral peoples for
cised in a few nation-states in a small part of the world their own enrichment. But whether such world systems
was what gave meaning to the whole human past. were very ancient or dated only from the rise of modern
As usual, a few restless thinkers responded. The most capitalism divided this school into clashing factions.
notable were Oswald Spengler (18801936) in Ger- Others argued that cooperation was more significant
many and Arnold J. Toynbee (18891975) in Great than exploitation and that communication, allowing
Britain, both of whom elaborated on classical notions of the spread of new techniques and ideas within geo-
cyclical rise and fall by treating western Europe as one of graphical and ecological limits, was the governing pat-
several parallel civilizations that followed similar, perhaps tern of world history.
even identical, patterns of growth and decay. Spengler No single recipe for writing and studying world his-
and Toynbee both attracted many readers by offering a tory has yet emerged and none ever may, since different
new explanation for the shifting currents of world affairs, peoples, with different heritages and different local con-
but academic historians paid scant attention, busy as they ditions, are sure to remain at odds with one another,
were pursuing ever more numerous hotly debated ques- even if globalization persists and intensifies in times to
tions about specific times and places in the past. come. But it seems sure that as long as entanglements
Their investigations expanded literally around the with the rest of the world remain as inescapable as they
globe after World War II, when Asia, Africa, and every are today, national and local history will not suffice to
other part of the world started to attract the efforts of pro- explain how things got to be the way they are. In that
fessional historians. Simultaneously, archaeologists and case, that age-old question will surely continue to require
anthropologists were exploring the deeper, unrecorded teachers and scholars to provide some sort of world his-
past as well. The resulting very rapid advance in general tory for an answer.
information about diverse local pasts soon allowed a few This pioneering Berkshire Encyclopedia of World His-
ambitious world historians to develop more inclusive, tory is designed to help both beginners and experts to
more nearly adequate versions of the whole human sample the best contemporary efforts to make sense of
career. In the United States serious efforts to teach world the human past by connecting particular and local his-
history also began to invade high school classrooms after tories with larger patterns of world history. Contributors
World War II, as U.S. entanglements abroad became have no single viewpoint, but the editorial process, in
more and more obvious. Colleges and universities lagged choosing what articles to commission and how to dis-
behind, but of late many have also begun to teach the tribute attention, aimed at inclusiveness and aspired to
subject. insight. How well we succeeded is for users to discover.
What to emphasize and what to exclude remained a The only thing uniting those who cooperated to produce
critical question, for, like other scales of history, an intel- this volume is the belief that human history as a whole
ligible world history requires selective attention to the is important to study and think about, since genuinely
confusion of knowable facts. Some world historians inclusive world history is such a helpful, even necessary,
chose to organize their books around the rise and fall of guide for survival in the crowded world in which we live.
civilizations, as Spengler and Toynbee had done; others
William H. McNeill
took a continent-by-continent approach. A school of
A Long March: Creating
the Berkshire Encyclopedia
of World History

T o study world history once meant to study civi-

lizations, regional histories, chronology, and great
men, but that has changed in recent years. Now we
ogy, and resulted in a synthesis of these seemingly unre-
lated disciplines with history.

recognize the importance of interactions and of the Berkshire Encyclopedia

connections and exchanges of people, other organisms, of World History
ideas, and material goods over time and place. Today, The Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History is the first
world history draws on fields of inquiry such as archae- truly encyclopedic resource for world history. Devel-
ology, anthropology, and geography to map out the oped by an editorial team of more than thirty leading
broad patterns of the human experience, and calls on scholars and educators, led by William H. McNeill,
environmental history, the biological and physical sci- Jerry H. Bentley, David Christian, David Levinson,
ences, and economics to enrich our understanding of John (J. R.) McNeill, Heidi Roupp, and Judith Zinsser,
that experience. The new world history is also explic- the encyclopedias 538 articles were written by a team
itly comparative: It seeks to compare what happened at of 330 historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, soci-
different places at the same time and to help us under- ologists, geographers, and other experts from around
stand why life has not always been the same in all the world. The encyclopedia takes a dynamic world his-
places at all times. tory perspective, showing connections and interactions
Writing the new world history are scholars of through trade, warfare, migration, religion, and diplo-
womens history, the history of indigenous people, Big macy over time and place. It begins with a 56-page
History (which takes history back as far as the Big book-within-a-book by David Christian, titled This
Bang), the history of science, and environmental history. Fleeting World: An Overview of Human History. This
They have taken many different paths to world history. overview explains the three eras in human historythe
In a recent interview, William (Bill) McNeill noted that Foraging Era, the Agrarian Era, and the Modern Era
he was first drawn to world history in the 1930s by the and serves as a readers guide to the entire encyclope-
work of the anthropologist Clark Wissler, whose studies dia. Major articles by leading scholars, including
of social change among Plains Indians provided an Martin Marty and Immanuel Wallerstein, examine es-
intriguing model of culture change. Another of our edi- sential themes and patterns such as Art, Disease, Gov-
tors, David Christian, was drawn to world history from ernment, Religion, Science, and War and Peace.
Russian history because he felt unable to answer his stu- Branching out from these overviews are hundreds of
dents very basic and sensible question, When did his- articles on processes, movements, places, events, and
tory begin? His search for an answer took him into people. Students and teachers at the high school and
archaeology, paleoanthropology, astronomy, and biol- college levels as well as scholars and professionals will

xlvi berkshire encyclopedia of world history

turn to this definitive work for a connected, holistic, continued to be by U.S. mail, made easier by the fact that
view of world historythe story of humans and their in this rural corner of New England letters between
place on earth. Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and Colebrook, Con-
necticut, invariably arrive the next day, a minor felicity of
Contemplating the Task time and place that has helped throughout the project.
Berkshire Publishings journey to the creation of the Over the years, Bill followed our progress with other pub-
Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History (BEWH) has lications, prepared for other publishers. Perhaps it was
also been a long and interesting one. Our aspirations are our successful creation of the Encyclopedia of Modern
big: Despite our small staff and our location in a tiny Asia that made him believe that we could really produce
town in western Massachusetts, we have tackled such the goods when we announced that we wanted to launch
ambitious projects as the six-volume Encyclopedia of our independent publishing imprint with an encyclope-
Modern Asia (Scribners 2002) and the three-volume dia of world history.
Encyclopedia of World Environmental History (Routledge Bill understands the web of communication and con-
2004), both of which have garnered industry awards for nection that enables human creativity and invention, and
excellence. But we have always dreamed of taking on the he made all the initial connections that in turn made this
ultimate topicworld history. remarkable project possible. Among the people he put us
in touch with were Heidi Roupp, founder of the e-jour-
Assembling the Editors nal World History Connected, and David Christian,
While the Encyclopedia of World Environmental History author of the 2004 Maps of Time. A meeting in August
was still in the making Karen Christensen mentioned this 2002 with David Christian and Bill and John McNeill
ambition to John McNeill, the lead editor for that project. in addition to several members of the McNeill clan and
His advice was simple: Talk to Jerry Bentley. He made our own children tooon the porch of Bill and his wife
an introduction by email, and Jerry, editor of the Journal Elizabeths family home in Colebrook, Connecticut,
of World History, began to help us plan the encyclopedia. might be considered the official starting point for the
We have been blessed to have the advice of Bill BEWH.
McNeill from even earlier. In 1995, before Berkshire Pub-
lishing had even been christened, Karen Christensen The Framing Conference
was asked to do a small project on world history. Robert The World History Association has been helpful in
Ferrell, a distinguished U.S. presidential historian, sug- many ways, and gave us the timely chance to meet
gested she contact William McNeill for help, mentioning many world historians at its conference in Seoul in
that he had retired to a family house not far from Great August 2002. The project's orginal staff editor, Junhee
Barrington. With some trepidation she wrote to Bill and (June) Kim, a native of Korea and veteran project editor
received a response within just a few days. Frankly I of our Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, arranged a tradi-
dont think you should claim that you can squeeze the tional dinner. We became acquainted with Ralph
known history of the world into existing national bound- Crozier, the WHA's president elect, and also met Larry
aries, he wrote, Too many things run across those Beaber and Despina Danos of the Educational Testing
boundaries, including what I would count the most Service, who were in the process of launching the AP
important mattersdiffusion of skills and ideas in par- world history program.
ticular . . . Still I will be glad to discuss these issues with We held a small conference for our editors in October
you and find out how you intend to proceed. 2002, an ideal time of year to bring people to the Berk-
Bill was generous with adviceand with lunch, often shires. The participants met for two days to frame the
including something from his garden. Correspondence encyclopedia, develop a mission statement, and work
a long march xlvii

through several significant areas of debate. Our core We also rejected the peoples and cultures scheme of
group was here, with the exception of Jerry Bentley. We organizing the content by region (Africa, Europe, etc.),
were also joined by Judith Zinsser, whose expertise in as we felt that approach was neither faithful to world
womens world history made her a valuable member of history nor helpful to users, as many of our planned
our editorial group, by Ralph Crozier (the president of entries (such as, for example, Trade PatternsIndian
the World History Association), and by historian Al Ocean or British Empire) cross not only regions but
Andrea from the University of Vermont. also eras and topics.
We had a detailed agenda and were agreeably sur- We finally decided on a combination of the alphabet-
prised by how hard everyone worked, and delighted that ical approachthe usual and best scheme for an ency-
they seemed to enjoy the chance to discuss world history clopediaand a topical approach. By arranging the
in big terms as much as we did. The personal interac- content alphabetically, we make it very easy to find
tions, and the connections we developed as we talked, entries, and there are ample cross references and blind
argued, and ate and drank together, was vital to the devel- entries to help create the sense of movement and con-
opment of the project. nection that David Christian had identified as vital to our
project. We also created thirty-four categories (such as
Addressing the Issues Arts and Literature, Health and Disease, and Technology
There were several things we had to hammer out before and Science), and allowed each article to be assigned to
we began. How would we organize the encyclopedia? as many of those categories as was appropriate.This way
How many volumes would it be? How would we tackle we were able to highlight and reinforce the intercon-
the many potential topics? nected nature of world history concepts.

Organization Size
The question of how to organize the encyclopedia was The size of the encyclopedia was also an issue. It started
among the more difficult to answer.We felt a strong need at only four volumes and became five when the cuts were
to be faithful to the core beliefs of world history, but we just too painful. Even so, we asked ourselves whether we
also wanted the content to be easily accessible to readers. could cover the history of humankind in only five vol-
We discussed this problem at our first planning session, umes, especially since we had taken six volumes for the
where David Christian worried that it would be difficult Encyclopedia of Modern Asia.
to organize in book format a body of knowledge that at But we were conscious that there was great demand
its core is about movement, interaction, and change. for world history at the high school level, and it was
Of the possible organizational schemes, we rejected important to us to make this vital information available
the traditional chronological approach that delineates at a price high schools could afford. We also knew that
several eras in world history and then organizes articles this was only the beginning of our work in world history,
in that time sequence. We felt it was unsuitable because and that we would expand the core set with volumes on
there is no general agreement among world historians specific topics. So we compromised with an initial five-
about how to divide up the history of the world into eras; volume, 2,500-page work that provides the foundation
eras simply do not begin or end at one point in time, and of what will become the Berkshire World History
their start and end dates vary widely across regions. Fur- Library. We plan to publish a series of related, smaller
thermore, a straight chronological approach would have titles starting early in 2006 and the works together
been at odds with our definition of world history, which fully integrated and enhanced with large archives of
stresses movements and connections and transforma- additional contentwill become an online Berkshire
tions across eras. Knowledge Center.
xlviii berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Approach Games in Athens. We tracked down the author of our

The major challenge for our authors was to write on their Assyrian Empire article on a dig in Turkey, and most
subjects from what we call a world history perspective. appropriately received his article from there. Bill McNeill
It wasnt always clear to themor to usexactly what stepped in to write a number of articles, including Dance
that would look like. An ideal article, we believed, would and Drill and Ancient Greece, a particularly beautiful
show how its subject changed over time; the subjects article. Bill said that writing on Greece was a chance to
connections with other concepts, times, and places; and revisit his past, since hed spent a good deal of time there
the subjects significance for and influence on the present. early in his career, and the perspective he provides on
But it took concrete examples, not abstract discussion, to what the idea, and ideals, of ancient Greece have meant
make clear what was truly successful. Consider the story in world history are a fine demonstration of what we
of our article Glass. have attempted in the entire encyclopedia.
The article that was submitted said a great deal about
the influence of glass on historyon the scientific revo- How to Use the
lution, on household hygienebut relatively little about Encyclopedia
the history of glass itself. As such, it fit within our world With our emphasis on connections and movements over
history approach. But there were questions raised by our and across time and place, the encyclopedia must also
experienced staff editors, who were expecting a very allow users to see connections across articles and move
detailed article on the history of glass itselfhow it is around the encyclopedia easily. We have provided users
made, technical improvements in its manufacture. It took with six tools to facilitate such movement.
considerable discussion to clarify that what we wanted
was basically what we had received: a world history of 1. Three general era overviews, gathered together in
glass. Nevertheless, the article still required a little addi- This Fleeting World: An Overview of Human History,
tional coverage of the basic history, and Glass became a book-within-a-book that appears in Volume 1 and
our touchstone when it came to deciding if an article was Volume 5, divide human history into three over-
right for us or not, and helped us see the difference arching erasforaging, agrarian, and modern.
between the kind of coverage offered in this encyclopedia 2. Eleven content overviews provide a general topical
and the coverage readers might find elsewhere. (Its sheer context for many of the shorter, more focused articles.
serendipity that this clarity came through Glass.) 3. The Readers Guide at the beginning of each vol-
ume classifies all articles into thirty-four topical cat-
Fruition egories, with articles placed in as many categories
All publishers have tales of heroic efforts made to meet as appropriate.
deadlines, and Berkshires story of bringing the BEWH 4. Several dozen blind entries throughout the volume
to print is a classic case.The BEWH had a firm end date, direct readers who search for articles under one name
because the American Library Association had years to their correct location under a different name.
before scheduled January 2005 as its first-ever conference 5. Extensive cross-references at the end of articles point
in Massachusetts, Berkshire Publishings home state. readers to other related articles. Each article is also fol-
Launching the encyclopedia in Boston, itself a historic lowed by a rich listing (Further Reading) of world-
city, was clearly perfect. class sources that students can consult.
This meant that Berkshire had to finalize the encyclo- 6. The index indicates volume as well as page numbers.
pedia during the summer of 2004, a time when it seemed The encyclopedia contains 538 articles ranging in
half our contributors were away, some in Russia, some in length from about 500 words to over 4,000 words.
China, some in Latin America, and others at the Olympic Our thirty-four topical categories are listed below; the
a long march xlix

articles assigned to each category are listed in the are extracts from primary source material designed to
Readers Guide at the front of each volume. give readers a first-hand sense of what life was like for
people in different places at different times. For exam-
The Topical Categories ple, a sidebar in the Time, Conceptions of article con-
Africa trasts Muslim and Christian conceptions of time while
Americas a sidebar in the Trading Patterns, Indian Ocean arti-
Arts and Literature cle provides a description of Goa by an early English
Asia settler.
Biography Additionally, there are over 600 maps, illustrations,
CommerceOrganizations and Institutions and photos. The maps include sixty maps drawn for the
CommerceSystems and Patterns encyclopedia and thirty old maps. The old maps are
CommerceTrade Goods and Products significant not just because they show something about
Communication history but because they are part of history itself. They
Conflict and Peace MakingDiplomacy and tell us much about how the mapmakers and the gov-
Peace Making ernment officials and explorers for whom they made the
Conflict and Peace MakingWar and Conflict maps saw the world and their place in it. For example,
Cultural Contact and Relations
the series of maps in the Africa article show how Euro-
Daily Life
pean perceptions of Africa changed over the years as
Disciplines and Fields of Study
Europeans came into more frequent and extensive con-
Environment and Ecology
tact with Africa. Many of the photos and illustrations
Eras, Empires, States, and Societies
come from older (eighteenth- and nineteenth-century)
sources and, like the old maps, are themselves also part
of history. As we note in captions to several illustrations,
Government, Politics, and Law
some present highly stylized and romanticized images
Health and Disease
of other peoples and other places and provide readers
International and Regional Organizations
Migration with insight into how Westerners, for example, per-
Periodization ceived the peoples they encountered in the Americas.
Philosophy, Thought, and Ideas
Population Acknowledgements
Religion and Belief Systems We want to mention and acknowledge our deep appre-
Research Methods ciation for the major role played by the editorial boards
Social and Political Movements in this work. Bill McNeill was ever-vigilant in reviewing
Technology and Science the evolving articles list to keep us focused on world
ThemesModels and Processes history, pointing out gaps and redundancies as well as
ThemesPlaces suggesting authors and taking on ten writing assignments
Transportation himself.The editors worked very hard to define world his-
Ways of Living tory, to keep our focus on the needs of students, teachers,
Women and Gender and historians and to produce an article list that covered
each field.They also recommended numerous authors, re-
Other Content viewed articles quickly and thoroughly and kept us mov-
The encyclopedia also contains more than 500 side- ing in the right direction. The board of associate editors
bars and more than 300 quotes. Many of the sidebars also helped shape the headword list. Several (Philip,
l berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Vries, Langer) also reviewed articles and suggested We had many outside contributors who made this proj-
authors. Editors also shared their wisdom about maps ect possible, people whose work is too often unacknowl-
and illustrations. edged. Our freelance production teamcopyeditors,
In John McNeills conclusion to The Human Web, he compositors, and proofreadersexerted themselves in a
mentions the forces of disorder and randomness, or manner that was nothing short of magnificent.The original
entropy, evident in a home (especially one with many page design was prepared by Jeff Potter, and compositor
small children) as well as in the universe. There are Brad Walrod took the lead in making sure that all aspects
forces of entropy at work in publishing offices, too. In of the design were fully utilized.The amazing composition
creating the BEWH in less than two years, we naturally work and extra efforts of both LindaWeidemann and Steve
had to strive for other qualities evident in human his- Tiano also deserve special attention. It is impossible to
tory, a movement toward order, structure, and com- count how many times Linda and Brad came through in
plexity. This effort required the shared determination of the clutch. The same holds true of our copyeditors
an extended network of individuals. Francesca Forrest,Adam Groff, Mike Nichols, Carol Parikh,
We want to acknowledge the special contribution of Mark Siemens, Daniel Spinella, and Rosalie Wieder.
every member of our staff to this project. None of them Finally, but by no means least, our proofreadersMary
will forget the summer weeks when all other work took Bagg, Sue Boshers, Robin Gold, Libby Larson, Amina
a back burner to our effort to complete the BEWH on Sharma, and Barbara Spectorworked countless hours to
time. It meant long hours and immense coordination bring the BEHW into its final shape. The work of all the
as people took on new tasks in order to make sure above-mentioned individuals was invaluable.
everything that had to be done by 13 August 2004 Early on, David Christian offered to sketch out the
was indeed finished. In fact, the content wrap-up was great eras in human history in three major overview arti-
done on 12 August, celebrated with a bottle of cham- cles.This is the kind of grand task at which David excels,
pagne. We acknowledge the spirit, determination, and and although he may have regretted the offer, he never
willingness of the Berkshire staff that made completion complained, and produced drafts at a speed that was
of this project possible: Karen Advokaat, Rachel Chris- really super-human. The result, a set of three connected
tensen, Tom Christensen, Sarah Conrick, Debbie essays on the Foraging Era, Agrarian Era, and Modern
Dillon, Jess LaPointe, Courtney Linehan, Marcy Ross, Era, have been combined under the title This Fleeting
Gabby Templet, Peggy Thieriot, and Trevor Young. World: An Overview of Human History, that appears in
Their dedication and teamwork was inspiring in every Volume 1 and Volume 5 of the encyclopedia.
sense. Finally, we want to salute Bill McNeill and his wife
Our final effort was coordinated by Ben Kerschberg, Elizabeth. Bill celebrates his eighty-seventh birthday as
our new vice president and general manager, who this work is published, and we are counting on seeing his
joined us only days before we began the final push on set marked up with corrections for the next edition, like
the BEWH, having made the brave decision to make a his personal copy of The Rise of the West, the endpapers
career change from law to publishing. Ben calmly and of which are dense with notes. This work by no means
steadily moved the manuscript and the staff through the says it all about the history of the world, but we hope Bill
final stages and coordinated work with our composi- will agree that it provides a new vantage point for the
tors, proofreaders, and indexers. His end-of-the-day work ahead.
updates showing our steady progress added to our David Levinson & Karen Christensen
drama and helped keep everyone on target. It was dif- Berkshire Publishing Group
ficult to remember that he was in fact learning the Great Barrington, Massachusetts
whole process himself as we went along.

Senior Editor Associate Editorial Board

William H. McNeill, University of Chicago, Ross Dunn, San Diego State University
Emeritus Ryba Epstein, Rich East High School
Brian Fagan, University of California, Santa Barbara
Editorial Board Daniel Headrick, Roosevelt University
Jerry H. Bentley, University of Hawaii, Manoa Kailai Huang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
David Christian, San Diego State University Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Macquarie University
David Levinson, Berkshire Publishing Group Tom Laichas, Crossroads School
J. R. McNeill, Georgetown University Erick Langer, Georgetown University
Heidi Roupp, World History Center Craig Lockard, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay
Judith P. Zinsser, Miami University (Ohio) Pamela McVay, Ursuline College
Carl Nightingale, University of Massachusetts,
Patrick OBrien, London School of Economics
Hugh Page, Jr., University of Notre Dame
Paul Philip, Lancaster Independent School District
Mrinalini Sinha, Pennsylvania State University
Peer Vries, Leiden University

William H. McNeill,
Senior Editor

W illiam H. McNeill is the Robert A. Millikan

Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of
History at the University of Chicago. He received his
cil for History Standards (19921994); and president of
the American History Association (1985).
McNeill married Elizabeth Darbishire in 1946 and
Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1947 (and 20 hon- they have four children and eleven grandchildren. Each
orary degrees since) and is a renowned world historian summer and at Christmas they come together for a
and amateur gardener. In 1996 McNeill was awarded clan gathering at the family home in Connecticut.
the prestigious Erasmus Prize for his contributions to
European culture.
McNeills many books include: Rise of the West: A
History of the Human Community (9th edition, 1991),
which received the National Book Award & Gordon J.
Laing prize; Plagues and Peoples (revised edition,
1998); Pursuit of Power (1982); Keeping Together in
Time: Dance & Drill in Human History (1995); and,
with J. R. McNeill, The Human Web: A Birdseye View of
Human History (2003).
He has been a member of the editorial board for the
Encyclopedia Britannica (19811998); the vice chairman
of the Christopher Columbus Quincentenary Jubilee
Commission (19851993); co-chair of the curriculum
task force for the National Commission on Social Stud-
ies (19871989); vice chairman for the National Coun- William H. McNeill

the Editors

JERRY H. BENTLEY is Professor of History at the Uni- daughter (Emily) living in Australia. He enjoys hiking,
versity of Hawaii and editor of the award-winning Jour- traveling, playing chess and singing (friends travel long
nal of World History published by the World History distances to avoid his rendition of Stenka Razin). He is
Association. His early publications focused on European the author of Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big His-
cultural history, particularly on the religious, moral, and tory; A History of Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia:
political thought of Renaissance humanists. More Volume 1: Inner Eurasia from Prehistory to the Mongol
recently his research has concentrated on the history of Empire; Imperial and Soviet Russia: Power, Privilege and
cross-cultural interactions. His recent publications in- the Challenge of Modernity; and Living Water:Vodka and
clude Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Russian Society on the Eve of Emancipation.
Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times, Shapes of World History
in Twentieth-Century Scholarship, and (with Herbert F. DAVID LEVINSON is a cultural anthropologist spe-
Ziegler) Traditions and Encounters: A Global Perspective cializing in the comparative study of human culture.
on the Past. When he is not attempting to peer into the Having grown up in Newark, New Jersey, he has also
global past, he can usually be found either on the tennis had a strong interest in social issues and ethnic rela-
courts or in the swimming pool. tions. After three years as a medic in the U.S. army
(19661969) he returned to school and earned a Ph.D.
DAVID CHRISTIAN was born in New York and raised in cultural anthropology at SUNY/Buffalo. His early
in Nigeria and England. Fascinated with the Soviet research was on social issues including homelessness
Union, the dark side for so many living in the West, and the treatment of substance abuse. In the early
he learned Russian and spent ten months doing gradu- 1980s he gained some notoriety when he suggested
ate research in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). He met his that Alcoholics Anonymous was no more effective than
wife, Chardi, in London, Ontario, where they both acted several other approaches to alcoholism treatment. From
in a summer-stock repertory company. In spite of ambi- 1975 to 1997 he was with the Human Relations Area
tions to become an actor, he gained a doctorate from Files at Yale University, latterly as vice-president, and left
Oxford University, and landed a job at Macquarie Uni- only to found the Berkshire Publishing Group with
versity in Sydney. He naturally gravitated toward world Karen Christensen in an interesting match of marriage
history, and in the late 1980s, started teaching a course and business. He has edited several multi-volume ency-
that began with the origins of the universe. In 2001 he clopedias and is author of Ethnic Groups Worldwide,
took a position at San Diego State University, where he Toward Explaining Human Culture, and Tribal Living
teaches world history, environmental history, and Rus- Book, which helps children to better understand other
sian history to classes ranging in size from 10 to 500 stu- cultures by making blowguns and bear traps. He is cur-
dents. He has a son (Joshua) living in England and a rently, in addition to publishing duties, writing a history

lvi berkshire encyclopedia of world history

of the AME Zion Church in Great Barrington and bat- the World History Association (19982000) and the first
tling to save the towns architectural treasures as a mem- recipient of the American Historical Associations Bev-
ber of the Historic District Commission (locally known eridge Family Teaching Prize. Heidi lives and teaches in
as the Hysterical Commission). Aspen, Colorado. Some of her former world history stu-
dents now climb Everest, speak Chinese, and travel the
J. R. McNEILL is Professor of History in the School of world as writers, actors, computer programmers, teach-
Foreign Service at Georgetown University and holder ers, doctors, and engineers. Others are still in Aspen,
of the Cinco Hermanos Chair in Environmental and where they ski, raise families, and energetically continue
International Affairs. He is the author of Something New to make Aspen a special place to live.
Under the Sun: An Environmental History of the Twentieth-
Century World, which won a few modest prizes. Eric JUDITH P. ZINSSER is Professor of History and affil-
Hobsbawm judged it the most original history book he iate in Womens Studies at Miami University (Ohio), a
had read in 2000, while others noted its failure to pro- displaced New Yorker living in southwestern Ohio. She
vide market-based solutions to the worlds problems or is a former president of the World History Association,
to acknowledge that ecological apocalypse is upon us. having become a world historian when she was devel-
He is co-author with William McNeill of The Human Web: oping curriculum for the United Nations School and for
A Birds-Eye View of World History. He was born in the International Baccalaureate. She has written on
Chicago in 1954, educated at Swarthmore College and women and gender in a world history context for Wom-
Duke University, and lives agreeably if frenetically with ens International Forum, the World History Journal,
his triathlete wife and four powerful forces of entropy and the Journal of Womens History. Among her books
a daughter and three sons. His eccentricities include a taste are A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Pre-
for blues from the 1950s, Greek food, and an unfath- history to the Present, coauthored with Bonnie S. Ander-
omable attachment to the hapless Chicago White Sox. son (2nd ed., 2000) and A New Partnership: Indigenous
Peoples and the United Nations System (1994), commis-
HEIDI ROUPP is the director of world history programs sioned by UNESCO. A History of Their Own remains the
to establish the field of world history and support the only narrative history of European women and has been
work of school and university educators. These National translated into German, Italian, and Spanish; the New
Endowment for the Humanities programs include twenty- Partnership is one of the few studies of indigenous
seven summer institutes, three university program models issues in a worldwide context. Her current project is a
for pre-service teachers at California State University, biography of the Marquise Du Chtelet (17061749),
Queens College, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, and she is the French translator of Newtons Principia,
and the World History Network, a website for teachers. for Viking Penguin. Zinsser was surprised to discover
She is the founder and Executive Director of World His- that the challenges of writing about just one woman are
tory Connected: The E Journal for Learning and Teaching as daunting as any she had to face, as a world historian,
[]. Heidi was president of trying to write and teach about all women and all men.
Photo &

Photo Contributors Quotations Credits

The many line drawings and etchings included in the The following individuals graciously contributed quo-
encyclopedia come from Berkshires archive of historical tations from their personal collections in order to enrich
images, drawn from a variety of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, this work with wonderful quotes that illuminate myriad
and twentieth-century books and other publications. perspectives on world history. Special praise is due
Photographs also come from Berkshire archives and David Christian, who supplied a wealth of his favorite
from the following contributors, whose guidance and quotes related to world history.We are indebted to each
assistance we acknowledge here with much gratitude. of the following for her or his assistance.

David Breiner Karim Khan Brian J. Boeck Leo Lefebre

Michael Broadway Kathleen Kimball Erve Chambers J. David Markham
Elisa Carrillo Klaus Klostermaier David Christian Martin Marty
Garry Chick David Levinson Luke Clossey David McComb
Karen Christensen Elias Levinson Mark Cohen J. R. McNeill
Thomas H. Christensen James Lide Paul Doerr Peter Morris
David Courtwright Peter Laird Lori A. Feldstein Adam Mossoff
Simon Coleman James Lide Donna Gabaccia Hugh Page, Jr.
Klaus Dierks David Markham Thomas V. Gilson Melvin E. Page
Hannes Galter Mark McNally Andre Gunder Frank Andrew Sherratt
Christian Gelzer Melvin E. Page Terry Jones Peter G. Stillman
Donna Halper Kenneth Sheedy Ben Kerschberg Chandar Sundaram
Chris Howell Jir Svoboda K. Kimball
Justin M. Jennings

World History

Forthcoming titles Related resources

Berkshire Encyclopedia of China published under
Berkshire Encyclopedia of Cities in World History: other imprints
Urban Legends Encyclopedia of Modern Asia (with Scribners)
Berkshire Encyclopedia of Ethnic Groups Worldwide Encyclopedia of World Environmental History
Berkshires Global Village Companion (with Routledge)
Berkshire Encyclopedia of Migration in World History: Encyclopedia of Community (with Sage)
A World in Motion Encyclopedia of Leadership (with Sage)
Berkshire Encyclopedia of World Sport Religion & Society series (with Routledge)
Berkshire Encyclopedia of Terrorism

World History
About the Design

Page Design ism, into the modern age. In addition, because we had
Designing a cover for an encyclopedia of human history also talked about big history during our first conver-
is a daunting task. It was essential that we convey the sation (big history is history since the Big Bang, and
breadth of the human experience over time, not simply its main exponent is David Christian, one of our edi-
use a patchwork of images from particular times and tors and author of This Fleeting World, the book-within-
places. It was Bill McNeill, the senior editor, who sug- a-book in Vols. 1 and 5), she created a background for
gested cave paintings as a possible inspiration. Standing the cave art stone that shows the whole cosmos, the
on his porch one day, as we said good-bye after a meet- setting for human history.
ing and the lunch he invariably prepares, he said, Maybe The display font chosen for the design of this book is
cave art would do it. He wondered if we could, some- Journal, which has a rough-hewn quality that makes it
how, use cave art to show the main eras in human his- compatible with the stone texture motif taken from the
tory. A tall order indeed, but it inspired us to come up cover. It also has a contemporary and accessible feel.
with the basic concept you see here. The font selected for the actual text of this book is
It was serendipitous that cover artist Lisa Clark, for- Wilke, which has a rich, worldly feel, yet remains highly
merly with Harvard University Press, turned up that legible. It also has a contemporary feel but with sufficient
week at Berkshire Publishing. Lisa truly understood what classical resonance to suit a work of world history.
we were trying to accomplish in illustrating World His- Interior pages were designed by Jeff Potter of Shel-
tory and took our rough ideas to create a vivid cover burne Falls, Massachusetts.
that takes us from the foraging era, through agrarian-

How to Spell It and How to Say It:
100 Important People, Places,
and Terms in World History

R alph Waldo Emerson once said, A foolish con-

sistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. Each
time Berkshire Publishing Group sets to work on cre-
clopedia of World Historys article on Ibn Battuta (and
who is a leading expert on Battuta)spells the name
without the final h, while M-W spells it Battutah. In
ating an encyclopedia, we review our guidelines on another case, the West African town of Timbuktu is so
how we will present the names and terms that have well known by that spelling that we opted for it in pref-
changed in the course of history or through language erence to M-Ws preferred Tomboctou.
alterations. We strive for consistency, though not the Finally, there is the matter of using diacritical
foolish kind against which Emerson warned. marksaccent marks, ayns () and hamzas (), and
Languages and geographic terms evolve regularly, other markingsthat provide phonetic distinctions to
and sometimes staying current means that we cant be words from other languages. The use of diacritics is
completely consistent. Adding to the challenge is the always a big question for a publisher on international
fact that words in languages not based on the Latin topics. Weand the scholars we work withtend to
alphabet (e.g., Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Hebrew) prefer to use various marks, from European-language
must be transliteratedspelled in the language of accent graves to Japanese macrons and Arabic ums and
another alphabet or romanized into English. And ahs. But we have found that they can distract, and even
even within a language, transliteration systems change. intimidate, the general reader, so our policy has gen-
Many people who grew up knowing the Wade-Giles erally been to minimize their use. In time, as U.S. stu-
system of Chinese romanization (with such spellings as dents become more comfortable with non-English
Peking and Mao Tse-tung) had to become accustomed forms and as we publish for global audiences, we will
to seeing words using the pinyan romanization system be able to make greater use of these marks, which are
introduced in the 1950s (with new spellings such as designed to be helpful to the reader.
Beijing and Mao Zedong). That said, we thought it would be useful (and fun)
By and large, we look to Merriam-Websters Collegiate to provide a listing of the Top 100 termssuggested
Dictionary, 11th Edition (known as M-W 11), as our by our editorsthat have alternate spellings and names.
spelling authority, with Merriam-Websters Biographical Weve also listed pronunciations for non-English
Dictionary and M-Ws Geographic Dictionary for terms names and terms. (The syllable in capital letters is the
not in M-W 11. However, sometimes we overrule accented one; note, however, that Chinese and other
Merriam-Webster for a compelling reason. For example, languages do not necessarily stress syllables as is done
historian Ross Dunnwho wrote the Berkshire Ency- in English.)

lxiv berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Preferred form Pronunciation Alternates
Alexander the Great Alexander, Alexander of Macedon
Asoka a-SHO-ka Ashoka
Augustine, St. Augustine of Hippo
Aurangzeb or-ang-ZEB Alamgir
Caesar, Augustus Augustus Caesar, Caesar Augustus
Chiang Kai-shek chang kye-shek Jiang Jieshi
Confucius con-FYU-shus Kong Fuzi, Kung Fu-tzu
Gandhi, Mohandas GHAN-dee, mo-HAN-des Mahatma Gandhi
Galileo Galilei ga-li-LAY-o ga-li-LAY not Galilei, Galileo
Genghis Khan JEN-gis kon Chinghis, Chinghiz, Chingiz
Han Wudi hon woot-see Han Wu-ti
Ibn Battuta ib-un ba-TOO-ta Ibn Battutah
Ibn Sina ib-un see-na Avicenna
Jesus Jesus Christ, Jesus of Nazareth
Kangxi emperor kong-hsee Kang-hsi
Khubilai Khan KOO-blah kon Kublai, Qubilai
Laozi laud-zuh Lao-tzu, Lao Tzu
Leonardo da Vinci le-o-NAR-do da VIN-chee da Vinci, Leonardo
Mao Zedong mao zeh-DON Mao Tse-tung
Mencius MEN-chee-us Mengzi, Meng-tzu, Meng Tzu
Moses Moshe
Motecuhzoma II mo-tek-w-ZO-ma Montezuma II; Moctezuma
Muhammad mo-HA-med Mohammad, the Prophet Muhammed,
Napoleon na-POLE-eon Napoleon Bonaparte
Qin Shi Huangdi chin sher hwang-dee Chin Shih Huang-ti
Saladin SAL-a-den Salah al-Din, Selahedin
Siddhartha Gautama si-DAR-ta GAU-ta-ma Buddha, The
Sima Qian suma chee-en Ssu-ma Chien
Sui Wendi sway wen-dee Sui Wen-ti
Sui Yangdi sway yahng-dee Sui Yang-ti
Sleyman soo-lay-MON Sleyman the Magnificant, Sleyman I,
Suleiman the Lawgiver
Sun Yat-sen soon yat-sen Sun Yixian
Tang Taizong tahng taizong Tang Tai-tsung
how to spell it and how to say it lxv

People (continued)
Preferred form Pronunciation Alternates
Thomas Aquinas, St. a-KWY-nas not Aquinas, Thomas
Timur TEE-more Timur Lenk, Tamerlane, Tamburlaine
Urban II Otho also Otto, Odo, Eudesof Lagery
Zheng He jeng huh Cheng Ho
Zhu Yuanzhang joo you-ahn-jahng Chu Yan-chang

Preferred form Pronunciation Alternates
Afro-Eurasia Afroeurasia; Africa, Europe, and Asia
Aksum Axum
Beijing bay-jin Peking
Bukhara boo-KAR-a Bokhara, Boukhara
Cambodia Khmer Republic, Kampuchea
Chang River chan Yangzi, Yangtze
Czech Republic and Slovakia chek, slow-VA-kee-a Czechoslovakia
East Indies Insular Southeast Asia
Egypt United Arab Republic
Guangzhou gwang-joe Canton
Habsburg Hapsburg
Huange River hwang Huange He, Yellow River
Inner Asia Central Asia
Iran Persia
Iraq Mesopotamia
Istanbul iss-tan-BULL Constantinople, Byzantium
Kandahar KON-da-har Qandahar
Kara-Kum ka-ra-KOOM Karakum
Kazakhs kah-zaks Khazaks
Khwarizm KWA-ra-zem Kwarezm, Khwarazm, Khuwarizm
Kongo Congo
Kushan empire koosh-an Kushana, Kusana
Mesoamerica Middle America, Central America
Mughul Moghol, Mogol
Mumbai MUM-bye Bombay
Myanmar MY-AN-mar Burma
Samarqand SA-mar-kand Samarkand
(Continues on next page)
lxvi berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Places (continued)
Preferred form Pronunciation Alternates
Shilla kingdom shil-la Silla kingdom
Songhai Songhay
Sri Lanka shree LAN-ka Ceylon
Thailand TIE-land Siam
Timbuktu tim-BUCK-too Timbukto, Tombouctou
USSR Soviet Union, Soviet Empire, Russia
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia known collectively as Indochina
West Indies Caribbean

Religious , Political,
and Cultural Terms
Preferred form Pronunciation Alternates
al-Jazeera as-jah-ZEER-a Al Jazeera, Al-Jazeera
al-Qaeda al-KAY-da Al Qaeda, al-queda
al-Razi al-rah-zee ar-Razi
Analects of Confucius Sayings of Confucius
Bhagavad Gita ba-ga-vad GEE-ta Bhagavadgita
Bible, The Old and New Testaments
Brahma Brahman, Brahmin
czar tsar
Daoism Taoism
indigenous peoples primitive, native, nonindustrial
Latter-day Saints Mormons
Muslim Moslem
Native Americans Indians, American Indians
Persian Achaemenian, Achaemenid empire
Qing dynasty ching Ching dynasty
Quran Quran, Koran
Sasanian Sassanian, Sasanid, Sassanid empire
Shia SHEE-a Shia
Sharia sha-REE-a Sharia, Islamic law
Siva SHEE-va Shiva
Song dynasty Sung dynasty
Tang dynasty Tang dynasty
how to spell it and how to say it lxvii

Religious , Political,
and Cultural Terms (continued)
Preferred form Pronunciation Alternates
Torah Five Books of Moses
Vodun voo-DOO Voodoo, Vodou
World War I First World War, The Great War
World War II Second World War
Yijing I-ching, Yi-jing

Berkshire Publishing Group 2005 reproduced, quoted, or published in any form or

All Rights Reserved media for any other purpose without written per-
mission from the copyright holder. This guide is also
September 2004. Version 1.
available online in PDF format. It will be updated
The five-page How To Spell It and How To Say It may regularly, and readers are encouraged to download
be copied and distributed free of charge in its the current version and to send us suggestions for
entirety for noncommercial educational use only. additions, corrections, and other alternate usages.
No more than thirty copies can be distributed at a Berkshire welcomes questions, too, from teachers
time without written permission. It may not be and students.
An Overview of Human History

David Christian
Professor of History
San Diego State University

Thus shall ye think of all this fleeting world:

A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.
The Diamond Sutra
Introduction iv Agriculture, Cities, and Empires: 500 BCE
1000 CE 29
Beginnings: The Era of Foragers 1 Afro-Eurasia 29
Studying the Era of Foragers 1 The Americas 30
Beginnings of Human History 4 Expansion in Other Areas 31
Out of Africa, into Controversy 4 Agricultural Societies on the Eve of the Modern
What Makes Us Different? 5 Revolution: 10001750 31
Foraging Lifeways 6 Creation of Global Networks 32
Kith and Kin 7 Impact of Global Networks 34
Living Standards 8 Agrarian Era in World History 35
Leisurely but Brief 9
Major Changes during the Era of Foragers 9 Our World: The Modern Era 36
Technological Change 10 Major Features and Trends of the Modern Era 37
Migrations from Africa 11 Increases in Population and Productivity 37
Human Impacts on the Environment 11 City Sprawl 38
Picking up the Pace 12 Increasingly Complex and Powerful
Affluent Foragers 12 Governments 38
The Era of Foragers in World History 14 Growing Gap between Rich and Poor 39
Improved Opportunities for Women 40
Acceleration: The Agrarian Era 15 Destruction of Premodern Lifeways 40
Origins of Agriculture 15 Explaining the Modern Revolution 41
Earliest Evidence of Agriculture 16 Accumulated Changes of the Agrarian Era 42
Affluent Foragers 18 Rise of Commercial Societies 42
Full-Blown Agriculture 19 Development of a Single Global Network 42
Seeds of Change 19 Western Europes Emergence as a Global Hub 43
General Characteristics and Long Trends 20 Other Factors 43
Village-Based Societies 20 Industrial Revolution: 17501914 43
Demographic Dynamism 20 Three Waves of the Industrial Revolution 44
Accelerated Technological Innovation 21 Economic Developments 45
Epidemic Diseases 22 Democratic Revolution 45
Hierarchies of Power 23 Cultural Changes 46
Relations with Nonagrarian Communities 23 Twentieth-Century Crisis: 19141945 47
Agrarian Communities before Cities: Global Upheaval 48
80003000 BCE 24 Rearmament 49
A World of Villages 24 Buying into Consumerism 49
Emergence of Hierarchy 24 Crisis and Innovation 50
Early Glass Ceiling 25 Contemporary Period: 1945Present 51
Leaders and Leadership 25 Rockets and Rubles 52
The Earliest Cities and States: 3000 BCE 500 BCE 26 China Adapts 52
Afro-Eurasia and the Americas 26 Coca-Cola Culture and the Backlash 54
Agrarian Civilizations 27 Burning the Candle 55
Imperial States 28 Modern Era in World History 55

W orld history focuses on the interconnections
between people and communities in all eras of
human history. Instead of telling the history of this nation
rians would have drawn the lines in different ways. Nev-
ertheless, as world history has evolved during the last fifty
years or so, some consensus has emerged on the crucial
or that community, it explores the histories of women turning points in human history.The three essays that fol-
and men across the entire world, the stories that all hu- low are intended to distil something of that consensus,
mans share just because they are human. Creating the his- leaving more detailed treatments to the articles in the
tory of humanity is one of the larger and more important body of the encyclopedia. Besides, brevity has its advan-
goals of world history. Encyclopedias, however, encour- tages. Above all, it should be possible to read this survey
age more sharply focused enquiries into the past. By con- in one or two sittings, a short enough period to remem-
vention, they divide their subject matter into manageable ber the beginning of the story as you reach the end. Cross-
chunks, and then rearrange those chunks in alphabetical references and bibliographical references will lead you
order, which is wonderful if you are researching particu- quickly to other essays if you want to find out more about
lar topics, or just grazing. But such an organization can any particular subject.
also obscure the larger picture. The overview of human My fellow editors (William McNeill, Jerry Bentley,
history that follows in this section is designed to help Karen Christensen, David Levinson, John McNeill, Heidi
readers keep sight of the unity of human history even as Roupp, and Judith Zinsser) have been extremely gener-
they enjoy the rich diversity of details, questions and ous in commenting on earlier drafts of these essays, and
approaches in the body of the encyclopedia. I want to thank them formally for their suggestions. How-
Of course, no survey this brief can do more than ever, I was stubborn enough not to accept all of their
sketch some of the main lines of development of our re- advice, so I alone must accept responsibility for remain-
markable species, and it is probable that different histo- ing errors of fact, emphasis and balance.

David Christian

Comparing the Three Eras of Human History

Era 1: 250,0008000 BCE Most of human history; small communities; global migrations; megafaunal
FORAGING extinctions; slow population growth
Era 2: 8000 BCE 1750 CE Intensification; rapid population growth; cities, states, empires; writing; different
AGRARIAN histories in different world zones
Era 3: 1750Present Single, global system; rapid growth in energy use; increasing rate of extinctions;
MODERN increased life expectancies

The Era of
T he era of foragers was the time in human history
when all human communities lived by searching out
or hunting food and other things they needed, rather
foragers ended about ten thousand years ago with the
appearance of the first agricultural communities because
after that time foraging ceased to be the only lifeway prac-
than by growing or manufacturing them. Such people are ticed by human societies.
also called hunter-gatherers. The era of foragers is also
known as the Paleolithic era (Paleolithic means old Studying the
Stone Age). The era of foragers was the first and by far Era of Foragers
the longest era of human history. It was the time when Historians have had a difficult time integrating the era of
the foundations of human history were laid down. foragers into their accounts of the past because most his-
Foragers gather the resources they need for food, for torians lack the research skills needed to study an era that
shelter and clothing, and for ritual activities and other generated no written evidence.Traditionally the era of for-
purposes. For the most part they do so without trying to agers has been studied not by historians, but rather by
transform their environment.The exceptional cultural and archaeologists, anthropologists, and prehistorians.
technological creativity of human foragers distinguishes In the absence of written evidence scholars use three
their lifeways (the many different ways in which people other fundamentally different types of evidence to under-
relate to their environments and to each other) from the stand the history of this era. The first type consists of
superficially similar lifeways of nonhuman species, such physical remains from past societies. Archaeologists study
as the great apes. Only humans can communicate using the skeletal remains of humans and their prey species, left-
symbolic language. Language allows men and women to over objects such as stone tools and other manufactured
share and accumulate knowledge in detail and with great objects or the remains of meals, as well as evidence from
precision. As a result of this constant sharing of knowl- the natural environment that may help them understand
edge, the skills and lifeways of ancient foragers gradually climatic and environmental changes. We have few skele-
adapted to a huge variety of environments, creating a cul- tal remains for the earliest phases of human history; the
tural and technological variety that has no parallel among earliest known skeletal remains that are definitely of
any other large species. The extraordinary facility with modern humans date from around 160,000 years ago.
which human communities adapted to new circum-
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
stances and environments is the key to human history.
Archaeology p. 107 (v1)
As far as we know, the earliest human beings were for-
Art, Paleolithic p. 180 (v1)
agers; thus, the era of foragers began about 250,000 years
Dating Methods p. 487 (v2)
ago, when modern humansmembers of our own
Human EvolutionOverview p. 930 (v3)
species, Homo sapiensfirst appeared on Earth.Although
Paleoanthropology p. 1412 (v4)
some foraging communities exist even today, the era of

tfw-2 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Key Events in the Foraging Era

300,000 Modern human beings appear in Africa.
200,000 BCE
250,000 BCE Stone tool technology becomes more sophisticated.
200,000 BCE Humans have spread across Africa.
100,000 BCE Humans begin migrating out of Africa to Eurasia.
50,000 BCE Development of more sophisticated technologies begins to accelerate.
Large-scale extinction of many large land animals begins.
50,000 Australia is settled.
40,000 BCE
30,000 BCE Siberia is settled.
30,000 More sophisticated tools such as the bow and arrow are invented.
20,000 BCE
13,000 BCE North America is settled.
12,000 BCE South America is settled.
10,000 BCE The foraging era ends with the development of agriculture.

However, archaeologists can extract a surprising amount changes with increasing precision. In addition, the dating
of information from fragmentary skeletal remains. A techniques developed during the last fifty years have
close study of teeth, for example, can tell us much about given us increasingly precise dates, which allow us to con-
diets, and diets can tell us much about the lifeways of struct absolute chronologies of events during the entire
early humans. Similarly, differences in size between the span of human history.
skeletons of males and females can tell us something Although archaeological evidence tells us mostly about
about gender relations. By studying fossilized pollens and
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
core samples taken from sea beds and ice sheets that have
Foraging Societies, Contemporary p. 764 (v2)
built up during thousands of years, archaeologists have
Genetics p. 809 (v2)
managed to reconstruct climatic and environmental

250,000 Years of Human History

(not drawn to scale)
= 10 billion humans
Modern humans spread across Africa

Foraging Era
> 95% of human history
12% of population

250,000 bce 200,000 bce

this fleeting world / beginnings: the era of foragers tfw-3

Carbon Dating
Carbon 14 (hereafter C 14) was developed by the
American chemist Willard F. Libby at the Univer-
the material life of our ancestors, it can occasionally give sity of Chicago in the 50s, for which he received
us tantalizing glimpses into their cultural and even spiri- the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960. C 14 dat-
tual lives. Particularly revealing are the astonishing artis- ing provided an accurate means of dating a wide
tic creations of early human communities, although variety of organic material in most archaeological
precise interpretations of artifacts such as the great cave sites, and indeed in most environments through-
paintings of southern France and northern Spain remain out the world. The method revolutionized scien-
beyond our grasp. tists ability to date the past. It freed archaeologists
The second major type of evidence used to study early from trying to use artifacts as their only means of
human history comes from studies of modern foraging determining chronologies, and it allowed them
communities. Such studies must be used with caution for the first time to apply the same absolute time
because modern foragers are modern; their lifeways are all scale uniformly from region to region and conti-
influenced in varying degrees by the modern world. Nev- nent to continent. Many older archaeological
ertheless, by studying modern foraging lifeways, we can schemes were overturned with the advent of C 14
learn much about basic patterns of life in small foraging dating. Today it is possible to date sites . . . well
communities; thus, such studies have helped prehistorians back into the late Pleistocene [Era] with reliable
interpret the meager material evidence available. and accurate chronologies.
Recently a third type of evidence, based on compara- Source: Hudson, M. (n.d.). Understanding Carbon 14 dating. Retrieved September
8, 2004, from
tive studies of modern genetic differences, has provided Carbon.htm

new ways of studying early human history. Genetic stud-

ies can determine degrees of genetic separation between
modern populations and can help us estimate both the cal, and genetic evidence yields types of information that
age of our species and the dates at which different pop- differ from the written sources that are the primary re-
ulations were separated by ancient migrations. search base for most professional historians. Archaeolog-
Integrating these different types of evidence into a co- ical evidence from the era of foragers can never give us
herent account of world history is difficult not only be- the intimate personal details that can be found in written
cause most historians lack the necessary expertise and sources, but it can tell us much about how people lived.
training, but also because archaeological, anthropologi- Integrating the insights of these different disciplines is one

Modern Era
< 1% of human history
68% of population

Agrarian Era
4% of human history
Modern humans in Americas
Modern humans in Australia

Modern humans in Eurasia

20% of population

100,000 bce 40,000 bce 10,000 bce 0 1750 ce

12,000 bce
tfw-4 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Who Does What in the

Study of Human History
Archaeologists excavate, preserve, study, and
classify artifacts of the near and distant past in regions of the Afro-Eurasian landmass. Through time,
order to develop a picture of how people lived in protohumans (early human ancestors) in different regions
earlier cultures and societies. The profession diverged enough to create the genetic foundations for
combines a broad understanding of history with modern regional variants (races) while maintaining suf-
sophisticated digging procedures and plain old ficient genetic contact to remain a single species.The mul-
hard work, making it one of the most demanding tiregional model implies that human history began, quite
and competitive branches of the social sciences. gradually, sometime during the last million years.The evi-
Source: Princeton Review. (2004). Retrieved September 8, 2004, from http:// dence for this model comes mainly from the comparative
study of skeletal remains.
Prehistorian: An archaeologist who specializes
in prehistorythe study of prehistoric human- Out of Africa, into Controversy
kind. A second hypothesis, sometimes known as the Out-of-
Source: Merriam-Webster Online. (2004). Retrieved September 8, 2004, from
Africa hypothesis, relies mainly on genetic comparisons of modern humans, although it also claims to be consis-
tent with surviving skeletal evidence. It starts from the
The word anthropology itself tells the basic
observation that modern humans are genetically very sim-
storyfrom the Greek anthropos (human) and
ilar to each other, so similar in fact that they cannot have
logia (study)it is the study of humankind
been evolving for more than about 250,000 years. This
from its beginnings millions of years ago to the
hypothesis suggests that all modern humans are
present day. . . .Though easy to define, anthro-
descended from just a few ancestors who lived about
pology is difficult to describe. Its subject matter
250,000 years ago. Today the greatest genetic variety
is both exotic (e.g., star lore of the Australian
among humans can be found in Africa, which suggests
aborigines) and commonplace (anatomy of the
that Africa is where humans evolved and where they lived
foot). And its focus is both sweeping (the evo-
for the longest time before some began to migrate around
lution of language) and microscopic (the use-
the world. If the Out-of-Africa hypothesis is correct, mod-
wear of obsidian tools). Anthropologists may
ern humans evolved in Africa from later forms of Homo
study ancient Mayan hieroglyphics, the music of
ergaster. The new species probably emerged quite rapidly
African Pygmies, and the corporate culture of a
in a remote, isolated group.
U.S. car manufacturer.
The Out-of-Africa hypothesis itself comes in two main
Source: American Anthropological Association. (2004). Retrieved September 8,
2004, from variants. The first variant, which has long been defended
by the archaeologist Richard Klein and others, suggests
that even if modern humans evolved in Africa perhaps
of the main challenges of world history, and it is faced 250,000 years ago, the earliest evidence of distinctively
most directly in studying the era of foragers. human behaviors, including improved hunting skills and
artistic activities of various kinds, dates from no earlier
Beginnings of than about fifty thousand to sixty thousand years ago. In
Human History this variant humans were not fully human, and human
Scholars still debate when our species first appeared. One
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
hypothesisthe multiregional model, defended today by
Afro-Eurasia p. 44 (v1)
a minority of physical anthropologists, including Milford
Human EvolutionOverview p. 930 (v3)
Wolpoff and Alan Thornestates that modern humans
PeriodizationOverview p. 1453 (v4)
evolved gradually, during the last million years, in many
this fleeting world / beginnings: the era of foragers tfw-5

The further you get away from any period, the better you can
write about it. You arent subject to interruptions by people
that were there. FINLEY PETER DUNNE (18671936)

history did not really begin until some minor genetic we have learned that many of these qualities can be found
changes made available the full range of modern sym- to some degree in closely related species such as chim-
bolic languages.This variant of the Out-of-Africa hypoth- panzees. For example, we now know that chimpanzees
esis depends on the proliferation of new types of tools can make and use tools and can also hunt.
and artifacts that is evident in the archaeology of Eurasia At the moment the most powerful marker, the feature
from about fifty thousand years ago. that distinguishes our species most decisively from closely
More recently, however, some supporters of the Out-of- related species, appears to be symbolic language. Many
Africa hypothesis have argued that the significance of animals can communicate with each other and share
these changes may have been exaggerated by virtue of the information in rudimentary ways. However, humans are
fact that scholars have conducted so much more archae- the only creatures who can communicate using symbolic
ological research in Eurasia than in Africa, the presumed language: a system of arbitrary symbols that can be
homeland of modern humans. In a careful analysis of the linked by formal grammars to create a nearly limitless
available archaeological evidence from Africa, the anthro- variety of precise utterances. Symbolic language greatly
pologists Sally McBrearty and Alison Brooks have argued enhanced the precision of human communication and
that evidence of distinctively human activities appears in the range of ideas that humans can exchange. Symbolic
Africa as early as 200,000 to 300,000 years ago and language allowed people for the first time to talk about
coincides with the appearance of skeletal remains that entities that were not immediately present (including
may be those of the earliest modern men and women. If experiences and events in the past and future) as well as
McBrearty and Brooks are right, our species appeared in entities whose existence was not certain (such as souls,
Africa between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago, and demons, and dreams).
these dates mark the real beginnings of human history. The result of this sudden increase in the precision, effi-
The periodization adopted in this essay is based on ciency, and range of human communication systems was
these findings. It adopts the compromise date of 250,000 that people could share what they learned with others;
years ago for the appearance of the first humans and for thus, knowledge began to accumulate more rapidly than
the beginnings of human history. However, we should it was lost: Instead of dying with each person or genera-
remember that this date remains subject to revision. tion, the insights of individuals could be preserved for
future generations. As a result, each generation inherited
What Makes Us Different? the accumulated knowledge of previous generations,
What distinguishes us so markedly from other species? and, as this store of knowledge grew, later generations
What distinguishes human history from the histories of could use it to adapt to their environment in new ways.
all other animals? Many answers have been given to these Unlike all other living species on Earth, whose behaviors
fundamental questions. Modern answers include the abil- change in significant ways only when the genetic makeup
ity to walk on two legs (bipedalism), the use of tools, the of the entire species changes, humans can change their
ability to hunt systematically, and the development of behaviors significantly without waiting for their genes to
exceptionally large brains. Unfortunately, as studies of change. This cumulative process of collective learning
closely related species have become more sophisticated, explains the exceptional ability of humans to adapt to
changing environments and changing circumstances and
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
the unique dynamism of human history. In human his-
Creation Myths p. 449 (v2)
tory culture has outstripped natural selection as the pri-
Engines of History p. 654 (v2)
mary motor of change.
Language, Classification of p. 1106 (v3)
These conclusions suggest that we should seek the
Language, Standardization of p. 1111 (v3)
beginnings of human history not only in the anatomical
tfw-6 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

This plate shows a variety of tools of increasing technological complexity used by humans at
different times and places to shape stone. Tools 15 are used to flake or abrade stone. Tools
6 and 7 (long horizontal instruments and accompanying square to the right) are different
parts of drills used with sand and tool 8 is a slate saw.

details of early human remains, but also in any evidence modern foraging communities. Indeed, the notion of a
that hints at the presence of symbolic language and the foraging mode of production was first proposed by the
accumulation of technical skills. The findings of anthropologist Richard Lee during the late 1970s on the
McBrearty and Brooks link the earliest evidence of sym- basis of his studies of foraging communities in southern
bolic activity (including hints of the grinding of pigments Africa. However, the scanty archaeological evidence can
for use in body painting) and of significant changes in be used to discipline the generalizations suggested by
stone tool technologies (including the disappearance of modern anthropological research.
the stone technologies associated with most forms of The scarcity of remains from this era, combined with
Homo ergaster) with the appearance of a new species what we know of the ecology of modern foragers, makes
known as Homo helmei. The remains of this species are us certain that levels of productivity were extraordinarily
so close to those of modern women and men that we low by modern standards. Humans probably did not
may eventually have to classify them with our own extract from their environment much more than the
species, Homo sapiens. The earliest anatomical, techno- 3,000 kilocalories per day that adult members of our
logical, and cultural evidence for these changes appears species need to maintain a basic, healthy existence. Low
in Africa between 200,000 and 300,000 years ago.
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
Foraging Societies, Contemporary p. 764 (v2)
Foraging Lifeways
Indigenous Peoples p. 963 (v3)
Archaeological evidence is so scarce for the era of for-
Kinship p. 1083 (v3)
agers that our understanding of early human lifeways has
Marriage and Family p. 1195 (v3)
been shaped largely by conclusions based on the study of
this fleeting world / beginnings: the era of foragers tfw-7

This plate shows the variety of stabbing tools used over the course of human history and the
different sizes, shapes, and materials used to make the weapons. Tools 12 are made from
flaked stone, 2 from antler, 3 from animal bone, 4 from antler, 5 through 8 from chipped
stone, and 9 through 15 from copper, bronze, and iron.

productivity ensured that population densities were low many links existed between neighboring groups. Almost
by the standards of later eras, averaging perhaps as little all human communities encourage marriage away from
as one person per square kilometer. This fact meant that ones immediate family. Thus, foraging communities
small numbers of humans were scattered over large likely met periodically with their neighbors to swap gifts,
ranges. Modern studies suggest that foragers may have stories, and rituals, to dance together, and to resolve dis-
deliberately limited population growth to avoid over- putes. At such meetingssimilar, perhaps, to the corro-
exploitation of the land; modern foragers can limit pop- borees of aboriginal Australiansfemales and males
ulation growth by inhibiting conception through pro- may have moved from group to group either sponta-
longed breast feeding, by using various techniques of neously or through more formal arrangements of mar-
abortion, and sometimes by killing excess children or riage or adoption.
allowing the sick and unhealthy to die.
Because each group needed a large area to support Kith and Kin
itself, ancient foragers, like modern foragers, probably Exchanges of people meant that each group normally
lived most of the time in small groups consisting of no had family members in neighboring groups, creating ties
more than a few closely related people. Most of these that ensured that people usually had some sense of soli-
groups must have been nomadic in order to exploit their darity between neighboring groups as well as some lin-
large home territories. However, we can also be sure that guistic overlapping.Ties of kinship created local networks
tfw-8 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

What we know of the past is mostly not worth knowing. What is worth knowing is mostly
uncertain. Events in the past may roughly be divided into those which probably never
happened and those which do not matter. WILLIAM RALPH INGE (18601954)

that smoothed the exchange of goods, people, and ideas For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
between neighboring groups. Animism p. 90 (v1)
Studies of modern foraging societies suggest that Shamanism p. 1696 (v4)
notions of family and kinship provided the primary way
of thinking about and organizing social relations. Indeed, human relationships were personal rather than hierar-
in Europe and the People without History (1982), the chical. In a world of intimate, personal relationships peo-
anthropologist Eric Wolf proposed describing all small- ple had little need for the highly institutionalized
scale societies as kin-ordered. Family was society in a structures of the modern world, most of which are
way that is difficult for the inhabitants of modern soci- designed to regulate relationships between strangers.
eties to appreciate. Notions of kinship provided all the Burials and art objects of many kinds have left us tan-
rules of behavior and etiquette that were needed to live talizing hints about the spiritual world of our foraging
in a world in which most communities included just a ancestors but few definitive answers. Modern analogies
few persons and in which few people met more than a suggest that foragers thought of the spiritual world and
few hundred other people in their lifetime. the natural world as parts of a large extended family, full
The idea of society as family also suggests much about of beings with whom one could establish relations of kin-
the economics of foraging societies. Relations of exchange ship, mutual obligation, and sometimes enmity. As a
were probably analogous to those in modern families. result, the classificatory boundaries that foragers drew
Exchanges were conceived of as gifts.This fact meant that between human beings and all other species and entities
the act of exchanging was usually more important than were less hard and fast than those we draw today. Such
the qualities of the goods exchanged; exchanging was a thinking may help make sense of ideas that often seem
way of cementing existing relationships. Anthropologists bizarre to moderns, such as totemismthe idea that ani-
say that such relationships are based on reciprocity. mals, plants, and even natural geological objects such as
Power relations, too, were the power relations of families mountains and lakes can be thought of as kin. The belief
or extended families; justice and disciplineeven violent that all or most of reality is animated by spirit may be the
retribution for antisocial behaviorcould be imposed fundamental cosmological hypothesis (or model of the
only by the family. Hierarchies, insofar as they existed, universe) of foraging societies, even if particular repre-
were based on gender, age, experience, and respect within sentations of spirits differ greatly from community to
the family. community.The hypothesis helped make sense of a world
Studies of modern foraging societies suggest that, in which animals and objects often behave with all the
although males and females, just like older and younger unpredictability and willfulness of human beings.
members of society, may have specialized in different
tasks, differences in the roles people played did not nec- Living Standards
essarily create hierarchical relations. Women probably In an article published in 1972 the anthropologist Mar-
took most responsibility for child rearing and may also shall Sahlins questioned the conventional assumption
have been responsible for gathering most of the food (at that material living standards were necessarily low in
least in temperate and tropical regions, where gathering foraging societies. He argued, mainly on the basis of
was more important than hunting), whereas men special-
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
ized in hunting, which was generally a less reliable source
Disease and Nutrition p. 538 (v2)
of food in such regions. However, no evidence indicates
DiseasesOverview p. 543 (v2)
that these different roles led to relationships of domi-
Food p. 757 (v2)
nance or subordination. Throughout the era of foragers
this fleeting world / beginnings: the era of foragers tfw-9

Shamanism is a form of religion

traced back to the foraging era.
This drawing depicts a Siberian

health of foragers was often better

than that of people in the earliest
farming communities.The small com-
munities in which foragers lived insu-
lated them from epidemic diseases,
and frequent movement prevented
the accumulation of rubbish that
could attract disease-carrying pests.
Modern analogies suggest that they
also lived a life of considerable
leisure, rarely spending more than a
few hours a day in pursuit of the
basic necessities of lifefar less than
most people either in farming com-
munities or in modern societies.
However, we should not exaggerate.
In other ways life was undeniably
harsh during the era of foragers. For
example, life expectancies were prob-
ably low (perhaps less than thirty
years): Although many persons un-
evidence from modern foragers, that from some points of doubtedly lived into their sixties or seventies, high rates
view we could view foragers (certainly those living in less of infant mortality, physical accidents, and interpersonal
harsh environments) as affluent. Nomadism discouraged violence took a greater toll from the young in foraging
the accumulation of material goods because people had societies than in most modern societies.
to carry everything they owned; so did a lifeway in which
people took most of what they needed from their imme- Major Changes during
diate surroundings. In such a world people had no need the Era of Foragers
to accumulate material possessions. Absence of posses- The small size of foraging communities and the limited
sions may seem a mark of poverty to modern minds, but possibilities for exchanging ideas over large areas may
Sahlins argued that foragers probably experienced their explain why, to modern minds, technological change dur-
lives as affluent because the things they needed could be ing this era appears to have been so slow. Nevertheless,
found all around them. Particularly in temperate regions, change was extremely rapid in comparison with the
the diets of foragers can be varied and nutritious; indeed, changes that took place among our hominid (erect bi-
the variety of the diets of ancient foragers shielded them pedal primate mammals comprising recent humans and
from famine because when their favorite foodstuffs failed, extinct ancestral and related forms) ancestors or among
they had many alternatives to fall back on. other large animal species. To give just one example, the
Acheulian hand axes (a type of stone tool originating in
Leisurely but Brief Africa almost 2 million years ago) used by our immedi-
Studies by paleobiologists (paleontologists who study the ate ancestors, Homo ergaster, changed little during a mil-
biology of fossil organisms) have confirmed that the lion and more years. Yet, during the 200,000 years or
tfw-10 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The smallest human societies that we can identify either among living groups or among the populations
of prehistory do not live up to the romantic images we sometimes paint of them . . . [but they] do
surprisingly well if we compare them to the the actual record of human history rather than to

more of the era of foragers, our ancestors created a were doubling approximately every eight thousand to
remarkable variety of new technologies and new lifeways. nine thousand years. This rate of growth can be com-
Indeed, the relatively sudden replacement of Acheulian pared with an average doubling time of about fourteen
stone technologies by more varied and precisely engi- hundred years during the agrarian era and eighty-five
neered stone tools in Africa from about 200,000 years years during the modern era.
ago is one of the most powerful reasons for thinking that
modern humans existed by that date. Many of these new Technological Change
stone tools were so small that they may have been hafted Rates of growth during the era of foragers are striking in
(bound to handles), which would have greatly increased two contradictory ways. Insofar as population growth is
their versatility and usefulness. an indirect sign of technological innovation, it provides
The technological creativity of our foraging ancestors evidence for innovation throughout the era and some
enabled them to explore and settle lands quite different signs that innovation was accelerating. However, by com-
from those in which they had evolved. Indeed, this cre- parison with later eras of human history, rates of growth
ativity is one of the most decisive differences between our were extremely slow. This difference is partly because
species and other species, including our closest relatives, exchanges of information were limited by the small size
the great apes. As far as we know, the great apes have not and the wide dispersion of foraging communities.
managed to modify their behaviors enough to migrate Indeed, change occurred so slowly that a person could
into new habitats. This fact is precisely why we do not hardly notice it within a single lifetime, and this fact may
customarily think of these species as having histories in mean that ancient foragers, like modern foragers, had lit-
the way that humans have a history. In contrast, the his- tle sense of long-term change, seeing the past mainly as
tory of our species during the era of foragers is a story of a series of variations on the present.
many unrecorded migrations into new environments, Migrations into new environments requiring new tech-
made possible by tiny technological changes, the accu- nologies and new skills probably began quite early dur-
mulation of new knowledge and skills, and minor adjust- ing the era of foragers, while all humans still lived within
ments in lifeways. the African continent. Unfortunately, studying techno-
As humans spread over more and more of the Earth, logical change during the earliest stages of human history
human numbers surely increased. Estimates of popula- is difficult because surviving objects tell us little about the
tions during the era of foragers are based largely on technological knowledge of those who made them.Today
guesswork, but one of the more influential recent esti- we depend upon objects such as cars and computers,
mates by demographer Massimo Livi-Bacci suggests that which embody a colossal amount of specialized knowl-
thirty thousand years ago just a few hundred thousand edge. However, modern anthropological studies suggest
humans existed, whereas ten thousand years ago there that among foragers knowledge was primarily carried in
may have been as many as 6 million. If we assume that the head rather than embodied in objects.Thus, the tools
approximately 500,000 humans existed thirty thousand that foragers left behind can give us only the palest
years ago, this implies a growth rate between thirty thou- impression of their technological and ecological skills.
sand and ten thousand years ago of less than 0.01 per- Nevertheless, the evidence of change is powerful. The
cent per annum, which implies that human populations first piece of evidence that humans were migrating into
new environments is the fact that human remains start
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
appearing in all parts of the African continent. By
Afro-Eurasia p. 44 (v1)
100,000 years ago some groups had learned to live off
Migrations p. 1247 (v3)
the resources of seashore environments, such as shellfish;
Population p. 1484 (v4)
whereas others were adapting to lifeways in other new
this fleeting world / beginnings: the era of foragers tfw-11

our romantic images of civilized progress. . . . Hobbes was probably wrong by almost any measure when he
characterized primitive life as nasty, brutish and short while speaking from the perspective of urban
centers of seventeenth-century Europe. Mark Cohen, Medical Anthropologist

environments, including tropical forests and deserts. Evi- tering the Americas, some groups had reached the far
dence that communities exchanged objects over dis- south of South America.
tances up to several hundred kilometers suggests that Each of these migrations required new technologies,
communities were also exchanging information over new botanical and biological knowledge, and new ways
considerable distances, and these exchanges may have of living; thus, each represents a technological break-
been a vital stimulus to technological experimentation. through, within which numerous lesser technological
adjustments took place as communities learned to exploit
Migrations from Africa the particular resources of each microregion. However,
From about 100,000 years ago humans began to settle no evidence indicates that the average size of human
outside Africa; communities of modern humans existed communities increased. During the era of foragers, tech-
in southwestern Asia, and from there humans migrated nological change led to more extensive rather than more
west and east to the southern, and warmer, parts of the intensive settlement; humans settled more of the world,
Eurasian landmass. These migrations took humans into but they continued to live in small nomadic communities.
environments similar to those of their African homeland;
thus, they do not necessarily indicate any technological Human Impacts on the Environment
breakthroughs. Indeed, many other species had made The technological creativity that made these migrations
similar migrations between Asia and Africa. However, the possible ensured that, although foragers normally had a
appearance of humans in Ice Age Australia by forty limited impact on their environments, their impact was
thousand to fifty thousand years ago is a clear sign of increasing. The extinction of many large animal species
innovation because traveling to Australia demanded (megafauna) and the spread of what is known as fire-
sophisticated seagoing capabilities, and within Australia stick farming provide two spectacular illustrations of the
humans had to adapt to an entirely novel biological increasing human impact on the environment, although
realm. We know of no other mammal species that made controversy still surrounds both topics.
this crossing independently.
Equally significant is the appearance of humans in Megafaunal Extinctions
Siberia from about thirty thousand years ago. To live in Within the last fifty thousand years many species of large
the steppes (vast, usually level and treeless tracts) of Inner animals have been driven to extinction, particularly in
Asia during the last ice age, you had to be extremely good regions newly colonized by humans, whether in Aus-
at hunting large mammals such as deer, horse, and mam- tralia, Siberia, or the Americas. Australia and the Ameri-
moth because edible plants were scarcer than in warmer cas may have lost 7080 percent of all mammal species
climates.You also had to be able to protect yourself from weighing more than 44 kilograms; Europe may have lost
the extreme cold by using fire, making close-fitting about 40 percent of large-animal species; whereas Africa,
clothes, and building durable shelters. By thirteen thou- where humans and large mammals had coexisted for
sand years ago humans had also reached the Americas, much longer, lost only about 14 percent. As archaeolo-
traveling either across the Ice Age land bridge of Beringia, gists pinpoint the date of these extinctions more precisely,
which linked eastern Siberia and Alaska, or by sea around they appear to coincide with the first arrival of modern
the coasts of Beringia. Within two thousand years of en-
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
For more on these topics, please see the following articles: Art, Paleolithic p. 180 (v1)
Afro-Eurasia p. 44 (v1) Extinctions p. 722 (v2)
Asia p. 184 (v1) Fire p. 745 (v2)
Europe p. 691 (v2) TechnologyOverview p. 1806 (v5)
tfw-12 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

By providing a coherent, intelligible account of the past, [history] satisfies a

profound human yearning for knowledge about our roots. It requires no
justification other than that. THEODORE S. HAMEROW (b. 1920)

humans, increasing the probability that they were caused continents and new environments are one expression of
by humans. that acceleration. However, new technologies and tech-
Similar extinctions during recent centuries, such as the niques also proliferated. Stone tools became more precise
extinction of the large birds known as moas in New and more varied, and many may have been hafted. Peo-
Zealand, offer a modern example of what may have hap- ple made more use of new materials such as bone,
pened as humans with improved hunting techniques amber, and vegetable fibers. From about twenty thousand
and skills encountered large animals who had little expe- to thirty thousand years ago, new and more sophisticated
rience of humans and whose low reproduction rates tools appeared, including bows and arrows and spear
made them particularly vulnerable to extinction. The throwers.
loss of large-animal species in Australia and the Americas Foragers in tundra (level or rolling treeless plain that
shaped the later histories of these regions insofar as the is characteristic of arctic and subarctic regions) regions
lack of large animals meant that humans were unable to used bone needles to make carefully tailored clothes
exploit large animals as beasts of burden and sources of from animal skins; sometimes they covered their clothing
foodstuffs and fibers. with elaborate ornamentation made from animal teeth or
shells.The remains of prey species show that hunters, par-
Fire-Stick Farming ticularly in cold climates, became more specialized in
A second example of the increasing environmental their hunting techniques, suggesting increasingly sophis-
impact of early foragers is associated with what the Aus- ticated understanding of different environments. Cave
tralian archaeologist Rhys Jones called fire-stick farming. paintings and sculptures in wood or bone began to
Fire-stick farming is not, strictly, a form of farming at all. appear in regions as disparate as Africa, Australia, Mon-
However, it is, like farming, a way of manipulating the golia, and Europe.
environment to increase the productivity of animal and
plant species that humans find useful. Fire-stick farmers Affluent Foragers
regularly burn off the land to prevent the accumulation Accelerating technological change accounts for one
of dangerous amounts of fuel. Regular firing also clears more development that foreshadowed the changes that
undergrowth and deposits ash. In effect, it speeds up the would eventually lead to the agrarian era. Most foraging
decomposition of dead organisms, which encourages technologies can be described as extensive: They
the growth of new shoots that can attract grazing animals allowed humans to occupy larger areas without increas-
and the animals that prey on them. ing the size of individual communities. Occasionally,
Humans systematically fired the land on all the conti- though, foragers adopted more intensive techniques that
nents they settled, and through time the practice proba- allowed them to extract more resources from a given
bly transformed local landscapes and altered the mix of area and to create larger and more sedentary communi-
local animal and plant species. In Australia, for example, ties. Evidence for such changes is particularly common
fire-stick farming through tens of thousands of years from about twenty thousand to fifteen thousand years
probably encouraged the spread of eucalyptus at the ago and is best known from the corridor between
expense of species that were less comfortable with fire, Mesopotamia (the region of southwestern Asia between
creating landscapes very different from those encountered the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) and Sudanthe region
by the first human immigrants. that links Africa and Eurasia. Anthropologists have long
been aware that foragers living in environments of par-
Picking up the Pace ticular abundance will sometimes become less nomadic
From about fifty thousand years ago the rate of techno- and spend longer periods at one or two main home
logical change began to accelerate. Migrations to new bases. They may also become more sedentary if they
this fleeting world / beginnings: the era of foragers tfw-13

farms that relatively permanent settlements appeared

nearby. One site contains almost 150 small huts built of
stone. In addition to eels, the inhabitants of these small
settlements lived off local species of game, from emu to
kangaroo, as well as local vegetable foods such as daisy
yam tubers, ferns, and convolvulus (herbs and shrubs of
the morning glory family).
Some communities began to harvest plants such as
yams, fruit, and grains in ways that suggest early steps
towards agriculture.Yams were (and are today) harvested
in ways that encouraged regrowth, and people deliber-
ately planted fruit seeds in refuse heaps to create fruit
groves. In some of the more arid areas of central Aus-
tralia, early European travelers observed communities
harvesting wild millet with stone knives and storing it in
large haystacks. Archeologists have discovered grind-
stones, which were used to grind seeds as early as fifteen
thousand years ago in some regions. In many coastal
Indigenous peoples of the North American
regions of Australia fishing using shell fishhooks and
northwest subsisted from fishing and
small boats also allowed for denser settlement. In gen-
exhibited a way of life called affluent
eral, the coasts were more thickly settled than inland
foraging. The illustration is of the designs
on a large Tsimshian box used to store
The appearance of communities of affluent foragers
blankets, an important form of wealth.
prepared the way for the next fundamental transition in
human history: the appearance of communities that sys-
devise technologies that increase the output of resources tematically manipulated their environments to extract
from a particular area. Anthropologists refer to such for- more resources from a given area.The set of technologies
agers as affluent foragers. that these people used is often called agriculture; we
The examples that follow are taken from Australia refer to the era in which agriculture made its appearance
from a region in which foraging lifeways can be studied as the agrarian era.
more closely because they have survived into modern
times. During the last five thousand years new, smaller, The Era of Foragers in
and more finely made stone tools appeared in many parts World History
of Australia, including small points that people may Historians have often assumed that little changed during
have used as spear tips. Some tools were so beautifully the era of foragers. In comparison with later eras of
made that they were traded as ritual objects over hun- human history this assumption may seem to be true. It is
dreds of miles. New techniques meant new ways of also true that change was normally so slow that it was
extracting resources. In the state of Victoria people built imperceptible within a single lifetime; thus, few men and
elaborate eel traps, some with canals up to 300 meters women in the era of foragers could have appreciated the
long. At certain points people constructed nets or tapered wider significance of technological changes. Nevertheless,
traps, using bark strips or plaited rushes, to harvest the in comparison with the prehuman era, the pace of tech-
trapped eels. So many eels could be kept in these eel nological change during the era of foragers was striking.
tfw-14 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

A selection of Foraging Era

flaked arrowheads from
(1) Ireland; (2) France;
(3) North America; (4) South
America; and (5) Japan.

Exploiting the technological synergy (the creative power Christian, D. (2004). Maps of time: An introduction to big history. Berke-
ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
generated by linking people through language) that was
Fagan, B. M. (2001). People of the Earth: An introduction to world pre-
made available to humans by their capacity for symbolic history (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
language, human communities slowly learned to live Flannery, T. (1995). The future eaters: An ecological history of the Aus-
tralasian lands and peoples. Port Melbourne, Australia: Reed Books.
successfully in a wide variety of new environments. A Flood, J. (1983). Archaeology of the Dreamtime: The story of prehistoric
gradual accumulation of new skills allowed foraging Australia and her people. Sydney, Australia: Collins.
Johnson, A.W., & Earle,T. (2000). The evolution of human societies (2nd
communities to settle most of the world in migrations
ed.). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
that have no precedent either among other primate Jones, R. (1969). Fire-stick farming. Australian Natural History, 16(7),
species or among our hominid ancestors. 224228.
Klein, R. G. (1999). The human career: Human biological and cultural ori-
During the course of 250,000 years the pace of gins (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
change was slowly accelerating. During the last fifty Livi-Bacci, M. (1992). A concise history of world population. Oxford, UK:
thousand years or so, the variety and precision of forag-
McBrearty, S., & Brooks, A. S. (2000).The revolution that wasnt: A new
ing technologies and techniques multiplied throughout interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior. Journal of
the world. Eventually foraging technologies became Human Evolution, 39(5), 453563.
McNeill, J. R., & McNeill, W. H. (2003). The human web: A birds-eye
sophisticated enough to allow groups of people in some view of world history. New York: W. W. Norton.
regions to exploit their surroundings more intensively, a Richerson, P. T., & Boyd, R. (2004). Not by genes alone: How culture
transformed human evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
change that marks the first step toward agriculture.
Roberts, N. (1998). The Holocene: An environmental history (2nd ed.).
Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Sahlins, M. (1972). Stone Age economics. London: Tavistock.
Further Reading Wolf, E. R. (1982). Europe and the people without history. Berkeley and
Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Burenhult, G. (Ed.). (1993). The illustrated history of mankind:Vol. 1.The
first humans, human origins and history to 10,000 BC. St. Lucia, Aus-
tralia: University of Queensland Press.
The Agrarian
T he agrarian era began ten thousand to eleven thou-
sand years ago with the appearance of the first agri-
cultural communities. We can define the agrarian era as
and economic exchanges known as agrarian civiliza-
tions emerged, and through time these civilizations
linked with other agrarian civilizations and with peoples
the era of human history when agriculture was the most living between the main zones of agrarian civilization.
important of all productive technologies and the foun- However, we know of no significant contacts between the
dation for most human societies. It ended during the last different world zones before 1500 CE.The great diversity
250 years as modern industrial technologies overtook of lifeways and the relative isolation of different regions
agriculture in productivity and began to transform explain why we have more difficulty making generaliza-
human lifeways. Although the agrarian era lasted a mere tions that apply to the entire world during this era than
ten thousand years, in contrast to the 250,000 years of during the era of foragers or the modern era.
the era of foragers, 70 percent of all humanity may have Despite this diversity, striking parallels exist between
lived during the agrarian era, their burgeoning numbers the historical trajectories of different parts of the world.
sustained by the eras productive technologies. Agriculture appeared quite independently in several
The agrarian era was characterized by greater diversity regions; so did states, cities, monumental architecture,
than either the era of foragers or the modern era. Para- and writing. These parallels raise deep questions about
doxically, diversity was a product both of technological long-term patterns of historical change. Does human his-
innovations and of technological sluggishness because tory have a fundamental shape, a large trajectory that is
although new technologies such as agriculture and pas- apparent in all regions and under diverse social and eco-
toralism (livestock raising) created new ways of living, the logical conditions? If such a shape exists, does it arise
limits of communications technologies ensured that dif- from the nature of our species or from basic principles of
ferent parts of the world remained separate enough to cultural evolution? Or are the similarities misleading?
evolve along independent trajectories. At the largest scale Do the diversity and open-endedness of human histori-
we can identify several distinct world zones, or regions cal experience deserve most emphasis on the large scales
that had no significant contact with each other before of world history?
about 1500 CE. The most important were the Afro-
Eurasian landmass from the far south of Africa to the far Origins of Agriculture
northeast of Siberia, the Americas, Australia, and the The word agriculture is used here to describe an evolving
islands of the Pacific. cluster of technologies that enabled humans to increase
Within each world zone long and sometimes tenuous the production of favored plant and animal species. Eco-
webs of cultural and material exchanges linked local com- logically speaking, agriculture is a more efficient way than
munities into larger networks of exchanges. In some of foraging to harvest the energy and resources stored in the
the world zones the dense networks of political, cultural, natural environment as a result of photosynthesis.

tfw-16 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Agriculture represents the single most profound ecological change in the

entire 3.5 billion-year history of life. NILES ELDREDGE (b. 1943)

Because farmers interfere with their surroundings more could feed more of themselves from a given area than
deliberately than foragers, agriculture magnified the would have been possible using foraging technologies.
human impact on the natural environment and also on Whereas technological change during the era of for-
the cultures and lifeways of humans themselves. Agricul- agers was extensive (it allowed humans to multiply by
turalists manipulated plant and animal species so in- increasing their range), technological change during the
tensely that they began to alter the genetic makeup of agrarian era was intensive (it allowed more humans to
prey species in a process commonly referred to as domes- live within a given range). As a result, humans and their
tication. By clearing forests, diverting rivers, terracing domesticates began to settle in larger and denser com-
hillsides, and plowing the land, agriculturalists created munities; as they did so they transformed their ecologi-
landscapes that were increasingly anthropogenic (shaped cal and social environments. The result was a revolution
by human activity). in the pace and nature of historical change.
Finally, by altering their own lifeways, agriculturalists
created new types of communities, radically different in Earliest Evidence of Agriculture
scale and complexity from those of the era of foragers. Dates for the earliest evidence of agriculture remain sub-
Humans did not domesticate just other species; they also ject to revision. At present the earliest clear evidence
domesticated themselves. comes from the corridor between Sudan and Mesopo-
Agriculture does not automatically increase the biolog- tamia that links Africa and Eurasia. In the Fertile Crescent
ical productivity of the land. Indeed, agriculturalists often (the arc of highlands around the great rivers of Meso-
reduce total productivity by removing the many species potamia) grain crops were cultivated from about 8000
for which they have no use.They increase the productivity BCE (ten thousand years ago). In the Sahara Desert west
only of those plants and animals that they find most use- of the Nile River, in lands that then were much less arid
ful; removing undesired plants leaves more nutrients, sun- than they are today, communities may have domesticated
light, and water for domesticated crops such as corn, cattle as early as 9000 or 8000 BCE, and within a thou-
wheat, or rice, while killing wolves and foxes allows cat- sand years these same communities may have started cul-
tle, sheep, and chickens to flourish in safety. By increas- tivating sorghum. In west Africa yam cultivation may also
ing the productivity of favored prey species, humans have begun around 8000 BCE. In China people were

250,000 Years of Human History

(not drawn to scale)
= 10 billion humans
Modern humans spread across Africa

Foraging Era
> 95% of human history
12% of population

250,000 bce 200,000 bce

this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-17

Key Events in the Agrarian Era

13,000 Some humans begin to live in settled communities.
11,000 bce
9000 Cattle are domesticated in the Sahara region of Africa.
8000 bce
8000 bce Grain crops are cultivated in Mesopotamia.
Yams are cultivated in West Africa.
7000 bce Grains and rice are cultivated in the north and south of China.
Yams and taro are cultivated in Papua New Guinea.
Squash is cultivated in Mesoamerica.
4000 bce The secondary products revolution takes place in parts of Afro-Eurasia.
3000 bce Plants are cultivated in the Andes region of South America.
Cities and states appear in Mesopotamia and Egypt.
2500 bce Cities and states appear in India, Pakistan and northern China.
2000 bce Eurasian trade networks develop.
1000 bce Cities and states appear in Mesoamerica and the Andes.
500 bce New cities and states emerge, population increases, and interregional trade
1000 ce networks develop.
5001200 ce Many of the Pacific islands are settled.
1200 ce Europeans reach the Americas.
1500 ce All major world regions are linked through migration and trade.
1750 ce The Agrarian Era begins to decline with the appearance and spread of

Modern Era
< 1% of human history
68% of population

Agrarian Era
4% of human history
Modern humans in Americas
Modern humans in Australia

Modern humans in Eurasia

20% of population

100,000 bce 40,000 bce 10,000 bce 0 1750 ce

12,000 bce
tfw-18 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

In truth, the historian can never get away from the question
of time in history: time sticks to his thinking like soil to a
gardeners spade. FERNAND BRAUDEL (19021985)

For more on these topics, please see the following articles:

ing standards, then an explanation of the origins of agri-
Andean States p. 86 (v1)
culture must rely more on push than on pull factors.
China p. 332 (v1)
Rather than taking up agriculture willingly, we must as-
Egypt, Ancient p. 629 (v2)
sume that many early agriculturalists were forced to take
Mesoamerica p. 1230 (v3)
it up.
Mesopotamia p. 1235 (v3)
Affluent Foragers
probably cultivating rice in the south and other grains in The outlines of such an explanation are now available,
the north by 7000 BCE. By this time farming based on the even if many details remain to be tested in particular
cultivation of taro (a large-leaved tropical Asian plant) instances. The origins of agriculture have been studied
and yam evidently existed in Papua New Guinea in the most thoroughly in Mesopotamia and in Mesoamerica.
Malay Archipelago. Communities probably farmed root In both areas the first agricultural villages appeared after
crops early in many coastal communities in the tropics, many centuries during which foragers intensified their
although most traces of such communities would have exploitation of particular favored resources, adapting
been submerged as sea levels rose at the end of the last their tools and techniques with increasing precision and
ice age. In Mesoamerica (the region of southern North efficiency to local environments. This was the first step
America that was occupied during pre-Columbian times towards agriculture. When taken far enough, such tech-
by peoples with shared cultural features) people probably niques can turn conventional foragers into what anthro-
domesticated squash as early as 7000 BCE, but clearer evi- pologists call affluent foragers. Affluent foragers extract
dence of systematic agriculture does not appear before more resources from a given area than traditional for-
5000 BCE; in the Andes region the earliest evidence agers. Eventually they may extract enough resources to
comes after about 3000 BCE. From these and perhaps a become semisedentary, living in one place for much of the
few other regions in which agriculture appeared quite year. This development is particularly likely where prey
independently, agricultural technologies and ways of life resources such as fish or wild grains are unusually abun-
eventually spread to most of the world. dant.The appearance of such communities in many parts
At present we lack a fully satisfactory explanation for of the world toward the end of the last ice age tempts us
the origins of agriculture. Any explanation must account to link such changes with the erratic global warming that
for the curious fact that, after 200,000 years or more dur- began sixteen thousand to eighteen thousand years ago.
ing which all humans lived as foragers, agricultural life- In both temperate and tropical zones warmer climates
ways appeared within just a few thousand years in parts may have created local gardens of Edenregions of
of the world that had no significant contact with each exceptional abundancewhere highly nutritious plants
other. The realization that agriculture arose quite inde- such as wild wheats that had once been scarce thrived
pendently in different parts of the world has undermined and spread. Indeed, intensive agriculture may have been
the once-fashionable view that agriculture was a brilliant impossible under the harsh conditions of the last ice age;
invention that diffused from a single center as soon as if so, the end of the last ice age was a crucial enabling fea-
people understood its benefits.That view was also under- ture, making agriculture possible for the first time in per-
mined after researchers realized that foragers who know haps 100,000 years.
about agriculture have often preferred to remain for-
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
agers. Perhaps foragers resisted change because the
Carrying Capacity p. 297 (v1)
health and nutritional levels of the first farmers were often
Foraging Societies, Contemporary p. 764 (v2)
lower than those of neighboring foragers, whereas their
Indigenous Peoples p. 963 (v3)
stress levels were often higher. If agriculture depressed liv-
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-19

The end of the last ice age also coincided with the final For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
stages of the great global migrations of the era of for- Agricultural Societies p. 52 (v1)
agers. As the anthropologist Mark Cohen has pointed Cereals p. 321 (v1)
out, by the end of the last ice age few parts of the world Population p. 1484 (v4)
were unoccupied, and some parts of the world may Water Management p. 2036 (v5)
have been overpopulated, at least by the standards of for-
agers. Perhaps the coincidence of warmer, wetter, and ditional, nomadic lifeways may have found that in just a
more productive climates with increasing population few generations they had lost access to the lands used by
pressure in some regions explains why, in several parts of their foraging ancestors and had also lost their traditional
the world beginning ten thousand to eleven thousand skills as nomadic foragers.Those communities that chose
years ago, some communities of foragers began to settle to intensify had to apply already-existing skills to the task
down.The classic example of this change comes from the of increasing productivity. They already had much of the
Natufian communities of the fertile highlands around knowledge they needed: They knew how to weed, how to
Mesopotamia fourteen thousand to twelve thousand water plants, and how to tame prey species of animals.
years ago. Natufian communities were largely sedentary The stimulus to apply such knowledge more precisely and
but lived as foragers, harvesting wild grains and gazelle. more systematically was provided by overpopulation,
Similar communities, harvesting wild sorghum, may whereas global warming made intensification feasible.
have existed even earlier in modern Ethiopia, east of the These arguments appear to explain the curious near-
Nile River. simultaneity of the transition to agriculture at the end of
the last ice age. They also fit moderately well what is
Full-Blown Agriculture known of the transition to agriculture in several regions,
Eventually some sedentary or semisedentary foragers particularly temperate regions where agriculture was
became agriculturalists.The best explanation for this sec- based primarily on grains. They also help explain why,
ond stage in the emergence of agriculture may be demo- even in regions where developed agriculture did not
graphic. As mentioned earlier, modern studies of nomadic appear, such as Australia, many of the preliminary steps
foragers suggest that they can systematically limit popu- toward agriculture do show up in the archaeological
lation growth through prolonged breast feeding (which record, including the appearance of affluent, semiseden-
inhibits ovulation) and other practices, including infanti- tary foragers.
cide and senilicide (killing of the very young and the very
old, respectively). However, in sedentary communities in Seeds of Change
regions of ecological abundance such restraints were no After agriculture had appeared in any one region, it
longer necessary and may have been relaxed. If so, then spread, primarily because the populations of farming
within just two or three generations sedentary foraging communities grew much faster. Although agriculture may
communities that had lived in regions of abundance for have seemed an unattractive option to many foragers,
a generation or two may have found that they were out- farming communities usually had more resources and
stripping available resources once again. more people than foraging communities. When conflict
Overpopulation would have posed a clear choice: occurred, more resources and more people usually meant
Migrate or intensify (produce more food from the same that farming communities also had more power. Agri-
area). Where land was scarce and neighboring commu- culture spread most easily in regions that bordered estab-
nities were also feeling the pinch, people may have had lished agricultural zones and that had similar soils,
no choice at all; sedentary foragers had to intensify. climates, and ecologies. Where environmental condi-
However, even those foragers able to return to their tra- tions were different, the spread of agriculture had to await
tfw-20 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

new techniques such as irrigation or new crops better

adapted to the regions of new settlement.
Such changes are apparent, for example, as agriculture
spread from southwestern Asia into the cooler and usu-
ally wetter environments of eastern, central, and northern
Europe or as maize cultivation spread northward from
Mesoamerica, a process that depended in part on subtle
genetic changes in local varieties of maize. Where new
techniques were not available, foragers survived much
longer, and the spread of agriculture could be checked,
sometimes for thousands of years, as it was at the edge This drawing shows what an ancient lake-
of the Eurasian steppes, which were not brought into cul- dweller community in Denmark might have
tivation until modern times. Usually agriculture spread looked like.
through a process of budding off as villages became over-
populated and young families cleared and settled suitable
land beyond the borders of their home villages. cooperation within and among households, and the
need to manage relations with outside communities.
General Characteristics
and Long Trends Demographic Dynamism
Agricultural communities share important characteris- The increased productivity of agriculture ensured that
tics that give the agrarian era an underlying coherence populations grew much faster than they had during the
despite its extraordinary cultural diversity. These charac- era of foragers. Rapid population growth ensured that vil-
teristics include societies based on villages, demographic lages and the technologies that sustained them would
dynamism, accelerated technological innovation, the pres- eventually spread to all regions in which agriculture was
ence of epidemic disease, new forms of power and hier- viable. Modern estimates suggest that during the agrarian
archy, and enduring relations with nonagrarian peoples. era world populations rose from 6 million ten thousand
years ago to 770 million in 1750. Although these figures
Village-Based Societies hide enormous regional and chronological differences,
At the base of all agrarian societies were villages, more or they are equivalent to an average growth rate of approx-
less stable communities of farming households. Although imately 0.05 percent per annum; on average, populations
the crops, the technologies, and the rituals of villagers were doubling every fourteen hundred years.This rate can
varied greatly from region to region, all such peasant be compared with doubling times of eight thousand to
communities were affected by the annual rhythms of har- nine thousand years during the era of foragers and
vesting and sowing, the demands of storage, the need for approximately eighty-five years during the modern era.

For more on these topics, please see the following articles:

Agricultural Societies p. 52 (v1) Long Cycles p. 1160 (v3)
Carrying Capacity p. 297 (v1) Matriarchy and Patriarchy p. 1218 (v3)
Disease and Nutrition p. 538 (v2) Population p. 1484 (v4)
DiseasesOverview p. 543 (v2) Secondary-Products Revolution p. 1680 (v4)
Diseases, Animal p. 551 (v2) Water Management p. 2036 (v4)
Diseases, Plant p. 558 (v2)
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-21

The Secondary-
Products Revolution
As illustrated by the excerpt below from the Uni-
Accelerated Technological versity of Oxford website, the secondary-products
Innovation revolution is a theory that continues to be tested on
Local population pressure, expansion into new environ- artifacts dating back more than 6,000 years.
ments, and increasing exchanges of ideas and goods
The first [project] involves the participation of
encouraged many subtle improvements in agricultural
Professor Andrew Sherratt of the School of
techniques. Most improvements arose from small changes
Archaeology of the University of Oxford and
in the handling of particular crops, such as earlier or later
curator of the European prehistoric collections in
planting, or the selection of better strains. However, on a
the Ashmolean Museum. It was he who sug-
broader scale, increased productivity arose from whole
gested that the first domestic animals may have
clusters of innovation that appeared in many environ-
been used not for their secondary products
ments. Swidden agriculturalists cleared forest lands by fire
(milk, wool, hair and traction), but for meat, and
and sowed crops in the ashy clearings left behind; after a
that milking and the exploitation of other sec-
few years, when the soils fertility was exhausted, they
ondary animal products became part of prehis-
moved on. In mountainous areas farmers learned how to
toric farming practices only around 4000 BCE.
cultivate hillsides by cutting steplike terraces.
This socio-economic transition helped promote
Secondary-Products Revolution social evolutionary changes such as the birth of
One of the most important of these clusters of innovation pastoral nomadic communities, the emergence of
the Mediterranean farming economy and the rise
had its primary impact only in the Afro-Eurasian world
of complex State-level societies.
zone: The archaeologist Andrew Sherratt has called it the
The Oxford Levantine Archaeology laboratory
secondary-products revolution. From about 4000 BCE a
has provided pottery sherds from vessels found
series of innovations allowed farmers in Afro-Eurasia to
in Israels Negev desert dating from c. 4500
make more efficient use of the secondary products of large
4000 BCE to test Sherratts secondary-products-
livestockthose products that could be exploited without
revolution hypothesis by analysing residues for
slaughtering the animals. Secondary products include fi-
evidence of milk.The samples are currently being
bers, milk, manure for fertilizer, and traction power to pull
tested in Professor Richard Eversheds Biogeo-
plows, carry people, and transport goods. In arid regions,
chemistry Research Centre at the University of
such as the steppes of Eurasia, the deserts of southwestern
Asia, or the savanna lands of east Africa, the secondary-
Source: Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies. (2004). Retrieved Sep-
products revolution generated the entirely new lifeway of tember 8, 2004, from
pastoralism as entire communities learned to live off the
products of their herds. Unlike members of the farming
communities that were most typical of the agrarian era, felt in the Afro-Eurasian world zone because most poten-
pastoralists were usually nomadic because in the dry tial domesticates had been driven to extinction in the
grasslands in which pastoralism flourished livestock had Americas during the era of foragers. Many of the critical
to be moved constantly to provide them with enough feed. differences between the histories of Afro-Eurasia and the
However, the main impact of the secondary-products Americas may depend, ultimately, on this key technolog-
revolution was in farming areas, where horses, camels, ical difference.
and oxen could be used to pull heavy plows and to trans-
port goods and humans. The domestication of llamas Just Add Water
meant that South America had some experience of the The techniques of water management known collectively
secondary-products revolution, but its major impact was as irrigation had an even greater impact on agricultural
tfw-22 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Terraced fields snaking up hillsides are spectacular is packed smooth or paved but not tilled; serving pri-
sights and major tourist attraction in Southeast Asian marily as house and granary yards, work space for
nations such as the Philippines and Indonesia. Some grain drying, and so forth; discrete, often fenced or
of the terraces have been maintained for over 2000 walled, and named. . . .
years.The following extract describing the types of ter-
qilid drained field (drained terrace, ridged terrace).
races built by the Ifugao ethnic group of the northern
Leveled terrace land, the surface of which is tilled and
Philippines indicates that terracing is more complex
ditch mounded (usually in cross-contour fashion) for
than it appears from a distance.
cultivation and drainage of dry crops, such as sweet
Habal swidden (slope field, camote field, kaingin). potatoes and legumes. Drained fields, though pri-
Slopeland, cultivated and often contour-ridged (and vately owned, are kept in this temporary state for only
especially for sweet potatoes). Other highland dry- a minimum number of annual cycles before shifting
field crops (including taro, yams, manioc, corn, mil- (back) to a more permanent form of terrace use. . . .
let, mongo beans, and pigeon peas, but excluding rice
payo pond field (bunded terrace, rice terrace, rice
except at elevations below 600700 meters (2,000
field). Leveled farmland, bunded to retain irrigation
feet) above sea level) are also cultivated in small
water for shallow inundation of artificial soil, and
stands or in moderately intercropped swiddens.
carefully worked for the cultivation of wet-field rice,
Boundaries remain discrete during a normal cultiva-
taro, and other crops; privately owned discrete units
tion cycle of several years.When fallow, succession is
with permanent stone markers; the most valued of all
usually to a canegrass association. . . .
land forms.
lattan house terrace (settlement, hamlet terrace, res- Source: Conklin, H. C. (196768). Some Aspects of Ethnographic Research in Ifugao.
New York Academy of Sciences, Transactions, ser. 2, 30, 107108.
idential site). Leveled terrace land, the surface of which

productivity. Irrigation farmers diverted small streams why change was so much more rapid during the agrarian
onto their fields, created new farm land by filling swamps era than during the era of foragers. Yet, innovation was
with soil and refuse, or built systematic networks of rarely fast enough to keep up with population growth.
canals and dams to serve entire regions. People practiced This lag explains why, on the scale of decades or even
irrigation of some kind in Afro-Eurasia, in the Americas, centuries, all agrarian societies experienced cycles of ex-
and even in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific. Its impact pansion and collapse that obscured the underlying trend
was greatest in arid regions with fertile soils, such as the toward growth. These cycles underlay the more visible
alluvial basins (regions whose soils were deposited by patterns of political rise and fall, commercial boom and
running water) of Egypt, Mesopotamia, the northern re- bust, and cultural efflorescence (blooming) and decay
gions of the Indian subcontinent, northern China, and the that have so fascinated historians. (Such patterns of
lowlands of the Andean region. In these regions irrigation growth and decline can be described as Malthusian cy-
agriculture led to exceptionally rapid population growth. cles, after Thomas Malthus, the nineteenth-century En-
As agriculture spread and became more productive, it glish economist who argued that human populations will
supported larger, denser, and more interconnected com- always rise faster than the supply of food, leading to peri-
munities.Within these communities population pressure ods of famine and sudden decline.)
and increasing exchanges of information generated a
steady trickle of innovations in building, warfare, record Epidemic Diseases
keeping, transportation and commerce, and science and Population growth could be slowed by epidemic diseases
the arts. These innovations stimulated further demo- as well as by low productivity. Foraging communities
graphic growth in a powerful feedback cycle that explains were largely free of epidemic diseases because they were
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-23

A selection of stone and bronze

implements recovered from
agrarian era state-level centers
in Mesoamerica. (1) axe;
(2) bracelets; (3) arrow points;
(4) stone axe; and (5) bronze

small and mobile, but farming communities created more surpluses of food. As villages of grain farmers multiplied
favorable environments for pathogens (causative agents and their productivity rose, the size of stored surpluses
of disease). Close contact with livestock allowed patho- grew. Conflicts over control of these increasingly valuable
gens to move from animals to humans, accumulations of surpluses often triggered the emergence of new forms of
rubbish provided fertile breeding grounds for diseases inequality and new systems of power.
and pests, and large communities provided the abundant Stored surpluses allowed communities for the first
reserves of potential victims that epidemic diseases need time to support large numbers of nonfarmers: specialists
to flourish and spread. Thus, as populations grew and such as priests, potters, builders, soldiers, or artists who
exchanges between communities multiplied, diseases did not farm but rather supported themselves by exchang-
traveled more freely from region to region. Their impact ing their products or services for foodstuffs and other
took the form of a series of epidemiological decrescendos goods. As farmers and nonfarmers exchanged goods
that began with catastrophic epidemics and were fol- and services, a complex division of labor appeared for the
lowed by less disastrous outbreaks as immune systems in first time in human history. Specialization increased inter-
region after region adapted to the new diseases. dependence between households and communities and
As the historian William McNeill has shown, long- tightened the webs of obligation and dependence that
range epidemiological exchanges within the Afro- bound individuals and communities together. Eventually
Eurasian world zone immunized the populations of this surpluses grew large enough to support elite groups
zone against a wide range of diseases to which popula- whose lives depended primarily on their ability to control
tions in other world zones remained more vulnerable. and manage the resources produced by others, either
Trans-Eurasian epidemiological exchanges may help through exchanges of goods and services or through the
explain the slow growth of much of Eurasia during the threat of force. Human societies became multilayered as
first millennium CE; they may also explain why, once the some groups began to specialize in the exploitation of
world was united after 1500 CE, epidemiological ex- other men and women, who exploited farmers, who
changes had a catastrophic impact on regions outside exploited the natural environment. William McNeill has
Afro-Eurasia. called these elite groups macroparasites, whereas the
anthropologist Eric Wolf has called them tribute takers.
Hierarchies of Power
In many tropical regions people harvested root crops Relations with Nonagrarian
piecemeal as they were needed. However, in regions of Communities
grain farming, such as southwestern Asia, China, and Finally, the agrarian era was characterized by complex
Mesoamerica, plants ripened at the same time; thus, relations between agrarian communities and other types
entire crops had to be harvested and stored in a short of communities.Throughout this era pastoralists and for-
period. For this reason grain agriculture required people, agers living outside the main agricultural regions contin-
for the first time in history, to accumulate and store large ued to have a significant impact on agrarian communities
tfw-24 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Black Sea

Catalhoyuk Tepesi

by mediating exchanges between agrarian regions and Cayonu Zawi Chemi


is R
Abu Caspian
sometimes by introducing technologies (such as the Cyprus Hureyra

many technologies associated with pastoralism, from Mesopotamia
Mediterranean Ain Ghazal Jarmo

E up
improved saddles to improved weaponry) or by trading Sea Nile Ganj
Netiv Hagdud Dareh

valued goods such as furs or ivory or feathers. Jericho te s R . Ali
Merimda Kosh

Agrarian Communities Persian

before Cities: 8000



The early agrarian era is that time when agrarian com-

munities existed, but no large cities or states. In Afro- Wadi
Eurasia this time extended from about 8000 BCE until Bir
about 3000 BCE, when the first cities emerged; in the COMMUNITIES in
Americas this time began later and lasted longer, and in 0 400 mi
parts of the Australasian and Pacific world zones it lasted 0 400 km

until modern times.

A World of Villages people had to find new ways of defining their relation-
During the early agrarian era villages were the largest ships with neighbors, determining who had access to
communities on Earth and the most important sources of stored resources, administering justice, and organizing
demographic and technological dynamism. In todays warfare, trade, and religious worship. As specialization
world, in which villages are marginal demographically, spread, communities had to find ways of regulating ex-
technically, culturally, and politically, we could all too eas- changes and conflicts between persons whose interests
ily forget the crucial historical role that villages played for and needs were increasingly diverse. The simple kinship
many millennia. During the early agrarian era most vil- rules that had provided all the regulation necessary in
lages practiced forms of agriculture that anthropologists small foraging communities now had to be supplemented
might refer to as horticulture because they depended with more elaborate rules regulating behavior between
mainly on the labor of humans (and particularly of people whose contacts were more anonymous, more
women, if modern analogies can be relied on), whereas fleeting, and less personal. Projects involving entire com-
their main agricultural implements were digging sticks of munities, such as building temples, building canals, and
many kinds. However, these communities also pioneered waging warfare, also required new types of leadership.
important innovations such as irrigation and terracing, The archaeological evidence shows how these pres-
which eventually allowed the appearance of more popu- sures, all linked to the growing size of human communi-
lous communities. Thus, villages accounted for much of ties, led to the creation of institutionalized political and
the demographic and geographical expansion of the economic hierarchies, with wealthy rulers, priests, and
agrarian world through many thousands of years. merchants at one pole and propertyless slaves or vagrants
at the other pole. Archaeologists suspect the presence of
Emergence of Hierarchy institutionalized hierarchies wherever burials or resi-
Within the villages of the early agrarian era men and dences begin to vary greatly in size within a community.
women first encountered the revolutionary challenges Where children were buried with exceptional extrava-
posed by the emergence of larger, denser, and more hier- gance, we can be pretty sure that emerging hierarchies
archical communities. As communities became larger, were hereditary, so parents could pass their status on to
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-25

The agrarian era was marked by more

permanent settlements and accompanying
graveyards. This photo is of the remains of a
stone burial mound in Scotland.

their children. Where monumental structures appeared,

such as the statues on Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean
or giant stone circles such as Stonehenge in Britain, we
can be certain that leaders existed with enough power to
organize and coordinate the labor of hundreds or thou-
sands of persons.

Early Glass Ceiling Leaders and Leadership

Gender hierarchies may have been among the earliest Hierarchies of power shaped many other relationships as
forms of institutionalized hierarchies. As members of local communities were drawn into wider networks of
households established more complex relationships with exchange. In these larger networks traditional kinship
outsiders, they came under the influence of new rules, thinking no longer worked. Genealogies began to take on
structures, and expectations. An emerging division of semifictional forms that allowed entire communities to
labor also created new opportunities outside the house- claim descent from the same, often mythical ancestor.
hold and the village.Yet, in a world where the economic Such genealogies could generate new forms of hierarchy
and social success of each household depended on bear- by ranking descent groups according to their exact rela-
ing and rearing as many children as possible, women usu- tionship to the founder. Where descendants of senior
ally had fewer opportunities to take on more specialized lines claimed higher status, aristocracies began to appear.
rolessome of which brought great wealth and power. However, when people chose leaders, ability usually
The linguist and archaeologist Elizabeth Barber has counted for as much as birth. Where high-born people
argued that this fact may explain why men were more lacked leadership skills, persons with more talent as con-
likely to occupy high-ranking positions in emerging hier- ciliators, warriors, or mediators with the gods were cho-
archies.Warfare may also have changed gender relations sen to support or replace them. Most simple forms of
as population growth intensified competition between leadership derived from the needs of the community;
communities and as men began to monopolize the thus, they depended largely on popular consent.This con-
organization of violence. sent made early power structures fragile because the
Whatever the cause, the disproportionate presence of power of leaders could evaporate all too easily if they
men in external power structures reshaped relations and failed in the tasks for which they were chosen.
attitudes within the village and the household. Men However, as communities expanded, the resources
began to claim a natural superiority based on their role available to their leaders increased until leaders began to
in emerging power structures outside the household, set aside a share of those resources to support specialist
and women were increasingly defined by their role within enforcers or rudimentary armies. In this way leaders
the household and their relationships to men. Even the whose power originated in the collective needs of their
many women who earned money outside the household subjects eventually acquired the ability to coerce at least
usually did so in jobs associated with the tasks of the some of those they ruled and to back up the collection of
household. Within the household the demands of peas- resources and the control of labor with the threat of force.
ant life ensured that men and women continued to work The details of such processes are largely hidden from us,
in partnership. At this intimate, domestic scale relation- although archaeological evidence and anthropological
ships owed as much to personal qualities as to gender. research can give us many hints of how some of these
However, beyond the household the powerful web of cul- processes played out in particular communities. These
tural expectations and power relations now known as processes prepared the way for the more powerful polit-
patriarchy emerged. ical structures that we know as states. States appeared in
tfw-26 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

A carving of Kaban-Puuc,
the ancient Mayan god of
maize (corn) and rain.

parallel with the large, sedentary communities we know

as cities.

The Earliest Cities and

States: 3000 BCE500 BCE
For those people who define history as the study of the
past through written records, the period from 3000 BCE
to 500 BCE was when history truly began because this
was when the first written documents appeared in the
two largest world zones: Afro-Eurasia and the Americas.
From the perspective of world history this period marked
a new stage in the complexity and size of human com- greatly increased the need for specialist leaders. Rapid
munities. In Afro-Eurasia, the largest and most populous growth also multiplied the resources available to leaders.
of all world zones, the first cities and states appeared Thus, by and large the earliest cities appeared at about the
about 3000 BCE. In the Americas they appeared more same time as the earliest states. Cities can be defined as
than two thousand years later, in Mesoamerica and Peru. large communities with a complex internal division of
In the Australasian zone neither cities nor states appeared labor. (In contrast, villages, and even some early towns,
during the agrarian era; but in the Pacific zone embryonic such as the town of Catalhuyuk in Turkey, which dates
states emerged on islands such as Tonga or Hawaii from 6000 BCE, normally consisted of roughly similar
within the last thousand years. households, mostly engaged in agriculture, with limited
If a single process accounts for the emergence of the hierarchies of wealth and little specialization of labor.)
first cities and states, it is increasing population density. States can be defined as power structures that rest on sys-
The earliest cities and states appeared where people were tematic and institutionalized coercion as well as on pop-
most closely packed together, often because of the rapid ular consent.
expansion of irrigation agriculture. Sudden increases in Cities and states appeared as part of a larger cluster of
population density intensified all the problems of coor- social innovations, all of which were linked to the increas-
dination and control posed by large communities and ing scale and complexity of human societies in regions of
highly productive agriculture.These innovations included
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
the organization of specialized groups of officials and sol-
Andean States p. 86 (v1)
diers, writing, coercive forms of taxation, and monu-
Babylon p. 229 (v1)
mental architecture.
China p. 332 (v1)
Egypt, Ancient p. 629 (v2)
Afro-Eurasia and the Americas
Harappan State and Indus Civilization p. 889 (v3)
Because such an intimate connection existed between
Mesoamerica p. 1230 (v3)
agricultural intensification and the appearance of cities
Mesopotamia p. 1235 (v3)
and states, we should not be surprised that the earliest
Pacific, Settlement of p. 1406 (v4)
evidence for cities and states comes from regions with
Sumerian Society p. 1796 (v4)
ancient agricultural traditions.The earliest clear evidence
Trading Patterns, Ancient American p. 1848 (v5)
for communities large enough to be called cities and
Trading Patterns, Ancient European p. 1852 (v5)
powerful enough to be called states comes from the
Trading Patterns, Mesoamerican p. 1874 (v5)
ancient corridor from Sudan to Mesopotamia that links
Writing Systems and Materials p. 2095 (v5)
Africa and Eurasia. Some of the earliest states appeared
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-27

Documenting a Neolithic Settlement in the Electronic Age

Since 1993, an international team of archaeologists remains lab doing the burial, think is a flute. Its cer-
has been excavating the ancient city of Catalhoyuk in tainly the right shape, and it has had both of the ends
present-day Turkey, resuming an effort first begun in knocked off which suggests they wanted to use the
the 1960s. In an effort to bring alive the 9,000-year- inside for something. I have high hopes, Bleda seems
old artifacts being found at the Catalhoyuk dig, team to attract the interesting objects. It would be really
member Rebecca Daly maintains a weblog (blog) on amazing if this is actually a flute of some sort, it
the excavation website. Below is her entry for 28 July would be the earliest musical instrument. The burial
2004. was sprinkled with ochre both under and over it,
which suggests that it was a really important part of
Bleda is beginning the burial that was next to the
the burial process in this case. This was obviously a
sheep today, which thrills both of us, because we both
very significant burial anyway, what with the whole
suspect that there is some incredible stuff in that bur-
lamb, but this makes it even more sothere is some
ial. There are a lot of burials coming out now, the
suggestion of the order in which the burial activities
human remains lab are tearing their hair out trying to
took place.
get everything done. Just when they think theyre
Source: Mysteries of Catalhoyuk. (2004). Retrieved September 8, 2004, from http://ltc.
going to catch up, more things appear! Sure enough,
Bleda has come up with an interesting bird bone
thing that both he and Lori, whos from the human

during the centuries before 3000 BCE in southern concentrations of wealth and power. As they spread,
Mesopotamia in the region known to archaeologists as states carried with them a core set of institutions and
Sumer and also along the Nile River in modern Egypt practices associated with what are often called agrarian
and Sudan. During the next thousand years evidence of civilizations. Directly or indirectly, the spread of agrarian
cities and states appeared also in the Indus River valley civilizations reflected the increasing scale and density of
in modern Pakistan and in northern China. human populations. Cities were simply the most con-
In the Americas we can trace a similar pattern of evo- centrated and largest of all human communities. States
lution from villages toward cities and states, but the ear- were the large, coercive power structures that were nec-
liest evidence for both changes came much later. Although essary to administer and defend city-scale communities,
large communities and powerful leaders existed in Meso- and they were funded by the large concentrations of
america in the lands of the Olmecs (in Mexicos southern wealth found in cities and their hinterlands.
gulf coast) by the second millennium BCE, most archae- Collecting that wealth by force often began with crude
ologists would argue that the first true cities and states in forms of looting that eventually turned into the more for-
the Americas appeared late during the first millennium malized looting that we call taxation. Managing large
BCE, in regions such as the OaxacaValley or farther south stores of wealth required new forms of administration
in the heartland of Mayan civilization. In the Andes, too, and new forms of accounting; indeed, in all emerging
statelike communities, such as the Moche culture, ap- states writing apparently emerged first as a technique to
peared at the end of the first millennium BCE. keep track of large stores of wealth and resources. Even
in the Inca state, where no fully developed system of writ-
Agrarian Civilizations ing emerged, rulers used a system of accounting based on
From these and other core areas the traditions of early intricately knotted strings (quipu).
statehood spread to adjacent regions as populations Defending large concentrations of wealth and main-
expanded and networks of material and cultural taining order within and between cities and city-states
exchanges knit larger regions together, generating greater (autonomous states consisting of a city and surrounding
tfw-28 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

This drawing shows four progressively more

intricate European bronze implements:
(1) a hand axe with wooden handle;
(2) decorated hair pin; (3) razor knife
blade; and (4) curved knife blade.

in transportation and communications, such as the

appearance of wheeled vehicles in Afro-Eurasia during the
second millennium BCE, extended the reach of states, their
officials, and their armies.
However, their influence reached much further than
their power, as traders bridged the gaps between states,
creating large networks of commercial and cultural
exchange. Indeed, some experts have claimed that as
early as 2000 BCE exchanges along the Silk Roads con-
necting China and the Mediterranean had already created
a single, Eurasiawide system of exchanges.
As impressive as these large and powerful communities
were, we should remember the limits of their power and
territory) required the creation of armies. In Sumer and influence. Few agrarian states took much interest in the
elsewhere invading armies possibly established the first lives of their citizens as long as they paid taxes. Maintain-
states, and certainly all early states engaged enthusiasti- ing law and order outside of the major cities was usually
cally in warfare. The rulers of the earliest states also left to local power brokers of various kinds. Huge regions
engaged in symbolic activities that were equally vital to also lay beyond the direct control of imperial rulers. The
the maintenance of their power. They organized extrava- scholar Rein Taagepera has estimated that early during
gant displays of wealth, often involving human sacrifices, the first millennium BCE states still controlled no more
and built palaces, temples, and monuments to the dead, than about 2 percent of the area controlled by states
often in the form of pyramids or ziggurats (temple tow- today. Beyond this tiny area, which probably included
ers consisting of a lofty pyramidal structure built in suc- most of the worlds population, smaller communities of
cessive stages with outside staircases and a shrine at the foragers, independent farmers, and pastoralists existed.
top).These elaborate structures were designed to raise the Although agrarian civilizations usually regarded these
prestige of local rulers and of the cities they ruled and the outside communities as barbarians, they could play a cru-
gods they worshiped. cial role in providing sources of innovation and in link-
ing agrarian civilizations. For example, steppe pastoralists
Imperial States in Eurasia transported religious ideas, metallurgical tra-
Through time the scale of state systems expanded as city- ditions, and even goods between China, India, and the
states traded with and sometimes absorbed other city- Mediterranean world, and they may also have pioneered
states. Eventually imperial systems emerged in which a some of the military and transportation technologies of
single ruler controlled a large region of many cities and agrarian civilizations, such as the wheeled chariot. The
towns. Sargon of Akkad (reigned c. 23342279 BCE) may most innovative naval technologies of this period were
have established the first imperial state, in Mesopotamia, found in the western Pacific, where peoples of the Lapita
north of Sumer. By the middle of the second millennium culture, using huge double-hulled canoes, settled a vast
BCE the Shang dynasty (approximately 17661045 BCE) area from New Guinea to Fiji and Tonga between 3000
had created an imperial state in northern China.Through and 1000 BCE.
time such states became more common. As states ex- Long-term growth in the number, size, and power of
panded, they taxed and administered larger areas, either cities and states reflected not only innovations in state-
directly or indirectly through local rulers. Improvements craft and warfare, but also the sustained demographic
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-29

buoyancy of the entire agrarian era. Our figures are too For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
vague to allow much precision, but clearly, at least in the Andean States p. 86 (v1)
long trend, populations grew faster in areas of agriculture Assyrian Empire p. 200 (v1)
than elsewhere. However, they probably did not grow Buddhism p. 267 (v1)
much faster than during the early agrarian era. Particu- Byzantine Empire p. 278 (v1)
larly in the cities, with their appalling sanitary conditions, Catholicism, Roman p. 310 (v1)
bad air, and filthy water, death rates were extraordinarily China p. 332 (v1)
high. Although cities offered more opportunities, they Confucianism p. 426 (v1)
also killed people far more effectively than the villages. Greece, Ancient p. 858 (v3)
Population growth was also slowed by periodic demo- Hinduism p. 902 (v3)
graphic collapses. The spread of diseases into regions Islam p. 1024 (v3)
whose populations lacked immunities may have caused Judaism p. 1058 (v3)
some of these collapses; overexploitation of the land, Manichaeism p. 1179 (v3)
which could undermine the productive basis of entire civ- Mesoamerica p. 1230 (v3)
ilizations, may have caused others. In southern Mesopo- Mississippian Culture p. 1283 (v3)
tamia toward the end of the second millennia, popula- Persian Empire p. 1462 (v4)
tions fell sharply, probably as a result of overirrigation, Roman Empire p. 1624 (v4)
which created soils too salty to be farmed productively. State, The p. 1776 (v4)
Archaeologists can trace the progress of salinization late Steppe Confederations p. 1782 (v4)
during the second millennium through the increasing use Trading Patterns, China Seas p. 1855 (v5)
of barley, a more salt-tolerant grain than wheat. Trading Patterns, Indian Ocean p. 1864 (v5)
Trading Patterns, Mediterranean p. 1870 (v5)
Agriculture, Cities, and Trading Patterns, Pacific p. 1879 (v5)
Empires: 500 BCE1000 CE Trading Patterns, Trans-Saharan p. 1883 (v5)
Most of the long trends that began after 3000 BCE con- Turkic Empire p. 1905 (v5)
tinued during the period from 500 BCE to 1000 CE. Zoroastrianism p. 2120 (v5)
Global populations rose (although they did so slowly
during the middle of this period), the power, size, and a region five times as large as the greatest of its prede-
number of states increased, and so did the extent of cessors. During the next fifteen hundred years empires on
exchange networks. As agriculture spread, cities and this scale became the norm. They included the Han
states appeared in once-peripheral regions in northwest- dynasty in China (206 BCE220 CE), the Roman empire
ern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, southern India, and in the Mediterranean (27 BCE476 CE), and the Mauryan
southern China. Increasingly, agrarian civilizations empire (c. 324c. 200 BCE) in India.The Muslim Abbasid
encroached on regions inhabited by foragers, independ- empire, which ruled much of Persia and Mesopotamia
ent peasants, and pastoralists. Similar processes occurred from 749/750 to 1258, controlled a slightly larger area
in the Americas but with a time lag of approximately two than its Achaemenid predecessors. Contacts also flour-
thousand years. ished between imperial states. During the sixth century
BCE Cyrus I, the founder of the Achaemenid empire,
Afro-Eurasia invaded parts of modern central Asia.When the Chinese
The Achaemenid empire, created in Persia (modern Iran) emperor, Han Wudi, invaded the same region three cen-
during the sixth century BCE, marked a significant en- turies later, the separate agrarian civilizations of the
hancement in state power because the empire controlled Mediterranean world and eastern Asia came into closer
tfw-30 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Arctic Circle

Pacific Ocean Atlantic

Direction of spread
0 3,000 mi

0 3,000 km

contact than ever before, binding the whole of Eurasia Even more successful was Islam, founded in southwest-
into the largest system of exchange on Earth. ern Asia during the seventh century. Islam spread into
The increased reach of political, commercial, and intel- north Africa, central Asia, India, and southeastern Asia,
lectual exchange networks may explain another impor- carried first by armies of conquest and later by the Mus-
tant development during this era: the emergence of lim missionaries and holy men known as sufis.
religious traditions that also extended over huge areas The same forces that gave rise to the first world reli-
the first world religions. Whereas earlier religious tradi- gions may also have spurred some of the first attempts at
tions usually claimed the allegiance of particular com- universal generalizations about reality in embryonic
munities or regions, world religions claimed to express forms of philosophy and science. Although normally
universal truths and to represent universal godsreflec- associated with the philosophical and scientific traditions
tions, perhaps, of the increasing scale of imperial states. of classical Greece, such ideas can also be found within
The first world religion was probably Zoroastrianism, the astronomical and mathematical traditions of
a religion whose founder may have come from central Mesopotamia and the philosophical traditions of north-
Asia during the sixth century BCE, at about the time when ern India and China.
Cyrus I founded the Achaemenid empire. Buddhism was
founded soon after in northern India during a period of The Americas
rapid urbanization and state expansion. Its great period In the Americas, too, political systems expanded in size,
of expansion came early during the first millennium CE, in military power, and in cultural and commercial reach.
when it began to spread in central Asia, China, and During the first millennium CE complex systems of city-
southeastern Asia.The influence of Christianity expanded states and early empires emerged in Mesoamerica. At
within the Roman empire until, during the fourth century its height the great city of Teotihuacan in Mexico had
CE, it became the official religion of the state. Both Bud- a population of more than 100,000 people and con-
dhism and Christianity spread into central Asia and trolled trade networks reaching across much of Meso-
eventually reached China, although of the two only Bud- america. However, we cannot be certain that it had
dhism made a significant impact on Chinese civilization. direct control of any other cities or states. Farther south,
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-31

A sixteenth-century Native American

agricultural village as depicted by early
English settlers in Virginia.

Mayan civilization consisted of a large number of regional

states, some of which may have established at least tem-
porary control over their neighbors. Both these powerful
systems collapsed, however, during the second half of the
first millennium CE. As in southern Mesopotamia early
during the second millennium BCE, the collapse may have
been caused by overexploitation of the land.
However, just as the political traditions of Sumer were
eventually taken up in Babylon and Assyria, so, too, in
Mesoamerica the political traditions of Teotihuacan and
the Maya provided the cultural foundations for even
more powerful states during the next period of the agrar-
ian era. In the Andes, too, cities and states began to ap-
pear; the first may have been the Moche state of northern
Peru, which flourished for almost eight hundred years
during the first millennium CE. Like Teotihuacan, the
Moche kingdom influenced a large area, although we
cannot be certain how much direct political power it had
over other cities and states. During the later half of the
first millennium statelike powers also emerged farther
south in the lands near Lake Titicaca in South America. where agriculture had still made few inroads. In North
America the slow northward spread of maize cultivation
Expansion in Other Areas led to the establishment of numerous agricultural or
Populations also grew beyond the zone of agrarian civi- semiagricultural communities, such as those known as the
lization, generating new forms of hierarchy. In the thinly Anasazi (on the Colorado Plateau at the intersection of
populated steppe zones of Eurasia, pastoral nomads be- present-day Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah).
gan to form large, mobile confederations that raided and In the eastern parts of North America, too, farming com-
taxed neighboring agricultural zones. In Mongolia in cen- munities emerged in regions such as the Ohio River val-
tral Asia the Xiongnu people created spectacular empires ley, where they cultivated local plants such as sunflowers.
during the second century BCE, as did the founders of the Even in Australia foraging communities intensified pro-
first Turkic empire during the sixth century CE. At its duction and settled in denser communities, particularly
height the first Turkic empire reached from Mongolia to along the coasts.
the Black Sea. In the Pacific zone migrants from the
islands near Fiji began to settle the islands of Polynesia, Agricultural Societies
scattered through the central and eastern Pacific. Hawaii on the Eve of the Modern
and remote Easter Island may have been settled by 600 Revolution: 10001750
CE, but New Zealand seems to have been the last part of During the last period of the agrarian era, from 1000 to
Polynesia to be settled, some time after 1000. Polynesia 1750, earlier trends continued, but fundamental changes
was settled by farming peoples, and in some regions, also prefigured the modern era.
including Tonga and Hawaii, population growth created Agriculture spread into previously marginal regions
the preconditions for significant power hierarchies. such as North America, southern Africa, and western
Finally, significant changes occurred even in regions China. Often migrant farmers settled new lands with the
tfw-32 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The perfect knowledge of history is extremely necessary; because, as it informs

us of what was done by other people, in former ages, it instructs us what to
do in the like cases. Besides, as it is the common subject of conversation,
it is a shame to be ignorant of it. LORD CHESTERFIELD (16941773)

active support of metropolitan merchants or govern- rose from approximately $120 billion (in 1990 interna-
ments. World populations continued to grow, despite tional dollars) in 1000 to almost $700 billion in 1820.
sharp declines in much of Eurasia after the Black Death
(bubonic plague) of the fourteenth century and in the Creation of Global Networks
Americas during the sixteenth century after the arrival of The most important change during this era was the uni-
Afro-Eurasian diseases such as smallpox. The sixteenth- fication of the major world zones during the sixteenth
century economic and demographic collapse in the Amer- century.This unification created the first global networks
icas was offset in the long run by the arrival of immi- of exchanges. The linking of regions that previously had
grants, livestock, and new crops from Eurasia and the no contact for many thousands of years generated a com-
subsequent expansion of land under cultivation. In agri- mercial and intellectual synergy that was to play a criti-
culture, weaponry, transportation (particularly seaborne cal role in the emergence of the modern world.
transportation), and industry, a steady trickle of innova- In Afro-Eurasia the most striking feature of the early
tions sustained growth by gently raising average produc- part of the last millennium was the increasing scale and
tivity and enhancing state power. The economist Angus intensity of international contacts. Viking raiders and
Maddison has estimated that global gross domestic prod- traders traveled in central Asia, in the Mediterranean,
uct (GDP, the total production of goods and services) along the coast of western Europe, even in distant Iceland
and Greenland, and in 1000 they even created a short-
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
lived colony in Newfoundland, Canada.The astonishing
Aztec Empire p. 221 (v1)
conquests of the Mongols early during the thirteenth cen-
Biological Exchanges p. 249 (v1)
tury created a huge zone of relative peace extending from
China p. 332 (v1)
Manchuria to the Mediterranean, and, with Mongol pro-
Columbian Exchange p. 386 (v1)
tection, the trade routes of the Silk Roads flourished dur-
Crusades, The p. 453 (v1)
ing the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Sea
DiseasesOverview p. 543 (v2)
routes were equally active, and exchanges of goods by sea
Diseases, Animal p. 551 (v2)
from the Mediterranean through southern and south-
Economic Growth, Extensive and Intensive p. 610 (v2)
eastern Asia to China became routine. Briefly during the
Expansion, European p. 700 (v2)
early fifteenth century Chinese fleets made a series of
Exploration, Chinese p. 712 (v2)
expeditions to the West, some of which took them to Ara-
Firearms p. 750 (v2)
bia in southwestern Asia and east Africa.
Inca Empire p. 958 (v3)
Control of the Eurasian heartlands of Persia and cen-
Islamic World p. 1036 (v3)
tral Asiafirst by the Muslim empire of the Abbasids late
Labor Systems, Coercive p. 1094 (v3)
during the first millennium and then by the Mongols
Maritime History p. 1188 (v3)
encouraged the exchange of technologies, goods, and reli-
Mongol Empire p. 1295 (v3)
gious and cultural traditions throughout Eurasia. In the
Navigation p. 1363 (v4)
Americas the first imperial states appeared.The most suc-
Ottoman Empire p. 1401 (v4)
cessful and best known were those of the Aztecs, based at
Population p. 1484 (v4)
Tenochtitlan in Mexico, and of the Incas, based at Cuzco
Slave Trades p. 1717 (v4)
in Peru. These were the first American polities (political
TechnologyOverview p. 1806 (v5)
organizations) to exert direct political and military control
Trading Patterns, Mesoamerican p. 1874 (v5)
over very large areas.
Viking Society p. 1936 (v5)
However, the small, highly commercialized states of
War and PeaceOverview p. 1943 (v5)
western Europe, not imperial states, eventually linked the
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-33

A display of burial goods recovered from the burial mounds of agrarian era
farmers in southeastern Missouri.
tfw-34 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

separate world zones of the agrarian era. The first signif- most important of all, the impact of Eurasian pathogens
icant states had emerged in western Europe during the such as smallpox crippled the Aztec and Inca empires and
first millennium CE as the region had been absorbed secured for the Spanish government an astonishing wind-
within the commercial and cultural hinterland of the fall of trade goods and precious metals that funded the
Roman empire. Early during the ninth century the first first empire to straddle the Atlantic Ocean. European dis-
holy Roman emperor, Charlemagne, tried to create a eases were particularly destructive in the Americas be-
revived Roman empire from a base on the border cause most natives lacked immunity to the diseases that
between modern France and Germany. His failure helps had spread through Afro-Eurasia through many cen-
explain why Europe emerged as a region of competing turies. Estimates of the population decline during the six-
medium-sized states. Because such states had a more lim- teenth century in the most densely populated regions of
ited tax base than great imperial powers such as the the Americas range from 50 percent to almost 90 percent.
Abbasid empire or Chinas Tang (618907 CE) empire, Control of global trade networks brought European
they had to seek alternative sources of revenue, including states great commercial wealth, but it also brought an influx
revenues from trade, to survive the vicious warfare that of new information about geography, the natural world,
became the norm in this region. and the customs of other societies.The torrent of new infor-
Not surprisingly, a tradition of predatory, militaristic mation available to European intellectuals may have played
trading states emerged, epitomized by the Vikings. a critical role in undermining traditional certainties and cre-
Blocked in the eastern Mediterranean, European powers ating the skeptical, experimental cast of mind that we asso-
sought new ways of cutting into the great markets of ciate with the so-called scientific revolution.
southern and eastern Asia, and this search, backed aggres- However, no region on Earth was entirely unaffected
sively by European governments, eventually encouraged by the creation of the first global system of exchanges.
European merchants, led by the Portuguese, to circle the The exchange of goods between the Americas and Afro-
globe. This search also encouraged the technological Eurasia stimulated population growth throughout Afro-
innovations needed to create ships capable of navigating Eurasia as crops such as maize, cassava, and potatoes
the world. The wealth that European states secured as spread to China, Europe, and Africa, where they supple-
they cut in on the profits of the great trading systems of mented existing crops or allowed people to cultivate
southeastern Asia and the even more spectacular gains lands unsuitable for other crops. The abundant silver of
they made by conquering the great civilizations of Cen- the Americas gave a huge boost to international trade,
tral and South America repaid the initial investment of particularly after Chinese governments began to demand
money and resources many times over. the payment of taxes in silver from the 1570s, pulling
more and more silver toward what was still the largest
Impact of Global Networks single economy in the world. New drugs such as tobacco
The Americas and Europe were the first regions to be and coca became available for the first time to Afro-
transformed by the new global system of exchanges. In Eurasian consumers, whereas older drugs, such as coffee,
eastern Eurasia the incursions of Europeans had a limited circulated more widely, stimulating consumer demand in
impact for a century or more. Portuguese and Spanish cities from Istanbul to Mexico City.
ships, followed a century later by Dutch and English Perhaps most important of all, the position of Europe
ships, seized important trading ports and began to cut in within global networks of exchange was transformed. As
on local trade, particularly in spices. However, they had long as the world was divided into separate zones,
little impact on the major polities of the region. In the Europe could be little more than a marginal borderland
Americas European weaponry, the breakdown of tradi- of Afro-Eurasia. The hub of Eurasian networks of ex-
tional political and economic structures, and, perhaps change lay in the Islamic heartland of Persia and Meso-
this fleeting world / acceleration: the agrarian era tfw-35

History, n. An account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about
by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools. Ambrose Bierce (18421914)

potamia. In the integrated world system that emerged Bentley, J. H., & Ziegler, H. F. (1999). Traditions and encounters: A global
during the sixteenth century, European states found them- perspective on the past. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Bulliet, R., Crossley, P. K., Headrick, D. R., Hirsch, S.W., Johnson, L. L.,
selves at the hub of the largest and most vigorous & Northrup, D. (2001). The Earth and its peoples: A global history
exchange networks that had ever existed.The huge flows (2nd ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Burenhult, G. (Ed.). (19931995). The illustrated history of mankind
of wealth and information that coursed through these (Vols. 34). St. Lucia, Australia: University of Queensland Press.
networks would transform the role and significance of Christian, D. (2004). Maps of time: An introduction to big history. Berke-
Europe and the Atlantic region in world history, and ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Cohen, M. (1977). The food crisis in prehistory. New Haven, CT: Yale
eventually they would transform the entire world. University Press.
Cohen, M. (1989). Health and the rise of civilization. New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press.
Agrarian Era in Diamond, J. (1998). Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies.
World History London: Vintage.
The introduction of agricultural technologies raised pro- Ehret, C. (2002). The civilizations of Africa: A history to 1800. Char-
lottesville: University Press of Virginia.
ductivity, increased populations, and stimulated innova- Fagan, B. M. (2001). People of the Earth: An introduction to world pre-
tion. These developments explain why change was so history (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Heiser, C. B. (1990). Seed to civilization: The story of food. Cambridge,
much more rapid during the agrarian era than during the
MA: Harvard University Press.
era of foragers. Larger, denser communities created new Ladurie, E. L. (1974). The peasants of Languedoc (J. Day,Trans.). Urbana:
problems that were solved by forming the large, hierar- University of Illinois Press.
Livi-Bacci, M. (1992). A concise history of world population. Oxford, UK:
chical structures that we call states, empires, and civ- Blackwell.
ilizations. Within these structures the very nature of Maddison, A. (2001). The world economy: A millenial perspective. Paris:
human communities was transformed as families and
McNeill, J. R., & McNeill, W. H. (2003). The human web: A birds-eye
households found themselves incorporated in, and dis- view of world history. New York: W. W. Norton.
ciplined by states, religions, and market forces. The McNeill, W. H. (1977). Plagues and people. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
McNeill,W. H. (1982). The pursuit of power:Technology, armed force and
exchange of technologies and goods between larger society since A.D. 1000. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
regions and larger populations stimulated many small Mears, J. (2001). Agricultural origins in global perspective. In M. Adas
improvements in agrarian techniques, communications (Ed.), Agricultural and pastoral societies in ancient and classical his-
tory (pp. 3670). Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
technologies, and the technologies of information storage Piperno, D. R., & Pearsall, D. M. (1998). The origins of agriculture in the
and warfare. However, although innovation was much lowland neotropics. London: Academic Press.
Richerson, P. T., & Boyd, R. (2004). Not by genes alone: How culture
faster than it had been during the era of foragers, it was transformed human evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
rarely fast enough to keep pace with population growth, Sherratt, A. (1981). Plough and pastoralism: Aspects of the secondary
which is why, on the smaller scales that meant most to products revolution. In I. Hodder, G. Isaac, & N. Hammond (Eds.),
Patterns of the past (pp. 261305). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Uni-
rulers and their subjects, the characteristic rhythm of versity Press.
change during the agrarian era was cyclical. Sherratt, A. (1997). The secondary exploitation of animals in the Old
World. World Archaeology, 15(1), 90104.
The modern world built on the slow accumulation of
Smith, B. D. (1995). The emergence of agriculture. New York: Scientific
people, resources, and information that took place dur- American Library.
ing the agrarian era, but it was marked out from this era Taagepera, R. (1978). Size and duration of empires: Growth-decline
curves, 3000 to 600 BC. Social Science Research, 7, 180196.
by another sharp acceleration in rates of innovation that Taagepera, R. (1978). Size and duration of empires: Systematics of size.
would lead to one more fundamental transformation in Social Science Research, 7, 108127.
Taagepera, R. (1979). Size and duration of empires: Growth-decline
human lifeways.
curves, 600 BC to 600 AD. Social Science Research, 3, 115138.
Taagepera, R. (1997). Expansion and contraction patterns of large poli-
ties: Context for Russia. International Studies Quarterly, 41(3), 475
Further Reading 504.
Barber, E.W. (1994). Womens work:The first 20,000 years:Women, cloth Wolf, E. R. (1982). Europe and the people without history. Berkeley and
and society in early times. New York: W. W. Norton. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Our World:
The Modern
T he modern era is the briefest and most turbulent of
the three main eras of human history. Whereas the
era of foragers lasted more than 200,000 years and the
or even earlier. Determining the end date of the modern
era is even trickier. Some scholars have argued that it
ended during the twentieth century and that we now live
agrarian era about 10,000 years, the modern era has in a postmodern era.Yet, many features of the modern era
lasted just 250 years.Yet, during this brief era change has persist today and will persist for some time into the
been more rapid and more fundamental than ever before; future; thus, it makes more sense to see our contemporary
indeed, populations have grown so fast that 20 percent period as part of the modern era.This fact means that we
of all humans may have lived during these two and a half do not know when the modern era will end, nor can we
centuries.The modern era is also the most interconnected see its overall shape as clearly as we might wish.
of the three eras. Whereas new ideas and technologies The fact that we cannot see the modern era as a
once took thousands of years to circle the globe, today whole makes it difficult to specify its main features, and
people from different continents can converse as easily as justifies using the deliberately vague label modern. At
if they lived in a single global village. History has become present the diagnostic feature of the modern era seems to
world history in the most literal sense. be a sharp increase in rates of innovation. New tech-
For our purposes the modern era is assumed to begin nologies enhanced human control over natural resources
about 1750.Yet, its roots lay deep in the agrarian era, and and stimulated rapid population growth. In their turn,
we could make a good case for a starting date of 1500 technological and demographic changes transformed

250,000 Years of Human History

(not drawn to scale)
= 10 billion humans
Modern humans spread across Africa

Foraging Era
> 95% of human history
12% of population

250,000 bce 200,000 bce

this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-37

Key Features and Trends

of the Modern Era
Rapid Population Growth
lifeways, cultural and religious traditions, patterns of
Technological Innovation
health and aging, and social and political relationships.
Large Increase in Productivity
For world historians the modern era poses distinc-
tive challenges. We are too close to see it clearly and Harnessing of Fossil and other Forms of Energy
objectively; we have so much information that we have Large Communities
difficulty distinguishing trends from details; and
change has occurred faster than ever before and
embraced all parts of the world. What follows is one
attempt to construct a coherent overview, based on Longer Life Expectancy
generalizations that have achieved broad acceptance Broader Role for Women
among world historians.
Global Networks
Major Features and Trends
of the Modern Era Destruction of Foraging and Agrarian Lifeways
The modern era is the first to have generated a large body
of statistical evidence; thus, it is also the first in which we
can quantify many of the larger changes. of about 0.8 percent per annum and represents a
doubling time of about eighty-five years. (Compare
Increases in Population this with estimated doubling times of fourteen hun-
and Productivity dred years during the agrarian era and eight thousand
Human populations have increased faster than ever to nine thousand years during the era of foragers.) An
before during the modern era, although growth rates eightfold increase in human numbers was possible
slowed during the late twentieth century. Between only because productivity rose even faster. The esti-
1750 and 2000 the number of men and women in the mates of the economist Angus Maddison suggest that
world rose from approximately 770 million to almost global gross domestic product rose more than ninety-
6 billion, close to an eightfold increase in just 250 fold during three hundred years, whereas production
years. This increase is the equivalent of a growth rate per person rose ninefold.

Modern Era
< 1% of human history
68% of population

Agrarian Era
4% of human history
Modern humans in Americas
Modern humans in Australia

Modern humans in Eurasia

20% of population

100,000 bce 40,000 bce 10,000 bce 0 1750 ce

12,000 bce
tfw-38 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

All history is necessarily written from the standpoint of the

present, and is, in an inescapable sense, the history not only of
the present but of that which is contemporaneously judged to be
important in the present. JOHN DEWEY (18591952)

For more on these topics, please see the following articles:

City Sprawl
Colonialism p. 381 (v2)
As populations have increased, so has the average size of
Democracy, Constitutional p. 508 (v2) human communities. In 1500 about fifty cities had more
Diasporas p. 521 (v2) than 100,000 inhabitants, and none had more than a
Empire p. 640 (v2) million. By 2000 several thousand cities had more than
Global Imperialism and Gender p. 838 (v2) 100,000 inhabitants, about 411 had more than a mil-
Global Migration in Modern Times p. 844 (v3) lion, and 41 had more than 5 million. During the agrar-
Indigenous Peoples Movements p. 970 (v3) ian era most people lived and worked in villages; by the
Industrial Technologies p. 981 (v3) end of the twentieth century almost 50 percent of the
Information Societies p. 985 (v3) worlds population lived in communities of at least five
Modernity p. 1287 (v3) thousand people. The rapid decline of villages marked a
Population p. 1484 (v4) fundamental transformation in the lives of most people
TechnologyOverview p. 1806 (v5) on Earth. As during the agrarian era, the increasing size
Urbanization p. 1925 (v5) of communities transformed lifeways, beginning with pat-
Western Civilization p. 2041 (v5) terns of employment: Whereas most people during the
Womens and Gender History p. 2046 (v5) agrarian world were small farmers, today most people
World Cities in HistoryOverview p. 2066 (v5) support themselves by wage work in a huge variety of
World System Theory p. 2075 (v5) occupations.
Innovations in transportation and communications
These astonishing increases in productivity lie behind have transformed relations between communities and
all the most significant changes of the modern era. regions. Before the nineteenth century no one traveled
Productivity rose in part because new technologies faster than the pace of a horse (or a fast sailing ship), and
were introduced. In agriculture, for example, food pro- the fastest way to transmit written messages was by state-
duction kept pace with population growth because of sponsored courier systems that used relays of horses.
improved crop rotations, increased use of irrigation, Today messages can cross the world instantaneously, and
widespread application of artificial fertilizers and pesti- even perishable goods can be transported from one end
cides, and the use of genetically modified crops. How- of the world to another in just a few hours or days.
ever, productivity also rose because humans learned to
exploit new sources of energy. During the agrarian era Increasingly Complex and
each human controlled, on average, 12,000 kilocalories Powerful Governments
a day (about four times the energy needed to sustain a As populations have grown and peoples lives have
human body), and the most powerful prime movers become more intertwined, more complex forms of regu-
available were domestic animals or wind-driven ships. lation have become necessary, which is why the business
During the modern era humans have learned to harvest of government has been revolutionized. Most premodern
the huge reserves of energy stored in fossil fuels such as governments were content to manage war and taxes, leav-
coal, oil, and natural gas and even to exploit the power ing their subjects to get on with their livelihoods more or
lurking within atomic nuclei. Today each person con- less unhindered, but the managerial tasks facing modern
trols, on average, 230,000 kilocalories a daytwenty states are much more complex, and they have to spend
times as much as during the agrarian era. A world of more effort in mobilizing and regulating the lives of those
planes, rockets, and nuclear power has replaced a world they rule. The huge bureaucracies of modern states are
of horses, oxen, and wood fires. one of the most important by-products of the modern
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-39

This plate shows a variety of

tools of increasing technological
complexity used by humans at
different times and places to
twist fiber. Spindles 1 and 2 are
the simplest forms (other than
human fingers) with fiber wound
around a wooden peg. Spindles 3
through 7 are more complex,
with a whorl added to the
spindle. Spindle 9 marks the
transition to modern spindles
shown in 10 and 11 with

revolution. So, too, are the structures of democracy, rule that modern governments have to be effective eco-
which allow governments to align their policies more nomic managers. The creation of more democratic sys-
closely with the needs and capabilities of the large and tems of government, the declining importance of slavery,
varied populations they rule. Nationalismthe close the ending of European imperial power during the twen-
emotional and intellectual identification of citizens with tieth century, the collapse of the Soviet command econ-
their governmentsis another by-product of these new omy in 1991, and the ending of apartheid (racial segre-
relationships between governments and those they rule. gation) in South Africa in 1990 and 1991 all reflected a
The presence of democracy and nationalism may sug- growing awareness that successful economic manage-
gest that modern governments are more reluctant to ment is more effective than crudely coercive forms of rule.
impose their will by force, but, in fact, they have much
more administrative and coercive power than did rulers Growing Gap between
of the agrarian era. No government of the agrarian era Rich and Poor
tried to track the births, deaths, and incomes of all the Although wealth has accumulated faster than ever before,
people it ruled or to impose compulsory schooling; yet, the gap between rich and poor has widened, both within
many modern governments handle these colossal tasks and between countries.The estimates of Angus Maddison
routinely. Modern states can also inflict violence more suggest that in 1820 the GDP per person of the United
effectively and on a larger scale than even the greatest States was about three times that of all African states; by
empires of the agrarian era. Whereas an eighteenth- 1998 the ratio had increased to almost twenty times that
century cannon could destroy a house or kill a closely of all African states. Yet, some of the benefits of modern
packed group of soldiers, modern nuclear weapons can technologies have been shared more generally. Improve-
destroy entire cities and millions of people, and the con- ments in the production and supply of food and in san-
certed launch of many nuclear weapons could end itation, as well as improved understanding of diseases
human history within just a few hours. and the introduction of vaccinations (during the nine-
A subtler change in the nature of power is the in- teenth century) and antibiotics (during the twentieth cen-
creased dependence of modern states on commercial suc- tury) help explain why, for the first time in human history,
cess rather than raw coercion. Their power depends so so few people die in infancy or childhood that average life
much on the economic productivity of the societies they expectancies have more than doubled, rising from about
tfw-40 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

This interesting plate of knives shows the development of the hand knife used throughout
human history for working wood. Knives 1 through 7 are all of stone, each one more
carefully finished than earlier ones. Knives 8 through 10 show specialized use of bamboo,
ivory, and clam shell. The remainder of the knives all have metal blades and show increasing
sophistication with handles, hinges, springs, and several blades in one knife.

twenty-six years in 1820 to about sixty-six years at the a form of old-age insurance. Finally, urbanization and
end of the twentieth century. These gains have not been commercialization have created more varied forms of
shared equally, but all parts of the world have felt their employment for women as well as men. Women are less
impact. closely tied to their traditional role as child rearers, par-
ticularly in the most industrialized regions of the world.
Improved Opportunities Nevertheless, gender inequality still survives even in
for Women those societies most deeply transformed by the modern
Relations between men and women have been renegoti- revolution. Even in the United States and western Europe
ated in many parts of the world. New energy sources have the average wages of women lag behind those of men.
reduced the importance of physical strength in employ-
ment, new forms of contraception have given women and Destruction of
men more control over reproduction, and new tech- Premodern Lifeways
nologies, such as bottle feeding, have allowed parents to Finally, the modern revolution has destroyed premodern
more easily share the task of caring for infants. Reduced lifeways. Until the twentieth century independent com-
infant mortality and new forms of socialized old-age sup- munities of foragers survived in many parts of the world,
port have reduced the pressure to have many children as but by the end of the twentieth century no foragers lived
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-41

UN Commemoration of the Abolition of Slave Trade

While acknowledging that slavery has existed since on the historical causes, processes and consequences
antiquity and continues to exist in modern form, the of the unprecedented tragedy that was slavery and the
United Nations declared 2004 as International Year to slave trade, a tragedy that was concealed for many
Commemorate the Struggle against Slavery and its years and is yet to be fully recognized.
Abolition. Below are excerpts from a message delivered It also provides us with an opportunity to under-
by Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of UNESCO stand more clearly the interactions that the slave
(the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cul- trade generated throughout the world between the
tural Organization), on 23 August 2004. different peoples involved. It not only disrupted the
lives of millions of human beings uprooted from
The celebration of 23 August, International Day for
their land and deported in the most inhuman condi-
the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Aboli-
tions, but it brought about cultural exchanges which
tion, has particular symbolic value this year, 2004,
deeply and lastingly influenced morals and beliefs,
which was proclaimed International Year to Com-
social relations and knowledge on several continents.
memorate the Struggle against Slavery and its Aboli-
tion by the United Nations General Assembly. The
Beyond these retrospective dimensions, the Day
purpose of the Year is to remind humanity of the fight
aims to sensitize and alert public opinion to the new
of the slaves for freedom, justice and dignity, a fight
trade in human beings, for slavery, although abol-
that led to the independence of Haiti and the procla-
ished and penalized in international instruments, is
mation in 1804 of the first Black republic.
still practised in new forms, that today affect millions
The date of 23 August refers to the insurrection that
of men, women and children across the world.
started in the night of 22 to 23 August 1791 on the
I therefore call on the whole population in all
island of Saint-Domingue (today divided between Haiti
Member States, in particular intellectuals, political,
and the Dominican Republic), led by Toussaint Lou-
religious and community leaders, educators, artists
verture, the first Black major general. The insurrection
and young people, to mark the Day with acts of med-
was to lead to the first decisive victory for slaves against
itation, awareness-raising and exchange about the
their oppressors in the history of humanity.
tragedy of slavery that we cannot forget, and that we
On 23 August 2004, we are thus commemorating
can never again tolerate.
two key events: the revolt of 1791 and its culmination
Source: Message of the director-general of UNESCO. (August 23, 2004). Retrieved
in 1804. September 8, 2004, from
The Day gives us the opportunity to reflect together

outside a modern state, and their lifeways had been end of traditions, cultures, and lifeways that had shaped
transformed as they had been forcibly brought into the the lives of most humans throughout the earlier eras of
modern world. Peasant farmingthe lifeway of most human history.
women and men throughout the agrarian eradeclined
as peasant households were unable to compete with Explaining the Modern
large, industrial agribusinesses or the commercial farm- Revolution
ers of more industrialized countries. By the end of the The key to these momentous changes was a sudden rise
twentieth century peasant farming had vanished in much in the productivity of human labor caused by increasing
of the world. Even where it survivedin much of east rates of innovation. So, to explain modernity we must
Asia and Africa, for example, as well as in much of Latin explain why rates of innovation have risen so fast during
Americait was in decline. These changes marked the the modern era. As yet no general agreement exists on the
tfw-42 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

A modern Chinese market in Beijing

combines the traditional market with
many modern features.

societies. From the Scottish economist Adam Smith

onward economists have argued that a close link exists
between innovation and commercial activity. Smith
argued that large markets allow increased specializa-
tion, which encourages more precise and productive
labor. Equally important, entrepreneurs buying and sell-
ing in competitive markets faced competition of a kind
that landlords and governments of the agrarian era could
usually avoid. To survive, entrepreneurs had to undercut
causes of the modern revolution or, indeed, on the gen- their rivals by selling and producing goods at lower
eral causes of innovation in human history. However, prices. To do that meant trading and producing with
widespread agreement exists on some of the more impor- maximum efficiency, which usually meant finding and
tant contributing factors. introducing the most up-to-date technology. As com-
mercial exchanges spread, so did the number of wage
Accumulated Changes workers: people who took their own labor to market.
of the Agrarian Era Because they competed with others to find work, wage
First, the modern revolution clearly built on the accu- workers also had to worry about the cheapness and pro-
mulated changes of the agrarian era. Slow growth during ductivity of their labor.
several millennia had led to incremental technological For these reasons the slow commercialization of
improvements in agriculture and water management, in economies that occurred throughout the agrarian era
warfare, in mining, in metalwork, and in transportation probably raised productivity by stimulating innovation.
and communications. Improvements in transportation As the wealth, influence, and number of entrepreneurs
and communicationssuch as the development of more and wage earners increased, the societies in which they
maneuverable ships or the ability to print with movable lived became more open and receptive to innovation.
typewere particularly important because they increased
the scale of exchanges and ensured that new technolo- Development of a Single
gies, goods, and ideas circulated more freely. Methods of Global Network
organizing large numbers of humans for warfare or tax Third, the linking of world zones into a single global net-
collection also improved during the agrarian era. In ways work from the sixteenth century provided a sharp stimu-
that are not yet entirely clear, these slow technological lus to commercial growth and technological innovation.
and organizational changes, together with a steady ex- In just a century or so the scale on which goods and ideas
pansion in the size and scale of global markets, created could be exchanged almost doubled, and a huge variety
the springboard for the much faster changes of the mod- of new goods and ideas entered into global circulation.
ern era. During the final centuries of the agrarian era the Maize, sugar, silver, coffee, cotton, tobacco, potatoes, and
pace of change was already increasing. International the productive and commercial expertise that went with
GDP grew almost sixfold between 1000 and 1820, these commodities were no longer confined to particular
whereas hardly any growth had occurred at all during the regions but instead were available throughout the world.
previous millennium. Even the trade in people was internationalized. Before the
sixteenth century the most active slave traders operated in
Rise of Commercial Societies the Islamic world, and most of their slaves came from
Second, most historians would agree that the modern Slavic or Turkic peoples to their north. From the sixteenth
revolution is connected with the rise of more commercial century European slavers began to capture or buy African
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-43

Like most of those who study history, he learned from the mistakes of
the past how to make new ones. A. J. P. Taylor (19061990)

slaves and to ship them to plantations in the Americas. stages of the modern revolution allowed it and the North
For better or worse, such global exchanges stimulated American region to put their distinctive stamp on the
commerce throughout the world. modern revolution and to achieve a global hegemony
that has so far lasted almost two centuries. Because of
Western Europes Emergence Europes primacy English is the universal language of
as a Global Hub modern diplomacy and business rather than Persian or
Although change was rapid, it did not transform all Chinese, and suits and ties rather than kaftans are worn
parts of the world at once, and the order in which dif- in the United Nations.
ferent regions were transformed had a profound effect on
the course of modern history. This fact is the fourth fac- Other Factors
tor contributing to the modern revolution. The societies Fifth, more particular factors must enter into any detailed
of western Europe had been at the margins of the great explanation of the modern revolution. The peculiarly
trading systems of the agrarian era, but they were at the commercialized nature of European states undoubtedly
center of the global networks of exchange created during helps explain their receptiveness to innovation, but geo-
the sixteenth century because they controlled the ocean- graphical factors, such as climatic changes, or the pres-
going fleets that knit the world into a single system.West- ence of large, relatively accessible seams of coal in Britain
ern Europe was better placed than any other region to and northwestern Europe, may also have shaped the tim-
profit from the vast flows of goods and ideas within the ing and geography of the modern revolution.
emerging global system of exchange. The European sci-
entific revolution was, in part, a response to the torrent Industrial Revolution:
of new ideas pouring into Europe as a result of its ex- 17501914
panded contacts with the rest of the world. Awareness of These arguments suggest that the ingredients of the mod-
new ideas, crops, religions, and commodities under- ern revolution were present in all parts of the world, even
mined traditional behaviors, cosmologies, and beliefs and though its full impact first became apparent in north-
posed sharply the question of how to distinguish between western Europe and the eastern seaboard of what became
false and true knowledge of the world. The reinvention the United States. In this region technological change
and spread of printing with movable type ensured that accelerated from the late eighteenth century. Familiar
new information would circulate more easily in Europe markers of change include the introduction and spread of
than elsewhere. more productive agricultural techniques, more efficient
At the same time European states, in an environment machines for spinning and processing cotton, the im-
of almost continuous warfare, desperately needed new proved steam engine of the Scottish inventor James Watt,
sources of revenue; thus, they were keen to exploit the and the first locomotive. By the early nineteenth century
commercial opportunities created within the global eco- contemporaries saw that something exceptional was hap-
nomic system.They did so partly by seizing the resources pening. In 1837 the French revolutionary Auguste Blan-
of the Americas and using American commodities such as qui (18051881) declared that an industrial revolution
silver to buy their way into the markets of southern and was under way in Britain and that it was as significant as
eastern Asia, the largest in the world.The increasing scale
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
of commercial and intellectual exchanges within Europe
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias p. 528 (v2)
created an environment that was particularly open to
Energy p. 646 (v2)
innovation because European innovators could draw on
Enlightenment, The p. 660 (v2)
the intellectual and commercial resources of the entire
Industrial Technologies p. 981 (v3)
world. The primacy of western Europe during the early
tfw-44 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

This line drawing by

artist George Catlin is
a depiction of himself
painting a portrait
during his travels in
the American Indian
country in the 1830s.
It gives the viewer
a sense of European
views of native peoples.

The steam engine provided

for the first time an efficient
way of exploiting the energy
locked up in fossil fuels; it
made available a seemingly
endless supply of cheap energy,
particularly in regions with
ready access to coal. Immedi-
ately it lowered the cost of
extracting coal by easing the
task of pumping water from
mine shafts; in combination
with new spinning and weav-
ing machines invented during
the late eighteenth century, it
also revolutionized the textile
industry, the second-most-
important sector (after agricul-
ture) in most agrarian societies.
the political revolutions that had recently taken place in To exploit these new technologies more efficiently, entre-
Europe and the Americas. By this time European levels of preneurs began to bring workers together in the large,
productivity had already overtaken those of the ancient closely supervised productive enterprises we know as
superpowers of India and China. factories.
In a second wave of innovations that occurred during
Three Waves of the the early and middle decades of the nineteenth century,
Industrial Revolution steam engines were mounted on wheels to create the first
The technological innovations of the Industrial Revo- locomotives. Railways slashed transportation costs over
lution spread in waves. Each wave spawned new land, which is why they had a particularly revolutionary
productivity-raising technologies and spread industrial- impact on the economies of large nations such as the
ization to new regions. In the first wave, during the late United States and the Russian empire. In their turn,
eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the crucial demand for coal, locomotives, rolling stock, and track stim-
changes occurred in Britain, although many of the inno- ulated coal and metal production and engineering. During
vations introduced there had been pioneered elsewhere. the early nineteenth century many of these technologies
The most important changes were the introduction of effi- spread to other parts of Europe and to the United States.
cient cotton-spinning machines and the Watt steam A third wave of innovations occurred during the sec-
engine. ond half of the nineteenth century. Industrial technologies
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-45

History is more or less bunk. Its tradition. We dont want tradition. We want to live in the present and the
only history that is worth a tinkers damn is the history we make today. HENRY FORD (18631947)

spread in North America, in other parts of Europe, and China, and the Ottoman empire. While the machine-
in Russia and Japan. Military humiliation at the hands of produced textiles of the European and Atlantic powers
Western nations forced the governments of Russia and undercut local products in other regions, their modern-
Japan to realize that they had to encourage industrial- ized armies conquered much of the world.
ization if they were to survive because industrial power During the late nineteenth century interregional dis-
clearly enhanced military power. Steel, chemicals, and parities in wealth and power increased sharply. Between
electricity were the most important new technologies dur- 1820 and 1913 Chinas share of world GDP fell from 33
ing this wave of the industrial revolution, and new forms percent to 9 percent and that of India from 16 percent to
of organization brought banks and factories together in 8 percent, while the share of the United Kingdom rose
large corporate enterprises, the largest of which were in from 5 percent to more than 8 percent and that of the
the United States. In Germany and the United States sys- United States from almost 2 percent to more than 19 per-
tematic scientific research began to play an important role cent. By the end of the nineteenth century India was ruled
in technological innovation, as did large corporations, by Britain; China was dominated commercially and
and innovation began to be institutionalized within the even, to an extent, militarily by a conglomerate of Euro-
structures of modern business and government. pean and Atlantic powers together with Japan; the Amer-
By the end of the nineteenth century Britain was los- icas and Australasia were largely populated by migrants
ing its industrial primacy to Germany and the United of European origin; much of Latin America was under the
States: In 1913 the United States accounted for almost financial and commercial domination of Europe; and
19 percent of the worlds GDP, Germany for 9 percent, most of Africa and southeastern Asia had been incorpo-
and the United Kingdom for just more than 8 percent. rated within European empires. For the first time in
human history political and economic inequalities
Economic Developments between countries were becoming as striking as inequal-
The first three waves of industrialization transformed lev- ities within countries. Global imperialism and the Third
els of productivity. Between 1820 and 1913 the GDP of World are creations of the late nineteenth century.
the United Kingdom increased by more than six times;
that of Germany by nine times, and that of the United Democratic Revolution
States by forty-one times. During the same period GDP Economic changes were accompanied by profound
per capita increased by 2.9 times in the United Kingdom, social, political, and cultural changes. The peasant pop-
by 3.4 times in the lands that became Germany, and by ulations of agrarian societies were largely self-sufficient,
4.2 times in the United States. No earlier era of human but the urbanized wage-earning populations of industri-
history had witnessed such astonishing increases in alized societies, like the entrepreneurial classes that
productivity. employed them, depended much more on structures of
These growth rates were not matched in the rest of the law and order and economic regulation that only states
world. On the contrary, the increasing economic and mil- could provide. Governments, in turn, depended more on
itary might of the regions that industrialized first under- the cooperation of large sections of society as their tasks
mined the traditional agrarian economies of India, became more varied and complex.These changes explain
the often violent renegotiation of relations between gov-
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
ernments and subjects. The first modern democratic
Colonialism p. 381 (v2)
political systems emerged in the United States and west-
Economic Growth, Extensive and Intensive p. 610 (v2)
ern Europe during the turbulent second half of the eigh-
Imperialism p. 952 (v3)
teenth century, which the historian Robert Palmer called
Liberalism p. 1133 (v3)
the age of the democratic revolution. More democratic
tfw-46 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Although the modern era is often thought

of as more secular and rational than
earlier eras, religion and faith continue to
be important for many people. This photo
shows a procession of pilgrims walking
down the High Street of Little Walsingham,
Norfolk, United Kingdom, carrying a
statue of the Virgin and Child in 1997.

methods of rule granted political influence to wider sec-

tions of the population in exchange for increasing regu-
lation as governments began to recruit into mass armies,
to take detailed censuses, and to regulate life in factories,
offices, and even households.

Cultural Changes
Cultural life was also transformed. Mass education
spread literacy to a majority of the population in much
of North America and Europe during the nineteenth cen-
tury, while the emerging mass media gave citizens plenty
to read and informed them of events in their own nation
and the world at large. Mass education, combined with
new forms of mass entertainment, also began to give cit-
izens a more modern sense of a shared national iden-
tity. All religious traditions had to face the challenge
posed by modern science, and most did so by incorpo-
rating some aspects of a new scientific view of reality age, increased taxation, and new opportunities in the
while rejecting others. The spectacular successes of towns undermined village life in most of the world.
nineteenth-century science raised the prestige of science However, as socialists pointed out, conditions in early
and challenged traditional worldviews. industrial towns were often worse than those in the vil-
Particularly challenging was the theory of evolution lages. Together, the slow erosion of peasant lifeways and
put forward by the English naturalist Charles Darwin the appalling conditions in early industrial towns created
(18091882), which seemed to imply that life itself explosive social tensions in all industrializing societies.
might be the product of blind forces. Yet, precisely Governments outside the core region of the early
because it relied so much on rational explanations, the Industrial Revolution had to face the impossible chal-
scientific worldview could not offer the spiritual conso- lenge of trying to match European economic and military
lation of traditional religions, which is why the challenge performance without undermining the traditional social
of science, far from destroying traditional religions, seems and cultural structures on which their own power was
to have stimulated new forms of religious activity, such as based. The transition was bound to be painful because
evangelical forms of Christianity. the dominant polities of the agrarian era had been based
Outside the Atlantic core region the indirect effects of primarily on traditional forms of landlordship rather
the Industrial Revolution were largely destructive as the than on commerce; yet, people increasingly realized that
growing political, commercial, and military power of industrialization was linked closely with commercial
Europe and North America threatened traditional politi- activity. Not surprisingly, the creation of modern forms of
cal and economic structures and eroded faith in ancient government frequently led to the violent breakdown of
ways of thinking. Rapid population growth, land short- traditional social structures and systems of rule. Japan
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-47

I am inclined to think that history pays its way largely in the personal
satisfaction of sitting on the fence and enjoying vicariously the trials and
tribulations of men and times now ended. AVERY O. CRAVEN (18851980)

was one of the few traditional societies that managed to from protected markets. The burst of imperialism during
make a transition to a modern industrial economy with- the late nineteenth century was the most obvious expres-
out destroying the fabric of its society. sion of this rivalry; another was the spread of protection-
By 1900 many features of the modern revolution were ism (protection of domestic producers through restrictions
apparent throughout the North Atlantic core region, on foreign competitors), and a third was the emergence of
and, for better or worse, many other parts of the world a system of defensive alliances in Europe, which helped
were also beginning to feel its impact on lifeways, turn a crisis in the Balkans into a global war. Distrust and
economies, governments, and ways of thinking. rivalry among the major industrial powers clogged the
arteries of international exchange that were so crucial as
Twentieth-Century a source of economic growth and political stability.
Crisis: 19141945 After the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand,
Between 1913 and 1950 the engine of growth that had the heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian empire, on
transformed so much of the world seemed to break 28 June 1914, Austria invaded Serbia, Russia intervened
down. Global rates of growth of GDP slowed from 1.30 to defend Serbia, and Germany declared war on Russia,
percent per annum between 1870 and 1913 to 0.91 per- which dragged Russias allies, Britain and France, into the
cent between 1913 and 1950.The slowdown affected all war. The global reach of European colonial and com-
the core regions of the Industrial Revolution but was mercial networks dragged other regions into the war. Ger-
even more pronounced in the former agrarian colossi, man colonies in Africa, the Pacific, and China were
China and India.The apparent exception to the rule was seized by French, British, and Japanese armies; troops
Russia, whose annual growth rate rose from 1.06 percent and supplies came to Europe from present and former
during the late czarist period to 1.76 percent between colonies in India, southeastern Asia, Africa, Australasia,
1913 and 1950. and North America as well as from semicolonies such as
The slowdown was caused in part by a breakdown in Argentina. In 1917 the United States entered the war
the international banking and trading systems that had against Germany.
helped spread the Industrial Revolution. Between 1870 Nineteenth-century military innovations ensured that
and 1950 the proportion of world production that was World War I would be particularly bloody. New weapons
traded internationally actually fell. Part of the problem included machine guns, tanks, airplanes, and chemical
was that the governments of industrializing countries weapons such as mustard gas, which could burn out the
were still learning how best to manage rapid economic internal organs of its victims. Ironically, medical improve-
growth, and all too often, like the great agrarian empires ments kept more troops at the front, only to be slaugh-
of the past, they treated growth as a zero-sum game (a sit- tered in the thousands by machine guns or artillery in
uation in which a gain for one side entails a loss for the often futile raids on enemy positions. Modern industrial
other side) that could be won only by excluding rivals states mobilized for total war effectively as they took
control of national economies to supply their armies.The
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
home frontswhere women replaced men on the farms,
Colonialism p. 381 (v2)
in munitions factories, or on the railwayswere as vital
Communism and Socialism p. 401 (v2)
to success as the armies. Indeed, the role of women dur-
Fascism p. 733 (v2)
ing World War I was a major factor in the rapid spread
Genocide p. 815 (v2)
of womens suffrage during the postwar years.World War
World War I p. 2079 (v5)
I was not the first total war of the industrial erathe U.S.
World War II p. 2085 (v5)
Civil War deserves that title morebut it demonstrated
tfw-48 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Extract from All Quiet on

the Western Front
Since its publication in 1929, All Quiet on the
Western Front has remained a classic novel about conquest. Fascism also took hold in Italy, the birthplace
the personal anguish of soldiers in war. German of fascisms founder, Benito Mussolini (18831945), as
writer Erich Maria Remarque (18981970) well as in Spain, Brazil, and elsewhere. Fascism and
based the novel on his own experiences as a sol- socialism both reflected a deep disillusionment with the
dier during World War I. Below is one of the most liberal capitalist ideologies of the late nineteenth century,
profound quotes from the book. but whereas fascists anticipated an era of national and
racial conflict, in which the fittest and most powerful
But now, for the first time, I see you are a man
would triumph, revolutionary socialists framed the con-
like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of
flict in terms of class war that would pit capitalism
your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife
against socialism.
and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me,
The appearance in Russia of a Marxist-inspired state
comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they
determined to overthrow capitalism was another appar-
never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that
ent sign of the breakdown of nineteenth-century capital-
your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that
ism. Russias czarist government had encouraged indus-
we have the same fear of death, and the same
trial growth but had failed (unlike the Meiji government
dying and the same agonyForgive me, com-
in Japan) to incorporate within its ruling structures the
rade; how could you be my enemy?
entrepreneurs who would be needed to make a success of
Source: Remarque, E. M. (1929). All Quiet on the Western Front (A. W. Wheen,
Trans., p. 223). New York. Fawcett Crest.
industrialization. Eventually the rapid growth of an urban
proletariat (working class) and the impoverishment of
increasing numbers of peasants generated a social crisis
even more powerfully the appalling scale and destruc- that, when combined with military defeat during the
tiveness of industrialized warfare, and it was the first truly Russo-Japanese War and the huge costs of participation
global war of the modern era. in World War I, led to the collapse of the Russian impe-
rial state.Traditional elites reacted too passively to the cri-
Global Upheaval sis, which allowed the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin
A punitive peace treaty negotiated in Versailles, France, (18701924), to seize power and hold on to it during a
and the failure of the newly created League of Nations brutal civil war (19181920).
ensured that the rivalries that had caused World War I The Bolsheviks were radical Marxists, committed to
did not go away. In 1929 the international trading and the overthrow of world capitalism and its replacement by
banking system finally collapsed, leading to a depression a society in which productive resources such as the land,
that affected all the major capitalist powers, as well as banks, and all large enterprises would be owned collec-
the Asian, Latin American, and African countries that tively. Under Lenins successor, Joseph Stalin (1879
supplied them with raw materials. The Great Depression 1953), the Soviet government took decisive and brutal
seemed to confirm the socialist prediction that the cap- steps to build up a noncapitalist industrial society capa-
italist system would eventually break down. Many gov- ble of challenging the might of its capitalist rivals. Em-
ernments retreated even further into autarchy (national ploying methods of state management pioneered during
economic self-sufficiency and independence) as they saw World War I, the Soviet government began to manage
themselves competing for a dwindling share of world re- and coordinate the entire Soviet economy, leaving no
sources and markets. significant role to market forces. To manage rapid indus-
In 1933 in Germany a fascist government emerged led trialization and rearmament, the Soviet government cre-
by Adolf Hitler (18891945). Hitler was determined to ated a huge, powerful, and coercive state apparatus,
reverse the losses of World War I, if necessary through willing and capable of acting with extreme brutality
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-49

Hegel says somewhere that all great events and personalities in world
history reappear in one fashion or another. He forgot to add: the first
time as tragedy, the second as farce. KARL MARX (18181883)

where necessary. For a time people thought the new sys- were enhanced by the incorporation of much of eastern
tem might match the economic and military power of the Europe and by the emergence in 1949 of a Communist-
major capitalist states. During the 1930s and again dur- dominated China led by Mao Zedong (18931976). By
ing the 1950s rates of economic growth were more 1950 almost one-third of the worlds population lived
rapid in the Soviet Union than elsewhere (although the under Communist governments.Throughout this period
lack of market prices in the Soviet command economy economic growth was more rapid outside of Europe, par-
makes monetary comparisons difficult). ticularly in the United States, the Soviet Union, and
Japan, but also in regions such as Latin America.
Rearmament The emergence of powerful anticolonial movements in
During the 1930s, in an international climate of increas- southeastern Asia, India, Africa, and elsewhere marked
ing tension, all the major powers began to rearm. World the beginning of the end of European imperialism. In
War II began with attempts by Japan and Germany to India the Indian National Congress, established in 1885,
create their own land empires. Japan invaded Manchuria became a powerful supporter of independence, and in
in 1931 and China proper in 1937; Germanys expan- Mohandas Gandhi (18691948) it found an inspira-
sionist drive led to war in Europe in 1939 after Germany tional and creative leader whose nonviolent protests
invaded Poland. In 1941 the United States, now the forced Britain to grant independence to the newly created
largest economic power in the world, entered the war states of India and Pakistan in 1947.
after Japans preemptive attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Despite the crises of the early twentieth century, social-
Soviet Union entered the war after being invaded by Ger- ist predictions of the death of capitalism were premature.
many.World War II was fought in the Pacific and in east- Technological innovation was rapid throughout the
ern and southeastern Asia as much as in Europe, but period; the internal combustion engine entered mass pro-
eventually the economic and military power of the United duction, aviation emerged (first as a weapon of war and
States and the colossal mobilizational efforts of the Soviet then as a new form of commercial and personal trans-
Union helped turn the tide against the Axis powers (Ger- portation), and chemical substitutes for textiles and rub-
many, Japan, and Italy). World War II was even crueler ber were first produced.This was also the era of sonar, of
than World War I. Sixty million people may have died nuclear power, and of oil. It also was an era of funda-
about 3 percent of the worlds population at the time. mental scientific breakthroughs, particularly in physics.
The war ended with the use of the most terrible Other developments helped ensure that the capitalist
weapon yet inventedthe atomic bomb.The first atomic engine of growth would revive and that the frenetic pace
bombs were dropped by the United States on the Japan- of economic growth of the nineteenth century would even-
ese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. tually be resumed. The managerial principles that would
Most of the casualties of World War II were civilians as help revive growth first became apparent in the United
the aerial bombing of cities became, for the first time, a States. Two developments were particularly important:
recognized weapon of modern warfare.The extreme bru- mass production on assembly lines, pioneered by Henry
tality of the war found its most potent symbol in the sys- Ford (18631947) in 1913, and mass consumerism, a
tematic murder by Hitlers Nazi Party of almost 6 million phenomenon whose importance first became apparent
Jews in what has come to be known as the Holocaust. during the 1920s as ordinary people began to gain access
By the end of the war Europe no longer dominated the to modern goods such as cars, telephones, and radios.
global economic system. The new superpowers were the
United States and the Soviet Union. Each had its own Buying into Consumerism
allies and clients, and each represented a different path to Mass consumerism eventually provided a solution to the
modernity. The size and power of the Communist bloc fundamental problem of underconsumption, which had
tfw-50 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

History gets thicker as it approaches recent

times. A. J. P. Taylor (19061990)

haunted producers during the nineteenth century when,

as productivity rose, they had greater difficulty marketing
what they produced. From at least the 1870s people had
realized that capitalist economies are prone to periods of
boom and bust as productivity outstrips market demand.
The business cycles of capitalist economies were the mod-
ern equivalents of the agrarian eras Malthusian cycles of
growth and decline, but, in a striking contrast, the busi-
ness cycle was driven by overproduction, whereas Malthu-
sian cycles had been driven largely by underproduction.
During the early twentieth century people realized that
raising demand might be a more promising way of ensur-
ing long-term growth than seeking protected markets.
However, for demand to rise, governments and em-
ployers had to ensure that consumers had sufficient cash
in their pockets to purchase goods and services. During
the depression of the 1930s economists such as John
Maynard Keynes (18831946) argued that governments
could help revive capitalist economies not by cutting
wages further, but rather by boosting consumption
through devices such as the provision of unemployment
payments. However, governments were already experi-
menting with such devices. In the United States the New
Deal of the 1930s pumped large amounts of money into
the economy through government programs mostly
designed to boost spending by creating employment
through the building of new infrastructure such as roads
and dams.
For capitalist governments mass consumption offered
another advantage that undercut some of the anticapi-
talist arguments of Marxism and its offshoots. During the This line drawing by the poet ee cummings
twentieth century people realized that populations with shows the austerity typical of so-called
access to increasing material wealth were unlikely to modern art.
turn into the sort of revolutionary proletariat that the Ger-
man political philosopher Karl Marx had envisaged as
the gravediggers of capitalism. Mass consumption was 1955) and quantum mechanics, developed by such sci-
the capitalist antidote to revolution. entists as Niels Bohr (18851962), Erwin Schrodinger
(18871961), Werner Heisenberg (19011976), and
Crisis and Innovation Max Born (18821970), challenged earlier mechanistic
In many fields the crisis period of 19141945 was also models of the universe, while the Austrian neurologist
a period of cultural revolution. The theory of relativity Sigmund Freud (18561939), by showing the impor-
advanced by the U.S. physicist Albert Einstein (1879 tance of unconscious psychological drives, challenged
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-51

Examine the history of all nations and all centuries and you will always find
men subject to three codes: the code of nature, the code of society, and the code of
religion . . . [T]hese codes were never in harmony. DENIS DIDEROT (17131784)

faith in the role of reason in human affairs. New art tries. For the first time significant numbers of consumers
forms, such as cinema, brought artistic realism into mass in Europe and Japan began to buy private cars, televi-
culture and challenged artists and writers to experiment sions, and radios and even exotic foreign holidays, made
with new, less realistic forms of expressionism, from the possible by the reduced cost of air transportation. A new
cubism of painters such as Pablo Picasso (18811973) wave of innovations in electronics, many stimulated by
to the dream narrative of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce wartime research programs, ushered in the electronic rev-
(18821941). olution of the 1980s and 1990s, and innovations in biol-
The new technologies of mass culture, including radio, ogy, including the discovery of the structure of
newspapers, and particularly the cinema, offered new deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA, the carrier of genetic infor-
ways of influencing the ideas, attitudes, and fantasies of mation), spawned new techniques of genetic engineering
people throughout the world, and governments as well as whose implications are still unclear.
advertisers came to appreciate their power.The Soviet gov- Capitalist governments became increasingly adept at
ernment was particularly creative in using the mass media sustaining growth by stimulating consumption and by
to spread its ideas. The new mass media also helped cre- seeking the right balance between intervention and
ate a mass culture that could challenge the hegemony of laissez-faire (a doctrine opposing governmental interfer-
traditional high culture. Outside of the industrial heart- ence in economic affairs). Slumps during the early 1970s
land, the revival of traditional religious and artistic tradi- and the late 1990s demonstrated that the business cycle
tions, such as those of Hinduism and Buddhism, began has never been completely tamed. Nevertheless, many of
to play an important role in creating new national cultures the protectionist illusions of the late nineteenth century
that could challenge the cultural hegemony of the North were shed as governments realized that in a world of
Atlantic region. rapid global growth, the wealth of individual nations
(even the most powerful) usually depends more on
Contemporary Period: global economic growth than on the possession of pro-
1945Present tected markets. A clearer understanding of the economic
After World War II the capitalist engine of growth roared and political realities of modern capitalism explains the
to life again to generate the most rapid economic growth
For more on these topics, please see the following articles:
in world history. From 0.91 percent per annum between
American Empire p. 82 (v1)
1913 and 1950, global rates of growth of GDP rose to
Climate Change p. 363 (v1)
2.93 percent between 1950 and 1973 before falling to
Cold War p. 376 (v2)
the more modest but still impressive rate of 1.33 percent
Consumerism p. 435 (v2)
between 1973 and 1998.
Globalization p. 849 (v3)
The international economic order was revived and
Green Revolution p. 870 (v3)
restabilized by expanding markets, by massive recon-
Human Rights p. 939 (v3)
struction aid from the United States, and by the creation
Mass Media p. 1203 (v3)
of global regulatory institutions such as the United
Postcolonial Analysis p. 1502 (v4)
Nations (in 1945) and the International Monetary Fund
Progress p. 1514 (v4)
(in 1947). After falling between 1913 and 1950, the pro-
Religious Freedom p. 1574 (v4)
portion of goods produced for international markets
RussianSoviet Empire p. 1638 (v4)
tripled between 1950 and 1995. A revival in interna-
Social Welfare p. 1737 (v4)
tional trade and the spread of mass consumerism, first in
United Nations p. 1916 (v5)
the United States and then in Europe and Japan, stimu-
Urbanization p. 1925 (v5)
lated economic growth in all the leading capitalist coun-
tfw-52 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

But even regarding History as the slaughter-bench at which the happiness of peoples, the wisdom of States,
and the virtue of individuals have been victimizedthe question involuntarily arisesto what principle,
to what final aim, these enormous sacrifices have been offered. G. W. F. HEGEL (17701831)

decision of U.S. governments to finance postwar recon- first space satellite, Sputnik, in October 1957, and the
struction in Europe (through the Marshall Plan) and in launching of the first human,Yuri Gagarin (19341968),
Japan, even if that meant turning former enemies into into orbit in 1961.
commercial rivals. Partly in this spirit, and partly under Then, during the 1970s, Soviet growth rates began to
pressure from indigenous anticolonial movements, Euro- slow, and disillusionment set in as Soviet citizens realized
pean governments surrendered the empires they had that their living standards were well behind those of the
conquered during the late nineteenth century. major capitalist countries. Although the command econ-
During the forty years after 1945 roughly a hundred omy could indeed innovate when massive resources were
nations achieved independence from their European devoted to large prestige projects, without the constant
overlords, and another batch of new nations emerged pressure of competitive markets it could not generate the
after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. By 2004 trickle of petty innovations that drove productivity
the United Nations had 191 members. growth in the capitalist world. By the 1980s it was clear
Industrialization spread beyond the core regions of the that the Soviet economy was failing to incorporate the
late nineteenth century, partly with the active support of new electronic technologies that were revolutionizing
the major capitalist powers. Economic growth was par- capitalist economies and societies. Soviet generals under-
ticularly rapid until the late 1990s in eastern and south- stood that this fact was a military as well as a techno-
eastern Asia, in particular in South Korea, Taiwan, Ma- logical disaster for the Soviet Union.
laysia,Thailand, Hong Kong, and Singapore, all of which The failures of the Soviet economy tell us much about
were influenced by the Japanese model of growth. the driving mechanisms of the modern revolution. Soviet
planners understood from as early as the 1950s that the
Rockets and Rubles weaknesses of the command economy derived from the
Global economic growth occurred despite the partition- lack of domestic competition and the absence of any
ing of the world into two major power blocs. The capi- effective equivalent of the profit motive. Even during the
talist and Communist powers challenged each other mil- 1930s high rates of growth derived more from a massive,
itarily, economically, and politically. For several decades and highly coercive, mobilization of labor and resources
these rivalries threatened to ignite a third world war, than from real gains in efficiency. During the mid-1980s
fought this time with nuclear weapons. However, the a new leader, Mikhail Gorbachev (b. 1931), admitted
Cold War was also a contest for economic and political that the Soviet economy was grinding to a halt because
hegemony. The two blocs offered rival paths to eco- it could no longer keep mobilizing new resources, as it
nomic growth, and for perhaps three decades people did had during the 1930s and 1940s.The Soviet system col-
not know whether the command economies of the Com- lapsed because its mobilizational strategy of growth, like
munist world or the capitalist economies of the West that of traditional agrarian empires, although effective in
would generate the most rapid growth, although both military crises, stifled innovation.The failure of the Soviet
sides agreed that during the modern era economic command economy provides ironic support for Karl
growth is the key to political and military success. Marxs claim that capitalism is the motor of modernity.
After Stalins death in 1956 Soviet living standards
began to rise as his successors steered investment toward China Adapts
consumer goods and housing. During the 1950s the Communist China offers an apparent exception that
Soviet Union enjoyed a string of successes that seemed to proves the rule. During the 1950s the government of
demonstrate the technological dynamism of its com- Mao Zedong tried to industrialize using the methods of
mand economy.These successes included the creation of Stalin. However, the economic and social disasters of the
Soviet nuclear weapons and missiles, the launching of the Great Leap Forward (19581961, a period in which the
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-53

The Marshall Plan

In a speech delivered on 5 June 1947 by U.S. Secretary economic, social, and political deterioration of a very
of State George C. Marshall at Harvard University, grave character.
Marshall laid out what would become known as the The remedy lies in breaking the vicious circle and
Marshall Plan.The United States was willing to offer up restoring the confidence of the European people in
to $20 billion in relief to a war-torn Europe struggling the economic future of their own countries and of
to survive after a brutal winter if the Western European Europe as a whole. The manufacturer and the farmer
nations would cooperate as a single economic unit. throughout wide areas must be able and willing to
(Marshall also offered aid to the Soviet Union and its exchange their products for currencies the continuing
allies, which was rejected by the Soviet leader Joseph value of which is not open to question.
Stalin.) As evidenced by Marshalls words in the Aside from the demoralizing effect on the world at
extracts that follow from his speech, the plan was cru- large and the possibilities of disturbances arising as a
cial to the survival and growth of postWorld War II result of the desperation of the people concerned, the
Europe. consequences to the economy of the United States
should be apparent to all. It is logical that the United
I need not tell you gentlemen that the world situation
States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in
is very serious.That must be apparent to all intelligent
the return of normal economic health in the world,
people. I think one difficulty is that the problem is
without which there can be no political stability and
one of such enormous complexity that the very mass
no assured peace. Our policy is directed not against
of facts presented to the public by press and radio
any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty,
make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street
desperation, and chaos. Its purpose should be the
to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. Fur-
revival of working economy in the world so as to per-
thermore, the people of this country are distant from
mit the emergence of political and social conditions
the troubled areas of the earth and it is hard for them
in which free institutions can exist. Such assistance, I
to comprehend the plight and consequent reaction of
am convinced, must not be on a piecemeal basis as
the long-suffering peoples, and the effect of those reac-
various crises develop. Any assistance that this Gov-
tions on their governments in connection with our
ernment may render in the future should provide a
efforts to promote peace in the world.
cure rather than a mere palliative. Any government
that is willing to assist in the task of recovery will find
The truth of the matter is that Europes require-
full cooperation, I am sure, on the part of the United
ments for the next 3 or 4 years of foreign food and
States Government.
other essential productsprincipally from America
are so much greater than her present ability to pay
Source: Congressional Record (June 30, 1947). Retrieved September 8, 2004, from http://
that she must have substantial additional help, or face

Chinese government tried to force the pace of industrial- successors cautiously reintroduced elements of a market
ization by abolishing all private property) and the chaos economy, and as entrepreneurial activity spread in China,
of the Cultural Revolution (19661976, a period of economic growth accelerated. Capitalism was never
internal chaos during which millions were accused of entirely destroyed in China (as it had been in the Soviet
anticommunist activities and subjected to exile, banish- Union), which is why, despite the survival of its Com-
ment, or death), combined with the growing rift between munist government, its economy has shifted with some
China and the Soviet Union, encouraged the Chinese success toward a competitive market economy.
government to retreat from the Soviet ideal of total state Throughout the world economic growth and the many
control of the economy. After Maos death in 1976 his changes that have come with growth transformed lifeways
tfw-54 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Time present and time past

Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.

during this period. Mass education was introduced in Coca-Cola Culture

most of the world; thus, a majority of people in most and the Backlash
countries were introduced to the basics of literacy. More The influence of the United States was particularly per-
and more people lived in huge cities as improved medical, vasive as consumer goods such as Coca-Cola and U.S.
sanitary, and educational services and increasing oppor- styles in clothing, music, sports, and entertainment
tunities for wage work lured people from the villages. For became familiar throughout the world.Yet,Western influ-
the first time in human history cities became healthier ences have also generated a powerful backlash as gov-
places than villages, at least where they were supplied ernments and citizens in other parts of the world have
with the basic amenities of clean water, sanitation, med- tried, with varying degrees of success, to defend tradi-
ical services, transportation, and electricity. Improved tional cultural and religious values. The emergence of
medical care explains the astonishing fact that in just new forms of radical anti-Westernism is merely one
thirty-five years (19551990), the average life span of reflection of growing resistance to Western values.
human beings increased from about thirty-five years to Resistance to Western values has been fueled by
fifty-five years. increasing global inequality. In 1960 the wealthiest 20
Urbanization transformed gender relations as families percent of the worlds population earned about thirty
adapted to an urban world in which womens salaries times as much as the poorest 20 percent; in 1991 the
were as vital as those of men. Women have become in- wealthiest 20 percent earned sixty-one times as much.
creasingly visible in government, in education, in medi- The successes of the most highly industrialized countries
cine, and in science. Yet, true gender equality, like eco- threw a harsh spotlight on the poverty of less industrial-
nomic equality, still seems a remote goal. Worldwide in ized regions, highlighting inequalities in income and in
1990 about eighty women were in secondary education access to medical and educational resources and to
and sixty-five in tertiary education for every hundred necessities such as clean water and air. Although indus-
men, and only about sixty women were in paid employ- trialization spread to more and more countries during the
ment for every hundred men. twentieth century, in too many cases it was incomplete or
During the 1980s and 1990s new forms of electronic narrowly based on the trade in specialist commodities
communications and transportation and the reintegration such as coffee or oil or managed by corrupt militaristic
of the Soviet Union (and its successor states) and China governments that skimmed off profits or spent them on
into the capitalist world economy bound the world armaments rather than reinvesting them in growth.
together more tightly than ever before.This new pulse of Although the wealth and the technologies exist to pro-
global integration has come to be known as globaliza- vide all humanity with basic medical care, clean water,
tion. Globalization stimulated economic growth in most and adequate food, millions still die from famine or
of the core industrial economies and many newly indus- water-borne diseases in the least industrialized regions of
trialized countries, although many of the worlds poorer the world, and lack of appropriate education and services
countries found the costs of competition too high and fell has contributed to the rapid spread of AIDS, particularly
further behind, particularly in parts of Africa and Latin in southern Africa, where in some countries almost one-
America. For better or worse, globalization also brought quarter of the adult population had AIDS during the mid-
the worlds many cultures into closer contact. As televi- 1990s. Peasants have become increasingly marginalized
sion and radio became more common even in Third as traditional rural lifeways have been undermined by
World countries, the cultural norms and consumerist val- overpopulation, the fragmentation of landholdings, and
ues of the most industrialized countries became com- competition from cheap overseas imports.
monplace throughout the world. In much of the world the modern era has included the
this fleeting world / our world: the modern era tfw-55

If all time is eternally present

All time is unredeemable.
T.S. ELLIOT (18881965)

death of the peasantry, the class to which most humans India, Africa, and much of Latin America, and as more
had belonged throughout the agrarian era. The collapse and more consumers begin to expect the material living
of Communism has created Third World conditions in standards currently enjoyed in Europe and North Amer-
much of the former Communist world as well. For many ica, human pressure on the environment will increase
people, even at the beginning of the twenty-first century, even as population growth slows. Environmental strains
the modern revolution must still seem like a distant take many forms. Habitats invaded by humans are no
dream. Directly or indirectly, the deep economic, politi- longer available to other species; thus, current rates of
cal, and cultural inequalities of the modern world likely extinction may be as high as during the most rapid
will continue to fuel bloody guerrilla conflicts in which extinction episodes of the last 600 million years.
small groups with modern weapons attempt to resist the Some resources are already being used at dangerously
cultural, economic, and military power of the wealthiest high levels; this is particularly true of fisheries and clean
capitalist states. water. However, the most dangerous of all these threats
may be the impact on the atmosphere of burning large
Burning the Candle quantities of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide is one of several
Whereas many people have seen the dire conditions in the greenhouse gasesgases that hold in the suns heat and
worlds poorest countries as a sign of those countries therefore tend to raise the average temperature of the
backwardness, others have seen such conditions as a atmosphere. Deforestation may have increased global
warning of future dangers. During the second half of the carbon dioxide levels during the agrarian era, but the
twentieth century people were increasingly aware that the burning of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution has
rapid population growth and increasing consumption of greatly increased these levels, from approximately 280
the modern era had put new pressures on the whole bio- parts per million in 1800 to approximately 350 in 2000,
sphere (the part of the earths surface, seas and atmos- and levels could reach 550660 parts per million by
phere inhabited by living things). Indeed, in Something 2150. The exact consequences of this human manipula-
New Under the Sun, John McNeill argued that, in the long tion of the atmosphere are not yet clear, but they are likely
perspective, the changing human relationship with the to cause significant and perhaps rapid changes in global
environment may turn out to be the most important of all climatic patternschanges as great as those that occurred
the changes that occurred during the twentieth century. at the end of the last ice age.
Population growth accounts for much of the impact as
cities have gobbled up farmland and forest land, as roads Modern Era in
and highways have paved over more land, and as Third World History
World farmers have cleared forest lands to eke out a liv- In 1969, by landing on the moon, human beings took
ing. However, late during the twentieth century people the first, hesitant steps toward leaving their home planet.
realized that rates of population growth were slowing These steps brought into focus some of the major
throughout the world as urbanization, increasing educa- changes of the modern revolution, reminding humans
tion, and improved services simultaneously reduced the that the increasing power and complexity of human
pressure to have large families and raised their cost. At societies were bought at a price and came with dangers.
present, it seems likely that global populations will level Humans now have the power to destroy themselves and
out at 9 to 10 billion toward the end of the twenty-first to do much damage to the planet. Our increased power
century. clearly has brought responsibilities for which we are ill
On the other hand, consumption levels are rising in prepared, and the great complexity of the modern global
much of the world. As industrialization spreads to China, community has created new forms of vulnerability and
tfw-56 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The whole of contemporary history, the World Wars, the War of Dreams, the Man
on the Moon, science, literature, philosophy, the pursuit of knowledgewas no
more than a blink of the Earth Womans eye. ARUNDHATI ROY (b. 1960)

the fearsome prospect of a major collapse, similar to the Christian, D. (2004). Maps of time: An introduction to big history. Berke-
ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
collapses suffered in the past by many overambitious
Davies, R.W., Harrison, M., & Wheatcroft, S. G. (Eds.). (1994). The eco-
irrigation-based societies. On the other hand, the im- nomic transformation of the Soviet Union, 19131945. Cambridge,
mense sophistication and scale of the knowledge avail- UK: Cambridge University Press.
Frank, A. G. (1998). ReOrient: Global economy in the Asian age. Berke-
able today hold out the promise of a managed transition ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
to a more sustainable relationship with the biosphere. Headrick, D. R. (1990). Technological change. In B. L. Turner, W. C.
Clark, R.W. Kates, J. F. Richards, J.T. Mathews, & W. B. Meyer. (Eds.),
What remains unclear, then, is whether the modern
The Earth as transformed by human action: Global and regional
revolution will lead to the emergence of a new global changes in the biosphere over the past 300 years (pp. 5567). Cam-
system capable of relative ecological, economic, and bridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Hobsbawm, E. J. (1962). The age of revolution, 17891848. New York:
political stability, or whether the accelerating change of New American Library.
the modern era is the prelude to a sudden, sharp collapse Hobsbawm, E. J. (1977). The age of capital. London: Abacus.
Hobsbawm, E. J. (1987). The age of empire. London: Weidenfeld &
that will drive many parts of the world back to the pro-
ductivity levels of the early agrarian era, if not even fur- Hobsbawm, E. J. (1994). The age of extremes. London: Weidenfeld &
ther. Perhaps the fundamental paradox of the modern Nicolson.
Maddison, A. (2001). The world economy: A millennial perspective. Paris:
revolution is that on the one hand human control over OECD.
the biosphere has increased spectacularly; yet, on the Marks, R. B. (2002). The origins of the modern world: A global and eco-
logical narrative. Oxford, UK: Rowman & Littlefield.
other hand we have not yet shown that we can use that
McNeill, J. R. (2000). Something new under the sun: An environmental his-
control in ways that are equitable and sustainable. We tory of the twentieth-century world. New York: W. W. Norton.
must wait to see whether the astonishing collective McNeill, J. R., & McNeill, W. H. (2003). The human web: A birds-eye
view of world history. New York: W. W. Norton.
achievements of our species will prove ephemeral or Palmer, R. (19591964). The age of the democratic revolution: A politi-
enduring. cal history of Europe and America, 17601800 (Vols. 12). Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press.
Pomeranz, K. (2000). The great divergence: China, Europe, and the mak-
ing of the modern world economy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Further Reading Population Reference Bureau. (n.d.). Human population: Fundamentals
Anderson, B. S., & Zinsser, J. P. (2000). A history of their own:Women in of growth, patterns of world urbanization. Retrieved August 27, 2004,
Europe from prehistory to the present (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford Uni- from
versity Press. Human_Population/Urbanization2/Patterns_of_World_Urbaniza
Bairoch, P. (1988). Cities and economic development: From the dawn of tion1.htm
history to the present. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wong, R. B. (1997). China transformed: Historical change and the limits
Bayly, C. A. (2004). The birth of the modern world 17801914. Oxford, of European experience. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
UK: Blackwell. World development indicators. (2002). Washington, DC: World Bank.
Absolutism, European
Africa, Colonial
Africa, Postcolonial
African Religions
African Union
African-American and Caribbean
Age Stratification
Agricultural Societies
Alexander the Great (2nd millennium bce)
al-Khwarizmi Hebrew patriarch and leader
American Empire
Andean States
A ccording to the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and
Quran as well as their respective interpretive litera-
tures, Abraham is the first human to realize and act out
the divine will. Although foundational figures appear in
Apartheid in South Africa
Arab Caliphates literatures such as the Gilgamesh Epic that are more
Arab League ancient than the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), these
Archaeology have been forgotten to history and only rediscovered
through archaeology and the deciphering of dead lan-
ArtAfrica guages. Abraham first appears in the book of Genesis
ArtAncient Greece and Rome and serves as the original human to affirm monotheism
ArtCentral Asia and to act on that affirmation.The symbolic meaning and
ArtEast Asia
ArtEurope significance of Abraham differs among the three great
ArtNative North America monotheistic religious systems.
ArtOverview Abrahams symbolic importance is first established in
Genesis, where in biblical religion he epitomizes obedi-
ArtSouth Asia
ArtSoutheast Asia ence to the divine will. He obeys Gods commands to
ArtWest Asia leave his ancestral home for a foreign land (Genesis 12),
Art, Paleolithic circumcise himself and his male offspring as part of
Asian Migrations
Gods covenant (Genesis 17), exile his eldest son Ishmael
Asoka (Genesis 21), and finally, in his greatest act of obedience,
Association of Southeast Asian Nations raise up Isaac, his only remaining child, as a burnt offer-
Assyrian Empire ing (Genesis 22). In return for his obedience, God prom-
Augustine, St.
Aurangzeb ises through the divine covenant to provide Abraham
Austro-Hungarian Empire with a multitude of offspring and a land in which his
Automobile progeny will live.
Aztec Empire
In the Christian Bible (New Testament), Abrahams sig-
nificance lies in his unwavering faith. In Romans 4,
Abrahams merit is associated less with obedience to the
divine will than with his faith in Gods ultimate grace. It
is his faith that provides him the merit for Gods having
willing to risk the well-being of Sarah (Genesis 12:12
13; 20:111), and he seems on occasion even to ques-
tion Gods promise (Genesis 17:1518). By the time of
chosen him for the covenant in the first place, and the the New Testament, however, religious figures have taken
covenant becomes one of faith rather than obedience. on a more consistently righteous character: When hope
Members of the divine covenant are, therefore, only seemed hopeless, his faith was such that he became
those who demonstrate faith in the saving power of father of many nations, in agreement with the words
Christ (Galatians 4:215:1). which had been spoken to him: Thus shall your descen-
In the Quran, Abraham signifies human submission dants be.. . . And that is why Abrahams faith was
(the meaning of the word Islam) to God (2:127128; counted to him for righteousness. Those words were
37:103). Abraham rebels against idolatry (37:8399), written, not for Abrahams sake alone, but for our sake
fulfills Gods commands (2:124), raises up and purifies too: it is to be counted in the same way to us who have
the foundations of Gods House in Mecca (2:125 faith in the God who raised Jesus our Lord from the
132), and establishes his offspring there (13:37). dead (Romans 4:1824, New English Bible). And by
Although the ancient Israelites and Christians and Jews the period of the Quranic revelation, the biblical
predate the emergence of Islamic monotheism, they did prophets (among whom was counted Abraham) were
not remain true to the divine covenants (5:1214) considered free from error. Thus Abraham, as well as
because they refused to submit themselves fully to Gods David and Solomon and a host of other characters, are
absolute unity (9:30).Therefore, Abraham was not a Jew free of all doubt and epitomize a somewhat different
nor a Christian, but was an early monotheist (hanif), one prophetic image in the Quran. The strength of Abra-
who submits to Gods will (muslim), not an idolater hams intellect proves the true unity of God (Quran
(3:67). Abrahams importance is so firmly established in 6:7479) and Abraham never doubts the divine will
the foundation narrative of the Hebrew Bible that he can- nor Gods goodness (Quran 37:83113).
not be ignored in subsequent Scriptures. Each Scripture, While Abrahams role in world history is, therefore,
however, imbues a special quality to the person of Abra- mythic founder of monotheism, he symbolizes three
ham and the meaning of his character. different and often conflicting narratives. The compet-
The nature of Abrahams leadership is also depicted ing and polemical narratives transcend the person of
with some variety among the three Scriptures. The Abra- Abraham and bring in the other members of his fam-
ham of the Hebrew Bible is a literary character with ily, including Sarah, Hagar, Isaac, and Ishmael as well
foibles and weaknesses who struggles to realize his role as other scriptural characters and institutions. Not only
of lonely monotheist in an uncertain and overwhelmingly does each narrative serve to justify a theological posi-
idolatrous world. When he fears for his own life, he is tion, it also serves as a polemic to argue against the

4 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Matthew 5:5Blessed are the meek: for they

shall inherit the earth. Bible

theological and institutional positions of the others. ing costs of bureaucratic spending and the social round
This, in turn, has served to justify and fuel ongoing in- at court. Absolutism was not unique to seventeenth-
tellectual, economic, political, and military competition century Europe; absolute kings ruled in China, India,
and conflict among the three monotheistic religious western Africa, the Ottoman empire, Safavid Persia, and
systems in history. Tokugawa Japan between 1500 and 1800. Indeed, in
Europe itself, the origins of absolutism appeared when
Reuven Firestone
kings in England and France tried to increase their power
See also Judaism; Islam against feudal lords and the Church between the eleventh
and fourteenth centuries. These foundations began to
strengthen when the new monarchs of Western Europe
Further Reading tried to stabilize and professionalize their governments in
Delaney, C. (1998). Abraham on trial: The social legacy of biblical myth.
the spirit of the Renaissance.The Protestant Reformation
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Feiler, B. (2002). Abraham: A journey to the heart of three faiths. New both weakened and strengthened this tendency toward
York: HarperCollins Publishers. royal centralization. It unleashed popular discontent with
Firestone, R. (1990). Journeys in holy lands:The evolution of the Abraham-
Ishmael legends in Islamic exegesis. Albany, NY: State University of traditional authorities (including those kings who did not
New York Press. share the reformers zeal), but it also confirmed the Eras-
Firestone, R. (1991). Abrahams association with the Meccan sanctuary
tian notion of the monarch, not the Pope, deciding the
and the pilgrimage in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic periods. Le
Museon Revue dEtudes Orientales, 104, 365393. spiritual matters of countries, even in those places that
Firestone, R. (in press). Patriarchy, primogeniture, and polemic in the remained Catholic. Absolutism in seventeenth-century
exegetical traditions of Judaism and Islam. In D. Stern & N.
Dohrmann (Eds.). Jewish biblical interpretation in a comparative con- Europe was just the latest and most self-conscious effort
text. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. in a long push to make the king supreme in both spiritual
Siker, J. (1991). Disinheriting the Jews: Abraham in early Christian con-
and, thus, temporal policy.
troversy. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox.
Van Seters, J. (1975). Abraham in history and tradition. New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press. Divine Right and
Religious Intolerance
By claiming to rule only by the grace of God, rulers
gained credibility and confidence. For example, Louis
Absolutism, XIV of France (16381715) overcame the treacherous
Fronde of his childhood by invoking divine justification
European for leading without either the Estates-General or ecclesi-
astical surrogates. After his final accession as sole ruler in

E uropean absolutism grew out of a need for order in

the face of political and religious polarization.
Absolute kings in Europe identified sectarian dissidents
1661, he became known as the Sun King, from whom all
energy and power came. His rays extended to the
provinces, where his intendants carried out his wishes
and aristocratic landowners as the primary culprits without his physical presence. Even after a long reign
behind civil wars. They moved to confront these alleged ending with disastrous wars and famines in the early
villains by claiming to rule by divine right, insisting 1700s, Louis still demanded and largely commanded
upon religious uniformity, constructing large civilian and universal respect because of the conventional belief in
military bureaucracies accountable only to the Crown, Gods will behind his blunders and whims. It would take
turning the nobility into dependent window dressing the corrosive critical thinking of the Enlightenment,
with much social but far less political power, and by beginning with the next generation, to undermine slowly
exacting high excise taxes that failed to cover the escalat- the passive obedience necessary for unenlightened abso-
absolutism, european 5

All parties without exception, when they seek for power, are
varieties of absolutism. Pierre Joseph Proudhon

lutism to work. From a global perspective, however, dynasty before opportunistic British and French adven-
Louis was neither original nor excessive in his claims for turers. Of all the absolute monarchs, the most tolerant
divine inspiration. A century before, Sleyman the Great and most successful outside of Europe was Kangxi of
of the Ottoman empire had claimed that his deity Allah China, but even he drew the line on ethnocentric emis-
anointed him as the direct deputy, or caliph, of Muham- saries from the Pope.
mad, the prophet of his faith. A contemporary of Louis
XIV, the Emperor Kangxi of China continued the age-old Bureaucratic Rule
tradition of receiving the mandate from heaven, even To ensure religious uniformity and thus national security,
though he was a Manchu outsider. The emperors of monarchs needed professionals whom they could control
Benin and Dahomey wore shoes that stood very high and trust. By constructing large civilian and military
above the ground so as not to dirty their semidivine feet bureaucracies accountable only to the Crown, rulers
with common earth. Their god or gods all insisted, relied on loyal experts rather than on fickle vassals. For
according to the monarchs, that their way was the best example, Frederick William of Prussia based his autocracy
way for their people to worship. upon bureaucracy. Prussian armies and officials became
By insisting upon religious uniformity, rulers hoped synonymous with disciplined and reliable efficiency. Sim-
to pacify through codified intolerance, a strategy used ilarly, Peter the Great of Russia defeated Swedish and
more often in Europe than elsewhere. In particular, Louis Ottoman adversaries by using uniformed soldiers paid by
XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, exiling his him rather than by individual boyars. From Spain through
Huguenot, or French Protestant, minority in the process. Austria to Sweden, agencies censored, and spies opened
His grandfather Henry IV had issued the Edict in 1598, letters, in part to stay on the royal payroll.This feature of
hoping to end thirty years of civil war by granting absolutism again was not unique to Europe. The Qing
Huguenots limited autonomy in a largely Catholic drew upon entrenched Confucian values of scholar-
France. Louis saw the Huguenots, however prosperous bureaucrats as heroes to combat the indigenous gentry.
and assimilated, as a threat to national security largely The Ottomans continued long-held Byzantine traditions
because he saw them as a fifth column sharing the same of big government to rule their diverse dominions.
faith as his Dutch and English rivals. To Protestants in By turning the nobility into decorative dependents
England and Holland, Catholicism became intrinsically with much social but far less political power, monarchs
linked to absolutism.Yet Protestant monarchs claiming to became the major providers of patronage and hospitality
be absolute in the German states and in Sweden could be at artificially ostentatious capital cities. Bureaucrats who
just as insistent on their religion being the only religion could be fired did most of the work of local and central
of their people. In contrast, sixteenth-century Muslim government by 1700, allowing aristocrats who could not
rulers had tried religious tolerance as a cornerstone of be fired even more leisure time. Louis XIVs Versailles pro-
their leadership. In Ottoman Turkey, Sleyman continued vided the most notorious backdrops for elite partying, all
the early Islamic tolerance of monotheistic faiths such as done at taxpayers expense. At Versailles, nobles who had
Christianity and Judaism. Akbar the Great of Mughal once fought over provinces now fought over who would
India, a Muslim, tried to build bridges to his Hindu attend the kings next soiree. From Madrid to Vienna to
majority by trying to merge the two religions. This trend Saint Petersburg, baroque and rococo palaces under-
did not last, however. By the time Louis XIV came to scored the wealth and majesty of their monarchs. Indeed,
power in France, later Ottomans were far more suspi- Peter the Great created Saint Petersburg in 1703 as his
cious of their Christian subjects. Akbars great-grandson answer to the pomp and theater of Versailles, announcing
Aurangzeb, furthermore, viewed his merger as blasphemy to the world that Russia was an absolutist European state
and emphasized Islamic superiority, which doomed his with a gilded window to the West. Of course, the burden
6 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The Theory Behind Absolutism

The following text extract is from Jean Domats (1625 It is in this principle that we must seek the origin
1696) Public Law. Domat was a French jurist who of the rules that determine the duties, both of those
devoted his career to creating and setting forth a broad who govern and of those who are subject to govern-
basis for the absolutism of French king Louis XIV. ment. For it is through the place God has assigned
each person in the body of society, that He, by call-
There is no one who is not convinced of the impor-
ing him to it, prescribes all his functions and duties.
tance of good order in the state and who does not sin-
And just as He commands everyone to obey faithfully
cerely wish to see that state well ordered in which he
the precepts of His law that make up the duties of all
has to live. For everyone understands, and feels in
people in general, so He prescribes for each one in
himself by experience and by reason, that this order
particular the duties proper to his condition and sta-
concerns and touches him in a number of ways . . .
tus, according to his rank in the body of which he is
Everyone knows that human society forms a body
a member. This includes the functions and duties of
of which each person is a member; and this truth,
each member with respect to other individuals and
which Scripture teaches us and which the light of rea-
with respect to the body as a whole.
son makes plain, is the foundation of all the duties
Source: Domat, J. (1829). Le droit public, suite des lois civiles dans leur ordre naturel vol.
that relate to the conduct of each person toward oth- 3. Oeuvres completes, nouvelle edition revue corrige [The public right, following civil laws
in their natural order vol. 3. Complete works, new rev. corrected ed.] (pp. 1-2) (J. Remy,
ers and toward the body as a whole. For these sorts Ed.). Paris: Firmin-Didot.
of duties are nothing else but the functions appropri-
ate to the place each person holds according to his
rank in society.

for funding this largesse fell hardest upon the poor with from royal graft and bureaucratic inertia; they were no
regressive tariffs and sales taxes. In France especially, match globally against more entrepreneurial English and
nobles and clergy were exempted from most taxes, largely Dutch freelancers. Adam Smiths caricature of mercan-
to gain their loyalty and their indifference to royal spend- tilists as craven incompetents was not far from the truth.
thrifts. From a global perspective, however, the most put-
upon taxpayers living in an absolute state lived in Limited Monarchies in
Tokugawa Japan, where peasants paid almost one-half the Seventeenth Century
their incomes in taxes. At least three of the major exceptions to absolutist rule in
While raising taxes on the poor to pay for the loyalty Europe prospered largely because their rulers still had
and comfort of the well-connected, monarchs limited the more limited executive power. While Poland did not last
wealth of their nations.This was acutely true of the Euro- long because it lacked a strong central government and
pean variety of absolutism. Louis XIV left France desti- was partitioned into extinction by absolute monarchies
tute, despite the fact that it was the most populous by 1795, the Dutch Republic, England, and Scotland
country in Europe. His legacy of national indebtedness prided themselves on being both Protestant and relatively
would grow into the nightmare that set the stage for the free of absolutism. After winning its long struggle for
Revolution. Under the mercantilism of the financier and independence against Habsburg Spain in 1648, the
statesman Jean-Baptiste Colbert, wealth was supposed to Dutch Republic generated wealth that was put back into
trickle down through the Sun King and his favored business and not back into a voracious, bloated bureau-
monopolies, particularly a domestic silk industry, to the cracy.The kings of England and Scotland tried to become
common people. Unfortunately for him and his realm, absolute during the seventeenth century, but their
Louis was as bad a businessman as he was a commander attempts failed, with one king beheaded in 1649 and one
in chief. His protected industries were not protected of his sons essentially fired by Parliament in 1688. Eng-
absolutism, european 7

Absolutism tempered by assassination. Count Muenster

(nineteenth century)

land and Scotland then imported a Dutch king, William high offices to the highest bidder, making his colonial
of Orange, to rule under limits, issuing the Bill of Rights bureaucracy more accountable and, unfortunately for his
of 1689. When Britain (the union of England and Scot- successors, more resented. Religious freedom under the
land after 1707) economically eclipsed the Dutch Repub- Bourbon reforms paradoxically required a degree of reli-
lic in the eighteenth century, the British used Dutch gious intolerance: Jesuits were now seen as retrograde
ideas about banking, insurance, and stock exchanges, all obstacles to progress rather than as purveyors of abso-
of which were slow to be reproduced in absolute monar- lutist civilization and were expelled from the Spanish
chies such as Austria, Prussia, and France. empire in 1767.While Jesuits were also expelled from the
Portuguese empire in the name of enlightened despotism
Absolutism and the in 1759, Joseph II of Austria abolished discriminatory
Enlightenment measures against Protestants and Jews in the 1780s
While more stodgy and less dynamic than their Dutch without expelling the Jesuits. He even abolished serfdom
and British counterparts, absolute monarchies in most in 1781 by royal edict.
other parts of Europe did not remain static during the sec-
ond half of the eighteenth century. This partial makeover Absolutism and
was in contrast to Muslim and Chinese contemporaries Totalitarianism
who clung much more closely to hidebound tradition. Absolutism, however enlightened, should not be con-
Most significantly, enlightened absolutism in Europe fused with modern totalitarianism. Absolute kings were
recast the kings as devotees of the philosophes. Frederick far less powerful than modern dictators. Technologies of
the Great of Prussia, the son of Frederick William, learned surveillance and propaganda used by Adolf Hitler, Joseph
from Voltaire to make his bureaucracy even more profes- Stalin, and Idi Amin were unavailable to Louis XIV,
sional and less arbitrary than his martinet father. His gov- Frederick William, and Kangxi. Absolute monarchs
ernment allowed some expressive freedoms and used claimed sovereignty from God, while totalitarian dicta-
fewer tortures, all in the spirit of the Age of Reason. He tors claimed sovereignty from a majority of their people.
forced his people to adopt more rational ways of farming, The French Revolutions most radical phase introduced
even making them cultivate the American potato over tra- a more efficient form of centralization.The most effective
ditional favorites. Nevertheless, Fredericks devotion to enlightened despot, Napoleon, ushered in the transition
reform was selective at best. He kept his own serfs despite between the two kinds of leaders, judiciously choosing
rhetorical objections to the idea of serfdom, and he re- the people as a more solid and credible foundation for
served bureaucratic positions and their accompanying power than God.
privileges for the Junkers, the Prussian aristocratic land-
Charles Howard Ford
owners. Catherine the Great of Russia was even more
timid in her pursuit of change. While she seemed to See also Elizabeth I; Napoleon; Parliamentarianism
patronize the activities and agree with the intentions of
the Enlightenment, she expanded serfdom into newly
acquired territories and dropped all taxes on the nobility Further Reading
entirely in 1785. Other monarchs went much further Alexander, J.T. (1989). Catherine the Great: Life and legend. Oxford, UK:
Oxford University Press.
than Frederick and Catherine in their embrace of directed
Berenstain, V. (1998). India and the Mughal dynasty. New York: Henry
progress for all of their people. Adhering to the Enlight- N. Abrams.
enments economic views, Charles III of Spain encour- Bulliet, R., et al. (2001). The Earth and its peoples: A global history (2nd
ed.): Vol. 2. Since 1500. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
aged free trade within his empire with his famous decrees Burke, P. (1994). The fabrication of Louis XIV. New Haven, CT: Yale Uni-
of 1778 and 1789. He also ended the practice of selling versity Press.
8 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

At sixteen I was stupid, confused and indecisive. At twenty-five I was wise,

self-confident, prepossessing and assertive. At forty-five I am stupid,
confused, insecure and indecisive. Who would have supposed that maturity
is only a short break in adolescence? Jules Feiffer (b. 1929)

Colley, L. (1992). Britons: Forging the nation, 17071837. New Haven, of adulthood, and no distinct adolescent stage is recog-
CT: Yale University Press.
nized. The Cree Native Americans distinguish only
Imber, C. (2003). The Ottoman empire, 13001650: The structure of
power. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. between adults and nonadults; a male child is a small
Ladurie, E. L. (1998). The ancient regime: A history of France, 1610 man and a female child a small woman. Even when a
1774 (M. Greengrass, Trans.). Oxford, UK: Blackwell.
Lynch, J. (1989). Bourbon Spain, 17001808. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. society reserves a special status for the pubescent boy or
Massie, R. K. (1986). Peter the Great: His life and world. New York: Bal- girl, the chronological age span may not overlap the
lantine Press.
familiar definition of adolescence. Thus, among the
Padover, S. (1967). Joseph II of Austria:The revolutionary emperor. North
Haven, CT: Shoe String Press. North American Chippewa people, puberty was under-
Rosenberg, H. (1958). Bureaucracy, aristocracy, and autocracy: The stood to signal the beginning of a special stage of life, but
Prussian experience, 16601815. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univer-
sity Press. that stage lasted until a person had grandchildren. Nev-
Ogg, D. (1962). Seventeenth-century Europe (8th ed.). New York: Macmil- ertheless, a stage in the life cycle comparable to adoles-
lan Press.
cence is extremely common across time and geography.
Wallerstein, I. M. (1980). The modern world system II: Mercantilism and
the consolidation of the European world. San Diego, CA: Academic Virtually all of a sample of 186 cultures around the world
Press. recognize some kind of transition period between child-
hood and adulthood. What most differentiates adoles-
cence across societies is the duration of the adolescent
transition and the degree of upheaval experienced by the
Adolescence young person. The almost universal presence of adoles-
cence across time and geography is attributable to certain

T he term adolescence refers to both a chronological

stage in the human life cycle and a psychological and
behavioral profile understood to uniquely describe a
universal features of human development.Variations that
occur in the duration and quality of the adolescent tran-
sition are accounted for by differences in the context in
specific category of people. Chronologically, adolescence which children are raised, which influence how the uni-
is the transitional stage between childhood and adult- versal aspects of adolescence are played out in particular
hood. Psychologically and behaviorally, adolescence is a cases.
time of life characterized by emotional upheaval, risk tak-
ing, rule breaking, increased conflict with parents, uncer- Universal Aspects
tainty about self-identity, and heightened interest in of Adolescence
romantic attachments and sexual activity. Although all As a chronological stage of life, adolescence roughly coin-
known societies, past and present, distinguish among cides with puberty. Puberty is a complex set of physio-
children, adults, and old people, adolescence is not uni- logical processes that results in physical, emotional, and
versally acknowledged as a separate stage in the life motivational changes in a person.These changes include
cycle of a person. The term adolescence as used to indi- maturation of the reproductive system and associated
cate youthfulness seems to have appeared in the English increased interest in the opposite sex and parenting,
language only at the end of the nineteenth century, and along with maturation of secondary sex characteristics
the idea of adolescence as a special developmental stage such as body size, body shape, and patterns of hair
did not surface formally in Western culture until the twen- growth. All of these changes are precipitated by the activ-
tieth century. ity of several hormonal systems. Puberty is also associ-
Adolescence as a distinct stage of development also ated with maturation of certain brain functions that then
appears to be absent in certain non-Western societies. affect the motivational and emotional profile of the
Among the Cubeo people of the northwestern Amazon young person. Brain changes specifically related to
in South America, for example, puberty signals the arrival puberty underlie some of the psychological and behav-
adolescence 9

now in a position to demand more power and more priv-

ileges can be predicted to create certain universal tensions
between teenagers and their elders. With regard to the
society at large, the senior generation is likely to resist sur-
rendering its authority to the younger generation. Regard-
less of time or place, conflict between parents and
adolescents can be expected to escalate as teenagers
become less dependent on parents and increasingly capa-
ble of challenging parental authority.

Historical and
Geographic Variations
Although the universal process of puberty may inevitably
produce certain outcomes regardless of historical time or
place, variations in the environmental context in which
the adolescent lives can affect how adolescence is played
out. Such variations can increase or decrease the degree
to which emotional upheaval and interpersonal tensions
will characterize the adolescent experience.
Young people at fair in India enjoying and
powering a ferris wheel. Managing the Adolescent
Identity Redefinition
Many societies historically have responded to the
ioral traits that we associate with adolescence, including inevitable fact of puberty by instituting initiation cere-
increased emotionality, a thirst for adventure and novelty, monies of some sort that publicly recognize the changing
antisocial behavior, and increased conflict with parents. status of maturing youth. For boys such ceremonies may
Because puberty is a universal feature of the human include public circumcision as well as hazing and other
condition, all teenagers can be expected to manifest to at psychological and physical challenges. For girls such cer-
least some degree the expected physical, motivational, emonies are often associated with menarche, the onset of
and behavioral outcomes produced by hormonal and menstruation. Often a ceremonial rite culminates in an
brain changes associated with puberty. explicit ceremony conferring adult status on the initiate.
Developmental psychologists have also long noted Initiation ceremonies, then, represent a public recognition
that pubertal changes are likely to create secondary effects that the young person is maturing physically and can be
that, because they are the result of the universal process expected to begin to engage in adult behaviors. As such,
of puberty, can also be expected to be universal.The first initiation ceremonies provide community support for
of these effects concerns how young people undergoing the adolescents attempts at redefinition of self and pub-
puberty now view themselves. The assumption is that licly confirm that the adolescent is becoming an adult.
puberty inevitably requires a new self-definition in light The upheaval associated with image redefinition in such
of the dramatic physical and motivational changes that societies is likely to be relatively mild.
the adolescent is experiencing and that this identity revi- Initiation ceremonies have become less common or
sion must result in some amount of internal emotional have been stripped of much of their original meaning in
upheaval.The equally inevitable fact that adolescents are contemporary cultures, especially in complex hetero-
10 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

An Initiation Ceremony for Girls in Zambia

Around the world the transition from childhood to ado- The Bemba chisungu is an individual nubility rite
lescence or adulthood is often marked by a formal, pub- practised for each girl, or for two or three girls
lic ceremony. The following is a description of the together and it is preceded by a short puberty cere-
chisungu ceremony for girls of the Bemba people of mony proper.When a girl knows that her first period
Zambia. has come she tells older women and they must bring
her to the hearth again (ukumufishyo peshiko), or
The chisungu of the Bemba is usually described either
show her the fire (ukumulanga umulilo) since her
as a puberty rite for girls or as a female initiation cer-
condition has made her cold. This is done by rites
emony. It consists of a long and rather elaborate suc-
which vary slightly from locality to locality. The uku-
cession of ritual acts which includes miming, singing,
solwela ceremony is one in which doctored seeds are
dancing and the handling of sacred emblems. In the
cooked on a fire and the girl must pull them out and
old days the chisungu invariably preceded the mar-
eat them burning hot. In another rite she is washed
riage of a young girl, and was an integral part of the
with medicine cooked in a special pot and she drinks
series of ceremonies by which a bridegroom was
this medicine too. She is then isolated indoors for a
united to the family group of his bride, in a tribe in
day or more and fed with a small ball of millet por-
which descent is reckoned through the woman and
ridge cooked in new fire so that she may be made free
not through the man, and in which a man comes to
to eat again without harming herself or others. This
live with his wifes relatives at marriage rather than a
is the usual Bemba way of returning to the commu-
woman with her husbands. . . .

geneous societies.When no public recognition of the fact person might need to make upon reaching adulthood
and implications of puberty is given, adolescents are left include whether or not to marry, whom to marry,
to struggle through the adolescent identity shift on their whether to have children, what career path to follow,
own, with the result that the shift may be prolonged and what political and religious beliefs to adopt, and where
difficult. It is probably not a coincidence that the view of to live. In practice, any or all of these choices may be fore-
adolescence as a period of storm and stress, as well as the closed to the person, either by circumstance or by cultural
concept of the identity crisis, originated in Western cul- convention. Historically, because of limitations on the
ture, which lacks meaningful initiation ceremonies. In availability of potential spouses, absence of effective birth
Western culture ceremonies such as the bar mitzvah (the control technology, hardships associated with making a
initiatory ceremony recognizing a boy as having reached living, and cultural barriers foreclosing free choice of
the age of Jewish religious duty and responsibility) may spouse, job, and the like, a young person typically had
still be practiced, but these ceremonies no longer guar- fewer choices to make regarding how his or her life would
antee that the young person will now be recognized as a look. In contemporary heterogeneous, democratic, afflu-
man, the original culmination of the ceremony. ent societies, the choices that a young person can and
indeed must make are numerous, the consequences of
Range of Life Choices making such choices are momentous, and pressure to
The adolescent experience is also affected by the range of make a number of decisions about the future simultane-
choices open to people who are facing adulthood and ously is often present. Hence, the level of stress experi-
need to make decisions about the course that their lives enced during adolescence, and beyond, is expected to be
will take. The wider the range of choices, the more diffi- higher in such societies.This difference in the constraints
cult it can be to negotiate the task of taking on new roles, placed by custom and circumstance on individual life
and the more the need to choose will be associated with choices may explain why, until the close of the Middle
upheaval. Theoretically, important choices that a young Ages, the distinction between child and adult was mini-
adolescence 11

nity a person who has passed through an unusual or

dangerous state.
The girl then waits till it is convenient for her dren were exposed regularly to the facts of life, including
chisungu ceremony to be danced. I call this latter a sex and death, and this exposure is also the case in many
nubility rite since it is clearly considered as a prelim- traditional cultures around the world. In many cultures
inary to the marriage ceremony; indeed, Bemba teenagers are already living a fully adult life. In 52 percent
accounts frequently confuse the two. Formerly the girl of a worldwide sample of fifty-eight cultures, boys are
came to her chisungu already betrothed, and this is already married by nineteen years of age, and in 96 per-
usually the case today.The bridegroom plays a part in cent of sixty-nine cultures around the world, girls are mar-
the rite in his own person, or is represented by his sis- ried before they are twenty.With marriage come all of the
ter. He contributes to the cost of the rite by paying the responsibilities as well as the privileges of adulthood, and
mistress of the ceremonies.The chisungu protects the whatever adolescent transition that these young people
young couple against the magic dangers of first inter- have experienced is over.
course and gives the bridegroom the right to perform
this act, which is thought to be entirely different from Clarity of Expectations
all that follow it. Related to the range of choices open to the adolescent is
Source: Richards, A. I. (1956). Chisungu: A girls initiation ceremony among the Bemba the clarity with which expectations regarding the behav-
of Northern Rhodesia (pp. 17, 54). London: Faber and Faber.
ior of the adolescent are laid out by the older generation.
In many societies stages in the life cycle are associated
with age grades. Each age grade is composed of people
of a specified age range. A given age grade is associated
mized, not to mention the recognition of adolescence as with a detailed set of responsibilities and prerogatives.
a separate stage of life. Explicit procedures guarantee graduation from one age
grade to the next. When age grades are present in a soci-
Continuities between ety, adolescents usually belong to their own age grade.
Childhood and Adulthood This fact means that adolescents know what is expected
A society can either emphasize or de-emphasize the differ- of them. It also means that adolescents understand how
ences between childhood and adulthood in such areas as and when the transition out of adolescence and into
taking responsibility, participating in sexual activity, being adulthood will happen.
exposed to death, and so on.When a society emphasizes Clarity of expectations, with regard to what the ado-
continuities, or in other words de-emphasizes differences, lescent must and must not do and with regard to how and
the transition from childhood to adulthood is more likely when adult status will be granted, makes for a smoother
to be short and smooth. To the extent that expectations and less tumultuous adolescent experience. In societies
for and the practical experience of the adolescent are dra- with no such clarity of expectations, adolescents, left on
matically different from childhood to adulthood, the tran- their own to construct their own adolescence and make
sition from the one stage to the other has the potential to their own entry into adulthood, tend to have a more
be long and difficult. Historically, children were incorpo- unsettled adolescent experience. Societies that leave ado-
rated into adult life at an early age, and the same often lescents to fend for themselves may have no choice, at
holds true in contemporary traditional societies with a least as regards some features of adolescents life. For
subsistence economy. Children in societies of this sort take instance, where the range of choices open to adolescents
on responsibility when they are quite young, in degrees is wide, and where a society is constantly changing over
consistent with their age and capabilities, and may be time, the older generation cannot predict what adoles-
making concrete and important contributions to the wel- cents need to know or do to prepare for adulthood. The
fare of their families at a quite early age. Historically, chil- trade-off for adolescent stress is opportunity in adulthood.
12 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Snow and adolescence are the only problems that disappear

if you ignore them long enough. Earl Wilson
(twentieth century)

Historical Variations in keeping up with biological reality. If young people who

the Timing of Puberty are physically, sexually, and psychologically precocious in
The major physical and psychological changes associated comparison with the same age cohort of just a generation
with puberty occur during the second decade of human ago are treated as if they were children, both the young
life regardless of historical time or place. However, within people and the society will experience disruptions.
these temporal boundaries, the environment in which a The secular trend has another far-reaching effect on the
child is raised can affect the details of the onset and tim- adolescent and the community. Hormonal and brain
ing of puberty. Thus, since about 130 years ago, the age changes associated with puberty account for some, but
of onset of puberty has been decreasing by approximately not all, of the maturation of a person during and after the
four months each decade in some western European teen years. Cognitive skills such as the ability to plan, to
nations. This trend also began to appear in other coun- control impulses, and to appreciate the long-term conse-
tries across the world about fifty years ago.The decline in quences of ones actions also become more sophisticated
the age of onset of puberty through recent historical time, with age but develop independently of the hormonal and
known as the secular trend, has been accompanied by brain changes associated with puberty per se.Thus, a dis-
a more rapid pace of pubertal change. Age of menarche sociation exists between the maturation of physiological
and attainment of adult status reflect this pattern. Thus, and motivational changes associated with puberty and
in urban populations, where the secular trend is most evi- the development of cognitive skills that allows for
dent, menarche occurs on average at the age of twelve, thoughtful, disciplined, forward-looking planning. Accel-
whereas in Papua New Guinea, where the secular trend eration of puberty does not lead to earlier maturation of
is not in evidence, menarche does not occur until a girl cognitive skills, which, therefore, lag further and further
is eighteen years old.The secular trend affects growth pat- behind with the earlier and earlier onset and faster and
terns in a similar way. In the United States, where the age faster rate of puberty. Before the secular trend, the ten-
of onset of puberty has been decreasing steadily for dency of sexually mature adolescents to act on impulse,
decades, girls reach their adult height at an average of 13 take risks, break rules, and seek novelty was more likely
years of age, whereas U.S. boys reach their adult height to be offset by an increasing capacity to think clearly
at an average of 15.5 years. By contrast, among the about the meaning and consequences of their actions.
Kikuyu people of eastern Africa, where puberty begins With the appearance of the secular trend, adolescents are
later, girls attain their adult height during their late teens able and willing to behave in ways that can have harm-
on average and boys during their early twenties. Differ- ful, even tragic, consequences but do not always have the
ences in the age of onset and duration of puberty coin- cognitive resources to inhibit such behavior. Historically,
cide with differences in the standard of living of a we seem to be witnessing a growing disconnect between
population. In particular, decreases in a childs level of what actions adolescents want to take and can take and
exposure to disease, increased quality of nutrition, and how adolescents reason about those actions.
improved health of the mother during pregnancy seem to
Gwen J. Broude
be causes of the secular trend.
The secular trend has important implications for the See also Childhood; Initiation and Rites of Passage
adolescent experience for a number of reasons. Obvi-
ously earlier onset of puberty will mean earlier expression
of the psychological and behavioral traits associated Further Reading
with adolescence. Less obviously, when onset of puberty Aries, P. (1962). Centuries of childhood. New York: Vintage Books.
Dahl, R. (2003). Beyond raging hormones: The tinderbox in the teenage
is accelerated as rapidly as it is by the secular trend, a soci- brain. Cerebrum, 5(3), 722.
etys expectations about its young people may not be Hall, G. S. (1904). Adolescence. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
africa 13

Advice to Persons About to Write History

Dont. Lord Acton (18341902)

Schlegel, A., & Barry, H., III. (1991). Adolescence: An anthropological centric argument that the term is actually ancient Egypt-
inquiry. New York: Free Press.
ian in origin, from Af-Rui-Ka, meaning place of begin-
Worthman, C. (1999). Evolutionary perspectives on the onset of puberty.
In W.Trevathan, E. O. Smith, & J. McKenna (Eds.), Evolutionary med- nings. Whatever the origins of the term, by the fifteenth
icine (pp. 135164). New York: Oxford University Press. century Africa was winning out against competing terms
such as Ethiopia and Libya to become the common iden-
tifier for the continent. If one looks at maps of Africa pro-
duced during the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries,
Africa once can see Africa increasingly come to dominate as the
name of the continent. The controversy over the land-

A frica has played a number of often contradictory

roles in the writing of world history. Indeed, perhaps
no single world region has played so contentious a role
masss name serves as foreshadowing for the deeper
conflicts over its meaning and relevance in world history.

in the field. Africa has been derided by some scholars as Early Conceptions
irrelevant to world history. Conversely, others have of Africa
argued that Africa lies at the very center of human history. The field of history as we know it today is largely a West-
What could possibly account for such utterly incompat- ern European creation. It should be no surprise, then,
ible perspectives? The answer to the question is itself his- that the earliest attempts at writing histories of the world
torical. Over the past several hundred years, the history
of Africa has been viewed through a variety of lenses, and
these lenses have greatly influenced the way the history
of Africa has been understood. Similarly, as the range of
academic thinking has expanded and diversified in recent
years, so have the number of lenses for understanding
Africa. Rather than seeing the various contradictory
notions of Africa as a failing of history, however, it might
be more useful to look at the situation as instructive. By
examining the great variety of ways in which Africa has
been understood in the past few hundred years, we gain
a remarkable insight into not only the complex part of
the world known as Africa, but also into the growth and
development of the field of world history itself.

Origins of the Name Africa

The very origin of the name Africa is contentious. The
most common scholarly explanation is that it comes from
the Roman Africa terra, or land of the Afri in reference
to a Berber-speaking society that once lived in what is
now Tunisia. One alternative explanation is that it comes
from the Latin aprica (sunny) or the Phoenician term afar
(dust). An Arabic term, Ifriqiya, is often assumed to This early-twentieth-century book shows the
come from the Roman, though some argue that the vastness of Africa by superimposing four
Latin term came from the Arabic. There is also an Afro- other regions on its map.
14 berkshire encyclopedia of world history


Madeira Islands
o cco Tunisia Mediterranean Sea
Canary Islands

Western Libya
Sahara Egypt


Senegal Chad Eritrea
Guinea- Burkina
Bissau Guinea Faso Djibouti
Cte Nigeria
Sierra Ethiopia


Liberia Central African



Ghana Equatorial C So
Uganda Kenya
Sao Tome Gabon Democratic

And Principe Republic


Co of the Congo
Cabinda Tanzania

South Seychelles

Atlantic Comoros
M ala


N bi


Zimbabwe oz


Botswana Reunion


0 1,000 mi

0 1,000 km
africa 15

We are not guardians of the earth for our

children. It is our childrens land which they are
lending to us. Kenyan Proverb

are themselves European. Particularly during the Enlight- pean racial superiority. Born of the achievements of the
enment, European philosopher-scholars were trying to scientific revolution and the creation of a new plantation
make sense of a world that was to them very new. Euro- economy that demanded a brutal system of slave labor,
pean voyages of exploration and colonial expansion had most European scholars of the time embraced the notion
resulted in a great deluge of information about the wider that nonwhite peoples were intrinsically inferior.Witness
world, and these early scholars struggled to pull the infor- the following excerpt from David Humes essay Of
mation together into a whole that explained the world as National Characters (1748):
they were experiencing it. Thus, just as new cartographic
I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all other
skills were creating an increasingly detailed picture of
species of men to be naturally inferior to the whites. There
physical Africa, these scholars sought to create an expla-
never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than
nation of Africas place in world history. white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or
Notably, prior to the modern era, Africa was not seen speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no
as a terribly different part of the world. Given the long arts, no sciences.
interaction among Europe, Africa, and the Middle East,
all had previously been seen as part of a single world, as G.W. F. Hegels Geographical Basis of World History
is evident from premodern maps. Indeed, trade, the (1820s) reflected similar themes. Hegel divided Africa up
Roman empire, and then Christianity had helped create into three regions: North Africa, Egypt, and Africa
a high degree of shared culture and identity in the circum- proper. Hegel describes the region thus:
Mediterranean region, such that Africa was probably seen
Africa proper is the characteristic part of the whole conti-
as more a part of the Roman Christian world than were
nent as such . . . It has no historical interest of its own, for
many parts of northern and eastern Europe. This legacy
we find its inhabitants living in barbarism and savagery in
survived even the collapse of Rome and the rise of Islam,
a land which has not furnished them with any integral ingre-
for example in the myth of Prester John, a supposed Chris- dient of culture. From the earliest historical times, Africa has
tian king sometimes placed in distant parts of Asia and remained cut off from all contacts with the rest of the world;
sometimes in Africa. For a very long time, then, Europeans it is the land of gold, forever pressing in upon itself, and the
often saw Africans in terms of similarity and affinity, not land of childhood, removed from the light of self-conscious
difference. Early Islamic travelers and scholars, too, while history and wrapped in the dark mantle of night.
initially seeing the Dar al-Sudan (land of the blacks) as a
very different place, increasingly came to accept regions of Hegels characterization of Africa in world history
it as part of the Dar al-Islam (land of peace). includes several key elements that continued to be used
to define Africa (and Africans) in world history for more
Racial and Civilizational than a hundred years. First is the racial division of Africa.
Views of Africa North Africa and Egypt, where people were less black,
However, in their efforts to place Africa in world history, were judged to possess history, while black Africans were
most Enlightenment historians were deeply influenced devalued as uncivilized, living in barbarism, and devoid
by two issues. First, they tended to think of historical evi- of culture. Second, Africa proper was described as being
dence only in terms of written documents.Thus, because isolated from other parts of the world and thus peripheral
they were either unable to translate (as in the case of to world history.Third, Africans were defined as childlike
ancient Egyptian) or unaware of written documents of not fully mature (as opposed to Europeans). Such a
African origin, these scholars decided that Africans were characterization was a critical element in the paternalis-
without history. Second, and perhaps more importantly, tic justification of European authority, first in the context
they were deeply influenced by growing notions of Euro- of slavery and later in the imposition of colonial rule.
16 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

This map and the ones that follow show

from the white race by the broad stretch of the Sahara
evolving European knowledge of Africa.
Desert. Sometimes the blacks of inner Africa did wander
along [the Nile] into Egypt, but they only came in small
groups. Thus cut off by the desert barrier and living by
During the course of the early twentieth century, a
themselves, they remained uninfluenced by civilization by
somewhat different twist on the racial model of world his-
the north, nor did they contribute appreciably to this
tory became prominent, and this was the notion of civi- civilization.
lizations. Historians of this era, such as H. G. Wells,
Arnold Toynbee, and James Breasted, built their analysis Thus the civilizational model did not so much displace
and presentation of world history around the presumed race as a means of defining world history as incorporate
racial and cultural continuity of certain civilizations. Not it into a larger framework. Race and civilization came to
surprisingly, these scholars placed European civilization mean much the same thing, and, as before, Africa and
at the pinnacle of a human hierarchy, with other civiliza- Africans played a role in world history only as the unciv-
tions, such as Chinese or Persian, playing at best sup- ilized foil to Europes achievement and sophistication.
porting roles. Like the Enlightenment historians before
them, these scholars left Africa out of the picture, owing Early Twentieth-Century
both to Africans presumed uncivilized nature and the Black Scholarship
absence of historical documentation. In the 1937 edition The twentieth century, however, witnessed a number of
of his The Conquest of Civilization Breasted dismissed challenges to the concepts of whiteness and civilization
Africa as separated from the Great White Race by the that had been constructed by earlier world historians.The
Sahara and therefore uninfluenced by civilization: first of these challenges came from a group of African-
American scholars that included such pioneers as Carter
On the south of the Northwest Quadrant lay the teeming
black world of Africa, as it does today. It was separated
G.Woodson and W. E. B. Du Bois. Both held PhDs from
Harvard University and published extensively on black
history.Woodson, for example, helped found the Journal
of Negro History. Du Bois, one of the most prolific writ-
africa 17

ers of the age, directly challenged the notion of Western History). Notably, while the Afrocentric perspective has
cultural primacy with such essays as What is Civiliza- helped to undermine notions of white superiority, it has
tion (1926). Both scholars did much to undermine the not made a break with, but rather has embraced, an
notion that Africans were without history. overtly racial notion of historical analysis. Indeed, more
Also of early significance was the Senegalese scientist extreme exponents of Afrocentrism have argued that
and historian Cheikh Anta Diop, whose doctoral disser- only those of African descent can truly understand, and
tation at the Sorbonne created a sensation in the 1950s hence study, African history. In a scholarly world that
by arguing that the ancient Egyptians had been black, increasingly sees race as a social construction, such essen-
rather than white. Diops work became a foundational tialist frameworks have become less and less popular.
element of the Afrocentic perspective on Africa, which
argues that there was a coherent black civilization that The Rise of Area Studies
had its roots in ancient Egypt. Afrocentrism has increas- In the 1950s, the rise of area studies programs helped to
ingly come to represent a counterpoint to Eurocentrism. further undermine the old Eurocentric models of world
Indeed, other Afrocentric scholars, such as George James, history. In the United States, the creation of a number of
have even carried the argument further, making the case government-subsidized African studies programs pro-
in Stolen Legacy (1954) that ancient Greek culture, rather vided an institutional foundation for a systematic study
than being a local innovation, was stolen from Egyptian of African history. During the 1950s and 1960s a new
culture. The argument over the relationship (or lack generation of Africanists in Africa, the United States, and
thereof) between Greece and Egypt continues to be a con- Europe helped develop an interdisciplinary historical
tentious one to this day. Witness, for example, the exten- methodology that embraced not only written documents,
sive debate between Martin Bernal (author of Black but also oral histories, linguistics, and archaeology as a
Athena) and Mary Lefkowitz (author of Not Out of Africa:
How Afrocentrism Became an Excuse to Teach Myth as
18 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

means of reconstructing the African past. Over the

decades since, the results of this research have established
a rich and varied historiography. Such a body of histori-
cal knowledge could not be ignored by world historians,
and as a result world history texts could no longer dis-
count Africa as being without history.
However, the area studies model was not without its history of Africa and other previously neglected regions
drawbacks. In particular, the organization of different of the world. The point here is that the changing con-
parts of the world into apparently coherent areas (largely cepts of Africa highlight that the concept of Africa itself
based upon continental divisions) ascribed a meaning to is a construction, no less than that of race or civilization.
units no more precise than the older concepts of race or The meaning of Africa, thus, has held different things for
civilization. Notably, world history textbooks followed different audiences over time. Some based more in his-
the new structure of the field by basing their chapter torical fact, and others based more in cultural and polit-
organization on area studies frameworks, leading to a ical agendas, perhaps, but all very real in terms of the
meanwhile, in Africa approach to the continent. Such a impact on their audiences conceptions of world history.
framework did little to undermine the old notion of an The changing notions of Africa highlight the fact that our
isolated Africa or of the idea of culturally coherent civi- understanding of both Africa and the world has been
lizations that had previously been advocated by the likes both interrelated and constantly changing for the past
of Hegel and Breasted, or even Diop. The 1980s and several hundred years. Indeed, it is rather difficult to
1990s saw a challenge to these notions via the rise of understand the one without the other.
concepts such as zones of interaction, which stressed the
Jonathan T. Reynolds
connections between regions rather than the difference
between them. Regions such as the Atlantic world or See also Africa, Colonial; Africa, Postcolonial; African Reli-
the Indian Ocean world replaced continents as units of gions; African-American and Caribbean Religions; Afro-
analysis. As Patrick Manning, one of a growing group of Eurasia; Aksum; Apartheid in South Africa; ArtAfrica;
Africanists who have greatly influenced world history in Benin; EgyptState Formation; Egypt, Ancient; Equato-
recent years, argued in his 2003 work Navigating World rial and Southern Africa; Hausa States; Kanem-Bornu;
History, it is the connections that make world history, not Kenyatta, Jomo; Kongo; Mali; Mansa Musa; Mehmed II;
the separations. Meroe; Nkrumah, Kwame; Nubians; Pan-Africanism; Pas-
Because these new regional units of analysis build on toral Nomadic Societies; Senghor, Leopold; Shaka Zulu;
zones of interaction rather than on continents or civi- Slave Trades; Sokoto Calipahate; Songhai; Trading Pat-
lizations, they threaten to deconstruct the very area stud- terns, Trans-Saharan; Tutu, Desmond; Wagadu Empire;
ies frameworks that have done so much to further the WarfareAfrica; Zimbabwe, Great
africa, colonial 19

I believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I dont believe in wasting

brotherhood on anyone who doesnt want to practice it with me.
Brotherhood is a two-way street. Malcolm X (19251965)

Further Reading malaria), transportation technologies (such as steamships

Bates, R. H. Mudimbe,V.Y., & OBarr, J. F. (Eds.). (1993). Africa and the and railroads to penetrate the interior), and military tech-
disciplines:The contributions of research in Africa to the social sciences
and humanities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
nologies (such as the rapid-repeating Maxim gun).
Breasted, J. H. (1938). The Conquest of Civilization (pp. 4445). New Several factors drove the European scramble for Africa.
York: Literary Guild of America. In the industrial era, competition for the resources of the
Diop, C. A. (1974). The African origins of civilization: Myth or reality.
New York: L. Hill. tropical world, such as rubber and cotton, intensified.The
Maeterlinck, M., & Mukerji, D.G. (Eds.). (1926). What is civilization? rise of the powerful new German state added a political
New York: Duffield.
Eckert, A. (2003). Fitting Africa into world history: A historiographical
and strategic dimension: The British now had to work to
exploration. In B. Stuchtey and E. Fuchs (Eds.), Writing world history defend the global trade dominance they had earlier taken
18002000 (pp. 255270). New York: Oxford University Press. for granted, and the French sought new territories in
Ehret, C. (2002). The civilizations of Africa: A history to 1800. Char-
lottesville: University of Virginia Press. Africa partially as compensation for their losses in Euro-
Eze, E. C. (1997). Race and the enlightenment: A reader (pp. 33, 124). pean wars. New nations like Italy and Germany pursued
Cambridge, UK: Blackwell.
Gilbert, E., & Reynolds, J. T. (2004). Africa in world history: From pre-
empire as a form of national self-assertion. Christian mis-
history to the present. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall. sionaries were another constituency promoting empire,
Manning, P. (2003). Navigating world history: Historians create a global explaining it as a means of bringing civilization to what
past. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.
Miller, J. (1998). History and Africa/Africa and history. American His- Europeans came to regard as a dark continent. Similar
torical Review, 104(1), 132. factors were at play in other world regions that had
Thornton, J. (1992). Africa and Africans in the making of the Atlantic
world, 14001680. New York: Cambridge University Press.
heretofore escaped European colonization, such as South-
Vansina, J. (1994). Living with Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin east Asia and the Pacific Islands.
Press. Alarmed by the aggressive imperialism of King
Waters, N. L. (Ed.). (2000). Beyond the area studies wars: Toward a new
international studies. Hannover, NH: Middlebury College Press. Leopold II of Belgium, other European nations sent del-
egates to the Berlin Conference in 1884 to create ground
rules for their effective occupation of African lands.
Leopolds huge fiefdom in Central Africa, the Congo
Free State, was a brutal military-economic empire. As
Africa, Colonial many as 10 million Africans died as the regions rubber
was plundered to feed industrial and consumer markets

T he colonial era in African history was relatively brief,

but it was decisive in shaping Africas relationship
with the twentieth-century world.The legacies of colonial-
in the West.
African responses to the challenge of European impe-
rialism were complex, conditioned by the rapidity with
ism are still felt broadly and deeply across the continent. which the colonialist enterprise unfolded. Diplomacy
was a common approach. Particular rulers and societies
Creating a Colonial might benefit from allying themselves with the Euro-
Order, 1880 to 1914 peans, as did the kings of Buganda, north of Lake Victo-
Until late in the nineteenth century, almost all European ria, who expanded their territory at the expense of
interaction with Africa took place along the coasts. An traditional rivals by allying themselves with the British.
exception to this was the area around the Dutch settlement But the Europeans were organized on a scale that African
of Cape Town, where a frontier of European settlements states could not match, and one by one African societies
developed in the late seventeenth century. By the late nine- lost their sovereignty.
teenth century it was an array of technologies that made African wars of resistance to colonial occupation were
European conquest possible: medical technologies (such common in the period from 1890 to 1910, but success-
as the discovery of quinine as a prophylactic against ful only in Ethiopia. King Menelik II (18441913) built
20 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

In this drawing, the Protestant missionary

David Livingstone is shown preaching to
potential African converts. Conversion to
Christianity was a component of European

while the French cultivated an elite of Africans who asso-

ciated themselves with French values. As in Vietnam,
these indignes evolus (evolved natives) could even
aspire to French citizenship. However, for most Africans
such opportunities meant nothing, and forced labor and
authoritarian colonial directives were the norm.
Belgian administration was even more paternalistic
than the others, with the Catholic Church and mining
companies leaving little room for African participation in
state institutions. Portugal, a poor country with few
resources to invest, did even less to prepare Africans for
participation in a modern state. A crucial distinction was
whether the Europeans came to settle. In French Algeria,
Portuguese Angola, British Kenya and Rhodesia, and in
South Africa, it was the settler factor that dominated all
other aspects of political and economic life. Here Africans
were dominated by aggressive European immigrants who
came not just to govern them, but to take their land.
Settler-dominated farming in these regions was one
form of what economic historian Ralph Austen has
called regimes of competitive exploitation. To provide
a professional standing army, equipped it with the latest labor for settler farms, mining enterprises, and commer-
rifles, and played European powers off one another. Vic- cial plantations, Africans were often restricted to crowded
tory over the Italians in 1896 allowed Ethiopia to retain native reserves (to use the South African term) where,
its status as an indigenous kingdom. But like independ- unable to meet demands for tax payments to the state,
ent Siam (Thailand) in Southeast Asia, it was but a mod- they were forced into a cycle of migrant labor. With the
est exception to the rule of direct imperial control being loss of labor and the overuse of inadequate land in the
imposed by Europe. For Africa as a whole, the period reserves, African agricultural productivity declined.
from the Berlin Conference through World War I (1884 Women were usually left to shoulder the burdens of rural
1918) was a period of instability, violence, and popula- poverty.
tion loss. The second economic pattern identified by Austen is
the peasant-tatiste regime. Here basic factors of pro-
Colonial Political ductionland, labor, and cattleremained in African
Economy, 1914 to 1940 hands. But peasant life was greatly altered by the man-
During the period from 1918 to 1940, the European date to produce goods for the global economy: Colonial
powers devised a number of strategies to allow them to taxes had to be paid in cash, and that meant growing
govern colonies and benefit from them economically.The commercial crops. In some cases African initiative was
British grafted the colonial state onto existing African evident, as in the Gold Coast (todays Ghana), where
institutions through a system known as indirect rule. African farmers responded to market incentives by mak-
Traditional chiefs of African tribes administered cus- ing the colony the worlds largest producer of cocoa. In
tomary law under the guidance of British officials. Mean- many cases, however, market incentives were so weak that
africa, colonial 21

of AFRICA at 1914

Madeira Islands Morocco (S)
co Tunisia ASIA
oc (F) Mediterranean Sea
Canary Islands or )
(S) M ( F

Rio de (F) L i bya
Oro (S) (I) E gy p t

Cape Verde
Islands (P)

Senegal Fr e n ch We s t A f r i c a Eritrea Somaliland
Gambia (F) (F) (I) (F) British
(B) French
Portuguese Dahomey Equatorial Anglo-Egyptian Somaliland
Guinea (P) (F) Africa (F) (B)
Sudan (B)
Guinea (F) Nigeria
Ivory (B) Ethiopia
Sierra Coast
Leone (B) (F)
Liberia Togo Cameroons Somaliland
(IN) (G) (G) (I)
Coast (B) Rio Muni Uganda British
(S) (B) East Africa
French Belgian
Equatorial (B)
Africa (F) Congo
(BE) Indian
German Ocean
East Africa
Atlantic (P)
Angola (B)
( F ) sca


German East Africa


Southwest (P)

Africa Bechuanaland
(G) (B)
(B) Britain (G) Germany (P) Portugal Union of Basutoland
South Africa (B)
(BE) Belgium (I) Italy (S) Spain (B)
(F) France (IN) Independent
0 1,000 mi

0 1,000 km
22 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Resolution on Imperialism and Colonialism in Africa, 1958

The excerpt below is extracted from a resolution for- Leone, Gambia, Belgian Congo, Portuguese Guinea,
mulated at the All-African Peoples Conference, held in Basutoland, Swaziland and Bechuanaland.
Accra, Ghana, 513 December 1958. (b) Those where indigenous Africans are domi-
nated and oppressed by foreigners who have settled
Whereas the great bulk of the African continent has
permanently in Africa and who regard the position of
been carved out arbitrarily to the detriment of the
Africa under their sway as belonging more to them
indigenous African peoples by European Imperialists,
than to the Africa, e.g. Kenya, Union of South Africa,
namely: Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and
Algeria, Rhodesia, Angola and Mozambique.
(3) Whereas world opinion unequivocally con-
(2) Whereas in this process of colonisation two
demns oppression and subjugation of one race by
groups of colonial territories have emerged, to wit:
another in whatever shape or form.
(a) Those territories where indigenous Africans
(4) Whereas all African peoples everywhere
are dominated by foreigners who have their seats of
strongly deplore the economic exploitation of African
authority in foreign lands, for example, French West
peoples by imperialist countries thus reducing
Africa, French Equatorial Africa, Nigeria, Sierra
Africans to poverty in the midst of plenty.

colonial officials used coercion to force African produc- lages, served in the trenches of Europe. East and South-
tion. Such was the case with cotton, which apart from west Africa were theaters of war as the Germans
bringing little revenue to African farmers required signif- defended their colonies from British and South African
icant labor and exhausted the soil. Forced cotton grow- attack. Most of the soldiers were African, with European
ing was the cause of several revolts against European officers in command. Great civilian suffering resulted
authority. from forced conscription and the spread of disease and
Colonial economics led to regional differentiation. hunger that accompanied the fighting.
The transportation infrastructure, geared toward the Representatives of Africas fledgling nationalist move-
export of raw materials and the importation of manu- ments went to Paris in 1919, but like their Asian col-
factured goods, concentrated investment and develop- leagues their voices were ignored by the great powers.
ment in certain areas while draining labor from others. In The war had set in motion a process that would under-
West Africa, the coastal regions were developed at the cut the viability of European colonial empiresfor exam-
expense of the more arid savannas of the interior. In ple, by forcing the British to cash in many of their global
South Africa, the white areas of the countrythe settler financial assets to finance their struggle with Germany.
farming regions and the increasingly industrial cities and Rather than recognizing and acting on that historical
mine compoundswere developed at the expense of shift, however, the British and French augmented their
native reserves. existing empires through the mandate system, which
reallocated former German colonies (and Ottoman
Africa and the Twentieth provinces) to the victorious allies.
Century, 1914 to 1994 In the 1920s, colonial administrative and economic
While colonial Africa had distinctive traits, it is best un- systems developed in a context of rising prices on world
derstood in the context of twentieth-century world his- commodity markets. Soaring African production of cof-
tory. During World War I (19141918) the Europeans fee and cocoa led to increased tax revenues. But the Great
mobilized the human and natural resources of their Depression brought an end to that period of relative pros-
empires. While Indian soldiers fought for Britain in its perity. Commodity prices plunged, with no significant
fight with Germanys Ottoman allies, the famous Sene- recovery until the 1950s. A logical peasant response was
galese Sharpshooters, young men from West African vil- to return to subsistence production, but that was not be
africa, colonial 23

(5) Whereas all African peoples vehemently resent their agents, thus making it feasible for a few white
the militarisation of Africans and the use of African settlers to lord it over millions of indigenous Africans
soldiers in a nefarious global game against their as in the proposed Central African Federation, Kenya,
brethren as in Algeria, Kenya, South Africa, Union of South Africa, Algeria, Angola, Mozambique
Cameroons, Ivory Coast, Rhodesia and in the Suez and the Cameroons.
Canal invasion. (8) Whereas imperialists are now co-ordinating
(6) Whereas fundamental human rights, freedom their activities by forming military and economic
of speech, freedom of association, freedom of move- pacts such as NATO, European Common Market,
ment, freedom of worship, freedom to live a full and Free Trade Area, Organisation for European Eco-
abundant life, as approved by the All-African Peoples nomic Co-operation, Common Organisation in
Conference on 13th December, 1958, are denied to Sahara for the purpose of strengthening their imperi-
Africans through the activities of imperialists. alist activities in Africa and elsewhere.
(7) Whereas denial of the franchise to Africans on Source: Lincoln,W. B. (1968). Documents in world history, 19451967 (pp. 200201).
San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Company.
the basis of race or sex has been one of the principal
instruments of colonial policy by imperialists and

allowed by colonial states dependent on cash crop pro- especially among young Africans who were anxious to
duction for their revenues, and state coercion in African escape the confines of colonialism and play a larger role
agriculture increased. Colonial taxation had enmeshed in the world.
African producers in the cash nexus of the global market. Leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Lopold
World War II (19391945) also had profound impli- Senghor of Senegal, and Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya re-
cations for Africa.The British mobilized large numbers of turned to Africa from sojourns to Europe and the United
African conscripts; many Kenyan and Nigerian soldiers States to lead new movements of mass nationalism. In
saw action in Burma (defending British India from Japan- doing so, they were following the example of nationalists
ese assault) while white South African soldiers fought to in India, which had gained full independence from
liberate Ethiopia from the Italians who had occupied the Britain in 1947. Conflict and occasional violence marked
African kingdom in 1935. North Africa was a major the- the independence struggle in most colonies, but inde-
ater of war. Most French colonial governors, in Africa as pendence was frequently achieved through peaceful nego-
in Southeast Asia, allied themselves with the collabora- tiation. Such was the case in the Gold Coast. In 1957
tionist Vichy regime. But the governor of French Equato- Kwame Nkrumah became its prime minister, changed the
rial Africa, Flix bou (18841944), a descendent of name of the country to Ghana, and set a precedent for
slaves from French Guiana, declared his support for the the continent as a whole.
Free French forces, making the city of Brazzaville an In settler colonies, however, colonialism could not be
important center of French resistance to fascism. overthrown without significant violence. In Kenya the set-
The war was a watershed in African history. Returning tlers refused to compromise with Jomo Kenyattas Kenya
soldiers brought greater knowledge of the world back to African National Union. The ensuing Mau Mau Revolt
Africas towns and villages. Allied wartime propaganda (19541960) led to thousands of deaths, mostly African,
had asked Africans to sacrifice in the interests of free- before independence was achieved in 1964.The violence
dom, a term that now fully entered the vocabulary of was even greater in Algeria, where independence from
African politics. Before the war only a tiny elite of France followed a bitter eight-year war (19541962) and
Western-educated Africans had imagined the possibility cost a million lives.
of self-governing or independent African states. Now The Cold War (19451991) often played a major role
there was a much wider social constituency for that idea, in regions where violence accompanied decolonization.
24 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the
mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. Desmond Tutu (b. 1931)

The Congo became a Cold War battlefield as independ- communist stance of its leaders. But major uprisings
ence led to civil war, with the United States successfully throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, in which African
backing an authoritarian, anticommunist dictator named students played a major role, kept pressure on the regime.
Mobutu Sese Seko. Portugal refused to give up its colonies In 1994 Nelson Mandela became the first president of a
without a fight, and its NATO-backed government fought democratic South Africa. The colonial era in African his-
a long war with Soviet-supported insurgents before the tory was finally at an end.
independence of Angola and Mozambique in 1974. Sim-
ilarly, Marxist guerrillas fought the white settler regime in The Legacies of Colonialism
Rhodesia, finally securing majority rule in 1980 and Political geography is perhaps the most obvious legacy of
renaming their country Zimbabwe. colonialism. With a map created by Europeans for their
In South Africa, the struggle was even more pro- own purposes, Africans have struggled to create viable
longed. Even after the fight against German fascism had nations within the borders bequeathed to them. The
discredited racism as a political ideology, white South problem of creating strong nation-states has been com-
African voters supported the creation of an apartheid pounded by other political legacies of colonialism. Eth-
state after 1948. Under the leadership of Nelson Man- nic politics is one example. As elsewhere in the world,
dela, the African National Congress used nonviolent when mass politics developed in Africa there was a ten-
civil disobedience to oppose apartheid, but the response dency for ethnic and/or religious identifications to be
was increased repression. In 1964, Mandela and his col- heightened. The development of such ethnic identities
leagues were sentenced to life in prison after they turned was often encouraged by colonial powers as part of a
to sabotage as a means of resistance. In a Cold War con- divide-and-rule strategy. Since such identities rarely cor-
text, the United States and Great Britain were reluctant responded with national boundaries, ethnic subnation-
to put too much pressure on the apartheid regime, given alism became a major challenge to national cohesion in
the significant Western investment in South Africas prof- new African states.The legacy of authoritarian rule inher-
itable mining and industrial sectors and the strongly anti- ited from colonialism, with weak structures of civil soci-

Mineral wealth was one

of the desires of the
colonial rulers of
Africa. This photo
shows a large De Beers
diamond mine in South
Africa in 1873.
africa, postcolonial 25

ety to counterbalance state power, has also had unfortu- Conklin, A. (1997). A mission to civilize:The republican idea of empire in
France and West Africa, 18951930. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univer-
nate effects across the continent.
sity Press.
The economic legacies of colonialism have been Falola, T. (2001). Nationalism and African intellectuals. Rochester, NY:
equally problematic. The inherited transportation infra- University of Rochester Press.
Fieldhouse, D. K. (1981). Colonialism 18701945: An introduction. Lon-
structure, geared toward the export of agricultural goods don: Weidenfield & Nicholson.
and raw materials, has made it difficult to integrate Hochschild, A. (1999). King Leopolds ghost: A story of greed, terror and
heroism in colonial Africa. Boston: Mariner Books.
African economies within and between nations. Even
Kerslake, R. T. (1997). Time and the hour: Nigeria, East Africa, and the
while Africas manufacturing sector has grown, problems Second World War. New York: Radcliffe Press.
of economic underdevelopment remain. Africans still Loomba, A. (1998). Colonialism/postcolonialism. New York: Routledge.
Mamdani, M. (1996). Citizen and subject: Contemporary Africa and the
often produce what they do not consume, and consume legacy of late colonialism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
what they do not produce, remaining dependent on the Mazrui, A. A., & Wondji, C. (Eds.). (1994). Africa since 1935. In UNESCO
vagaries of international commodity prices. general history of Africa (Vol. 8). Berkeley: University of California Press.
Mazrui, A. A. (1986). The Africans: A triple heritage. Boston: Little Brown.
Africans have had difficulty making positive use of Northrup, D. (2002). Africas discovery of Europe. New York: Oxford Uni-
the political and economic legacies of colonialism. But versity Press.
Nzegwu, N. (Ed.). (1998). Issues in contemporary African art. Birming-
the same is not true in cultural and intellectual life, ham, AL: International Society for the Study of Africa.
where African encounters with global cultural influences Page, M. E. (1987). Africa and the First World War. New York: St Martins
over the past century have been remarkably fruitful. In
Palmer, R., & Parsons, N. (1977). The roots of rural poverty in Central and
music and in the visual arts, for example, Africans have Southern Africa. London: Heinemann.
absorbed European and other cultural influences with- Phillips, A. (1989). The enigma of colonialism: British policy in West
Africa. London: James Currey.
out sacrificing a distinctly African aesthetic. Similarly, as Rosander, E. E., & Westerlund, D. (Eds.). (1997). African Islam and Islam
Africans have accepted new religions, most notably in Africa. Athens: Ohio University Press.
Christianity and Islam, they have infused them with Shillington, K. (2004). Encyclopedia of African history. New York: Fitzroy
beliefs and practices rooted in their own cultural tradi- Sundkler, B., & Sneed, C. (2000). A history of the church in Africa. Cam-
tions. It is in these cultural, intellectual, and spiritual bridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Zeleza, P. T., & Eyoh, D. (Eds.). (2003). Encyclopedia of twentieth-
domains that hope resides for the African continent to century African history. New York: Routledge.
surmount the challenges remaining from the colonial

Kenneth R. Curtis

See also Africa, Postcolonial; Apartheid in South Africa; Africa,

Further Reading
Austen, R. (1987). African economic history: Internal development and
external dependency. London: Heinemann.
A fter World War II, Africans and those of African
descent met at the Fifth Pan-African Congress in
Manchester in the United Kingdom in 1945, where one
Boahen, A. A. (1989). African perspectives on colonialism. Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins. of their primary aims was to formulate strategies for end-
Boahen, A. A. (Ed.). (1990). Africa under colonial domination, 1880
ing colonialism on the continent. Several independence
1935. In UNESCO general history of africa (Vol. 7). Berkeley: Uni-
versity of California Press. movements around the continent were sparked or gained
Brown, I. (Ed.). (1989). The economies of Africa and Asia in the inter-war a new momentum as a result of the congresss activities.
depression. London: Routledge.
Comaroff, J., & Comaroff, J. (19911997). Of revelation and revolution By 1960 several African countries had freed themselves
(Vols. 12). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. of their colonial masters or were actively engaged in
26 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

I shall allow no man to belittle my soul by making me

hate him. Booker T. Washington (18561915)

struggles to achieve that goal. In the following decades Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone,
the African continent experienced many political, eco- Ethiopia, Senegal, and Chad.
nomic, and social challenges as well as moments of The general aims of the OAU were to promote unity
glory that have helped determine its current position in and solidarity among African states, to respect and
world history. defend member nations sovereignty and the integrity of
their borders, and to promote intercontinental trade.
Impact of Colonialism However, the OAU had no real authority over its mem-
Colonialisms impact on the African continent was dra- ber states, and the reality was that external forces (notably
matic: Colonialism was autocratic, and it set up artificial the United States and the Soviet Union) had significant
boundaries that privileged certain regions (or ethnic influence over the various political and economic posi-
groups within those regions). Colonial authorities tions taken by many of the OAUs member states. While
exploited the territories they controlled for their mineral the OAU did use its influence to mediate or attempt to
wealth, and agricultural potential was poorly developed. resolve various conflicts on the continent (for example,
This colonial legacy was a huge challenge for the new conflict in Mozambique in the mid-1970s, the Somalia-
governments in the early postcolonial period. Ethiopian war of 1977, and civil conflicts in Chad in
The fact that colonial powers had not established 19801981), it was less successful as the unifying force
democratic governments in the lands they controlled that Nkrumah had envisioned.
predisposed the newly established independent govern-
ments to continue noninclusive traditions of governing. Military Governments
During the colonial era police forces had been used to Military takeovers of governments have been a consistent
quell disturbances, put down protests, and arrest politi- feature of postcolonial African life. Between 1960 and
cal agitators; many of these practices continued after 1990 there were more than 130 coup attempts, close to
independence. The fledgling independent states did not half of which were successful. By the late 1990s African
have the means to address major concerns such as better countries collectively were spending more of their
employment opportunities, housing, and developing ade- national budgets on military expenditures than on edu-
quate health care and educational systems. Often, out of cation and health systems combined.
political expediency, the new governments catered to Kwame Nkrumah was ousted from power by the mil-
privileged classes or ethnic groups that were the equiva- itary in 1966; the military retained control on again and
lent of mini nations within larger states. off again until 1992. Nigeria, Africas most populous
country, was the setting of a violent military overthrow in
The Organization of January 1967 in which the president and several other
African Unity (OAU) prominent politicians were assassinated. Subsequent
At the core of the idea of a united African continent was events in that country led to the outbreak of a devastat-
the Pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah (19091972), the ing civil war (19671970, also known as the Biafra War).
first leader of an independent Ghana. His vision of a In some cases military leaders assumed power to prevent
United States of Africa took a step forward with the for- the total breakdown of the government, and in some
mation of the Organization of African Unity, whose cases the political infighting, governmental corruption,
charter was signed on 25 May 1963 in Addis Ababa, and civil unrest the country endured before the takeover
Ethiopia. Among the conditions for membership were were so severe that the population actually welcomed mil-
political independence and government by majority rule. itary intervention. This was the case with Nigeria in
There were thirty charter members, among them Ghana, 1967 when its first coup took place. But although mili-
africa, postcolonial 27

A contemporary wall painting titled Mastering Colonial History the Namibian Way in
central Namibia.

tary governments were able to enforce the rule of law, tions shared the single goal of independence, once that
they were no better at addressing issues of poverty, health was achieved ethnic partisanship frequently became a
care, land reform, and employment than the civilian gov- stumbling block to national unity. There are close to a
ernments they had toppled. thousand different ethnic groups represented on the
African continent, and from childhood a people are
Forging National Unity made aware of their ethnic identity as keenly (if not more)
Nation building has been a major challenge for modern as they are made aware of their national identity.
African nations. Colonial divide and rule policies had Ethnic conflicts in the postcolonial era have been rou-
often privileged one group over another in terms of tine. Whether it is Yoruba versus Hausa versus Igbo in
political power or access to commercial advantages. The Nigeria, Kikuyu versus Luo in Kenya, Shona versus Nde-
period before and after World War II (when nationalist bele in Zimbabwe, Zulu versus Xhosa in South Africa, or
sentiments began to surge) saw the emergence of ethnic Hutu versus Tutsi in Rwanda, these conflicts have con-
(sometimes referred to as tribal) associations and tinued to haunt many modern states. The 1994 Hutu-
unions. In several cases these became the basis of more Tutsi conflict in Rwanda led to a genocidal massacre in
formal political parties. While the various disparate fac- that country. Political leaders have often actively or sub-
28 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Jomo Kenyatta on the Kenya African Union, 1952

During much of the first half of the twentieth century, Whether it is a chief, headman or labourer he needs
Jomo Kenyatta worked to free Kenya from British colo- in these days increased salary. He needs a salary that
nial rule, and he became Kenyas first prime minister compares with a salary of a European who does
and president in 1963. In the excerpt below, from a equal work. We will never get our freedom unless we
speech he made at the Kenya Africa Union Meeting succeed in this issue. We do not want equal pay for
(KAU) in Nyeri, Kenya, on 26 July 1952, Kenyatta equal work tomorrowwe want it right now. Those
explains why the KAU was far different from the mili- who profess to be just must realize that this is the
tant Mau Mau group, which was responsible for mur- foundation of justice. It has never been known in
ders of white settlers. history that a country prospers without equality. We
despise bribery and corruption, those two words
. . . I want you to know the purpose of K.A.U. It is
that the European repeatedly refers to. Bribery and
the biggest purpose the African has. It involves
corruption is prevalent in this country, but I am not
every African in Kenya and it is their mouthpiece
surprised. As long as a people are held down, cor-
which asks for freedom. K.A.U. is you and you are
ruption is sure to rise and the only answer to this is
the K.A.U. If we united now, each and every one of
a policy of equality. If we work as one, we must
us, and each tribe to another, we will cause the
implementation in this country of that which the
Our country today is in a bad state for its land is
European calls democracy. True democracy has no
full of foolsand fools in a country delay the inde-
colour distinction. It does not choose between black
pendence of its people. K.A.U. seeks to remedy this
and white. We are here in this tremendous gathering
situation and I tell you now it despises thieving, rob-
under the K.A.U. flag to find which road leads us
bery and murder for these practices ruin our country.
from darkness into democracy. In order to find it we
I say this because if one man steals, or two men steal,
Africans must first achieve the right to elect our own
there are people sitting close by lapping up informa-
representatives. That is surely the first principle of
tion, who say the whole tribe is bad because a theft
democracy. We are the only race in Kenya which
has been committed. Those people are wrecking our
does not elect its own representatives in the Legis-
chances of advancement.They will prevent us getting
lature and we are going to set about to rectify this
freedom. If I have my own way, let me tell you I
situation. We feel we are dominated by a handful of
would butcher the criminal, and there are more crim-
others who refuse to be just. God said this is our
inals than one in more senses than one. The police-
land. Land in which we are to flourish as a people.
man must arrest an offender, a man who is purely an
We are not worried that other races are here with us
offender, but he must not go about picking up people
in our country, but we insist that we are the leaders
with a small horn of liquor in their hands and march
here, and what we want we insist we get. We want
them in procession with his fellow policemen to
our cattle to get fat on our land so that our children
Government and say he has got a Mau Mau amongst
grow up in prosperity; we do not want that far
the Kikuyu people. The plain clothes man who hides
removed to feed others. He who has ears should
in the hedges must, I demand, get the truth of our
now hear that K.A.U. claims this land as its own gift
words before he flies to Government to present them
from God and I wish those who are black, white or
with false information. I ask this of them who are in
brown at this meeting to know this. K.A.U. speaks
the meeting to take heed of my words and do their
in daylight. He who calls us the Mau Mau is not
work properly and justly. . .
truthful. We do not know this thing Mau Mau. We
Source: Lincoln,W. B. (1968). Documents in world history, 19451967 (pp. 196197).
want to prosper as a nation, and as a nation we San Francisco: Chandler Publishing Company.
demand equality, that is equal pay for equal work.
africa, postcolonial 29

It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it
can stop him from lynching me, and I think thats pretty
important. Martin Luther King Jr. (19291968)

tly exploited ethnic rivalries for political gain. Such is typ- and Kenneth Kaunda (b. 1924) of Zambia. Many African
ically the case when resources are limited: Political lead- countries that began as multiparty states have become,
ers favor one group as a means of maintaining that either de jure or de facto, single-party states: Today the
groups loyalty and support. majority of African states are one-party states.
Some countries have used creative strategies to combat The advantages that proponents of a one-party state
ethnic polarization. After Nigerias devastating civil war, have touted have not materialized, however. Economi-
it began a policy of mandatory national service for its cally, Tanzania under Julius Nyerere performed very
youth. After completing secondary school in their home poorly because of his adherence to strict socialist ideol-
territory, the participants were required to spend a year ogy.The one-party systems in Malawi, Zaire, and Uganda
performing some service-related activity (such as tutoring were very repressive, restrictive, and even brutal at times.
younger students) in another part of the country, ideally In some cases ethnic loyalties continued to be exploited.
where they would be exposed to a different language and Furthermore, because one-party states have a tradition of
cultural tradition. controlling the media, it is difficult for dissenting views
Zimbabwe adopted an innovative strategy in the early to be heard.
1980s in its creation of Heroes Acres. These stylized After years of political infighting and dramatic in-
cemeteries were created throughout the country to honor stances of violence in Zimbabwe, the two major political
those who had died during the struggle for independ- partiesthe Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU)
ence. In thus honoring a deceased combatant or hero, the and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU)
state sought to minimize the polarization that could be emerged as a united single party ZANU (PF) in 1987,
caused by different ethnic funerary practices. thus making Zimbabwe a de facto single-party state. Oth-
ers political parties were not outlawed, but the power
One-Party States apparatus clearly fell into the ZANU (PF) sphere of con-
One way in which a number of modern African leaders trol. It was not until the early twenty-first century that a
and countries have attempted to combat the persistent viable opposition party emerged. The Movement for
problem of ethnic polarization has been through the Democratic Change (MDC) seriously challenged ZANU,
establishment of so-called single- or one-party state. The which quickly passed laws, instituted restrictive prac-
theory is that if there is only one political party, there will tices, and, according to members of the opposition,
be less of a tendency for people to divide along ethnic engaged in political intimidation to limit its rivals access
lines, and more emphasis could be placed on nation to the public and chances for success.
building and tackling other social concerns, such as eco- One of the more positive recent developments took
nomic development. Proponents of a one-party state sug- place in Kenya at the end of 2002. After years of de facto
gest that when there is just one party, individual talent has single-party rule, the Kenya Africa National Union was
the opportunity to rise through the ranks of the party to defeated in free and fair national elections by the newly
achieve leadership position and recognition, regardless of formed National Rainbow Coalition (NARC) with a
ethnicity. Another argument put forward in support of a minimum of disturbances.This portends a new direction
one-party state is that democracy as it has been described for Kenya and possibly for other African countries.
in the West is foreign to the African continent, which tra-
ditionally had chiefs, kingdoms, and top-down rule. Economic Strategies
Prominent postindependence leaders who have spoken Throughout the postcolonial period there have been
persuasively in favor of this traditional form of govern- multiple efforts to expand economic cooperation among
ment include Julius Nyerere (19221999) of Tanzania African countries as a means of countering outside unfair
30 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a mans
character, give him power. Abraham Lincoln (18091865)

trade practices. In 1967 the East Africa Community The other threat facing the continent is the outbreak of
(EAC), which fostered cooperation among Kenya, Tan- religious violence in various countries. While outbreaks
zania (by 1967 Tanganyika had become Tanzania, which of violence between Christians and Muslims have
also included Zanzibar), and Uganda, was established, occurred in Nigeria since the mid-1980s, they have inten-
but it fell apart a decade later, when disputes between sified more recently (within the last five years). Efforts to
Kenya and Tanzania broke out and Tanzania invaded handle these conflicts have been minimum, and the root
Uganda to oust Idi Amin (1924/19252003). The Eco- causes of the disputes have not really been dealt with. In
nomic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) other parts of West Africa there continue to be religious
was established in 1975 to ease trade among its sixteen tensions, but they are not nearly so severe as in Nigeria.
member states. Similarly, the Southern African Develop- The World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP;
ment Coordinating Conference (SADCC) formed to founded 1970), a coalition of representatives of the
combat South Africas economic dominance of that worlds great religions, has encouraged Christian and
region. These agreements have not been without prob- Muslim leaders in the region to work together through
lems, however. In the case of ECOWAS, for example, the formation of organizations such as the Inter-Religious
Nigeria has been able to use its power as the country with Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL; 1997), which in 1999
the largest economy and population in the region to force helped bring about the signing of the Lom Peace Accord
its will on the smaller states. in that nation.There are many African organizations that
seek to address the delicate issue of religious intolerance
Directions and Challenges on the continent. One of the primary aims of the Project
for a New Century for Christian-Muslim Relations in Africa (PROCMURA)
In 2004, South Africa celebrated its tenth anniversary as is the facilitation of constructive engagement between
an independent African state.Ten years earlier, after years Christians and Muslims. As part of the effort to improve
of political and often violent resistance, the African relations, participants have shared gifts and sent greetings
National Congress (ANC) under the leadership of Nelson and goodwill messages on the occasion of major reli-
Mandela (b. 1918) took control of the government. gious festivals.They have also formed joint committees of
Although Mandela served only one term in office as Christians and Muslims to address such issues as the
South Africas first president elected by the entire popu- implementation of Islamic law in northern Nigeria and to
lation, he occupied a larger-than-life position throughout encourage governments to stop making aid and political
the African world. appointments dependent on ones religious affiliation.
As Africas largest and most prosperous economy, Such efforts represent an African solution to an ongoing
South Africa is poised to lead the rest of the continent. Its challenge in the region.
current president, Thabo Mbeki (b. 1942), has called for
Christopher Brooks
an African renaissance, which he envisions as a regener-
ation of African pride, technology, innovativeness, and
accomplishment. Further Reading
Ahluwalia, D. P., & Nursey-Bray, P. (Eds.). (1997). The post-colonial con-
The promise of this African renaissance, however, is in dition: Contemporary politics in Africa. Commack, NY: Nova Science
danger of being sidetracked by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, Publisher, Inc.
Babu, A. M. (1981). African socialism or socialist Africa? London: Zed
which has the potential to ravage the African continent in
the same way the bubonic plague devastated fourteenth- Beissinger, M., & Young, C. (Eds.). (2002). Postcolonial Africa and post-
century Europe. How the African continent deals with the Soviet Eurasia in comparative perspective. Washington, DC: Woodrow
Wilson Center Press.
pandemic will determine what sort of future awaits the Crowder, M. (Ed.). (1971). West African resistance:The military response
next generation. to colonial occupation. New York: Africana Publishing Corporation.
african religions 31

Religious belief is a fine guide around which a person might

organize his own life, but an awful instrument around which to
organize someone elses life. Richard D. Mohr

Davidson, B. (1992). The black mans burden: Africa and the curse of the ceremony) every three or four years.Women of the Sande
nation-state. New York: Times Books.
society are in complete control of the ceremony and
Fage, J. D. (1969). A history of West Africa: An introductory survey. Cam-
bridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. school. Members of the initiation class are all girls
Fieldhouse, D. K. (1986). Black Africa, 19451980: Economic decolo- between nine and fifteen years of age. They learn all they
nization and arrested development. London: Allen and Unwin.
Griffiths, I. L. (1995). The African Inheritance. London: Routledge. need to know to be Kpelle women from Sande members
Werbner, R., & Ranger, T. (Eds.). (1996). Postcolonial identities in during the school session, which lasts from six weeks to
Africa. London; New Jersey: Zed Books.
three months.
During this period, Sande members perform clitero-
dectomy operations (cliterodectomies and circumcisions
are common rites of passage in Africa), which are part of
African Religions the transition from girlhood to womanhood. Sande
members then perform rituals for those who have com-

A frica is home to numerous traditional religions as

well as various forms of Islam and Christianity and
various more recent religious developments. There are
pleted the bush school, marking their entrance into
Kpelle society as women. Men of the Poro society dress
in ritual regalia to welcome the women back into society.
certain religious characteristics that can be found in
African spirituality that transcend any particular religion. A Supreme Deity
Examining a sampling of traditional religions and Islamic Most traditional African religions acknowledge one
and Christian denominations provides an insight into Supreme Being, though that creator god is often thought
those overarching African spiritual characteristics. to have removed himself from the human sphere after cre-
ation, so that more focus is placed on lesser deities. In
Secret Societies Sudan, for example, shrines exist in great numbers to
Secret societies, common among certain African peoples lesser spirits but not to the creator god. The Yoruba of
found mainly in West Africa, especially those among Nigeria acknowledge a Supreme Being, Olorun, but it is
whom age-determined groups are not as common, often the host of secondary deities, or orisha, that is the focus
have religious functions. Like age grades they not only of Yoruba attention. Mulungu, the Supreme Being of the
cross-cut kinship ties, they unite people in different resi- peoples of the great lakes region of East Africa, is only
dence areas. turned to in prayer after all other prayers have failed.
The religious or ritual knowledge of the secret society However, numerous African scholars and scholars of
is not revealed to nonmembers. The fact that a secret is Africa dispute the interpretation that the creator god is
known only to members, and, perhaps, only to members viewed as remote. These scholars argue that the creator
of a certain rank adds to a secret societys mystery. More- god is not remote, and rather that people can and do
over, membership is limited to people of a given cate- approach this god quite frequently. They indicate that
gory. Categories can be as broad as all married women there is a parallel with Christianity and its hierarchy of
or all initiated men. There are categories for fishermen, angels and saints.
hunters, craftsmen of all types, and marketwomen, In Sudanic religions, people are said to consult with
among others. the Creator before their birth, telling him what they
The Poro and Sande societies (for men and women, want to do in life. The Creator gives each person what is
respectively) in Liberia have long interested anthropolo- needed to accomplish his or her fate. If a person fails,
gists because these societies are major forces aiding gov- then he or she is said to be struggling against his or her
ernment and facilitating social change. The Kpelle tribe chosen fate. Luck is focused in the head, so a person who
opens a Sande bush school (which performs an initiation has been lucky in life is said to have a good head.
32 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

A Creation Myth of the Tiv People of Nigeria

The excerpt below from R. C. Abrahams 1933 study, a wooden hoe and taught him farming and the way
The Tiv People, describes the theory of creation held by to plant seed. This part of the story is undoubtedly
this culture in Central Nigeria. influenced by the fact that maize was not originally
know to the Tiv, for this is indicated by the name by
The Tiv, in common with many of the other Bantu,
which they call it, i.e., ikureke.
believe that God whom they call Aondo was the
Aondo then returned to the sky, but the crops of
direct bodily progenitor of their tribe, this belief
Takuruku failed to thrive owing to lack of rain, so
pointing to the deification of a former hero. With
Aondo told him to come to him in the sky and he
Aondo is joined another personage Takuruku, about
would advise him what to do. Takuruku, however,
whom beliefs differ; one version holds that Takuruku
replied No, I shall not come. I am greater than you
was the wife of Aondo and that they were the parents
and it is for you to come to me. Aondo refused to do
of Tiv and Uke (the foreigners), Tiv in his turn, being
this and the crops withered from lack of rain, while
the progenitor of Poor, Chongo and Pusu.The other
Aondo said It is your own fault; I told you to come
and more generally held version, is that Takuruku was
to me, but you refused. Had you done so, your crops
the younger brother of Aondo and the first ancestor
would not have died. Still, I am ready to help you
of Man in the world; he came to live in the world with
again. He then gave Takuruku some more maize seed
his wife and for a long time his diet consisted entirely
and later agase millet (Pennisetum spicatum), fol-
of fish; one day however, Aondo came down from
lowed by yams, guinea-corn and bulrush-millet. How-
the sky on a visit to his brother and said I am going
ever, Takuruku was no better a position than before,
to explain to you a new kind of food, and taking
because he still lacked knowledge of rain; rain
from a bag slung over his shoulder, some maize
remained the secret of Aondo and he still jealously
grains, he offered them to Takuruku who ate them and
guards the secret, but he sent down rain for Taku-
finding them tasty, thanked Aondo and asked
rukus crops, on condition that the latter should
whether he had any other food of the same kind.
acknowledge his precedence.
Aondo returned to the sky and brought a maize-cob,
Source: Abraham, R. C. (1933). The Tiv people (p. 36). Lagos, Nigeria: Government
and telling Takuruku to break off a branch of the tree Printer.
gbaye (Prosopis oblonga), showed him how to fashion

In general, Africans deem that powers come from the the god of iron, reflects the peoples sense, from the days
Supreme Being.The Dogon of Mali, for instance, believe when iron first began to be used, of its importance.
that the vital force of their Supreme Being, Amma, circu- Storm gods are in some way related to the Supreme
lates throughout the universe. They name that vital force Being. Storm gods generally command their own priests,
nyama. Other groups have similar beliefs. These forces temples, and ritual ceremonies.The Yoruba and Ibo have
control the weather and are associated with the forces of a full storm pantheon of gods of storm, lightning, and
nature, directly or through the high gods servants. thunderbolt. Shango is the Yoruba lightning and thunder
god; he is worshipped along with his wives, who are river
Other Deities gods, and the rainbow and thunderclap, which are his
There are earth goddess cults in a number of societies. servants.
The Ibo of the lower Niger river area have the goddess
Ala, and the goddess Asase Ya has her devotees among Islam in Africa
the Ashante of Ghana. The presence of a deity linked to Islam first came to the savanna areas of Africa through
a certain phenomenon or natural feature reflects the trade and peaceful teachings in the eighth through tenth
importance of that phenomenon or natural feature in centuries. The benefits of centralized government under
daily life; hence the fact that the Yoruba worship Ogun, Islamic law were obvious to various chiefs. Under Islamic
african religions 33

law rulers were able to unite tribal elements into a coher- pate in, although often undercover. Although possession
ent whole. The kingdoms of Wagadu (Ghana), Mali, cults can be found in many regions, we will focus on the
Songhai, Kanem, and Bornu and the Hausa emirates situation among the Hausa. In a 1975 study, the anthro-
were all centralized states that adopted Islam to their pologist Ralph Faulkingham notes that the Muslim and
advantage. pagan Hausa in the southern Niger village he studied
However, the introduction of Islamic government and believed in the same spirits. Both believed in the same ori-
law also provided an excuse for religiously sanctioned gin myth for these spirits as well. According to the myth,
rebellion against rulers who were not living up to the Allah called Adama (the woman) and Adamu (the
strict tenets of Islam, according to various religious mili- man) to him and bade them to bring all their children.
tary rulers. In the 1800s, militant Muslims objected to the They hid some of their children.When Allah asked them
halfhearted Islamic faith of their rulers and led holy where those children were, they denied that any were
wars against those whom they considered lax in the faith. missing, whereupon Allah told them that the hidden chil-
These nineteenth-century jihads were common among dren would belong to the spirit world.These spirits may,
the Fulani peoples. They upset the balance that had pre- on occasion, take possession of those living in the every-
vailed since around the thirteenth century between local day world.
rulers, who adhered to Islam, and their subjects, who Indigenous theology linked dead ancestors to the spir-
continued to practice traditional religions. Although the its of place in a union that protected claims and rela-
Fulani tend to be pastoralists, there were a number of set- tionships to the land. Spirits of place included trees, rock
tled Fulani who had intermarried with Hausa or other outcroppings, a river, snakes, and other animals and
settled peoples. One result of these religious wars was objects. Rituals and prayers directed toward the spirits of
that Fulani rulers replaced local rulers in the areas where family and place reinforced communal norms and the
the rebellions took place. authority of the elders in defending ancient beliefs and
practices. In return for these prayers and rituals, the spir-
Christianity in Africa its offered protection from misfortune, adjudication, and
Christianity reached Africa in the first centuries CE, before divination through seers or shamans, who worked with
it entered Europe. The Coptic Church (in Egypt), for the spirits to ensure good and counteract evil.The Hausa
example, go back to the first century of Christianity and incorporate those beliefs into their Islamic beliefs.
still exists today. It, like the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, The majority of Muslim Hausa who participate in the
is a Monophysite church; that is, it teaches that Christ spirit possession cult, called the Bori cult, are women and
had a single nature rather than two distinct (human and members of the lower classes; as one rises in social
divine) natures. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church has a standing, ones practice of Islam tends to become more
large hierarchy of saints and angels, many monasteries strict and more orthodox. The Bori rituals among the
and convents, and a strong worship of Mary, Gabriel, Hausa appear to be rituals of inversion; that is, traditional
Michael, and Ethiopias patron, St. George. There are societal rules are turned on their heads. People who are
many African saints, including Tekle Haimanot and possessed may behave in ways that would not be ac-
Gabra Manfas Keddus. There is also belief in demons cepted in other circumstances. The Bori cult is widely
and other evil spirits, as well as in witchcraft and pos- understood as being a refuge from the strongly patriar-
session. chal ideal of Hausa Islam. Thus both women and effem-
inate males find some respite there. Indeed, the Bori cult
Possession Cults provides a niche open to marginal people of all kinds,
Possession cults are one feature of traditional African reli- not simply women or homosexuals. Butchers, night soil
gions that both African Christians and Muslims partici- workers, musicians, and poor farmers are welcome there.
34 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Mentally disturbed people of all classes similarly seek Parrinder, G. (1954). African traditional religion. London: Hutchinsons
University Library.
refuge among the Bori devotees.
Pittin, R. (1979). Marriage and alternative strategies: Career patterns of
Hausa women in Katsina City. Unpublished doctoral dissertation,
African Religions Today School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.
Turner, E., Blodgett, W., Kahona, S., & Benwa, F. (1992). Experiencing
The peoples of Africa have been adept at accepting new ritual: A new interpretation of African healing. Philadelphia: Univer-
religious systems while preserving essential features of tra- sity of Pennsylvania Press.
Walby, C. (1995). The African sacrificial kingship ritual and Johnsons
ditional beliefs, and that approach to religion continues
Middle Passage. African American Review, 29(4), 657669.
today, when New Age and evangelical Christian denom-
inations have become popular. An African base adapts
new ideas and fits them to a basic pattern of kinship, per-
sonal spirits, ancestors, and age grades, seeking to fit all
of these into personal networks of relationships. African States,
See also African-American and Caribbean Religions
Frank A. Salamone
See Aksum; Benin; Congo; Egypt, Ancient; Hausa States;
Further Reading Kanem-Bornu; Mali; Meroe; Nubians; Sokoto Caliphate;
Anderson, D. M., & Johnson, D. H. (Eds.). (1995). Revealing prophets:
Songhay; Wagadu Empire; Zimbabwe, Great
Prophecy in eastern African history. London: Ohio University Press.
Beidelman, T. O. (1982). Colonial evangelism: A socio-historical study of
an east African mission at the grassroots. Bloomington: Indiana Uni-
versity Press.
Besmer, F. E. (1983). Horses, musicians & gods: The Hausa cult of
possession-trance. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Chidester, D., & Petty, R. (1997). African traditional religion in South
African Union
Africa: An annotated bibliography. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Clarke, P. B. (Ed.). (1998). New trends and developments in African reli-
gions. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Creevey, L., & Callaway, B. (1994). The heritage of Islam:Women, religion,
O riginally founded in 1963, the Organization of
African Unity (OAU) was reconstituted as the
African Union after member states ratified the Constitu-
and politics in West Africa. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.
Echerd, N. (1991). Gender relationships and religion: Women in the tive Act adopted in July 2000. While the member states
Hausa Bori in Ader, Niger. In C. Coles & B. Mack (Eds.), Hausa
professed pleasure with the performance of the OAU, they
women in the twentieth century (pp. 207220). Madison: University
of Wisconsin Press. also said they wished to reform the relationship of the
Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1956). Nuer religion. New York: Oxford Univer- member states in an effort to better realize the goals of
sity Press.
Faulkingham, R. N. (1975). The sprits and their cousins: Some aspects of African unity on which the OAU was originally premised.
belief, ritual, and social organization in a rural Hausa village in Niger
(Research Report No. 15). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts,
Department of Anthropology.
The Pan-African Dream
Fortes, M. (1995). Oedipus and Job in West African religion. New York: By the early nineteenth century, many Africans who had
Cambridge University Press. been educated in Europe began to speak and write of an
Greenberg, J. (1947). The influence of Islam on a Sudanese religion. New
York: J. J. Augustin Publisher. African identity that transcended linguistic and ethnic
Karp, I., & Bird, C. S. (Eds.). (1980). Explorations in African systems of groupings as well as colonial identifications. It is not clear
thought. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
when the term pan-Africanism was first applied in this
Makinde, M. A. (1988). African philosophy, culture, and traditional med-
icine. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies. context, and most people who used the word appeared
Olupona, J. K. (Ed.). (1991). African traditional religions in contemporary to recognize it as little more than a dream. The idea of
society. St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.
Oppong, C. (Ed.). (1983). Male and female in West Africa. London: Allen continental unity was certainly on the minds of delegates
& Unwin. from the Caribbean, North America, Europe, and Africa
african union 35

African nationalism is meaningless, dangerous,

anachronistic, if it is not, at the same time, pan-
Africanism. Julius K. Nyerere (19221999)

who met in London for the First Pan-African Congress in Nkrumah actively campaigned for this principle of
1900. The congress called for an end to colonial rule in African unity, believing it would be the best way to
Africa, citing its negative effects on Africans and pro- encourage an end to all vestiges of colonialism on the
claiming the need for all Africansincluding those of continent. At a May 1963 meeting of African heads of
African descent outside the continentto come together state in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nkrumah presented a for-
in support of a greater African social and political entity. mal plan to have all African nations join in the creation
This congress was followed by numerous expressions of such a union. By the end of the meeting, the more than
of similar ideas, including important statements by the thirty nations represented agreed to the creation of the
Gold Coast political activist Charles Casley-Hayford, as Organization of African Unity.
well as various organizational expressions, perhaps most
notably the Universal Negro Improvement Association Organization of
founded by the Jamaican activist Marcus Garvey in 1914. African Unity
Several international conferences promoting African sol- The OAU was in one measure a victory for the pan-
idarity followed, the first in 1919, coinciding with the Ver- African movement that had preceded it, especially in the
sailles Peace Conference at the end of World War I, arena of international efforts to remove all traces of colo-
followed by a series of others throughout the 1920s. By nialism in Africa. A nine-nation Liberation Committee
the 1930s, colonial governments in Africa grew deeply worked to promote independence for Africans continuing
suspicious of activities claiming pan-African connections, to live under colonialism and also to bring about major-
but the dynamics stimulating ideas of African unity grew ity rule for Africans living in South Africa. These efforts
more forceful with the onset of World War II. were a substantial part of the successful international
efforts that eventually led to the end of apartheid and to
African Independence a new South African government in the 1990s.
and Continental Unity But the price of this pan-African victory was a signifi-
Following World War II, many politically aware Africans cant limitation of the scope and power of the OAU as an
believed independence from colonial rule was certain, if effective international organization. The core of this
not imminent. Confirmation of this idea came first in dilemma was in the first principle enunciated in its char-
northern Africa, with Libyas release from Italian control terthe sovereign equality of all member stateswhich
in 1951; but perhaps the most significant development included a commitment to non-interference in the inter-
was the creation of the new nation of Ghana, from the nal affairs of any member state (African Union n.d.a). In
former British West African colony of Gold Coast, in practice, this limited what the OAU might achieve in pro-
1957. Some African leaders, especially Ghanas first moting many of its other goals, including the protection
president, Kwame Nkrumah, saw this as a signal por- of the rights of Africans and the resolution of a number
tending the creation of a unified, independent continent: of destructive civil wars on the continent.
One expression of the frustration concerning these lim-
A union of African states will project more effectively the
itations was the complaint often voiced by Julius Nyerere,
African personality. It will command respect from a world
president of Tanzania, that the OAU was merely a sort of
that has regard only for size and influence. . . . It will
emerge not just as another world bloc to flaunt its wealth
trade union for African heads of state that allowed each
and strength, but as a Great Power whose greatness is inde- of them a forum of international expression without any
structible because it is built not on fear, envy, and suspi- questions about their own sometimes destructive policies.
cion, nor won at the expense of others, but founded on Thus, rather than promoting any real unity, the OAU was
hope, trust, friendship and directed to the good of all seen at times to reinforce the unnatural divisions of the
mankind (Nkrumah 1961, xii). continent that had in fact been the legacy of colonial
36 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

conquest and administration. Only terribly destructive Official_documents/Treaties_%20Conventions_%20Protocols/

conflicts in the 1990s in the Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia,
El-Ayouty,Y. (1994). The Organization of African Unity after thirty years.
and still later in Sierra Leone and Liberiathe last two Westport, CT: Praeger.
of which precipitated intervention by a group of West Esedebe, P. O. (1982). Pan-Africanism: The idea and movement, 1776
1963. Washington, DC: Howard University Press.
African statesbrought the OAU policies of noninter- Krafona, K., (Ed.). (1988). Organization of African Unity: 25 years on.
ference seriously into question. London: Afroworld Publishing.
Genge, M., Francis, K., & Stephen, R. (2000). African Union and a pan-
African parliament:Working papers. Pretoria: Africa Institute of South
A New Organization Africa.
African heads of state meeting in 1999 issued a declara- Gilbert, E. & Reynolds, J. T. (2004). Africa in world history. Upper Sad-
dle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
tion calling for a reconstituted continental organization Iliffe, J. (1995). Africans:The history of a continent. Cambridge, UK: Cam-
modeled loosely on the European Union. One of the keys bridge University Press.
to the new African Union (AU) was a new principle writ- Legum, C. (1976). Pan-Africanism. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
Martin, T. (1983). The pan-African connection. Dover, MA: Majority
ten into its Constitutive Act, adopted in July 2000, which Press.
asserted the right of the Union to intervene in a Member Naldi, G. J. (1999). The Organization of African Unity: An analysis of its
role (2nd ed.). New York: Mansell.
State pursuant to a decision of the Assembly in respect of Nkrumah, K. (1961). I speak of freedom: A statement of African ideology.
grave circumstances, namely: war crimes, genocide and New York: Praeger.
crimes against humanity while also reaffirming the sov-
ereign equality and interdependence of all the member
states (African Union n.d.b). The AU actually came into
existence the following year and was ceremonially African-American
launched at a summit in Durban, South Africa, in July
2002. and Caribbean
The new organization has promised to focus more on
economic matters, even moving toward an eventual com- Religions
mon currency.These efforts have been widely applauded
internationally, with significant commitments from the
United States and the European Union for a New Part-
nership for African Development created by the AU
A frican-American and Caribbean religions are the
products of one of the greatest forced migrations in
human history. Historians estimate that between 1650
member states. In addition, plans are under way for the and 1900 more than 28 million Africans were taken from
creation of an African Peacekeeping Force and perhaps Central and West Africa as slaves. At least 12 million of
even a Pan-African Parliament, in hopes of making sig- these Africans crossed the Atlantic Ocean to be sold in
nificant contributions to security and political independ- the Caribbean, South America, and North America.
ence for all of Africas peoples, as originally envisioned by While Africans from many parts of Africa were taken into
the first pan-African theorists. slavery,West African groups were disproportionately rep-
resented. Beginning in the early sixteenth century and
Melvin E. Page
continuing, officially, until 1845 in Brazil, 1862 in the
United States, and 1865 in Cuba, more than 11 million
Further Reading black AfricansYoruba, Kongo, and other West Africans
African Union. (n.d.a). Constitutive Act of the African Union. Retrieved were brought to the Americas to work sugar, tobacco,
on August 9, 2004, from coffee, rice, and cotton plantations.
African Union. (n.d.b) OAU charter, Addis Ababa, 25 May 1963.
The African slave trade transformed economies around
Retrieved on August 9, 2004, from the world. In Africa, it stimulated the growth of powerful
african-american and caribbean religions 37

Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a mans
sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and
to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true. Martin Luther King Jr. (19291968)

African kingdoms, while in the Islamic world, the African Descendents of Kongo and Yoruba peoples account for
slave trade expanded commerce in the Indian Ocean and about 17 percent of the African population in Jamaica,
the Persian Gulf. In the Americas, it was a key component while the Akan and Kalabari account for, respectively, 25
in the success of plantations established by Europeans. In percent and 30 percent of the Jamaican population. It is
addition, wealth generated by slavery transformed Euro- estimated that on Cuba and Hispaniola (the island that
pean economies dramatically, and the African slave trade is home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic) Kongo
also transformed African religions and fostered the ethnic groups constitute 40 percent of the African popu-
spread of these religions around the world. lation, while the Yoruba and other related groups shipped
from the Bight of Benin make up, respectively, 15 percent
African Religions and 40 percent of the African populations of Haiti and
in the New World Cuba. Among the descendants of slaves in the United
In the Americas, the institution of slavery persisted much States, it is estimated that one in four African Americans
longer in some places than others.With the exception of is of Kongo descent and that one in seven African Amer-
African slaves in Haitiwho initiated a revolution in icans is of Yoruba descent. It should be noted that few
1791 and in 1804 established the first black republic in slaves came to the United States directly from Africa.
the AmericasAfricans became emancipated in the Most had worked plantations elsewhere before being sold
Americas in the following order: Jamaica and Trinidad in in the United States.
1838; the United States in 1863; Puerto Rico in 1873; These percentages are important for understanding
Cuba in 1886; and Brazil in 1888. These dates are African religions in the New World. Whenever a large
highly significant. For example, the ethnologist Pierre number of slaves from a particular place in Africa were
Verger (1968) contends that the purest forms of African sold to a single New World location, they were better able
religion are to be found in northeastern Brazil primarily to preserve selected aspects of their religions. Such reli-
because the slave trade to Brazil continued illegally into gious retentions were never exact replicas of African reli-
the twentieth century. gious practices. They represented a syncretism or
Of the Africans taken to the Americas as slaves, 99 per- blending. One reason for this is that African tribal reli-
cent came from an area stretching from modern-day gions were revealed over time. Only elders possessed
Senegal and Mali in the north to Zaire and Angola in the extensive religious knowledge. During the early years of
south. This corridor encompasses a number of ethnic slavery, elders were seldom enslaved because older cap-
groups belonging to the Niger-Kongo language family. A tives rarely survived the rigorous passage to the New
common language base and common cultural traditions World. Most first-generation slaves were under twenty
facilitated the movement and exchange of people, goods, years of age, and few were over thirty. Their knowledge
and ideas along this corridor. of religious ritual was limited to what they had person-
These ethnic groups also shared similar concepts con- ally seen and/or experienced. On the other hand, later in
cerning deities, the universe, the social order, and the the slave trade there were African religious specialists (like
place of humans within that order. Unifying themes of Robert Antoine, the nineteenth-century founder of the
African systems of belief and worship include the fol- first Rada compound in Trinidad) who voluntarily
lowing: the idea that there is one god who created and migrated to the Caribbean specifically to establish African
controls the universe; a focus on blood sacrifices; and religious centers in the New World.
belief in the forces of nature, ancestral spirits, divination, The relationship between African religions as practiced
the magical and medicinal powers of herbs, the existence in Africa and these same religions in the New World is
of an afterlife, and the ability of humans to communicate replete with examples of what Pierre Verger (1968, 31)
with deities through trance-possession states. has termed flux and reflux. Building on a lifetime of
38 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

and other
articles on
display at
an Afro-

fieldwork and archival research, Verger documented African and African-American religions have always
extensive and continuous contact between religious spe- been at the center of debates concerning the retention of
cialists in Africa and religious organizations in the New African cultural traits in the New World. Some prominent
World. He painstakingly demonstrated that the slave scholars, most notably sociologist E. Franklin Frazier
trade was not only of Africans (i.e., as objects of the (1964), have suggested that New World slavery was so
trade itself), but by Africans as well, in the sense that disruptive that few African traits were able to survive.
Africans and African-Americans were not only laborers Other scholars, most notably anthropologist Melville J.
but also producers and traders in the plantation system, Herskovits (1941), have argued effectively for the survival
and thus played an active rolenot just a passive one of African traits in New World societies. Herskovitss view
in the ongoing drama of slavery. But Verger also notes has predominated, but the issue remains complex (see
that such flux and reflux was rare during the early days Mintz and Price 1992).
of slavery, and most sixteenth- and seventeenth-century The quest for African cultural traits in the New World
slaves were forced to improvise from a limited knowledge continues, but with new and refined sensibilities. The
of African religious traditions. question is no longer whether, but how much? As Stuart
On both sides of the Atlantic the meeting of religions Hall (1990, 228)commenting on the presence africaine
among Africans and people of African descent involved in his native Jamaicanoted,
more than Christianity and the traditional religions of
Africa was, in fact, present everywhere, in the everyday life
Africa. It also involved Islam. Working its way from the and customs of the slave quarters, in the language and pat-
Sahara long before Christianity began to touch the coast ois of the plantations, in names and words; often discon-
of West Africa, Islamlike Christianityinteracted in nected from their taxonomies, in the secret syntactical
complex ways with the traditional religions of Africa. structure through which other languages were spoken, in the
Brought to the Americas by enslaved African Muslims, stories and tales told to children, in religious practices and
Islam struggled to survive in an inhospitable, Christian- belief in the spiritual life, the arts, crafts, music and rhythms
dominated environment. of slave and post-emancipation society. . . . Africa remained
african-american and caribbean religions 39

But if you are in danger, then [say your prayers] on foot or

on horseback; and when you are secure, then remember Allah,
as He has taught you what you did not know. Quran

and remains the unspoken, unspeakable presence in peans, Africans, andto a lesser extentby Asian peo-
Caribbean culture. It is hiding behind every verbal inflec- ple as well. A majority of these religions have either an
tion, every narrative twist of Caribbean cultural life. African or Christian base, but Caribbean peoples have
modified selected aspects of these traditions, added to
African-American religious institutions in the United them, and made them their own. While much attention
States and the Caribbean provide valuable insight into has been given to African influences, one cannot com-
the inner workings of African-American and Caribbean pletely understand religious developments in the region
societies and cultures. Moreover, it is appropriate for solely in terms of an African past. The African past is a
social scientists to devote their attention to religion piecealbeit a large pieceof a more complex whole.
becauseas C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence Mamiya so Syncretism of Hinduism and Christianity abounds, and
effectively argued (1990, xi)religion, seriously consid- one can never underestimate the potential impact of
ered, is perhaps the best prism to cultural understanding, Islam.
not as a comparative index, but as a refractive element Rastafarianism is perhaps the most widely known of
through which one social cosmos may look meaningfully Caribbean religions. It is difficult to estimate the exact
at another and adjust its presuppositions accordingly. number of Rastafarians, but the religions influence
Two erroneous assumptions have informed past stud- vastly exceeds its numbers in Jamaica, elsewhere in the
ies of African and African-American religions. The first is Caribbean, in Europe, Latin America, and the United
that the black experience of religion simply replicates States. The movement traces its history to a number of
white religious experience; the second is that it is totally indigenous preacher-leaders in the 1930s, most notably
dissimilar to it. Neither assumption is true because nei- Leonard Howell, Joseph Hibbert, Archibald Dunkley,
ther takes into account the complex interactions between Paul Earlington, Vernal Davis, Ferdinand Ricketts, and
African-based religions and other world religions. Cor- Robert Hinds. The influence of Marcus Garvey is also
rectly viewed, African-American religious experience can- apparent. Each of these leadersworking in isolation
not be separated from North American religion. It is of from the otherscame to the conclusion that Haile
one fabric. African religious experience is part and parcel Selassie, then enthroned as Ethiopian emperor, was the
of North American religious experience just as Chris- Lion of Judah who would lead all peoples of African
tianity and Islam are now part and parcel of religious heritage back to the promised land of Africa. In the
experience on the continent of Africa. Nevertheless, exact Amharic (Ethiopian language), Ras Tafari means head
genealogies of African and African-American religions are ruler or emperor. It is one of the many formal titles
difficult to discern. belonging to Haile Selassie.
While Rastafarianism is by no means a homoge-
African Religions neous movement, Rastafarians share seven basic tenets:
in the Caribbean (1) black people were exiled to the West Indies because
The best-documented religionssuch as Haitian Vodun, of their moral transgressions; (2) the wicked white man
Rastafarianism, Cuban Santeria, and the Spiritual Bap- is inferior to black people; (3) the Caribbean situation
tists in Trinidadserve as prime examples of creativity is hopeless; (4) Ethiopia is heaven; (5) Haile Selassie is
and change in this dynamic region, which has become a the living God; (6) the emperor of Ethiopia will arrange
fertile ground for the development of new religious for all expatriated persons of African descent to return
admixtures and syncretism. Almost everyone in the to their true homeland; and (7) black people will get
Caribbean is from someplace else, and Caribbean reli- revenge by compelling white people to serve them.
gions have been greatly affected by the presence of Euro- Among contemporary Rastafarians different subgroups
40 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Discrimination and African-American Churches

Many African-American churches began because force you away. Mr. Jones said, Wait until prayer is
African-Americans sought a place of worship that was over, and I will get up and trouble you no more.
free of discrimination and where they could be full par- With that he beckoned to one of the other trustees,
ticipants. In the following passage, Richard Allen Mr. LS, to come to his assistance. He came, and
recounts the events that led him to found the African went to William White to pull him up. By this time
Methodist Episcopal Church. prayer was over, and we went out of the church in a
body, and they were no more plagued with us in the
A number of us usually attended St. Georges church
church. This raised a great excitement and inquiry
in Fourth street; and when the colored people began
among the citizens, in so much that I believe they
to get numerous in attending the church, they moved
were ashamed of their conduct.
us from the seats we usually sat on, and placed us
But my dear Lord was with us, and we were filled
around the wall, and on Sabbath morning we went to
with fresh vigor to get a house erected to worship
church and the sexton stood at the door, and told us
God in. . . .We got subscription papers out to raise
to go in the gallery. He told us to go, and we would
money to build the house of the Lord. . . . But the
see where to sit.We expected to take the seats over the
elder of the Methodist Church still pursued us. Mr.
ones we formerly occupied below, not knowing any
John McClaskey called upon us and told us if we did
better. . . . Just as we got to the seats, the elder said,
not erase our names from the subscription paper,
Let us pray. We had not been long upon our knees
and give up the paper, we would be publicly turned
before I heard considerable scuffling and low talk-
out of meeting. . . .We told him we had no place of
ing. I raised my head up and saw one of the trustees,
worship; and we did not mean to go to St. Georges
HM, having hold of the Rev. Absalom Jones,
church any more, as we were so scandalously treated
pulling him up off of his knees, and saying, You
in the presence of all the congregation present; and
must get upyou must not kneel here. Mr. Jones
if you deny us your name, you cannot seal up the
replied, Wait until prayer is over. Mr. HM said,
scriptures from us, and deny us a name in heaven.
No, you must get up now, or I will call for aid and
We believe heaven is free for all who worship in

stress different elements of the original creed; for exam- ters, notably New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
ple, the alleged death of Haile Selassie (a large number It is estimated that there are currently more than 100,000
of Rastafarians believe that Haile Selassie is still alive) Santeria devotees in New York City alone.
has raised significant questions regarding Selassies The Spiritual Baptists are an international religious
place in the movement. movement with congregations in Saint Vincent (where
Cuban Santeria combines European and African some Baptists claim the faith originated), Trinidad and
beliefs and practices. But unlike Vodun, the religion is Tobago, Grenada, Guyana,Venezuela,Toronto, Los Ange-
inspired mainly by one African traditionthat of the les, and New York City. Membership is predominantly
Yoruba. In Santeria, the Yoruba influence is marked in black, but in recent years congregations in Trinidad have
music, chants, and foodstuffs, and by sacrifice. During attracted membership among wealthy East Indians and
major ceremonies, bloodthe food of the deitiesflows Chinese. A central ritual in the Spiritual Baptist faith is
onto sacred stones belonging to the cult leader. These known as the mourning rite. This is an elaborate cere-
stones are believed to be the objects through which the mony involving fasting, lying on a dirt floor, and other
gods are fed and in which their power resides. A signifi- deprivations. A major component of the mourning rite is
cant religious development in North America has been discovering ones true rank within the church hierarchy.
the large-scale transfer of Cuban Santeria to urban cen- A critical issue in the study of Caribbean religions is the
african-american and caribbean religions 41

spirit and truth. And he said, So you are deter- and progress in Delaware state, and elsewhere, the
mined to go on. We told him, Yes, God being our colored people were their greatest support; for there
helper. He then replied, We will disown you all were but few of us free; but the slaves would toil in
from the Methodist connection. We believed if we their little patches many a night until midnight to
put our trust in the Lord, he would stand by us. raise their little truck and sell to get something to
Notwithstanding we had been so violently perse- support them more than what their masters gave
cuted by the elder, we were in favor of being them, and we used often to divide our little support
attached to the Methodist connection; for I was con- among the white preachers of the Gospel . . .
fident that there was no religious sect or denomi- I feel thankful that ever I heard a Methodist
nation would suit the capacity of the colored people preach. We are beholden to the Methodists, under
as well as the Methodist; for the plain and simple God, for the light of the Gospel we enjoy; for all
gospel suits best for any people; for the unlearned other denominations preached so high-flown that
can understand, and the learned are sure to under- we were not able to comprehend their doctrine. . . .
stand; and the reason that the Methodist is so suc- It is to be awfully feared that the simplicity of the
cessful in the awakening and conversion of the Gospel that was among them fifty years ago, and
colored people, the plain doctrine and having a that they conform more to the world and the fash-
good discipline. But in many cases the preachers ions thereof, they would fare very little better than
would act to please their own fancy, without disci- the people of the world. The discipline is altered
pline, till some of them became such tyrants, and considerably from what it was. We would ask for the
more especially to the colored people. They would good old way, and desire to walk therein.
turn them out of society, giving them no trial, for the Source: Allen, R. (1883). The life experience and gospel labors of the Rt. Rev. Richard Allen.
Philadelphia: Martin and Boston.
smallest offense, perhaps only hearsay. They would
frequently, in meeting the class, impeach some of the
members of whom they had heard an ill report, and
turn them out, . . . notwithstanding in the first rise

selection of a unit of analysis. Because syncretism plays African Religions

such a prominent role in the development of religions in in the United States
the region, it is often difficult to separate indigenous and Scholarly studies on African-American religion in the
foreign elements. Since there has been so much outreach, United States are often traced to W. E. B. Du Boiss clas-
it is often difficult to discover the true origin of any sin- sic The Negro Church (1903), which constituted the first
gle religious group. Because most of the religions con- major book-length study of African-American religion in
sidered here lack a denominational chain of command, the United States. Employing a wide range of research
one cannot make statements about them as one might strategies (historical, survey, interview, and participant-
about the Roman Catholic Church or Presbyterianism. observation) Du Bois explored multiple aspects of
The most accurate assessments refer to individual con- African-American religious life including church finance,
gregations and their leaders. To examine movements denominational structures, and beliefs. Du Bois charac-
such as Rastafarianism, Santeria,Vodun, and the Spiritual terized the Black Church as the first distinctly African-
Baptists as if they were unified denominations on the American social institution (Zuckermann 2000, 109).
European and North American model is to present an Subsequent studies of the Black Church were much more
overly coherent picture of an incredibly fragmented and limited in scope. As noted, later scholars confined their
volatile religious situation. attentions to the retention of African cultural traits in the
42 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Matthew 5:4344Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate
thine enemy./But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them
that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. BIBLE

New World, and scholars debated the extent to which During the time of slavery, African-Americans in the
African-American religion draws from African religion in United States never experienced complete religious free-
its diverse forms. Few slaves came directly to the United dom, but a number of independent African-American
States from Africa, and the presence or absence of so- congregations and religious associations arose.Two early
called Africanisms is more difficult to discern in American Baptist churches, the Joy Street Baptist Church in Boston
religions than in those of the Caribbean. Nevertheless, (which was established in 1805) and the Abyssinian Bap-
bits and pieces of African religious concepts and rituals tist Church in New York City (which was established in
are present in North Americabut in greatly modified 1808), were founded in response to discrimination in
forms. These concepts and rituals include the call-and- racially mixed congregations. Black Baptist congregations
response pattern in preaching, ancestor worship, initia- in the Midwest formed separate regional associations in
tion rites, spirit possession, healing and funeral rituals, the 1850s, and the first Baptist association, the National
magical rituals for obtaining spiritual power, and ecstatic Baptist Convention, U.S.A., was formed in 1895. Black
spirit possession accompanied by rhythmic dancing, Methodists also established independent congregations
drumming, and singing. and associations during the antebellum period. A group
Prior to the American Revolution, few American slaves of blacks belonging to the Free African Society, a mutual
were exposed to Christianity. Initially, planters did not aid society within St. Georges Methodist Episcopal
promote the conversion of their slaves to Christianity Church in Philadelphia, severed ties with its parent body
because they feared that it might give slaves ideas about in 1787 in response to what some black members saw as
equality and freedom that were incompatible with slav- discriminatory practices. A majority of the dissidents
ery. Over time, however, slave owners became convinced united to form St.Thomass African Episcopal Church in
that a highly selective interpretation of the Gospel mes- 1794, under the leadership of Absalom Jones. Richard
sage could be used to foster docility in their slaves. Dur- Allen led a minority contingent to establish the Bethel
ing the First Great Awakening (17201740), some free African Methodist Episcopal Church.The Bethel Church
blacks and slaves joined Methodist, Baptist, and Pres- became the founding congregation of the African
byterian congregations. The Second Great Awakening Methodist Episcopal (AME) Churchthe single largest
(17901815), with its numerous camp meetings, at- black Methodist denomination. St. Johns Street Church
tracted more slaves and free blacks to evangelical forms in New York City, with its racially mixed congregation,
of Protestantism. In the eighteenth century, Methodists served as an organizational nexus for what became the
emerged as leaders in developing effective religious second major black Methodist denomination, the African
instruction among the slaves. Following its creation in Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church.
1845, the Southern Baptist Convention also undertook African-American religions became more diverse in the
aggressive missionary work among slaves. Religion early twentieth century as blacks migrated from the rural
scholar Albert Raboteau (1978) has suggested that the South to northern cities. By this time, two National Bap-
Baptists were especially successful because baptism by tist associations and three black Methodist denomina-
immersion resembled West African initiation rites. tions were already well established as the mainstream
Throughout the United States, slaves worshiped in churches in black urban communities. Often these de-
both mixed and segregated congregations. Masters often nominations cut across class lines. Conversely, black
took house slaves with them to religious services at their congregations affiliated with white-controlled Episco-
own (predominantly white) churches, where blacks were palian, Presbyterian, and Congregational churches
required to sit in separate galleries. In addition to attend- catered primarily to African-American elites. Although
ing church services with their masters, slaves held secret mainstream churches attempted to address the social
religious meetings in their own quarters, in praise houses, needs of recent migrants, their middle-class orientations
or away from the plantation in so-called hush arbors. often made migrants feel ill at ease. As a consequence,
african-american and caribbean religions 43

You have two qualities which God, the Most Exalted, likes and loves.
One is mildness and the other is toleration. Muhammad (570632)

many migrants established and joined storefront established large congregations in New York, Los Ange-
churches. In addition, recent migrants became attracted les, Miami, and other urban centers, attracting Caribbean
to a wide array of Holiness-Pentecostal Churches, Sanc- migrants and American blacks, as well as a small number
tified Churches, and Spiritual Churches, as well as vari- of white converts. Cuban Santeria is perhaps the most
ous Islamic and Jewish sects. Other independent groups, racially mixed and widespread of these religions.
with such names as Father Divines Peace Mission and
Daddy Graces United House of Prayer for All People An African-American
also gained prominence. Today, approximately 90 per- Aesthetic
cent of churchgoing African-Americans belong to black- African and African-American peoples do not conceptu-
controlled religious bodies. The remaining 10 percent alize religion as something separate from the rest of their
belong to white-controlled religious bodies. African- culture. Art, dance, and literature are understood as inte-
Americans are also to be found within the memberships gral to the religious experience.This is aptly illustrated by
of liberal Protestant denominations, the Mormon church, musician B.B. Kings comment that he feels closest to
the Southern Baptist Convention, and various groups God when he is singing the blues. Spirituals, the blues,
such as the Jehovahs Witnesses, Unity, and the Seventh- gospel, rhythm and blues, bebop, Afro-Latin, and hip-hop
day Adventists. There are more than 2 million black are all rooted in West African sacred and secular music
Roman Catholics in the United States, many of them traditions.West Africans understand music as a means of
recent migrants from the Caribbean. propagating wisdom. In the Yoruba tradition, music stirs
A number of prominent African-American religions in things up, it incites. West African music and art begin
the United States are based on the teachings of Islam. with God, the ideal. For example, Afro-Cuban music con-
Noble Drew Ali established the first of these, the Moor- tinues the African tradition of dispersing and expounding
ish Science Temple, in Newark, New Jersey, in the early upon fixed and recurring God-generated themes that
twentieth century.The main teachings of the Moorish Sci- embody cultural ideals and values.
ence Temple were incorporated into the Nation of Islam, While African-American music is derived from a vari-
founded by Wallace D. Fard during the early 1930s in ety of sources, religion has historically served as one of its
Detroit. Later, the Nation of Islam came under the lead- major inspirations. As Lincoln and Mamiya (1990, 347)
ership of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. The Nation observe, In the Black Church singing together is not so
of Islam grew rapidly, in part due to the militant preach- much an effort to find, or to establish, a transitory com-
ing of Malcolm X during the early 1960s. Rapid growth munity as it is the affirmation of a common bond that,
did not check schismatic tendencies that led to the while inviolate, has suffered the pain of separation since
appearance of numerous splinter groups, including the the last occasion of physical togetherness.
Ahmadiyya Muslim movement of Chicago, the Hanafis Eileen Southern (1983) traced African-American spir-
of Washington, D.C., and the Ansaru Allah community ituals to the camp meetings of the Second Awakening,
of Brooklyn. Following the assassination of Malcolm X where blacks continued singing in their segregated
and the death of Elijah Muhammad, Elijahs son,Wallace quarters after the whites had retired for the night. Accord-
D. Muhammad, transformed the Nation of Islam into the ing to Lincoln and Mamiya (1990, 348), black spirituals
more orthodox group known as the American Muslim also appear to have had their roots in the preachers
Mission. To counter the Missions shift to orthodox chanted declamation and the intervening congregational
Islam, Louis Farrakhan established a reconstituted Nation responses.
of Islam. The ring shout, in which shouters danced in a circle
Caribbean-based religions are among the fastest- to the accompaniment of a favorite spiritual sung by spec-
growing religions in the United States. As noted above, tators standing on the sidelines, was a common practice
Vodun, Rastafarianism, and the Spiritual Baptists have in many nineteenth-century black churches. By 1830,
44 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

many black urban congregations had introduced choral Further Reading

singing into their services. Praying and singing bands Baer, H. A., & Singer, M. (1992). African-American religion in the twen-
tieth century: A religious response to racism. Knoxville: University of
became a regular feature of religious life in many black Tennessee Press.
urban churches. Despite the opposition of African Meth- Brandon, G. F. (1993). Santeria from Africa to the new world: The dead
odists and other religious leaders to the intrusion of sell memories. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Chavannes, B. (1994). Rastafariroots and ideology. Syracuse, NY: Syra-
cornfield ditties into formal worship services, folk music cuse University Press.
became an integral part of African-American sacred music. Curtin, P. D. (1969). The Atlantic slave trade: A census. Madison: Uni-
versity of Wisconsin Press.
According to Southern, black gospel music emerged as Desmangles, L. G. (1992). The faces of the gods: Vodou and Roman
an urban phenomenon in revivals conducted in tents, Catholicism in Haiti. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
football stadiums, and huge tabernacles. In 1927, Du Bois, W. E. B. (1903). The Negro church. Atlanta, GA: Atlanta Uni-
versity Press.
Thomas A. Dorsey promoted what he called gospel Frazier, E. F. (1964). The Negro church in America. New York: Shocken
songs in churches in Chicago, the Midwest, and the rural Books.
Glazier, S. D. (1991). Marchin the pilgrims home: A study of the Spiritual
South. At a time when many Baptist and Methodist Baptists of Trinidad. Salem, WI: Sheffield.
churches rejected gospel music, Sanctified churches (an Hall, S. (1990). Cultural identity and diaspora. In J. Rutherford (Ed.),
aggregate of independent congregations stressing expe- Identity: Community, culture, difference. London: Lawrence and
rience of the Holy Spirit and personal piety as keys to sal- Herskovits, M. J. (1941). The myth of the Negro past. New York: Harper.
vation) in both urban and rural areas embraced it Lincoln, C. E., & Mamiya, L. (1990). The black church in the African-
American experience. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
wholeheartedly.The Church of God in Christ has been a Mintz, S., & Price, R. (1992). An anthropological approach to the Afro-
strong supporter of contemporary gospel music. Spiritual American past. The birth of African-American culture: An anthropolog-
churches (like the Israel Universal Divine Spiritual ical perspective. Boston: Beacon Press.
Raboteau, A. J. (1978). Slave religion:The invisible institution in the ante-
Churches of Christ, the Metropolitan Spiritual Churches bellum South. New York: Oxford University Press.
of Christ, and the Universal Hagars Spiritual Church) Southern, E. (1983). The music of black Americans. New York: Norton.
Spencer, J. M. (1993). Blues and evil. Knoxville: University of Tennessee
also accepted gospel music, and in New Orleans jazz Press.
is an integral feature of their worship services. In time, Verger, P. (1968). Flux et reflux de la traite des negres entre le Golfe de
many mainstream congregations have incorporated Benin et Bahia de Todos los Santos, du XVIIe au XIXe siecle [Flow and
backward flow of the draft of the Negros between the Gulf of Benign
gospel music into their musical repertoires. and Bahia de Todos los Santos]. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton.
African-American religions in the Caribbean and the Zuckermann, P. (2000). Du Bois on Religion. Lanham, MD: AltaMira.
United States represent a coming together of African and
European cultures in yet a third settingthat of the
Americas.They are products of both voluntary and forced
migrations, and represent a dynamic blending of Old Afro-Eurasia
World and New World faiths. E. Franklin Frazier (1964,
50-51) correctly argued that African-American religion
historically has functioned as a refuge in a hostile white
world. At another level, it has served as a form of cultural
A fro-Eurasia designates the land masses of Africa and
Eurasia, together with adjacent islands, as a single
spatial entity.The concept of Afro-Eurasia is useful in the
identity and resistance to a white-dominated society. In study of both historical and contemporary social phe-
addition to serving as houses of worship, black churches nomena whose full geographical contexts overlap in one
were and are centers of social life, ethnic identity, and cul- way or another the conventionally defined continents of
tural expression in the African-American and Caribbean Africa, Asia, and Europe. A prominent example is the
communities. Roman empire, which politically unified societies all
around the Mediterranean basin, a region that has a fairly
Stephen D. Glazier uniform climatic and vegetational regime. Acknowledg-
afro-eurasia 45

The English Hereford Map

(c. 1280) shows Africa,
Europe, and Asia.

ment of the unity of the Mediter- Arabian, Kyzyl Kum, Takli-

ranean lands in the larger frame makan, and Gobi Deserts, as
of Afro-Eurasia benefits the well as the dry Iranian Plateau
study of relatively large-scale and the semiarid steppes of
developments in the empire, Inner Eurasia. Except where river
whereas a conception of the basin valleys run through or other water
as made up of three primary and sources could be tapped, Afro-
arbitrarily fixed sectionsEuropean, Eurasias great arid zone has had low
African, and Asianmay inhibit investi- population density relative to the super-
gation of such processes. continents temperate and tropical zones. Nev-
The single land mass comprising Eurasia and Africa, ertheless, human groups began as early as the seventh
the largest on the globe, has never acquired a distinctive millennium BCE to adapt to arid lands by herding animal
and enduring name of its own. This is ironic, since geol- domesticates on seasonal grasses and eventually har-
ogists have named a number of great land areas, Pan- nessing horses, camels, and oxen to carry loads and pull
gaea, Gondwana, and Laurasia, for example, that existed wagons across large expanses of rain-starved land.
in earlier eons before the earths tectonic plates arranged Another prominent feature of Afro-Eurasia is the nearly
themselves into their current configuration. Afro-Eurasia continuous chain of highland ranges that stretches across
is sometimes identified as the Eastern Hemisphere or the the land mass from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco to
Old World as against the Western Hemisphere or the the uplands of western China. Afro-Eurasian highlands
New World, that is, the Americas. have sometimes impeded human movement, notably
north and south across the roof of the Hindu Kush,
Afro-Eurasias Pamirs, and Himalayas. Pioneer travelers, however,
Geographical Profile inevitably found the high passes, which thereafter became
Extending from approximately 78 degrees north latitude funnels of travel for merchants, missionaries, and con-
to 35 degrees south latitude, Afro-Eurasia exhibits a mul- quering armies.
titude of distinctive climatic and vegetational zones from Because the Indian Ocean extends across much of the
Arctic tundra to wet tropical forest. The supercontinents Eastern Hemispheres tropical latitudes, Afro-Eurasias
topography is equally varied, including the highest point only large expanse of tropical rainforest climate is in
(Mount Everest) and the lowest point (the Dead Sea) on equatorial Africa, an area significantly smaller than Ama-
the earths land surface. Afro-Eurasias climatic and top- zonias wet tropics in South America. We must also
ographical diversity, however, did not deter human include southern India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia,
beings from populating, at least in sparse numbers, both mainland and insular, as part of Afro-Eurasias dis-
nearly all parts of the land mass and neighboring islands continuous tropical belt, lands where humans adapted
by about twenty thousand years ago. A satellite view of ecologically in quite similar ways.
Afro-Eurasia reveals several prominent geographical fea- The Eurasian part of the supercontinent, whose long
tures that have both challenged humankinds adaptive axis runs east-west, displays somewhat less floral and fau-
powers and facilitated travel, migration, and interchange. nal diversity than does Africa, owing partly to its relatively
Perhaps the most conspicuous feature from satellite narrower latitudinal range. Indeed, in his book Guns,
distance is the lateral belt of arid and semi-arid land that Germs, and Steel, the geographer and evolutionary biol-
extends from the North Atlantic coast of Africa to north- ogist Jared Diamond has argued that, because of the rel-
eastern China. This chain of deserts, scrublands, moun- ative evenness of daylight and climate along Eurasias
tains, and grassy plains includes the great Sahara and the long axis, food crops, animal domesticates, and related
46 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

In a borderless world we can go anywhere. If we are not allowed a good life in our
countries, if we are going to be global citizens, then we should migrate North. . . .
Masses of Asians and Africans should inundate Europe and America.

agricultural technologies have in the past ten thousand nents, that is, the doctrine that the world comprises
years diffused more easily across the region than they seven major land divisions, three of them being Africa,
have along the long north-south axes of either Africa or Asia, and Europe. Western and Western-educated schol-
the Americas. The reason is that in Africa and the West- ars fully articulated the idea that the earth is constituted
ern Hemisphere migrating farmers and herders had to of seven primary land worlds only during the first half
make repeated adaptations to new climatic conditions. of the twentieth century. As late as 1950, for example,
In Afro-Eurasias northwesterly section, several seas geographers were not fully agreed that the Americas
penetrate deep into the land mass, which partially explain constituted two continents, rather than one, or that Aus-
the relatively early intensification of human cultural tralia deserved continental rather than merely large-island
exchange and attending technical innovation and popu- status.
lation buildup in that region. Elsewhere on the land Since the mid-twentieth century, however, the seven-
mass, long rivers and animal transport technologies facil- continent scheme has become dogmatic in school text-
itated contact between coastal and interior peoples. books, scholarly literature, geographical atlases, and the
Moreover, the chain of seas in western Afro-Eurasia (the popular media, despite fundamental inconsistencies in
Baltic Sea, North Sea, eastern coastal Atlantic, Mediter- the very definition of the word continent. If a continent is
ranean and Black Sea, Red Sea, and Persian Gulf) con- by conventional definition a large mass of land sur-
nect to the southern seas (the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, rounded or nearly surrounded by water, why, critics of the
and the China Seas) to make for a transhemispheric chain sevenfold categorization have asked, do both Europe and
of seas that from at least 4000 BCE permitted captains of Asia qualify as primary land masses, when no distinct
sail craft to relay goods, ideas, and people from the far watery division between them exists? Indeed, the con-
east to the far west of Afro-Eurasia. ventional definition applies well to Australia, Antarctica,
North America, South America, and Afro-Eurasia, making
How Many Continents? for five continents rather than seven. From this five-
Owing in large measure to the linguistic turn in social and continent perspective we may perceive the Mediterranean,
literary research, most scholars today accept the proposi- Red, and Black seas as internal seas of Afro-Eurasia, since
tion that human beings socially construct and name geo- they are inconsequential intercontinental partitions com-
graphical spaces. Even mountain ranges and river valleys pared with the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Indeed, geog-
exist in nature only insofar as humans agree on the cri- raphers, travelers, merchants, and soldiers have long
teria for determining their characteristics, unity, and lim- known by experience the irrelevance of these waters as
its. Thus, nation-states, ethnic territories, climatic zones, barriers to human contact. As soon as humans invented
and continents are invariably constructions susceptible to sturdy rafts and sailboats, which in the Red Sea region
social acceptance, rejection, or modification over time. may have occurred as long as 100,000 years ago, people
The idea of Afro-Eurasia is equally constructed as a place began to traverse these seas and transform them into busy
on the world map and as an arena of historical develop- channels of cultural and commercial exchange.
ments. So far, however, this construction has gained little The ancient Greeks, whose world centered on the
attention or credence despite the supercontinents ready Aegean Sea, were the first we know of to identify Europe
discernibility on the globe and despite accumulating evi- to the northwest, Asia to the east, and Africa to the south
dence of complex, long-distance intercommunication as distinct regions. But the Greeks also imagined these
among its peoples since very ancient times. three zones as comprising parts of a larger integrated
The greatest impediment to recognition of Afro-Eurasia whole, the orbis terrarum, or world island. Considering
as a geographical entity has been what the geographers Greek commercial and colonial enterprise all around the
Martin Lewis and Kren Wigen call the myth of conti- rim of the eastern and central Mediterranean, as well as
afro-eurasia 47

If there is any strength that we have, it is in the numbers. Three-fourth of the world is either black,
brown, yellow or some combination of all these. We will make all nations in the world rainbow
nations . . . Dato Seri Mahathir bin Mohamad (b. 1925)

in the Black Sea region, such a holistic conception is intellectuals struggled for several centuries to agree on
hardly surprising. Roman scholars, by contrast, despite the location of their continents eastern, sealess border.
the empires intercontinental span, tended to emphasize Various rivers flowing north-south across Russia com-
the threefold division. Medieval Christians drew maps of manded followings, but in the nineteenth century, schol-
a world revolving around Jerusalem, a point technically ars reached general consensus that the Ural Mountains
in Asia, but in their worldview the lands northwest of should be the marker. An obscure Swedish military offi-
the Holy City, that is, Europe, possessed sharp cultural cer first put forth this idea in the previous century, and
and historical definition, whereas most of Asia and pro-Westernizing Russians found it attractive because it
Africa, lands of heathen darkness, did not. emphasized the European nature of the historical Russ-
ian core while consigning Siberia to the position of an
Making of the Continents alien Asian realm suitable for colonial rule and exploita-
of Europe and Asia tion (Lewis and Wigen 1997, 27). In the twentieth cen-
Almost all societies that share language and cultural tra- tury, the Ural partition became dogmatic in Western
ditions also possess a foundational myth that situates academic and school geography. It largely remains so
themselves at the center of creation. Their territory is the today despite the flood of historical evidence showing
place where the primordial creator made the first land that those round-topped hills, whose highest peak
mass and the ancestral human beings. From that conti- reaches only 1,894 meters, have never thwarted human
nent, as it were, humans went forth to populate the rest communication. Thus, the social construction of the
of the world.The Chinese self-perception as the people of Continent of Europe has well served the fundamentally
the earths middle kingdom, the Hebrew story of the flawed notion that the lands north of the Mediterranean
Garden of Eden, and the Muslim idea of the Dar al-Islam and Black seas possess geographical singularity compa-
(land of surrender to God) versus the Dar al-Harb (land rable to both Asia and Africa and that this European
of war) have all served such mystiques of cultural and his- entity generated unique cultural ingredients and mecha-
torical primacy. nisms that set it intrinsically apart from those two places,
The idea that Europe is one of the earths primary as well as from all other continents.
land masses had its origins in Greek thought, took root The eastern land frontier between Europe and Asia has
in the Middle Ages, and became canonical in modern not been the only continental demarcation subject to
times, even as Western geographical knowledge accu- debate and revision. Medieval European geographers, for
mulated to reveal the absence of any significant water- example, took it for granted that the Nile separated
way or other physical partition separating the eastern Africa from Asia, the Red Sea coming into its own as the
side of Europe from what came to be known as Asia. conventional dividing line only in recent centuries. Con-
Thus, Europes status as a continent had to rest on excep- tending for a racial definition of continents, a few schol-
tional criteria, specifically its possessing a population that ars have asserted that the Sahara Desert, not the Mediter-
exhibited distinct cultural characteristicsthe shared ranean, properly splits Europe from Africa because the
heritage of Western Christendom. Whatever linguistic, desert separates white populations from black ones.
cultural, and political differences divided Europeans from In the late nineteenth century, scholars introduced the
one another, they all shared, according to the theory, a concept of Eurasia, though with a variety of definitions.
piece of the world distinctive for not being Asia or Eurasia, characterized simply as Asia and Europe as a sin-
Africa, lands inhabited by Muslims and other unfath- gle land mass, though distinguished from Africa, relegates
omable strangers. However, because of the absence of Europe to the status of subcontinent, that is, a large penin-
any compelling physical border separating Europe from sula of Eurasia comparable to South Asia, Indochina, or
Asia north of the Aegean and Black seas, European Arabia. As the world historian Marshall Hodgson has
48 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The first law of history is to dread uttering a falsehood; the next is not to
fear stating the truth; lastly, the historians writings should be open to no
suspicion of partiality or animosity. Leo XIII (18101903)

pointed out, this reordering averts the categorical pairing historian Rashid al-Din wrote the Collected Chronicles, an
of huge and tiny countries, for example, the questionable immense work of history and geography that encom-
notion that Luxembourg and Slovenia are countries on passed not only the lands of the Dar al-Islam but also
the continent of Europe paralleling China and India as India, China, Inner Eurasia, the Byzantine empire, and
countries in Asia. The idea of a Eurasian continent has Western Europe. Indeed, Rashid al-Din, along with other
also been useful in the study of numerous historical well-educated scholars and travelers of his time, may have
processes whose proper geographical frame is that land been among the first people in world history to possess
mass as a whole.These developments include the disper- a consciousness of Afro-Eurasia in all its length and
sion of Indo-European-speaking populations from China breadth as an interconnected whole. In the early modern
to Ireland between the fourth and first millennia BCE; the centuries, when geographers were rapidly accumulating
long-distance migrations and invasions of pastoral groups knowledge about the earths every nook and cranny,
(Scythians, Germans, Huns, Avars, Magyars,Turks) in the European scholars wrote a number of universal histo-
past three millennia; the opening of the trans-Eurasian ries that divided the world into primary parts, whether
Silk Roads; the east-west flow of technologies, ideas, and continents or civilizations, but that also acknowledged
religions; the forging of the Mongol empire in the thir- Asian peoples, if not yet Africans south of the Sahara,
teenth century; the rise of the Russian empire in the sev- as having contributed in some measure to Old World
enteenth; and the emergence of the Soviet Union after history.
1917. All these developments notwithstanding, however, In the twentieth century, several world history pio-
Eurasia has not so far come close to disturbing the con- neers, including Alfred Kroeber, Arnold Toynbee, Mar-
ventional school wisdom that the world has seven conti- shall Hodgson, William McNeill, and Leften Stavrianos,
nents, not six. adopted varying conceptualizations of the ecumene (or
in Greek, the oikoumene) to describe the belt of inter-
Afro-Eurasia as an linked agrarian civilizations that began to emerge in the
Arena of History fourth millennium BCE and that eventually extended
The failure of Eurasia to supersede Europe and Asia on from the Mediterranean basin to the North Pacific.
the continental honors list suggests that Afro-Eurasia Hodgson frequently used the term Afro-Eurasia in con-
faces a steep climb to acceptance, despite its value in for- nection with the ecumene, defined by him as the vari-
mulating questions about long-term and large-scale ous lands of urbanized, literate, civilization in the
change in world history. The human eye can readily see Eastern Hemisphere that have been in commercial
Eurasia as a single bulk of land but requires serious re- and commonly in intellectual contact with each other...
education to perceive the Mediterranean and Red seas, (Hodgson 1954, 716). On occasion, Hodgson also
together with the Suez Canal (whose navigational width employed the term Indo-Mediterranea, though without
is 180 meters), as something other than lines between detailed explication, to delineate the region of intense
great spatial compartments. human interactivity that ran from North India to the
On the other hand, several scholars of world history Mediterranean basin, a region that overlay parts of Asia,
have either explicitly or implicitly envisaged Afro-Eurasia Africa, and Europe.
as a single field of historical development, thereby ignor- In The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Com-
ing or minimizing the conventional threefold division as munity, William McNeill postulated the progressive clo-
having any bearing on the comparative or world- sure of the Eurasian ecumene, that is, the interlinking of
historical questions they wish to pose. In the early four- Eurasian civilizations, as a key historical dynamic, though
teenth century, when a chain of Mongol-ruled states his definition of Eurasia implicitly incorporated the
stretched all the way from Korea to Bulgaria, the Persian Mediterranean and Indian Ocean littorals of Africa as well.
afro-eurasia 49

In the more recent book The Human Web: A Birds-Eye that have occurred in the world, historians interested in
View of World History, William and John McNeill have comparative and large-scale change have in recent years
consistently used OldWorld as their term of choice for the taken a more situational and fluid approach to geo-
Afro-Eurasian landmass, even though many scholars have graphical contexts, shaping them to the specific histori-
rejected this phrase as Eurocentric, that is, as one implying cal problem at hand.These spatial reorientations include
that the Americas were a new world whose history began conceptions of the Atlantic basin, the Pacific basin, the
when Europeans discovered them. Indian Ocean rim, the Mediterranean-Black Sea rim, and
Philip Curtin, another world history leader, has also Inner Eurasia as zones of interaction different from and
described the gradual formation and spread of a series sometimes historically more serviceable than the con-
of intercommunicating zones, beginning from small ventional conceptions of civilizations and continents.
points in the river valleys and spreading gradually to Afro-Eurasia is simply one among several useful geo-
larger and larger parts of the Afro-Eurasian land mass graphical categories, one that should not replace Europe,
(Curtin 1995, 47). In ReOrient: Global Economy in the Africa, and Asia as named areas on the world map, but
Asian Age, Andre Gunder Frank contends that in large- rather be put to work as a useful tool in the historians
scale investigation of the development of the world econ- methodological kit.
omy between 1400 and 1800, Afro-Eurasia is a far more
Ross E. Dunn
relevant geographical unit than Europe, Asia, Africa, or
even Eurasia. Arnold Toynbee recognized the climatic, See also Geographic Constructions; Human Evolution
ecological, and historical contiguity of the Sahara and Overview
Arabian deserts by coining the term Afrasian steppes, an
expression that transformed the Red Sea from a conti-
nental partition to a long, narrow lake within the Afro- Further Reading
Curtin, P., Feierman, S.,Thompson, L., & Vansina, J. (1995). African his-
Eurasian arid zone. The historian Michael Pearson has
tory: From earliest times to independence (2nd ed.). New York:
suggested that Afrasian Sea might well replace Arabian Longman.
Sea in order to acknowledge the long historical associa- Diamond, J. (1993). Guns, germs, and steel: The fates of human societies.
New York: W. W. Norton.
tions among peoples of the East African coast, Arabia, Dunn, R. E. (Ed.). (2000). The New World History: A Teachers Compan-
Persia, and India. Indeed Pearson, Frank, and Ross Dunn ion. Boston: Bedford St. Martins.
Dunn, R. E. (1992). Multiculturalism and world history. World History
have proposed the term Afrasia as an alternative to Afro-
Bulletin, 8(SpringSummer), 38.
Eurasia in order to award the land mass a more distinc- Frank, A. G. (1998). ReOrient: Global economy in the Asian Age. Berke-
tive name and to erase the hyphenation (Pearson 1998, ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Hodgson, M. (1954). Hemispheric interregional history as an approach
36; Frank 1998, 2-3; Dunn 1992, 7). However, this inno- to world history. Journal of World History/Cahier dHistoire Mondiale,
vation, which conceptually embraces Europe but omits 1(3), 715723.
Hodgson, M. G. S. (1974). The venture of Islam: Conscience and history
the combining form Eur-, has so far attracted few aca-
in a world civilization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
demic buyers. Hodgson, M. G. S. (1993). Rethinking world history: Essays on Europe,
As the literature of transnational, interregional, and Islam, and world history. (W. Burke III, Ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cam-
bridge University Press.
global history has accrued, both scholars and teachers Kroeber, A. L. (1944). Configurations of culture growth. Berkeley and Los
have recognized the liabilities of accepting conventional Angeles: University of California Press.
Lewis, M. W., & Wigen, K. E. (1997). The myth of continents: A critique
geographical expressions as natural, fixed, or timeless,
of metageography. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California
because these presumed entities may impose arbitrary Press.
and distracting barriers to investigating historical phe- McNeill, J. R., & McNeill, W. H. (2003). The human web: A birds eye
view of world history. New York: W. W. Norton.
nomena in their totality.Thus, in order to formulate com- McNeill, W. H. (1963). The rise of the West: A history of the human com-
parative and large-scale questions about developments munity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
50 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

So often people say that we should look to elderly, learn from their wisdom, their many years. I
disagree, I say we should look to the young: untarnished, without stereotypes implanted in
their minds, no poison, no hatred in their hearts. When we learn to see life through the eyes of
a child, that is when we become truly wise. Mother Theresa (19101997)

Pearson, M. N. (1998). Port cities and intruders:The Swahili coast, India, Many social roles are determined or available based on
and Portugal in the early modern era. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Uni-
age. Events in the life cycle, such as education, employ-
versity Press.
Stavrianos, L. S. (1998). A global history: From prehistory to the 21st cen- ment, marriage, and birth, are based on age; thus, the
tury (7th ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. social roles that accompany those events are directly
Toynbee, A. J (1947). A study of history. New York: Oxford University Press.
related to age. The appropriate age range for life-cycle
events varies between cultures and through time. Age
ranges may be relatively broad or relatively narrow. The
expression acting ones age derives from societal expec-
Age Stratification tations that certain behaviors are appropriate only to cer-
tain ages.

S ocieties stratify (differentiate) their members by a

variety of criteria, such as age, gender, race, and
class. Age stratificationalong with gender stratification
Age Integration
and Segregation
may be the oldest criteria for differentiation, resulting Age integration joins members of different age strata,
in the formation of roles and social statuses based on age. whereas age segregation separates groups of people and
People are born into an age cohort, which is all those differentiates their social roles. In the United States after
people born during the same time interval (usually a five- the American Revolution, poor older people lived in age-
or ten-year interval). The age cohorts in a particular soci- integrated almshouses. Co-residence of older parents
ety at a particular time represent all the age strata. Each and adult children is an age-integrated practice more
society has an age structure, which is composed of age common today in Asian than in Western cultures. During
strata and associated roles. Population trends, such as the twentieth century age-segregated housing arrange-
increasing life expectancy during the twentieth century ments among older adults became quite popular in the
and decreasing fertility in industrialized countries, affect United States. Some studies show that when older adults
the number of persons in each age stratum. Members of are congregated in housing facilities, greater opportuni-
an age stratum share certain aspects of life, such as a past, ties may exist for age integration with the local com-
present, and future. For example, a person who was age munity.
thirty in 1940 in the United States lived through World Age stratification affects all parts of the life cycle. For
War I and the Great Depression and was in the midst of example, among the Tiriki and Irigwe people of East and
World War II. West Africa, old men are accorded privileges and status
Each society has a distinctive way of structuring roles based on having had sons who produced grandchildren.
based on age. Biology partially determines how roles, At the other end of the life cycle, uninitiated Tiriki boys
such as the role of parent, are structured, but the great are socially part of the same group as children of both
variety of age-related roles and behaviors attests to the genders and women, separated from adult men. In Aztec-
social and historical construction of age structuring. Peo- era village life, historical accounts report, older males had
ple move through an age stratum, such as infancy or old the unique roles of speechmaker and preparer of corpses,
age, in roles and statuses related to that age stratum. As and older women were midwives and arranged mar-
people pass through the life cycle, they change. At the riages. Both groups were permitted to drink in public, a
same time, the social structure consisting of roles, privilege not extended to other age strata.
cohorts, and institutions changes. Elements of culture,
such as the socially determined segments of a life cycle or Kinship Systems
the perceptions of what is appropriate for persons of var- Age stratification intersects with gender and kinship sys-
ious ages, change as well. tems. Since the beginning of agriculture unilineal (tracing
age stratification 51

In many societies,
young men and
women undergo a
ritual when they
move from one age
status to another.
This drawing shows
a young Tohono
Oodham (Papago)
man in Arizona
fasting in the desert
as part of the ritual
initiation into

For most of human history

and for small-scale cultures,
age was an important principle
of social organization, but time
was not as important as it is in
industrialized societies today.
People became old, for exam-
ple, not because they turned
sixty-five but rather because
their abilities to function were
diminished. In preindustrial
descent through either the maternal or paternal line Europe historical accounts suggest that most people
only) kinship systems, which create age-based groupings, stepped down from work in a gradual manner, but at
have been common. Anthropologists have suggested that some peasant family dinners the family members
in Latin America and Africa, the relationship between age requested that the head of the family rest and let the old-
and kinship often functions to decrease conflict either by est son take over the leadership of the farm.
separating groups or binding them. Age stratification is In industrialized society age stratification is influenced
also interwoven with class stratification and may serve as by the social policies of the state, for example, in setting
the basis for power and privilege. During the 1860s in minimum ages for work, driving, or mandatory retire-
Italy, for example, the annual household tax register ment. Major stages of the life cycle include childhood,
shows that for the property-owning classes, adulthood adolescence, adulthood, and retirement. At each of these
was divided into two groups: younger than twenty-one stages the modern state regulates work and family issues.
and older than twenty-one. Three groups existed for Age determines when people go to school, serve in the
peasants: younger than eighteen, eighteen to fifty-nine, military, vote, and are eligible for retirement benefits.
and older than sixty. The social meaning of these dis- Increasing involvement of the state in the life cycle of peo-
tinctions was that when property-owning males turned ple may suggest that age is increasing in importance as a
twenty-one, they could take responsibility for their hold- principle of social organization in Western industrialized
ings. Peasants became adults at eighteen, when they societies.
were able to begin manual labor, and gave up this status
Sally Bowman
when manual labor became more difficult. Women were
not divided by age at all. See also Childhood; Adolescence
52 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why dont somebody wake
up to the beauty of old women? Harriet Beecher Stowe (18111896)

Further Reading framework, agricultural systems differ in degree of inten-

Achenbaum, W. A., Weiland, R., & Haber, C. (1996). Key words in soci- sity. Intensity means the total of inputs to and outputs
ocultural gerontology. New York: Springer.
Frye, C. L. (1996). Comparative and cross-cultural studies. In J. E. Birren
from each unit of land, and can be measured in terms of
(Ed.), Encyclopedia of gerontology (Vol. 1, pp. 311318). New York: calories of energy. The most general trend in the devel-
Academic Press. opment of agricultural systems is an interaction between
Keith, J. (1989). Cultural commentary and the culture of gerontology. In
D. I. Kertzer & K.W. Schaie (Eds.), Age structuring in comparative per- population and intensification. Within the framework of
spective (pp. 4754). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. a system, population builds up and intensification
Kertzer, D. I. (1989). Age structuring in comparative and historical per-
spective. In D. I. Kertzer & K.W. Schaie (Eds.), Age structuring in com-
increases until it reaches its internal limits of sustainabil-
parative perspective (pp. 320). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum ity. At that point the system either changes to permit still
Associates. further intensification or it collapses.
Riley, M. W. (2001). Age stratification. In G. Maddox (Ed.), The ency-
clopedia of aging (3rd ed., pp. 4649). New York: Springer.
Plakans, A. (1989). Stepping down in former times: A comparative assess- Contrasting Ecologies
ment of retirement in traditional Europe. In D. I. Kertzer & K. W.
Schaie (Eds.), Age structuring in comparative perspective. Hillsdale,
The difference between Old World and New World agri-
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. cultural ecologies lies in the different ways they renew soil
Riley, M. W., Johnson, M. E., & Foner, A. (Eds.). (1972). Aging and soci- fertility. In long-fallow systems worldwide, such as swid-
ety: Vol. 3. A sociology of age stratification. New York: Russell Sage
Foundation. den agriculture, this is accomplished by natural organic
Sangree, W. H. (1989). Age and power: Life-course trajectories and age processes of plant growth and decay. By planting a field
structuring of power relations in east and west Africa. In D. I. Kertzer
& K. W. Schaie (Eds.), Age structuring in comparative perspective.
that has lain fallow the farmer brings the crops to the
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. accumulated fertility. In short-fallow systems, by contrast,
Sokolovsky, J. (Ed.). (1997). The cultural context of aging:World wide per- fertilizer must be brought to the crops. In Old World sys-
spectives (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.
Won, Y. H., & Lee, G. R. (1999). Living arrangements of older parents tems, this is accomplished with domestic animals, mainly
in Korea. Journal of Comparative Family Studies, 30, 315328. ungulates. By converting parts of the crops the farmer
cannot use into materials and foods that he can use, the
animals reduce the total cropped area needed while their
manure restores fertility.They provide additional organic
Agricultural material by the common practice of grazing beyond the
farmed area in the day and returning at night. A variant
Societies of this system, important in Africa where the tsetse fly
makes it impossible to keep cattle in fixed locations, is a
ll societies are pluralistic, encompassing multiple symbiotic relation between mobile herders and sedentary
A organizational and technological systems. In an
agricultural society a substantial part of the means of
farmers in which farmers allow the herders to graze cat-
tle on their stubble in exchange for the herder keeping the
human subsistence comes from one or more agricultural cattle overnight on the farmers land.
systems (i.e., systems of domesticated plants and animals New World agricultural ecologies do not incorporate
that depend upon a specific technology and system of domesticated animals and hence have no manure cycle.
management). Instead, fertilizing materials are generally brought to the
Ecologically, the major agricultural systems can be fields by some form of water transport. This is done in
divided broadly into Old World and New World types. two main ways: with water collection and with chinam-
Organizationally, they divide into household/peasant, pas, floating beds in lakes and swamps. Water collection
elite, and industrial. A societys agricultural systems inter- mainly involves either waterborne silt from rivers carried
act with its kinship, political, religious, and economic sys- in irrigation channels or flow from volcanic ash fields or
tems, among others. eroding rocks. Although New World farmers recognized
Within each organizational type in each ecological the value of organic methods such as fish buried with the
agricultural societies 53

The Annual Cycle

The annual cycle of preparing the fields, planting,
and harvesting has always defined life in farming
seeds, these generally demand too much labor to use on communities. The following extract summarizes
a large scale. the annual farming cycle in a farm village in cen-
Without domesticated animals, there were relatively tral Turkey.
few places in the New World where a society could As soon as the spring comes, the men get busy.
depend wholly on agriculture, and those were sur- The oxen weakened by the long winter must be
rounded by large areas where societies continued to be got into training work, and spring ploughing
organized for hunting and gatheringsedentary pockets and sowing must be done. The ox-herds and
surrounded by mobile raiders. By contrast, agricultural shepherds take charge of the animals. The sheep
communities of the Old World spread into much more of are lambing and in each household a woman
the total landscape, settled it more densely, and consis- must be ready at midday to milk the ewes.
tently obliterated the hunting and gathering communities Ploughing and sowing of spring wheat and bar-
that remained in between their settlements. This differ- ley is immediately followed by the ploughing of
ence had important consequences for the way their the years fallow, which goes on perhaps into
respective organizational systems developed. May, even until June, depending on individual cir-
cumstances. Meanwhile the vineyards must be
Old World dug over, and potatoes and other vegetables
Settled communities cultivating wild plants first appeared sown. Most of this later work is done by women.
in the Old World about 10,000 BCE. Domesticated ver- In June, all grasses and weeds growing in odd
sions of these same wild plants first appeared in such places among the crops are cut for hay, again
communities around 7000 BCE, in the fertile crescent mostly by women. During late May and June the
around the Jordan valley and on the flanks of the nearby men are comparatively idle. In July the harvest
Taurus and Zagros mountains; they included emmer begins, first with vetch and lentils, them with the
and einkorn (ancient varieties of wheat), barley, lentils, main crops of rye and wheat. Threshing follows
chickpeas, pea, bitter vetch, and flax. Domesticated ani- the reaping; reaping, threshing, and storing
mals appeared shortly thereafter: sheep, goats, humpless together last about two months of ceaseless activ-
cattle, horses, and pigs. The presence of domesticated ity for everyone; a whole household frequently
plants necessarily implies that farmers are planting each works right through a moonlit night.
new crop from seeds harvested previously. Once this In September the pressure eases. As soon as
practice is established the crops can be spread into rain falls on the hard baked groundeven
wholly new areas and evolutionary change can occur before, if the rains are latethe men must plough
rapidly. again and sow their winter rye and wheat. By
Agriculture spread by both diffusion of ideas and culti- November there remains for the men only a visit
gens from group to group and by the migration of whole to town to lay in supplies of coffee, paraffin, salt
groups, with migration apparently the most prominent of and so on, and perhaps cheap vegetables for the
the two processes. Domesticated crops reached the months of winter isolation, and then idleness
Balkans in the seventh millennium BCE, brought by immi- again until the spring. He was overstating his
grants. Farming villages appeared in southern France by case and, as someone commented, in two
5000 BCE. Beginning about 5400 BCE agricultural vil- months harvesting they do four months work;
lages of a distinctive culture called Bandkeramik spread but the idea of having, like an English agricultural
from the area of Hungary to the Netherlands. The first labourer, to work for wages day in and day out all
agricultural settlements in South Asia appeared in the year round was greeted with horror.
Source: Sterling, P. (1965). The Village Economy (p. 47). London: Charles Birchall
beginning of the seventh millennium BCE in what is now & Sons.

southern Afghanistan, with a Middle Eastern mixture of

54 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

A view of small holdings in the state of Minas Gerais, north of Rio de Janeiro. Brazil is
now one of the worlds largest exporters of agricultural products with large industrialized
farms in the southern part of the country, leaving small farmers struggling to find niche
markets for their produce. Many of the farmers in this region sell their produce in farmers
markets in the nearby city of Belo Horizonte.

crops and animals. However, roughly contemporary agri- sometimes ceremonial areas. There is typically little evi-
cultural settlements in the Vindhyan Hills, just south of dence of social stratification, but there are usually burial
the Ganges plain, grew rice. Agricultural communities practices that suggest that the presence of ones ancestors
appeared in the Chang (Yangzi) valley in China from implied entitlement to property. Taking into account
7000 to 5800 BCE, growing rice in the lower part of the ethnographic analogies, the configurations generally sug-
valley and millet in the upper. The millet was domesti- gest a three-tier organization based on household, village,
cated; it has not been determined whether the rice was. and various forms of kinship based on organization gen-
Domesticated grains appear much later in Japan and erally described as tribal. Households, probably often
Southeast Asia, but in the former case, at least, this is connected to each other by kinship, farm their own plots
because of the importance of tubers, particularly taro. of land with village agreement and cooperation. Groups
The archaeological remains of these early communities of villages recognize themselves as affiliated and are mutu-
are consistent with peasant/household organization: ally supportive but lack any formal overriding structure.
small unwalled hamlets or villages with houses either Elite agriculture first appeared about 3000 BCE, along
adjoining or separate, with storage pits or areas and with city-states, bronze tools and weapons, large-scale
agricultural societies 55

The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent
on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else
in the universe to do. Galileo Galilei (15641642)

irrigation, and the first forms of writing. It took the form large-scale enterprises under direct elite control, usually
of a hereditary military aristocracy and an at least par- operated with unfree labor. The pattern persisted when
tially hereditary priesthood, each of whom had specific the Asian empires were absorbed into European colonial
governmental powers, and large estates set aside to sup- systems. Before then, however, there was a development
port those powers. Sumerian records describe large-scale that was to have fundamental long-term implications for
grain grinding households and weaving households, the way the different imperial systems evolved and inter-
associated with the patrimonial sovereign and the tem- acted: the development of democratic constitutions at the
ple, producing textiles and foodstuffs (Gregoire 1992, city level.
225). They used corvee labor drawn from the peasants, The central aim of the Roman idea of a republic was
and the accounts show that it was the responsibility of to find a way to balance the interests of the peasant agri-
the temple and palace to provide for their maintenance culture of the plebes with the elite agriculture of the gentes
while they were working. The Iliad describes Agamem- in a single political system that guaranteed security for all.
non as maintaining a similar establishment, but using the The solution was carried to the many Roman colonies in
labor of slaves taken in war. Conflicts between city-states the territories that the republic conquered. It persisted in
led to ever fewer and ever larger alliances, and by 600 the form of their civic constitutions after the empire col-
BCE this process ended with the transition to imperial sys- lapsed and evolved as these Roman enclaves evolved into
tems, in which the conquering power no longer sought towns of the various European nationalities we recognize
the destruction of the opposed city-states but rather today. But in the course of this evolution there was a rad-
sought to subordinate them in a larger hierarchy of com- ical realignment of interests. Where the original Roman
mand and privilege. senatorial fortunes were based on elite agriculture utiliz-
The South Asian chronology was similar. The Indus ing land taken in war, Renaissance fortunes were based
Valley Civilization, beginning around 2300 BCE, was a on commerce. Their interests, therefore, no longer sup-
uniform and well-organized peasant society in which ported imperial power and opposed independent peasant
communities cooperated as part of a single system. It col- farmers but the reverse.
lapsed in about 1790 BCE, however, after an earthquake Outside of what had been Roman Europein Russia,
diverted one of the two main rivers it was built on upon. South Asia, Southeast Asia, China, and Japantowns
The population apparently dispersed into surrounding remained under the control of the imperial authorities, a
areas, particularly the Ganges plain, retaining agricultural situation that supported elite agriculture. The conse-
continuity but loosing social cohesiveness. In the Ganges quence was that the peasantry often had no way to
valley, there were no fewer than sixteen walled cities by avoid serfdom, and there was no one to serve as the kind
600 BCE, engaging in mutual conflict comparable to that of independent engine of technological innovation that
of the Mesopotamian city-states. By 321 BCE, this conflict led Europe first to expand trade, then to destroy feudal-
had led to the establishments of the Mauryan empire. ism, and finally to industrialize.
In China, walled cities appeared with Chinas first Although programs for land reform that began in the
dynasty, the Xia, and continued into the succeeding late eighteenth century were aimed at freeing peasant
Shang (17661045 BCE). Beneath the Shang monarch as agriculture from accumulated elite impositions, these
a general hereditary overlord were large numbers of were not notably successful outside the West. The Com-
local rulers holding hereditary title, the first form of the munist revolutions in Russia and China replaced what-
Chinese distinction between the peasantry and the priv- ever autonomous peasant organization remained in their
ileged gentry. respective areas with collectivization as a new form of
All of the imperial systems involved some mixture of elite control, at significant cost in lives and productivity.
elite extraction from peasant production side by side with Since World War II, however, colonial empires and the
56 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The Sacred Digging Stick

Religious rituals to help insure a good crop have yam, the vegetable foodstuff of primary significance,
always been an important element of planting and har- this digging stick has become as it were the prototype
vesting in farming communities around the world.The of all instruments of cultivation, the material symbol
following example is from the Tikopia of the South of agriculture. Like all other objects in this particular
Pacific. context it is regarded as the property, even the embod-
iment, of the Atua i Kafika, and therefore must be
The next morning everyone of the yam group had to
handled with extreme care, and only by persons
be awake long before dawn, for this was the day of
authorised by the Ariki and at the appropriate time.
planting. I was told the yam is planted in the night
No woman, for instance, would dare to touch it, nor
a statement too near truth for my comfort.The rea-
is it probably ever seen by them. It is kept normally
son given was that the yam should be hidden in the
at the far end of the Kafika temple, and the custom is
woods before people stirred in the villages, so that
to hang a few kava leaves over it in token of its unique
the paths might not be contaminated by ordinary
value and importance. As the implement decays it is
affairs. It was said that this was the command and
replaced by a fresh one, but as its use is ritual, not
practice of the Atua i Kafika, though no express utter-
practical, it lasts for many years without attention.The
ance to this effect was known.
stick employed in 19289 was very frail, so much so
On each occasion I came over from my house in
that the Ariki, in handing it over to the man who was
Faea soon after four a.m. When the people of the
appointed to carry it, gave the caution That one has
household had been roused from sleep one man was
become aged; go carefully lest you stumble in the
sent off first with the koso tapu, the sacred digging
path. The bearer, out of deference to his sacred bur-
stick, a piece of wood some seven feet long, pointed
den, had a clean white strip of bark-cloth wound as
at both ends, one of which was ornamented by some
an extra cincture round his waist and a bundle of
roughly cut notches.
scented leaves stuck in the back of his girdle. The sig-
This implement is one of the most intensely sacred
nificance of these in ritual matters has already been
articles in the island.Through its association with the

Soviet Union have been dissolved, and the newly emer- 5000 BCE. But it was far different from what the grain is
gent nations have tended toward agrarian reforms that now and far less productive and useful than the first
favor peasant/household management. At the same time, domesticated Old World grains. Although clearly show-
the green revolution and related developments in ing the hallmark of domesticationthat the husk sur-
agribusiness have made available to peasant/household rounded the entire ear and not the individual seedsthe
production far more productive varieties of plants and ears were less than an inch long. Evidence of purposeful
animals, producing a neo-technic form of peasant agri- cultivation appeared about 1,500 years later in the same
culture integrating household management with large- area, by which time maize was accompanied by beans,
scale organizations for economic and technical support squash, chili, gourds, and amaranth. By 1500 BCE the
that was formerly unavailable. Tehuacan maize was notably improved in both yield and
nutritional quality, but even before then it had spread to
New World other areas. Maize found in Bat Cave on the Colorado
In the New World one cereal crop stands out as far more Plateau has been dated to about 2100 BCE. Small com-
important than all others: maize. The earliest known munities practicing irrigated agriculture appeared in the
domesticated maize was found in a dry cave in the American Southwest by 300 BCE. Larger villages, or
Tehuacan Valley of central Mexico and dates to about pueblos, with extensive canal systems and terraced fields
agricultural societies 57

explained. The sanctity of the koso required also that

its bearer should precede the rest of the working party
and go alone. Soon after he had disappeared in the turn supported by local consensus among councils of
darkness another man was dispatched with the clan representatives. A village ceremonial hierarchy,
fakaora, a basket containing food from the oven of staffed on the basis of clan prerogatives, controlled the
the day before to provide the offerings in the cultiva- annual cycle of activities, which included key agricultural
tion, and following him went a youth with the little dates.
kit of seed yams. All these articles were tapu, hence The largest urban populations in the Mexican area
their bearers had to proceed apart from the crowd so were in the sites of original domestication, beginning
that they were not contaminated. . . . with the Olmec civilization (1200 to about 400 BCE) and
As the sky was brightening before the dawn the continuing through Teotihuacn, the Valley of Oaxaca,
party reached the mara, to which they had been pre- the Toltecs, the Chichemics, and the Aztecs. Although we
ceded by the bearer of the koso tapu and his comrades. know little about the Olmec organization, from Teoti-
Immediately the work began. They all sharpened the huacn on it seems clear that in these states the relation
ordinary digging sticks which they brought with them, between urban elite and the peasantry in the villages was
or hastily cut fresh ones from shrubs on the border of not that between a populace and their specialized lead-
the clearing.The bearer of the sacred implement stood ers and defenders but rather between conquerors and
alone and silent at the far end of the field; he had held conquered, seemingly reflecting a takeover by a tribal
communication with no one since leaving the house group who converted themselves into a militaristic ruling
in Uta. The Ariki put on his ritual necklet of coconut class. The elites imposed heavy levies of produce, labor,
frond, and the black pani stripe was drawn down his and eventually sacrificial victims and concentrated on
forehead. building enormous ceremonial centers representative of
Source: Firth, R. (1940). The work of the Gods in Tikopia. (pp. 123124). London: The an ideology intended to perpetuate their rule. They
London School of Economics and Political Science.
engaged in large-scale manufacture and apparently long-
distance trade. They did little, however, for those they
subjugated. There was, for example, no really large irri-
gation system in the region, such as could not have been
appear about 500 CE, including those of the Anasazi, built by the local communities alone. There was also
whose descendants appear to include the modern Hopi nothing that could be construed as state support for pri-
and the Hohokam whose canals can still be seen in the vate commerce, such as harbor facilities, inns, or even
city of Phoenix. In eastern North America domestication coinage. In this area the populations of the principal cer-
of local plants (marsh elder, sunflower, chenopods, and emonial centers rose and fell with the power of the group
cucurbits) began about 1500 BCE. Maize appeared about that built them, rather than persisting through a succes-
600 CE, but since rainfall there is generally adequate with- sion of rulers. Teotihuacn, for example, had an esti-
out irrigation it did not dramatically influence the size of mated population of 200,000 in 500 CE but was
population concentrations. abandoned forever around 750 CE, after a fire. The pop-
Generally, everywhere north of the Valley of Mexico ulation of the villages, by contrast, seems to have built up
agriculture was based on peasant/household produc- fairly steadily.
tion. On the basis of known historic patterns together The pattern in the northern Andes and the adjacent
with archaeological evidence, it can be stated that the key Pacific coast was similar. Beginning around 1200 BCE
organizational units were household, clan, and village. local communities practicing irrigated agriculture devel-
Land ownership rested mainly with clans. Households oped in river valleys in the mountains and on the
farmed on the basis of clan rights. Clan rights were in coastal plains. Through local conflicts these built up into
58 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

We have been God-like in our planned breeding of our domesticated

plants and animals, but we have been rabbit-like in our unplanned breeding
of ourselves. Arnold Joseph Toynbee (18891975)

a succession of progressively larger and more militaris- but were also subject to demands to perform work for the
tic states: the Chavin, the contemporaneous Moche and larger unit.
Nazca, the Chimu, and finally the Inca, based in Cuzco, Old World agricultural ecologies are now clearly dom-
who established their dominance in the 1470s. The Inca inant in the New World as well as the Old. Yet New
demanded two-thirds of all production and large corvees World technology persists in a wide range of environ-
of labor to build huge road systems, storage facilities, mental niches that Old World agriculture has not been
and extraordinary mountain cities with terraced fields adapted to: the Hopi mesas with eight inches of annual
that could not possibly have paid for themselves in eco- rainfall, Mexican milpas whose owners rely on traditional
nomic terms. Manufacture of cloth goods and utilitarian maize as a low-cost subsistence base, the high Andes, and
and craft objects was organized and standardized on a the Amazon rain forest.
large scale. When groups under pressure from the Inca
fled to avoid conquest, the Inca sent colonists to replace Industrial Agriculture
them. When Pizarro arrived in 1532 and captured the Industrial agriculture responds to the higher levels of per-
ruler, the system collapsed. capita output permitted by the industrial revolution. Eco-
The Mayan civilization of the Yucatn peninsula was logically, it breaks up the animalplant interdependence
different only in that the Mayan elite seem to have been at the farm level by separating animal production facili-
indigenous, and they actually did perform functions cru- ties from crop production, providing manures from
cial to productivity. Mayan civilization appeared essen- industrial sources, and requiring farmers to produce to
tially complete in the archaeological record about 2000 industrial specifications rather than consumer prefer-
BCE and persisted continuously until the middle of the ences. Organizationally, it makes farm management part
fourteenth century, when it collapsed in a series of civil of the system of factory production, replacing inter- and
wars and the areas were depopulated. The population intra-household relationships and elite prerogatives with
centers were temple and palace complexes surrounded by relations based on commercial contracts between farmers
many small hamlets and large areas of a type of chi- and industrial organizations. At the extreme, in areas
nampa technology. such as Californias Imperial Valley, farmers are not
When Europeans arrived Old World agriculture ar- landowners of any kind. Corporations own much of the
rived with them, but the pattern differed in English- land, and farmers are contractors who agree to produce
speaking and Spanish-speaking areas. In the former most the desired crop for delivery at a specific time.The farmer
of the management was peasant/household, and because may own a core of farm machines, will hire whatever
Old World peasant agriculture supported far higher pop- additional inputs are needed to produce the crop, and
ulation densities than New World peasant agriculture, it then move on to the next contract.
completely displaced the latter wherever the two systems Industrial agriculture is highly specialized.The on-farm
competed for land. population of the United States is now 2.5 percent of the
In the Spanish-speaking areas, by contrast, the main total population, but it is supported by people in rural
Old World management pattern was elite and the man- and urban areas engaged in agricultural finance, storage,
agement system displaced was therefore its New World primary processing, government, trade, transport,
counterpart, leaving the peasant systems more or less as research, and education who make up not less than 20
they were. The most extensive result was the latifundia/ percent of the total.When this entire group is taken as the
minifundia situation of large European-owned hacien- unit for comparison from one society to another, it is eas-
das, mission estates, and other elite enterprises being laid ier to see how industrial agriculture arises and to avoid
over indigenous villages in which the villagers retained overstating the contrast between agrarian and industrial
rights to carry on with their own subsistence agriculture society.
aids 59

Current Trends
The relative importance in the world agricultural econ- AIDS
omy of peasant/household and industrial production is
now increasing while elite agriculture is in decline, but
both modern peasant/household farming and industrial
farming pose challenges. The green revolutions reliance
T he appearance in Western medical literature in 1981
of a strange and inexplicable cluster of clinical
manifestationsunusual opportunistic infections, can-
on increased chemical fertilizers and pesticides has led to cers, and metabolic or neurological disordersmarked
serious water, air, and even oceanic pollution. The main the emergence of what would become a global pandemic
hope for reducing such damage while still increasing known as acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or
yields rests with our increasing ability to modify plants by AIDS. Efforts to find a cure for AIDS are in full swing at
transferring genes from other species. However, several the beginning of the twenty-first century, but initial
types of destructive business practices associated with the responses to the onset of the crisis were sluggish. Those
firms that have pioneered the commercial development of responses have been determined by cultural attitudes
this technology have exposed serious deficiencies in the toward disease (both epidemic and sexually transmitted)
way current law addresses the interests of the great mass and by the socioeconomic disadvantages of the popula-
of agriculturalists and agricultural stability. Efforts to tions most closely associated with AIDS (homosexual
correct them have been going forward very slowly. males, male and female sex workers, drug users, and cit-
izens of third-world countries).
Murray J. Leaf

See also Cereals; Horticultural Societies History of the

While epidemiologists who study the origins of disease
Further Reading
rely in part on documentation such as medical and
Bayless-Smith, T. P. (1982). The ecology of agricultural systems. Cam-
bridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. autopsy reports, and material evidence such as serum and
Boserup, E. (1981). Population and technological change: A study of long- tissue samples, tracing the history of a disease ultimately
term trends. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Gregoire, J.-P. (1992). Major units for the transformation of grain: The requires a certain amount of speculation. In the case of
grain-grinding households of southern Mesopotamia at the end of the virus that causes AIDS (human immunodeficiency
the third millennium BCE. In P. C. Anderson (Ed.), Prehistory of
virus or HIV, first isolated in 1984), a preponderance of
agriculture: New experimental and ethnographic approaches. Mono-
graph #40. Los Angeles: Institute of Archaeology, University of evidence suggests it originated among monkeys in west-
California. ern Africa, moving from simian to human populations
Higham, C. (1995).The transition to rice cultivation in southeastern Asia.
In T. D. Price & A. B. Gebauer (Eds.), Last hunters first farmers. Santa perhaps as early as the mid-twentieth century. From there
Fe, NM: School of American Research Press. it was rapidly transmitted from human to human by
Leaf, M. J. (1984). Song of hope: The green revolution in a Punjab village.
means of infected bodily fluids such as blood, semen, or
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
Schusky, E. L. (1989). Culture and agriculture. New York: Bergen & vaginal secretions.
Garvey. Increased travel between rural and urban Africa in the
Smith, B. D. (1998). The emergence of agriculture. New York: Scientific
American. postcolonial period, as well as travel between Africa and
Turner, B. L., & Brush, S. B. (1987). Comparative farming systems. New Europe or the United States, helped spread the virus to
York: Guilford Press.
the developed world. A number of aspects of modern
Zohary, D. (1992). Domestication and the Near Eastern crop assem-
blage. In P. C. Anderson (Ed.), Prehistory of agriculture: New experi- societyincluding population mobility, relaxed sexual
mental and ethnographic approaches. Monograph #40. Los Angeles: mores, intravenous drug use, and medical innovations
Institute of Archaeology, University of California.
Zohary, D., & Hopf, M. (2000). Domestication of plants in the Old World like blood transfusion and organ transplantationhave
(3rd ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. facilitated the spread of HIV, which lives in the body for
60 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

an extended period before mani- demic disease in remarkably simi-

festing itself in opportunistic lar ways. In the ancient and mod-
infections. ern worlds, plagues have often
In the late 1970s, the first doc- been viewed as divine punishment
umented cases of the medical syn- for breaking taboos or commit-
drome occurred among gay men ting sins. (For example, both
in urban centers of the United Homers Iliad and Sophocles
States with large gay communi- Oedipus Rex begin with such
ties, chiefly Los Angeles, San Fran- Jikilele is an album by the plague punishments.) Because
cisco, and New York. Official Generics, a choir composed AIDS was first documented
recognition of what would even- of individuals working with among intravenous drug users,
tually be called AIDS was pub- the Treatment Action Cam- sex workers, and men who were
lished by the Centers for Disease paign (TAC). The cover of this having sex with men, these
Control in June 1981. Physicians compact disc, recorded in already stigmatized groups were
in France and England took note 2001, depicts a TAC demon- regarded by many as undeserving
of these cases, which were com- stration. TACs main objective of medical treatment, and the cul-
parable to their own clinical is to campaign for greater turally or legally proscribed activ-
observations during the same access to treatment for all ities that served as modes of
period. South Africans, by raising transmission were frequently left
A syndrome rather than a dis- public awareness and under- out of public discussion. Even
ease, AIDS, unlike most bacterio- standing about issues sur- today, more than twenty years
logical or viral infections, does not rounding the availability, into the epidemic, much of the
manifest itself in a single symptom affordability, and use of HIV debate about HIV-prevention
or even a small cluster of symp- treatments. TAC campaigns training remains mired in conflicts
toms. Instead, HIV attacks the against the view that AIDS over cultural and religious values
cells responsible for the bodys is a death sentence. rather than discussions about
immunological defenses, making effective public health practices.
the body vulnerable to a wide In addition, during an epidemic
range of common but normally unthreatening bacterio- the unaffected can conclude either that only the margin-
logical and viral agents.Thus, in the early years of the epi- alized group is vulnerable (in which case, no further
demic, a clinical diagnosis occurred only after the action is required) or that everyone is vulnerable (so the
appearance of secondary infections, making it difficult for marginalized group needs to be expelled or contained
physicians initially to recognize a pattern or even identify and regulated). Throughout the first two decades of the
the causal agent and its presence in patients. Several years AIDS epidemic, governments and communities made
elapsed before a viral cause and a clinical test for anti- both assumptions, in violation of standard public health
bodies were determined. Slow to cause the immunodefi- practices. Heterosexuals in industrialized nations as-
ciency that signaled its presence, HIV had ample sumed AIDS was a homosexual problem. African-
opportunity to be spread by those who did not know American clergy and leaders assumed it was a white
they were infected. Unlike the causes of past epidemics problem. African leaders assumed it was a problem of
such as plague, smallpox, or influenza, HIV could survive former French, English, or Belgian colonizers and Amer-
unnoticed in the infected for months or even years. ican hegemonic capitalists. Communist leaders in the
Historically, different cultures have responded to epi- Peoples Republic of China and the Soviet Union
airplane 61

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that
matter. Martin Luther King Jr. (19291968)

assumed it was a decadent bourgeois problem.The result Further Reading

of this blindness was a lack of AIDS-prevention educa- Boffin, T., & Gupta, S. (Eds.). (1990). Ecstatic antibodies: Resisting the
AIDS mythology. London: Rivers Oram Press.
tion and health monitoring worldwide, allowing infec- Bullough, V. L., & Bullough, B. (1977). Sin, sickness, and sanity: A his-
tion rates to soar. tory of sexual attitudes. New York: New American Library.
Clark, C. F. (1994). AIDS and the arrow of pestilence. Golden, CO: Ful-
crum Publishing.
Recent Trends and Corless, I. B., & Pittman-Lindeman, M. (Eds.). (1989). AIDS: Principles,
Future Prospects practices, and politics. Series in death education, aging, and health
care. New York: Hemisphere Publishing Corp.
The end of the Cold War and the rise of a more tightly Douglas, M. (1992).The self as risk-taker: A cultural theory of contagion
knit global economy have in many ways exacerbated the in relation to AIDS. In Risk and blame: Essays in cultural theory (pp.
AIDS problem. Within the old Soviet bloc, the end of 102121). New York: Routledge.
Fee, E., & Fox, D. M. (Eds.). (1988). AIDS: The burdens of history. Berke-
communism resulted in economic dislocation and hard- ley: University of California Press.
ship, which in turn increased the rates of poverty, intra- Gilman, S. L. (1988). Disease and representation: Images of illness from
madness to AIDS. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
venous drug use, and prostitution while reducing the Grmek, M. D. (1990). History of AIDS: Emergence and origin of a mod-
capacity of socialized medicine to respond to the epi- ern pandemic (R. C. Maulitz & J. Duffin,Trans.). Princeton, NJ: Prince-
demic. Expanded trade in Africa and Asia similarly facil- ton University Press.
Haver, W. (1996). The body of this death: Historicity and sociality in the
itated HIV transmission among marginalized or migra- time of AIDS. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
tory workers. The rise of the Internet and the attendant Jonsen, A. R., & Stryker, J. (Eds.). (1993). The social impact of AIDS in
the United States. National Research Council. Washington, DC:
proliferation of online pornography have resulted in new National Academy Press.
types of sex work as a form of economic subsistence. In Klusacek, A., & Morrison, K. (Eds.). (1992). A leap in the dark: AIDS, art,
addition, airline deregulation has encouraged Western and contemporary cultures. Montreal, Canada: Vhicule Press.
Leavy, B. F. (1992). To blight with plague: Studies in a literary theme. New
sexual tourism in developing nations. York: New York University Press.
Furthermore, the development in recent years of effec- Long,T. L. (2004). AIDS and American apocalypticism:The cultural semi-
otics of an epidemic. New York: State University of New York Press.
tive pharmaceutical treatments to manage HIV infection Lupton, D. (1994). Moral threats and dangerous desires: AIDS in the
has brought with it unintended consequences. In Western news media. Social Aspects of AIDS Series. London: Taylor & Francis.
industrialized nations where such medications are avail- Mack, A. (Ed.). (1991). In time of plagues: The history and social conse-
quences of lethal epidemic disease. New York: New York University
able, some people have become lax about employing Press.
AIDS-prevention measures, and infection rates in some Shilts, R. (1987). And the band played on: Politics, people, and the AIDS
epidemic. New York: St. Martins Press.
populations have risen. In developing nations where UNAIDS: The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. Retrieved
AIDS medications are prohibitively expensive, govern- July 25, 2004, from
ments and nongovernmental organizations have had to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. National Center for HIV, STD and TB Pre-
lobby for reduced drug costs. vention. Retrieved July 25, 2004, from
AIDS will continue to destabilize economically and od/nchstp.html
politically vulnerable communities and countries until an
HIV vaccine is developed. Research into a cure for AIDS
continues apace; but until researchers develop an effective
vaccine, AIDS-prevention education and a commitment Airplane
by Western nations to provide funds for medical treat-
ment will remain the primary means of limiting this
epidemic. W ilbur and Orville Wright are credited with invent-
ing the airplane in 1903. What separated the
brothers from all those before them who tried to build
Thomas L. Long
such a craft was, simply, that the Wright airplane was
See also DiseasesOverview capable of sustained, powered, and controlled flight. Air
62 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The balloon of Vincent Lunardi, which he launched in

London, England in September 1784, thereby
introducing ballooning to England.

passing over a wing gener- and because without the subsidy the airlines would have
ated lift, while surfaces on gone bankrupt.
the craft manipulated some By contrast, the United States was more restrained
of the air, providing direc- about direct government subsidies for commercial ven-
tional controlall of this sus- tures; lacking a major sponsor, the airplane remained
tained by an engine that something of an orphan. The U.S. government did offer
provided thrust. financial support through the airmail system, and private
For the next eleven years the airplane was a solution companies flew the airmail and an occasional paying pas-
in search of a problem: No one seemed to know what to senger, but little effort was made to cater to passenger
do with it. Even at the start of World War I, aviations po- traffic. A pivotal moment for aviation came in 1930 with
tential remained unclearat least to the generals. But its the restructuring of the method by which companies were
flexibility soon became apparent, and the airplane found paid for the mail they carried. Rather than paying strictly
many roles in the war: air-to-air fighter, bomber, and ob- by the weight of the mail, the new formula factored in
servation platform. internal volume. This spurred aircraft manufacturers to
War often leads to rapid technological advances. At the design new and larger planes able to carry passengers in
start of World War I most airplanes were at least biplanes enclosed cabins. Although the ruling applied only in the
two wingsand were built of wood and fabric.Yet by United States, it had ramifications the world over, for it
wars end the Fokker company was producing airplanes led to the modern commercial airliner.
with welded steel truss fuselages, while the Junkers com- The airplane demonstrated its value in less developed
pany built monoplanes made entirely of metal. Speed, parts of the world as well. Companies in South America
range, and reliability increased as well. And while the first employed single-engine airplanes such as the Junkers F-
four-engine airplane predated the war (Russian designer 12 to reach remote outposts, while French Latecoeres car-
Igor Sikorskys Russky Vitaz), multiengine bombers of ried mail from Europe down the west coast of Africa, and
colossal size were fairly common by the end of it. even across the Atlantic to Brazil.

The Interwar YearsDawn Technological

of Commercial Aviation Developments
In the period between the two world wars aviations com- Although wood as an aircraft construction material had
mercial potential blossomed. Not only did planes fly pas- a long tradition, metal as an aircraft material grew in both
sengers, they carried freight, mail, entertainers, and popularity and use. This stemmed from several things:
explorers. At the same time the airplanes use expanded new knowledge about the properties of metal; new
from within the industrialized world to encompass the alloys; cultural embrace of a new material (such as dura-
entire globe. lumin) in place of an old one (wood); and aircraft acci-
Europeans were the first to establish regular, lasting dents blamed on a failed wooden components.
commercial aviation. Many of the large, multiengine air- The development of the stressed-skin (monocoque)
planes that survived the war were modified to carry pas- fuselage increased the useful internal volume of the air-
sengers. Using these, several European nations established craft. A monocoque fuselage is a shell in which the loads
national airlines offering service within the continent. Still carried by the aircraft in flight are borne by the fuselages
possessing colonies around the world, these powers saw skin. (An aluminum or composite canoe is an example of
the airplane as a fast way to move people to and from their a monocoque shell.)
possessions. They subsidized the airlines because they First proposed by a Frenchman in 1871, the idea of a
were flagshipsdemonstrations of prestige and power variable-pitch propeller was impractical until aircraft rou-
airplane 63

The German Zeppelin VII,

which crashed in June 1910.

tinely operated at more than 300 kilo-

meters per hour; below that speed a
fixed-pitch propeller performs well.
The effect of changing the propellers
pitchthe angle at which the blade
meets the airis not unlike having
gears on a bicycle.
Researchers found that shrouding
the engine with a cowl would provide
both better cooling (most engines at
the time were air-cooled) and lower
drag. This last item translated into
higher efficiency and greater speed, and manufacturers ideal means to establish quick access to other parts of the
worldwide quickly adopted the cowling. world. Great Britain led the way, with its large fleet of sea-
In addition to ground-based weather stations set up to planes crisscrossing the globe, carrying passengers and
inform airborne traffic of conditions en route, new navi- mail to Africa, Asia, and South America.
gation instruments to assist pilots in finding their way in These and other developments came during a period
clouds became available in the 1930s. These included in which there was little widespread public support for
radio navigation, which allowed a pilot to follow a aviation: As often as not, aviation appeared more a sport
course without any visual references, and gyroscopes.The than a practical pursuit, and it was uncommonly dan-
ability to navigate without visual references outside the gerous. And ironically, many of the technological
aircraft was known as blind flying or instrument flight. advances came during a worldwide economic depression.
In 1930 the Englishman Frank Whittle patented his Much of the push for these developments came from gov-
idea for an aircraft turbine engine. Not long after he ernments willing to support the fledgling technology for
received his patent, Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain, a its potential, even while the marketplace remained skep-
German aeronautical engineer, conceived and designed tical about its value. This support usually came in the
his own turbine engine, independent of Whittles efforts. form of military funding, which, in the United States, kept
Whittle was the first to operate a gas turbine aircraft several aircraft companies from failing.
engine, in 1937, but von Ohains design was the first to In World War II the airplane was used in much the
actually power an airplane, when it carried an HE 178 same way as it had been in World War I: as freighter,
into the air in 1939. Both British and German turbojet strategic and tactical bomber, long-distance fighter, obser-
aircraft saw military service during World War II, but they vation platform, and ground attack machine. One of the
came too late to prove effectual. few dramatic evolutions was in naval aviation: World War
While these technological developments increased the II introduced the airplane as a potent naval weapon fly-
reliability and practicality of airplanes, water remained ing from floating airports (aircraft carriers). And once
the preferred landing surface for most long-distance air- again, war led to accelerated technological developments,
craft.This was because land-based runways entailed con- including the adoption of autopilots, instrument landing
struction and upkeep costs, whereas water did not, and systems, turbo-supercharged intercooled engines of
seven-tenths of the earths surface is water, affording extraordinary power and complexity, and the first ejec-
almost limitless and free runways. Possessing numerous tion seats for aircraft. In spite of the similarities in the air-
colonies around the globe, European nations found the planes use during the two world wars (a sign of a matur-
airplane in general, and the seaplane in particular, the ing technology), there were notable differences, among
64 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The saying Getting there is half the fun became obsolete with
the advent of commercial airlines. Henry J. Tillman

them the sheer number of airplanes produced for military by the systems revolution, are the next stepaircraft that
use, and their capabilities. Both the Americans and the fly autonomously or are controlled by a pilot on the
British, for example, regularly sent more than a thousand ground.
bombers on a single mission, each carrying several tons Computers, once rare, are now almost ubiquitous on
of bombs. The Boeing B-29 had a range approaching modern aircraft, controlling or monitoring nearly every-
6,500 kilometers and bomb payload of 10 tons. Even thing related to flight. Linked to a network of satellites in
fighters could fly nearly 2,000 kilometers with addi- the Global Positioning System (GPS), they enable one to
tional fuel tanks. navigate with remarkable precision and locate oneself
With its extensive wartime use, the airplanes reliabil- anywhere in the world within a few meters or less. A net-
ity ceased to be a major concern. Additionally, since most work of satellites provides the GPS, enabling one to nav-
aircraft in the period had flown from land-based airfields, igate with remarkable precision and locate oneself
new airports dotted the land.These new airports, coupled anywhere in the world within a few meters or less.
with improved engines and greater endurance, spelled the
end of the era of flying boats, once the mainstay of inter- Commercial Aviation
national airlines. Following the end of World War II the British had the
greatest technological lead with turbine engines.Their De
Postwar Aviation Havilland DH 106 Comet entered service in 1952, the
Of the wartime developments, the turbine engine has had worlds first pure jet airliner. That decade saw a number
the greatest impact, for it dramatically increased the of other jet airliners come to market as well, including the
speed at which aircraft can fly. But researchers found that SovietTupolevTu-104, the Boeing 707, the Douglas DC-
as airplanes approached the speed of sound (Mach 1) 8, and the Sud Aviation Caravelle. Unlike its competitors,
they encountered compressibility. As an airplane ap- the twin-engine Caravelle was built with an entirely new
proaches Mach 1 it compresses the air in front of it, cre- idea in mindshort-distance flights between smaller
ating shock waves that cause a number of problems, chief cities, rather than long-distance and even intercontinental
among them control. A swept wing, with an angle of 35 flights that best suited the larger, four-engine aircraft.The
degrees or more, delayed this compression and reduced Caravelle pioneered an entire category of commercial
the control problems. aircraftthe short-haul airliner. In all this, flying remained
an exclusive, expensive, and fairly uncommon activity.
Technological Developments Economy of scale forced a gradual change, however, and
Flying at supersonic speedsexceeding Mach 1was commercial airliners grew in size or squeezed more seats
the holy grail of the aviation community. Solving the con- into the same space, lowering ticket prices. Once luxuri-
trol issues associated with compressibility enabled the ous machines resembling first-class rail cars in their
X-1 to exceed Mach 1, in 1947. This success led to true accommodations, airliners increasingly mimicked buses.
supersonic aircraft, almost all of which were and are built This change was typified by the Boeing 747, the largest
for military use. Two different types of supersonic airlin- airliner available in 1970, which was so large it had two
ers were built, but they proved too expensive to remain decks.
in service.
With the maturation of the airplanes shape and Social Impact
power, the next major development was the systems rev- In 1927 Charles Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris,
olution: the advent of computerized control of aircraft claiming the Orteig Prize offered for the first nonstop
and their systems in place of direct human and mechan- flight between the two cities. Lindberghs impact was far
ical control. Unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, enabled from simple record setting: His success convinced many
akbar 65

that aviation was more than a lark. One measure of his Tomayko, J. E. (2000). Computers take flight: A history of NASAs pio-
neering digital fly-by-wire project. (NASA Publication SP-2000-4224).
impact was the jump in air passengers in the years imme-
Washington, DC: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
diately following his flight. Insignificant in numbers Trimble, W. F. (1995). From airships to airbus: The history of civil and
before Lindbergh flew the Atlantic, airline ridership in the commercial aviation. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.
United States surged from 12,594 in 1927 to 52,934 in
1928. By the end of the twentieth century, jet-powered
airliners had become the mainstay of commercial service
worldwide, capable of great speeds (nearly 1,000 kilo- Akbar
meters per hour in many instances) and range. These fly- (15421605)
ing behemoths can ferry five hundred passengers at once Ruler of Mughal India
from place to place, and their efficiency has had a dra-
matic effect on human mobility. Every year millions of
people around the world fly thousands of miles in mere
hours for both work and pleasure. In 2004, for example,
A bu-ul-Fath Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar was the
greatest emperor of the South Asia-based Mughal
dynasty (15261857). Over the course of a forty-nine-
in the month of March alone, commercial airlines world- year reign (15561605), Akbar proved himself a brilliant
wide carried 170.8 million passengers.Travel, once a lux- general, shrewd politician, able administrator, and gener-
ury reserved for the wealthy who had the time and the ous patron of the arts. Akbars energy and acumen placed
money for a journey, is now accessible to an extraordi- the Mughal empire on firm foundations and created a
nary swath of people. Almost no place on the planet is template for Mughal imperial governance that survived
inaccessible, thanks to the airplanes ability to deliver any- almost unchanged until the early eighteenth century.
one to any destination quickly. Born in 1542 in Umarkot in Sind (in present-day south-
eastern Pakistan), Akbar was thirteen years old when he
Christian Gelzer
succeeded to the imperial throne following the premature
See also Exploration, Space; TransportationOverview; death of his father, Humayun (15081556). Over the
Warfare, Air next four years, Akbar slowly extended his political con-
trol across Hindustanthe geographical and agrarian
heartland of northern India. In the 1560s Akbar asserted
Further Reading
his authority over the regions of Malwa (1561), Gond-
Bureau of Transportation Statistics website. Retrieved July 1, 2004, from wana (1564), Rajasthan (156869), and Bundelkhand
Constant, E. W. (1980). The origin of the turbojet revolution. Baltimore: (1569) in central and northern India. In the following
Johns Hopkins University Press.
Corn, J. J. (2002). The winged gospel: Americas romance with aviation. decades, his military campaigns extended imperial rule to
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Gujarat (15721573) in the west, Bihar and Bengal
Gorn, M. H. (2001). Expanding the envelope: Flight research at NACA and
(15741576) in the east, Kabul (1585, in present-day
NASA. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.
Klemin, A. (1929, October). American passenger air transport. Scientific Afghanistan), Kashmir (1586), Sind (1591), and Orissa
American, 141, 325. (1592) in the southeast, Makran and Baluchistan (1594,
Komons, N. A. (1989). Bonfires to beacons: Federal civil aviation policy
under the air commerce act, 19261938. Washington, DC: Smith- in present-day Pakistan), Kandahar (1595, in present-day
sonian Institution Press. Afghanistan), and Berar, Khandesh, and parts of Ahmad-
Miller, R., & Sawers, D. (1968). The technical development of modern avi-
nagar (15951601) in the Deccan.
ation. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Schatzberg, E. (1994, January). Ideology and technical choice: The Akbars expansionist military goals found a comple-
decline of the wooden airplane in the United States, 19201945. Tech- ment in equally vigorous attempts to co-opt or destroy
nology and Culture, 3469.
Singer, B. (2003). Like sex with gods: An unorthodox history of flying. Col- alternative loci of power. Thus, between the early 1560s
lege Station: Texas A&M University Press. and 1581, Akbar succeeded in crushing a host of rivals
66 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The Mughal Emperor Akbar.

(rank) that comprised two separate grades: The

first denoted a noblemans personal status and
the second indicated his obligation to recruit and
command a certain number of cavalry for impe-
rial service. A mansab holders financial needs
were satisfied by the state through assignments
of nonhereditary and nontransferable land
grants that were rarely retained for more than
three years.
Akbar targeted the powerful Islamic religious
establishment after the 1570s. He did this in sev-
eral moves: He reformed the system of state-
issued land grants that provided the religious
community with financial support; he asserted
his own power of judgment over doctrinal deci-
sions and diminished the importance of the
head of the judiciarywho usually also served as
chief spokesperson for the religious establish-
mentwithin the Mughal administrative frame-
work. He exiledand occasionally murdered
religious opponents and promoted the Sufi
orders as a counterpoint to the orthodox reli-
gious establishment. He also evolved a theory of
universal kingship that obligated the emperor to
favor all his subjects equally, regardless of their
within his own extended Mughal clan. Among them were religious affiliation. Accordingly, Akbar ended the practice
the distantly related Mirzas (early 1560s) and his half- of forcibly converting non-Muslim prisoners of war to
brother, Mirza Hakim (1581). Akbar also asserted his Islam and lifted various discriminatory taxes on Hindus;
power over the fractious Mughal nobility in a multi- his most significant gesture came in 1579 when he abol-
pronged process that unfolded between the 1560s and ished the poll tax, or jizya, on non-Muslims. Although
the 1590s. He broke the power of entrenched Turkish the Islamic establishment generally opposed Akbars reli-
and Uzbek clans that served under his father; diversified gious initiatives, it was forced to accept the new dispen-
the ranks of the Mughal nobility by recruiting from alter- sation after a massive religio-political revolt against Akbar
nate groups such as Indian Muslims, (Hindu) Rajputs, was crushed in 1581. Akbars reformist agenda largely
Afghans, and Persians; fashioned elaborate rules of con- survived until its reversal during the reign of his great-
duct emphasizing discipline and loyalty to the Mughal grandson, Aurangzeb (reigned 16581707).
dynasty; and emphasized both his divinely ordained After the 1560s Akbar moved to transform the zamin-
right to rule and (more controversially) his own semidi- dars (superior landholders) into a quasi-official service
vine status. The most important tool in Akbars attempts class. Control over the zamindars was important to
to control the nobility, however, was the mansabdari sys- Akbar as they gave him access to the agrarian wealth that
tem implemented after 15741575. Within the mansab- paid for the Mughal imperial enterprise. The zamindars
dari system every nobleman was assigned a mansab were notoriously refractory, and gaining their monies
aksum 67

invariably involved time-consuming political negotia- Khan, I. A. (1973). The political biography of a Mughal noble: Munim
Khan Khan-i Khanan. Delhi, India: Munshiram Manoharlal
tions, but Akbar crafted a new arrangement. He had the
zamindars collect from the peasants the required revenue Khan, I. A. (Ed.). (1999). Akbar and his age. New Delhi, India: North-
which the state determined through a highly sophisti- ern Book Centre.
Nizami, K. A. (1989). Akbar and religion. Delhi, India: Idarah-i-Adabiyat-
cated system of measuring cultivated lands and calculat- i-Delli.
ing average prices and yields over the previous ten years Richards, J. F. (1993). The Mughal empire. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge
University Press.
in return for which service the zamindars retained their
Rizvi, S., & Abbas, A. (1975). The religious and intellectual history of the
claim over the land and between 10 and 25 percent of Muslims in Akbars reign. New Delhi, India: Munshiram Manoharlal
the revenue they collected. The presence of imperial rev- Publishers.
Streusand, D. E. (1989). The formation of the Mughal empire. New Delhi,
enue officials, accountants, and Mughal military contin- India: Oxford University Press.
gents in the countryside provided a crucial check on the
ability of zamindars to obstruct the will of the Mughal
Besides remarkable military and political achieve-
ments, Akbars reign witnessed tremendous cultural and Aksum
artistic accomplishments. Massive imperial patronage
for Persian poetry, historical writing, and translations of
Hindu scriptures into Persian were accompanied by the
creation of new schools of art and architecture that suc-
A ksum was the capital of an important kingdom in
northeast Africa during the first millennium CE. It was
also the religious center of the earliest Christian state in
cessfully blended Persian and Indic styles, techniques, Africa. At the peak of its power in the fourth and fifth cen-
and themes. Some of the finest examples of Mughal turies,Aksum ruled an empire that extended from Cush in
miniature painting (like the illustrations for the Akbar- the modern Republic of Sudan to Saba (Sheba) in Yemen
nama) and architecture (seen in Akbars short-lived impe- and included much of contemporary Ethiopia, Eritrea, and
rial capital at Fatehpur Sikri) date to this period.The long- Somalia. It is understandable, therefore, that the third-
lasting influence of Mughal art and architecture is best century Iranian religious leader Mani ranked Aksum with
attested by the continuing attempts in South Asia to emu- Rome, Persia, and China as one of the four great empires
late their fine sense of balance and proportion long after that divided the inhabited world among them.
the Mughal dynasty had collapsed in the early 1700s.
Akbars last years were clouded by the rebellion of his Sources of
eldest and formerly favorite son, Salim, between 1599 Aksumite History
and 1604. Ultimately, their partial reconciliation paved Although Ethiopia has an extensive literature, it provides
the way for the succession of Salimas Emperor little information about historical Aksum, emphasizing
Jahangirfollowing Akbars death in October 1605. instead the legend that the kings of medieval and mod-
ern Ethiopia were the lineal descendants of Menelek
Munis D. Faruqui
(late tenth century BCE), the son of King Solomon and the
See also Mughal Empire Queen of Sheba, who reigned at Aksum until being
exiled by usurpers in the early Middle Ages. The princi-
pal sources for the history of ancient Aksum, therefore,
Further Reading are Aksumite royal inscriptions and coins, references to
Habib, I. (Ed.). (1997). Akbar and his India. New Delhi, India: Oxford Aksum in ancient classical and Christian literature,
University Press.
Habib, I. (1999). The agrarian system of Mughal India. New Delhi, India: Sabaean inscriptions, and archaeology. The most impor-
Oxford University Press. tant of these sources are the royal inscriptions, which
68 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Key Events in the History of African States

8th century Cush (in southern Egypt and northern Sudan) invades and conquers Egypt;
bce Shabaka of Cush establishes Egypts twenty-fifth dynasty.
6th century Mero becomes the capital of Cush.
1st millen- Wagadu (Ghana) empire flourishes.
nium ce
1st3rd Kingdom of Cush flourishes, engages in trade with Rome.
century ce
Mid-3rd Aksum replaces Cush as principal supplier of goods to Rome.
century ce
Early 6th Aksum loses its Nile Valley and southern Arabian provinces.
century ce
6th century Nubian kingdoms (Nobadia, Makuria, and Alodia) flourish.
8th century City of Aksum abandoned.
9th14th Centralization of political power in central Africa leads to the formation of
century the kingdom of Kongo.
10th12th Hausa states emerge.
c. 1150early Saifawa dynasty rules in Kanem, in the Lake Chad basin.
14th century
Early 13th Wagadu reduced to a tribute-paying vassal of Soso and Mali.
13th century Nubian kingdom of Alodia begins to disintegrate.
13th14th Loose alliance among the seven Hausa states.
Mid-13th Mali empire flourishes on the Upper Niger River.
12901450 Great Zimbabwe flourishes in southern Africa.
15th century Empire of Songhai is expanding.
15th century The East African island of Kilwa is a leading trading center.
1591 Songhai loses its independence to invaders from Morocco.
17th18th Bornu, in the Lake Chad basin, is one of the largest states in Africa.
18081903 Sokoto caliphate flourishes in West Africa.
18181879 Zulu kingdom flourishes.
aksum 69

Aksumite kings set up to commemorate their victories. grew rapidly thereafter. By the mid-third century Aksum
These inscriptions are written in Greek and two Semitic had displaced Cush as the principal supplier of African
languagesGeez and Sabaeanand provide important goods to Rome. With the conquest of Cush and the
information about Aksumite government and foreign destruction of its capital, Mero, by the mid-fourth-
relations. Aksum also issued the earliest native African century king Ezana, Aksumite territory reached its maxi-
coinage, which provides the only evidence for the exis- mum extent. Ezanas conversion to Christianity also
tence of several Aksumite kings. In addition, classical and strengthened Aksums ties to Rome, and for the next three
Christian literature frequently mentions Aksum because centuries Aksum was Romes principal ally in the strug-
of the important role it played in late Roman and early gle to prevent the expansion of Sasanid Persian influence
Byzantine foreign policy and commerce in the Red Sea in southern Arabia.
basin. After Aksum ceased to be the royal capital in the
early Middle Ages, the city fell into ruin. Archaeological Government and Culture
exploration of the ruins of Aksum, which began only in Little is known about how the Aksumites governed their
the twentieth century, is providing important evidence for empire. Aksumite kings styled themselves king of kings
the origins and early history of the city. and listed numerous peoples they claimed to rule in their
titularies. Combined with references to various local
Aksum and Its Neighbors rulers in their inscriptions, this suggests that the king of
The early history of Aksum is obscure. Although there is Aksum and his family controlled the central government
archaeological evidence for incipient state formation in and military, while local royal families continued to rule
Ethiopia as early as the third millennium BCE, the origins
of the Aksumite state date to the first half of the first mil-
lennium BCE, when Sabaean colonists settled in Eritrea
and northern Ethiopia. Sabaean inscriptions and monu-
0 400 mi

mental architecture and sculpture attest to the emer- 0 400 km

gence of several kingdoms in the region. Aksumite history Egypt

Saudi Arabia
proper begins when the rulers of one of these states, the

Habasha (or Abyssinians), made Aksum their capital,


probably in the first century BCE or the first half of the

first century CE, when classical sources refer to the city as Eritrea Yemen
a royal capital and important trading center.
Geography was the key to Aksums growth. Its location Sudan
high on the Ethiopian plateau gave it ready access to the
upper Nile Valley and its hinterlands on the west and to Ethiopia
the Red Sea on the east and enabled Aksum to profit from

its position astride the trade routes that linked Roman


Egypt to northeastern Africa, southern Arabia, and espe- So Indian

cially India. By the late first century CE, Aksum was the N Ocean


chief commercial center of the southern Red Sea basin. U

The fact that its ruler at that time was literate in Greek Rwanda
combined with the presence of resident foreign traders in Burundi
Aksumite territory attests to the existence already of close Tanzania

ties between Aksum and Roman Egypt. Aksumite power

70 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

A stylized drawing from the

1800s of the ruins of a palace
at Aksum.

betic script derived from South Arabia.

Aksumite architecture followed South
Arabian models and the kings of Aksum
applied South Arabian hydraulic engi-
neering techniques to ensure a reliable
water supply for Aksum.The Aksumites
also worshipped South Arabian gods.
The most important of these gods was
the empires various provinces.The frequent references to Mahrem, the war god, who was reputed to be the ances-
rebellions in the sources highlight the difficulties of con- tor of the kings and their helper in battle. Presumably,
trolling such a vast and decentralized state. By the early much Aksumite tradition survives in the Christian culture
sixth century Aksum had lost its frontier provinces in the of medieval and modern Ethiopia, but at present such sur-
Nile Valley and South Arabia, although control of its vivals cannot be identified with certainty.
Ethiopian and Eritrean core territories remained firm.
Stanley M. Burstein
Aksumite prosperity depended, however, on its key role
in the lucrative Red Sea and Indian Ocean trade.The dis-
ruption of that trade by the Arab conquest of Egypt as Further Reading
well as Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Iran Burstein, S. (1998). Ancient African civilizations: Kush and Aksum.
sapped Aksums prosperity and resulted in the gradual Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers.
Casson, L. (1984). Ancient trade and society. Detroit, MI: Wayne State
decline and ultimate abandonment of the city in the University Press.
eighth century, when its last kings moved their capital to Casson, L. (1989). The Periplus Maris Erythraei. Princeton, NJ: Prince-
a more defensible site in the interior of Ethiopia. ton University Press.
Connah, G. (2001). African civilizations: An archaeological perspective
Aksum flourished for over half a millennium, produc- (2nd ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
ing a rich culture that created in the great stelae of Aksum Kobishchanov, Y. M. (1979). Aksum. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania
State University Press.
some of the most spectacular monuments of the ancient Munro-Hay, S. (1991). Aksum: An African civilization of late antiquity.
world. Unfortunately, little is known about other aspects Edinburgh, UK: Edinburgh University Press.
of Aksumite culture. Christianity has been the dominant Phillipson, D. W. (1998). Ancient Ethiopia: Aksum, its antecedents and
successors. London: The British Museum Press.
religion of Ethiopia since the mid-fourth century. Con- Schippmann, K. (2001). Ancient South Arabia: From the queen of Sheba
version to Christianity was, however, followed by repu- to the advent of Islam. Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers.
Sidebotham, S. E. (1986). Roman economic policy in the Erythra Thalassa,
diation of many of the pagan traditions of Aksum. Thus, 30 BCAD 217. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
although the Geez translation of the Bible and the trilin- Young, G. K. (2001). Romes eastern trade: International commerce and
gual royal inscriptions clearly indicate that pre-Christian imperial policy, 31 BCAD 305. London: Routledge.

Aksum had a literary tradition, no Aksumite literature sur-

vives. (It is thought that in the abandonment of Askum as
the royal capital, the early manuscripts were lost.) Like-
wise, only a small amount of Aksumite art, predomi- Alchemy
nantly architectural and numismatic, still exists.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Aksumite cul-
ture was a blend of African, Mediterranean, and southern
Arabian traditions in which the southern Arabian strand
A s it is most commonly understood, alchemy was a
medieval scientific and philosophical endeavor with
the central practical aim of finding a method for trans-
dominated. Thus, the official language of Aksum was forming base metals into gold. The primitive exercises in
Geez, a Semitic language, which was written in an alpha- chemistry, however, were only the practical manifesta-
alchemy 71

You are an alchemist; make gold

of that. William Shakespeare
Francis Bacon on
The Making of Gold
Let there be a Small Furnace made, of a Temper-
tions of a more ancient, quasireligious search for what ate Heat; Let the Heat be such, as may keep the
might be termed the fountain of youth: The alchemists Metall perpetually Moulten, and no more; For that
ultimate quest was to uncover the secrets of matter and above all importeth to the Work. For the Materi-
of life itself, so that it might be prolonged indefinitely. all, take Silver, which is the Metall that in Nature
Alchemy has long been of interest to historians of sci- Symbolizeth most with Gold; Put in also, with the
ence, anthropologists, and a host of other scholars with Silver, a Tenth Part of Quick-silver, and Twelfth
an interest in the human religious impulse and its shap- Part of Nitre, by weight; Both these to quicken
ing of rituals aimed at the transformation of individuals and open the Body of the Metall: And so let the
and social groups. It is a topic perhaps best approached Worke be continued by the Space of Sixe Mon-
from four distinct avenues of inquiry: The first has to do thes, at the least. I wish also, that there be, at some
with the etymology of the word; the second concerns its times, an Injection of some Oyled Substance;
history; the third focuses on both the practice of alchemy such as they use in Recovering of Gold, which by
and its ideological foundations; the fourth deals with Vexing with Separations hath beene made Churl-
alchemy as a global phenomenon with a set of universal ish: And this is, to lay the Parts more Close and
precepts identifiable through cross-cultural comparison. Smooth, which is the Maine Work. For Gold (as
The story of alchemy must, in sum, be understood from we see) is the Closest (and therefore the Heaviest)
a highly nuanced standpoint that takes into account its of Metalls: And is likewise the most Flexible and
complex history and global diffusion. More than just a Tensible. Note, that to thinke to make Gold of
simple precursor of the modern science of chemistry, it is Quick-silver, because it is the heaviest, is a Thing
a way of thinking about the relationship of humanity and not to bee hoped; For Quick-silver will not endure
nature that emphasizes the importance of transformation the Mannage of the Fire. Next to Silver, I thinke
in both. It also focuses on the role that human agency Copper were fittest to bee the Materiall.
plays in mediating the processes by which substances Source: Bacon, F. (1627). Century IV of Sylva Sylvarum, or a Naturall Historie in
natural and humanare transmuted, or raised to a ten Centuries. London.

higher form.
The word alchemy enters the English language by
way of a long philological journey that parallels, in some four and a half centuries later, Islamic scholars adopted
respects, the evolution of the practice in the Western the tradition and added to its cosmological conceptions,
world. Its semantic core comes from one of two possible precepts, and practices; ultimately, it was their steward-
Greek terms: The first, chymeia, is a noun denoting ship and mediation that enabled it to spread throughout
something poured or infused. The second, chmeia, is a Europe in the fourteenth century CE. Although considered
noun that refers specifically to the transformation of of questionable merit at best by Christian ecclesiastical
metallic substances. One or the other of these terms was authorities, alchemy had become a vital part of the Euro-
likely the source for the Arabic term al-kmiy, which pean intellectual ethos by the sixteenth and seventeenth
comes into the lexicon of Medieval Latin as alchimia, into centuries. Many of historys well-known personalities,
Old French as alkemie, and ultimately into English as including, in England, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Isaac New-
alchemy. ton, and King Charles II, have been favorably inclined
This linguistic evolution provides some clues as to the toward its esoteric and exoteric dimensions.
origin and spread of the art in Greece, Northern Africa, Moreover, the symbolism of alchemy has had a pro-
and the Near East. Its first flowering is believed to have found impact on the literary and artistic traditions of the
been in Egypt around 300 BCE, a time when scientific West. Evidence of its influence can be seen in the work
inquiry was in full bloom in the Hellenistic world. Some of William Shakespeare, John Milton, Johann von
72 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

Marsilio Ficino on the Philosophers Stone

Treats of what the philosophers stone is, and dis- and penetrating rays on this elementary world: So the
courses first of its first part. stone of the philosophers being by a physical opera-
And because the philosophers had so obscurely set tion made out of gold, the son, as I may say, of the
forth this science in strange involvings of words and sun, disperses itself into other metals, and will forever
shadows of figures, the stone of the philosophers was equalize them to himself in virtue, color, and weight.
doubted by a very many men. Which it is of what And because all metals, we deservedly take gold
things made? But if you will mind diligently, we before others. For since we would make gold and sil-
divide the stone into two parts. The first part we say ver, it is necessary to take the same. Man is generated
is terrestrial Sol, wherein both the ancient philoso- out of man, a tree from a tree, and herb produces an
phers and the more modern do plainly agree with me herb, and a lion a lion; since each thing according to
in their testimonies in the Turba. Without terrestrial the temper of its nature, which they call the comple-
Sol the physical work is not perfected. Since they all tion, generates and produces its like. Yet the philoso-
assert that there is no true tincture without their s phers more truly do not make gold or silver, but
brass because in that there is the most pure sulphur Nature cleansed by the skill of the operator.
of the wise, in which sage Nature contains her seed. Source: Ficinus, M. (1702). Liber de Arte Chemica. Theatrum Chemicum, Vol 2 (J. von
Budjoss, Transcr.). Geneva.
And as the sun diffuses and darts down most lively

Goethe, John Dryden, Victor Hugo, and William Butler proactive intervention that can bring all that has not
Yeats. Alchemical processes and symbolism have proved reached maturation to full flower. Thus, the alchemist is
to be of enduring interest to scholars, artists, and literati one who understands the processes of nature at an inti-
down to the present era. In the twentieth century, they mate level and has the capacity to use this knowledge to
provided the brilliant psychologist Carl Jung with a tem- promote cosmic, environmental, social, and individual
plate for understanding the processes associated with the metamorphosis.
maturation of the human psyche, and they continue to The stock-in-trade of alchemy consisted of observation,
inform the work of many contemporary Jungian psycho- the gathering of empirical data, experimentation, and
analysts. The alchemical quest for the so-called philoso- contemplation of the unseen verities that lay behind the
phers stone (the substance that would change metal into phenomena that could be apprehended with the five
gold, emblematic of that which is primal and in a state of human senses. Whether couched in terms adapted from
eternal stasis) and elixir vitae (the potion that bestows Egyptian, Greco-Roman, Islamic, Indian,Taoist, or Chris-
boundless health and everlasting life) remains an inspi- tian lore, the overarching goal of alchemy appears to have
ration to modern religious seekers, some of whom see in been relatively uniform: that is, to uncover the forces gov-
them guideposts for the human quest for communion erning unity, diversity, stasis, and flux in the world. Hav-
with nature and the supernatural. ing mastered them, the alchemist would possess knowl-
Alchemy can be described as a cosmological, philo- edge of the primal element from which all matter was
sophical, and metaphysical system that views the created created and the ability to distinguish between the muta-
world and everything in it as both vibrant and evolving. ble and the immutable, the finite and the infinite.
For the alchemist, the developmental processes that gov- In time, the art would develop two distinct trajectories.
ern life are not easily discernible without the aid of spe- The first was limited to the study of natural processes
cial insight; it is the aim of alchemy to uncover and chart (chemistry). The secondconsisting of alchemy and the
these hidden dynamics. By so doing, the alchemist would allied hermetic disciplineswould be concerned prima-
gain the knowledge that makes effective stewardship of rily with the esoteric and spiritual dimensions of these
the world possible.This includes not simply the ability to processes. In the alchemical lore of the West, the practice
be a passive guardian, but the skills needed to engage in is often characterized as a quest for the substance that has
alchemy 73

If by fire Of sooty coal th empiric alchymist Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold. John Milton (16081674)

the power to perfect that which is incomplete and make of altering the rhythms of nature.Through the use of fire,
noble that which is base. This element or compound is they could hasten the development of that which grew in
superior to and prized above all others. It is known by the earth, and shorten the interval of time needed to bring
many names, the most famous of which is the philoso- things to perfection.
phers stone. In order to produce it, base matterwhether Over time, this idea was applied to human beings and
animal, vegetable, or mineralmust be reduced to mate- the cosmos, thereby giving rise to distinct alchemical tra-
ria prima (the primary substance).This symbolic death is ditions in Africa, the Near East, Asia, and Europe. The
the precursor for the generation of a new element through smith came to be seen as a powerful figure, one with spe-
coagulation.The process was understood to involve inter- cialized knowledge of how to forge tools that could gen-
nal and external dimensions, in that an alteration in the erate life or cause death. Early metalworkers were also
alchemists state of consciousness was expected to accom- viewed as masters of esoteric knowledge related to archi-
pany the manipulation of physical elements. tecture, song, poetry, dance, and healing.They were peer-
A more precise description of the aims, underlying phi- less makers whose secrets were jealously guarded and
losophy, and processes associated with alchemy is diffi- passed on through initiatory guilds. In sum, for Eliade the
cult. Many of the texts produced by its practitioners are various alchemical traditions known to us from around
written in a manner that veils this information in alle- the world owe their origin, at least in part, to the lore and
gories and symbols, a strategy intended to conceal its praxis of the ancient smith.
secrets from all save those who had been initiated into its The modern legacy of alchemy consists of experimen-
mysteries. Some treatises appear to employ an alchemical tal disciplines such as chemistry, as well as those applied
language consisting of commonly shared and easily intel- sciences aimed at harnessing the earths natural, mineral,
ligible images; these include the biblical flood (symbol- and other resources. It also consists of spiritual practices
izing dissolution), the pelican (symbolizing the and techniques aimed at transforming the human con-
instrument used to distill the elixir vitae), the phoenix sciousness. Thus, mystical religious traditions (Eastern
(symbolizing rebirth), blood (symbolizing mercury as and Western) as well as psychoanalytic theory are built
solvent), the egg (the matrix in which the philosophers upon older alchemical foundations. Recognition of the
stone is made), and the philosophical tree (emblematic of limited and nonrenewable state of many of our global
growth and the alchemical process). Others writers resources will likely fuel continuing interest in careful
appear to delight in confronting the reader with a con- observation of the natural world and cultivation of a
fusing array of polyvalent symbols that defy precise clas- global awareness of human interconnectedness. By means
sification and bedevil would-be interpreters. Certain of such endeavors, future generations may continue to
alchemical writings remain today virtually inscrutable to build on and carry forward a rich alchemical heritage.
even the most highly trained specialists.
Hugh Page Jr.
Certain universal elements have been identified in
alchemical practice across cultures. One particularly See also Enlightenment, The; Scientific Revolution
attractive view of alchemys origins was proposed in the
mid-twentieth century by the historian of religions Mircea
Eliade, who traced them to the rituals and specialized Further Reading
Abraham, L. (1998). A dictionary of alchemical imagery. Cambridge, UK:
skills of early metallurgists. Eliade believed that these
Cambridge University Press.
artisansalong with agriculturalists and those who Eliade, M. (1978). The forge and the crucible: The origins and structures
learned to transform moist clay into vessels, bricks, and of alchemy (2nd ed., S. Corrin,Trans.). Chicago: University of Chicago
works of artwere the first to develop an awareness of Lindsay, J. (1970). The origins of alchemy in Greco-Roman Egypt. London:
humanitys ability to make strategic interventions capable Frederick Muller.
74 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

When I sell liquor, its called bootlegging; when my

patrons serve it on Lake Shore Drive, its called
hospitality. Al Capone (18991947)

Pritchard, A. (1980). Alchemy: A bibliography of English language writ- social inhibitions that is often experienced as euphoria or
ings. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
release from stress. In extreme quantities, alcohol can
Raff, J. (2000). Jung and the Alchemical Imagination. Jung on the Hud-
son book series. Berwick, ME: Nicholas-Hays. incapacitate the nervous system entirely, leading to uncon-
Roob, A. (2001). Alchemy and mysticism (S. Whiteside, Trans.). Koln, sciousness and even death. At blood level concentrations
Germany: Taschen.
Smith, S. (Ed.). (1995). Funk and Wagnalls new international dictionary of more than .4 percent, most people will be anesthetized,
of the English language (Vol. 1). Chicago: World Publishers. and above .5 percent, they may stop breathing.
von Franz, M.-L. (1980). Alchemy: An introduction to the symbolism and
the psychology. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.
The Earliest
Alcoholic Drinks
For historians, it is the social, cultural, political, and eco-
nomic aspects of alcohol use that are most important.
Alcohol Fermentation is a natural process and can occur when-
ever substances rich in sugars (including grapes, berries,

I t is probable that all human communities have used

mind-altering substances in their rituals of hospitality
and in their spiritual practices. Alcohol has for many mil-
grains, honey, bananas, palm sap, agave, and even mares
milk) are left in warm, moist conditions and exposed to
the air, so that airborne yeasts can come in contact with
lennia been the preferred mind-altering substance of the them and break them down into alcohol. It is tempting
Mediterranean world, Europe, and perhaps a few other to suppose that alcoholic drinks first became important
parts of the world, and in recent times its use has spread after the Neolithic revolution, when more and more
around the globe. humans became sedentary and farming communities
The word alcohol is derived from the Arabic al-kuhul, began to store large quantities of grains or other starchy
which in turn derived from kuhl, one of whose meanings substances. The archaeologist Andrew Sherratt has
is the essence or spirit of something. To a chemist, the argued, partly on the basis of the spread of drinking ves-
word alcohol describes a group of organic molecules sels, that in Eurasia alcoholic drinks first acquired social
with the general chemical formula CnH(2n + 1)OH. To non- and cultural significance in Mesopotamia or the eastern
chemists, the word refers to a group of drinks with mind- Mediterranean from about the fourth millennium BCE, in
altering properties, whose active ingredient (or essence) areas where they could be made from grapes or dates.
is ethanol, one of the simplest of all alcohols. The chem- But alcoholic drinks were not confined to western Eura-
ical formula for ethanol is CH3CH2OH. sia. Maize beers were used in Mesoamerica and Peru; and
Ethanol is most commonly produced as a by-product anthropological studies record their use in many small-
of fermentation, a chemical reaction in which energy is scale farming societies in modern times.
released through the breakdown of glucose. But fermen- Natural fermentation generates drinks of relatively low
tation does not release all the energy locked up in sugars, alcoholic content, anything from about 8 to 14 percent
and when alcohol is consumed, the human body can alcohol by volume for wines (grape alcohols) and from 2
extract some of this remaining energy at the rate of just to 8 percent for beers (grain alcohols). Concentrations
over 7 calories per gram of alcohol. This is why small higher than about 14 percent tend to kill yeast, so natu-
amounts of alcohol can be energizing or relaxing. In ral fermentation cannot proceed beyond this concentra-
larger quantities, above approximately .05 percent in the tion. But most traditionally consumed alcoholic drinks
blood, alcohol acts as a depressant, affecting mainly the probably contained much less alcohol. Weak alcoholic
brain and nervous system, the way barbiturates and anes- drinks such as kvass (a Russian rye beer) and koumiss (fer-
thetics do. Even in quite small quantities, alcohol can mented mares milk, drunk in Central Asia) usually are no
inhibit normal thought processes, leading to a loss of more than 2 percent alcohol, and were often used as a
alcohol 75

An early-twentieth-century industrialized distilling plant. Note the contrast with the

traditional Irish plant shown in the inset.

safer alternative to river or pond water, particularly if they the equivalent, on a low level, of the spiritual thirst of our
had been boiled at some stage in their preparation. Very being for wholeness; expressed in medieval language: the
weak alcoholic drinks were nutritious and safe, and often union with God (Jung 1975, 2:623624). The psychic
consumed by all members of society, including children. power of this search was such that all societies have
sought to control the use of psychoactive substances. In
The Psychosocial the case of shamans, the control takes the form of rigorous
Uses of Alcohol training in the use of such substances to enable psychic
With care, however, it was always possible to brew journeys. In village communities in alcohol-using soci-
stronger drinks, and we have evidence of these from all eties, it has taken the form of communal rituals designed
alcohol-producing civilizations. Stronger alcoholic drinks to regulate intoxication. The historian George Duby has
had much more psychic power and created a complex of argued that in the European Middle Ages, drinking festi-
opportunities and problems that are common to all psy- vals aimed at one and the same time to half-open the
choactive substances. Alcoholic drinks seem to have been gates of the unknowable and to reinforce group cohesion
widely used in rituals of hospitality. But their importance for mutual protection (Duby 1974, 53). And the phar-
went beyond mere hospitality for, like all mind-altering macologist and medical historian C. D. Leake argued that
substances, they could transport those who drank them to Generally, the use of [alcoholic drinks], which were thought
different psychic places, adding new dimensions to the to have magical powers, became socially and ritually con-
experience of existence. It is likely that in many alcohol- trolled. Under these circumstances, whatever excesses
using societies, such experiences have been conceived of might occur were indulged in by all the group, so that there
in spiritual or religious terms.The psychologist Carl Jung remained a sense of social unity.The ritualistic use was often
(18751961) once described the craving for alcohol as part of the organized religious services which tended to
76 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

The wine urges me on, the bewitching wine, which sets even a wise man to
singing and to laughing gently and rouses him up to dance and brings forth
words which were better unspoken. Homer (800 bce700 bce)

bring the group together in a common experience and to stills were apparently used by Islamic alchemists about
relate the group more satisfactorily to its environment and 1,000 years ago to distill grape wine, which is why
its members to each other (C. D. Leake, in Lucia 1963, 6). some of the technical vocabulary associated with alcohol
is of Arabic origin. Alchemists originally treated distilled
The psychic power of alcoholic drinks and the ease wine as a medicine, but from the later Middle Ages it
with which they could be produced ensured that alco- began to be used for recreational purposes in parts of
holic drinks became part of the very texture of rural life Western Europe. Modern industrial distillation is based
in all areas where they were produced. They played on techniques of fractional distillation, in which the
important roles in ritual and social occasions, they sealed alcohol-bearing vapors rise through a series of plates,
commercial transactions, and they were used to treat the each containing already-condensed vapor. At each plate,
sick and anesthetize those in pain or to encourage those some of the water in the rising vapor condenses, while
entering battle. Particularly in ritual contexts, their use some of the alcohol in the condensed liquid vaporizes.
often became obligatory; even those who preferred to do The effect is similar to multiple redistillations.
without them risked becoming social outcasts if they Technically, distillation is significantly more complex
refused to drink at major ritual occasions such as reli- than fermentation, and it needs to be handled carefully if
gious festivals or marriages and funerals. However, in the resultant drink is not to contain significant quantities
urban areas, where individuals were less subject to the of poisonous by-products. This is why, though wines,
control of their families, individuals were more likely to beers, and meads were produced in many peasant house-
drink at will, so it is perhaps not surprising that the ear- holds, distilled drinks generally required specialist pro-
liest evidence of individual rather than collective drunk- duction and were more commonly traded through com-
enness seems to come from cities in ancient Egypt and mercial networks. Because they were harder to produce at
Mesopotamia. home, it was also easier to tax distilled drinks once con-
sumers acquired a taste for them. And their superior
Increasing the Potency: potency ensured that, once introduced to them, consumers
Distilled Alcoholic Drinks usually took to distilled drinks with great enthusiasm.
Distillation makes it possible to raise the concentration
of alcohol, creating alcoholic drinks of greater psychic The Psychoactive
and social potency. Distillation exploits the fact that Revolution
alcohol has lower boiling and freezing temperatures than The production and spread of distilled liquors in recent
water (respectively 78.5C and 114.1C). In extremely centuries count as a significant part of a global change
cold climates, it is possible to distill by leaving fermented that the historian David Courtwright has described as
drinks out in the cold. Because water freezes before alco- the psychoactive revolutionthe sudden availability
hol, the concentration of alcohol can be increased simply through commercial channels of an unprecedented vari-
by throwing away the ice and repeating the process sev- ety and quantity of mind-altering substances. People
eral times. However, most distillation exploits the differ- everywhere have acquired progressively more, and more
ent boiling points of water and alcohol. Fermented drinks potent, means of altering their ordinary waking con-
are boiled and the steam that results is condensed in a sciousness. One of the signal events of world history, this
separate container. Because alcohol boils sooner than development had its roots in the transoceanic commerce
water, the condensed liquid has a higher concentration of and empire building of the modern periodthat is, the
alcohol than the original liquid; each new condensation years from about 1500 to 1789 (Courtwright 2000, 2).
raises the concentration of alcohol. Though rudimentary As more and more rural dwellers migrated temporarily or
forms of distillation may have existed earlier, the first pot permanently to the towns and became more and more
alexander the great 77

entangled in the commercial networks of the wider world, Further Reading

and as alcoholic drinks became more varied and more Austin, G. A. (1985). Alcohol in Western society from antiquity to 1800:
A chronological history. Santa Barbara, CA.: ABC-Clio.
available, the controls on consumption that had operated Christian, D. (1990). Living water: Vodka and Russian society on the eve
in most communities began to break down. Often, too, of emancipation. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.
mind-altering substances, including alcohol, were intro- Courtwright, D. T. (2001). Forces of habit: Drugs and the making of the
modern world. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
duced to communities with no experience of their use, Duby, G. (1974). The early growth of the European economy:Warriors and
often with devastating results. From North America to peasants from the seventh to the twelfth century (H. B. Clarke, Trans.).
London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.
Siberia and the Pacific Islands, European traders found Fernndez-Armesto, F. (2002). Near a thousand tables: A history of food.
that alcoholic drinks had peculiar potency in societies New York: Free Press.
unused to them and rapidly created new forms of addic- Harrison, B. (1971). Drink and the Victorians: The temperance question
in England, 18151872. London: Faber & Faber.
tion and dependence. Though their use often proved Heath, D. B., & Cooper, A. M. (1981). Alcohol use and world cultures: A
extremely destructive to traditional cultural norms, mer- comprehensive bibliography of anthropological sources. Toronto,
Canada: Addiction Research Foundation.
chants and officials continued to supply them because Jung, C. G. (1975). Letters (G. Adler, Ed. & A. Jaffe, Trans.). Princeton,
they provided such powerful commercial and political NJ: Princeton University Press.
leverage. Alcohol played as potent a role as guns and dis- Lucia, S. P. (Ed.). (1963). Alcohol and civilization. New York: McGraw
eases in the building of European colonial empires. Rouech, B. (1960). The neutral spirit: A portrait of alcohol. Boston: Lit-
Because of alcohols damaging effects, states have tle, Brown.
Sherratt, A. (1997). Economy and society in prehistoric Europe: Changing
played an increasingly important role in its regulation.Yet perspectives. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
states have also earned significant revenues from the Tannahill, R. (1989). Food in history (Rev. ed.). New York: Crown.
increasing trade in alcohol and other psychoactive sub-
stances. And it is this deeply ambiguous relationship
between modern states and the trade in alcoholic drinks
that explains why most modern states have been torn
between prohibition (in vain attempts to maintain pub- Alexander
lic order) and the sale of alcoholic drinks (in the hope of
controlling consumption while simultaneously generating the Great
significant revenues). In Russia in the nineteenth century, (356323 bce)
close to 40 percent of government revenues came from King of Macedonia
the sale of alcoholic drinks, which was enough to pay
he thirteen-year reign of Alexander III of Macedon
most of the expenses of the army that made Russia a
great power. In nineteenth-century England, alcohol gen-
erated a similar share of government revenue. Indeed,
T (336323 BCE) fundamentally changed the political
and cultural structure of ancient southwestern Asia. The
most modern states have depended on revenues from Persian empire, which had ruled the vast region from the
mind-altering substances of some kind, so it is no won- Mediterranean to the borders of India, disappeared in
der that no modern state has succeeded in entirely ban- 330 BCE as the result of Alexanders conquests, replaced
ning their consumption. On the contrary, alcoholic drinks by a new multistate system dominated by Macedonians
have now spread around the entire world, so that today and Greeks. The regions center of gravity shifted west-
they may be the most widely traded and most widely con- ward from its ancient focus in Mesopotamia and south-
sumed of all mind-altering substances. western Iran to the shores of the Mediterranean and
Greece, and Greek culture replaced the ancient cunei-
David Christian
form tradition as the culture of its elite. At the same time
See also Drugs diplomatic and commercial ties were established that
78 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

There is no such thing as an inevitable war.

If war comes it will be from failure of human
wisdom. Andrew B. Law (18581923)

and secured his appointment as hegemon (leader) of the

Corinthian League and commander in the war against
Persia. With his power base secure, Alexander crossed
into Asia in spring 334 BCE at the head of an army of
approximately 35,000 men.
During the next decade Alexander campaigned as far
as western India before being compelled by a mutiny of
his army to return to the west, where he died in Babylon
in June 323 BCE. This remarkable campaign divides into
three distinct phases. The first phase, which lasted from
334 BCE to 330 BCE, is known as the Greek Crusade
and was marked by the great set battles of Granicus,
Issus, and Gaugamela and climaxed with the destruction
of the Persian capital of Perepolis and the assassination
of the Persian king Darius III by his own officers.The sec-
ond phase, which lasted from 330 BCE to 327 BCE, saw
Alexander adopt various aspects of Persian royal cere-
monial and practice despite Macedonian and Greek
opposition in order to attract Iranian support in the face
of fierce guerrilla resistance in central Asia.The third and
final phase of the campaign began with the two years
that Alexander spent in India and ended with his disas-
trous return to the west through Baluchistan and his
death in Babylon, while planning further campaigns,
beginning with an invasion of Arabia.
Alexander the Great in a bust from 1724.
Historians interpretations of Alexanders spectacular
reign vary widely for understandable reasons. There are
eventually linked together the civilizations from Europe few primary sources for the period. Of the many accounts
to China. written by his contemporaries and the numerous docu-
Alexander was born in 356 BCE, the first child of Philip ments issued by his government such as existed, only
II (360336 BCE) of Macedon and his principal wife, fragments and a few inscriptions survive. Therefore, his-
Olympias. He was raised in keeping with his status as torians depend on five Greek and Latin biographies of
Philips heir, being educated by the philosopher Aristotle Alexander written between the mid-first century BCE and
and trained by his father for his role as king and the com- the second century CE for their information. Also lacking
mander of the Macedonian army.When he succeeded his are sources that reflect the perspectives of the Persians
father as king in 336 BCE, Alexander was ready to con- and the other peoples Alexander encountered. As a
tinue the invasion of the Persian empire, which had been result, while the outline of his career is clear, widely diver-
begun by Philip. Alexander devoted the first two years of gent theories have been proposed concerning Alexanders
his reign to consolidating his hold on power. Rapid cam- ultimate goals, ranging from the popular preWorld
paigns in the northern Balkans and Greece headed off War II belief that he wished to realize the philosophical
rebellions by Macedons Greek and non-Greek subjects dream of the unity of all mankind to the contemporary
al-khwarizmi 79

Plutarch on Alexander
the Great
. . . The statues that gave the best representation
of Alexanders person, were those of Lysippus, was essentially negative: He destroyed the Persian empire
(by whom alone he would suffer his image to be and with it the state system that had dominated ancient
made,) those peculiarities which many of his southwestern Asia for two centuries. It would be left to
successors afterwards and his friends used to his successors to devise a new state system to replace it.
affect to imitate, the inclination of his head a lit-
Stanley M. Burstein
tle on one side towards his left shoulder, and his
melting eye, having been expressed by this artist See also Macedonian Empire
with great exactness . . . He was fair and of a
light color, passing into ruddiness in his face
and upon his breast. Aristoxenus in his Mem- Further Reading
Bosworth, A. B. (1988). Conquest and empire: The reign of Alexander the
oirs tells us that a most agreeable odor exhaled Great. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
from his skin, and that his breath and body all Bosworth, A. B. (2002). The legacy of Alexander: Politics, warfare, and
propaganda under the successors. Oxford, UK: Oxford University
over was so fragrant as to perfume the clothes
which he wore next him; . . . His temperance, as Cook, J. M. (1983). The Persian empire. London: J. M. Dent & Sons.
to the pleasures of the body, was apparent in Stoneman, R. (1997). Alexander the Great. London: Routledge.
Worthington, I. (Ed.). (2003). Alexander the Great: A reader. London:
him in his very childhood, as he was with much Routledge.
difficulty incited to them, and always used them
with great moderation; though in other things
he was extremely eager and vehement, and in
his love of glory, and the pursuit of it, he
showed a solidity of high spirit and magna- al-Khwarizmi
nimity far above his age. . . . (c. 780c. 850)
Source: Plutarch. (1931). Alexander. In Everybodys Plutarch (R. T. Bond, Ed. &
Arab mathematician
J. Dryden, Trans.; p. 534). New York: Dodd, Mead & Co.

view that Alexander was a vicious conqueror with no

A l-Khwarizmis family name gave Europe the term
algorithm, and one of his books, Hisab al-Jabr wal-
muqabalah, was the origin of the word algebra. His full
goals beyond glory and personal aggrandizement. name was Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Musa al-
The sources are only part of the problem, however. Khwarizmi. He was a Muslim astronomer, geographer,
Equally important is the fact that Alexander died before and, most importantly, mathematician. He was born in
he could develop a final plan for the governing of his the Persian town of Khiva, in what is now Uzebekistan.
empire. Instead, he improvised various solutions to the In his youth, al-Khwarizmis parents moved from Per-
administrative problems that arose during the course of sia to Iraq and settled in the bustling city of Baghdad. In
his campaigns. Thus, while he became more and more Baghdad, young al-Khwarizmi was attracted to the Bait
autocratic, which was encouraged by his belief in his al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom), an institution where lit-
semidivine status as the Son of Ammon, and he contin- erary scholars, philosophers, natural scientists, mathe-
ued his efforts to supplement the limited Macedonian and maticians, and medical doctors from around the region
Greek manpower available to him by encouraging col- worked on ancient Greek texts. Later, Muslim scholars
laboration by native elites, neither development had been passed this wonderful body of knowledge to Europe,
institutionalized at the time of his death. Paradoxically, where it sparked the Renaissance. Al-Mamun (786
therefore, Alexanders principal contribution to history 833), the caliph of Baghdad, who had founded the
80 berkshire encyclopedia of world history

House of Wisdom in 830, patronized its scientific Further Reading

research. Al-Khwarizmi dedicated some of his works to Esposito, J. L. (1999). The Oxford history of Islam. New York: Oxford Uni-
versity Press.
the caliph in gratitude for the caliphs having made avail- Rashid, R. (1994). The development of Arabic mathematics: Between arith-
able to scholars the first and best library since that of metic and algebra. Boston: Kluwer Academic.
Alexandria. van der Waerden, B. L. (1985). A history of algebra: From al-Khwarizmi
to Emmy Noether. New York: Springer-Verlag.
Al-Khwarizmi investigated numbers far more deeply
than did anyone in the European medieval world. His
study of structures, surfaces, pyramids, cones, circles, and
triangles took mathematics and algebra to new heights. It
was al-Khwarizmi who revolutionized the use of math in al-Razi
arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. Interestingly, his orig- (c. 865c. 925 ce)
inal and innovative use of advanced math was used to help Islamic physician and philosopher
solve the problems occasioned by the complex Islamic
laws of inheritance and divisions of estates and assets
among brothers and sisters at the death of their parents.
This father of algebra and algorithms conducted life-
A bu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, also
known to Europeans by his Latinized name of
Rhazes, was one the most influential Islamic physicians
long research on the Hindu numerical system and the of the pre-modern era. Razis contributions have been
Hebrew calendar, and he studied ancient Egyptian sun- favorably compared to those of such early physicians and
dials and Syrian texts. He derived new concepts and con- scientists as Hippocrates (c. 460c. 377 BCE), Galen
solidated others relating to Arabic numerals and zero as (1229c. 199 CE), Ibn Sina (9801037), and Vesalius
well as to the decimal system. The worlds first correct (15141564). Razis works were widely used throughout
astronomical tables and explanation of the movements of medieval and Renaissance Europe. His translations and
the sun, the moon, and the five planets closest to Earth original works provided a critical link among ancient
were the works of al-Khwarizmi. He also had a superior Greek, Persian, and Indian medical traditions and the
sense of world geography and wrote a book on the topic, later works of medieval and Renaissance physicians in
Surat al-Arz (Shape of the Earth). At the suggestion of al- Europe. In addition to his importance in the field of med-
Mamun, he oversaw a team of sixty-nine and produced the icine, Razis fame also stems from his work as an
first correct world map in world history.This too was done alchemist and free-thinking philosopher.
to solve a practical problem: Muslims around the world Razi was born in the Persian city of al-Rayy (modern
needed to know what direction to face (namely, toward Shahr-e-Rey), near present-day Tehran, Iran. As a young
the Kaaba in the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia) to offer their man he cultivated talents in music, philosophy, and
daily obligatory five prayers. Thanks to the efforts of al- alchemy; however, as he grew older, he turned his atten-
Khwarizmi and others, this problem was solved by find- tion to the study of medicine. During his distinguished
ing the shortest arc of the great circle anywhere on the career as a physician, he directed hospitals in both Rayy
globe between a persons location and Mecca. and Baghdad. He also enjoyed royal patronage, traveling
The world stands in gratitude to al-Khwarizmi for the extensively in the service of the Samanid courts through-
use of Arabic numbers, decimals, and the value of zero in out Khorasan and Transoxiana (a Persian-Islamic dynasty
math, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, and for the in Central Asia, vassal of the Abbasids, from around 819
production of correct world maps. to 1005).Yet, far from leading the life of an idle courtier,
Razi was praised as a tireless and compassionate clinician
Abdul-Karim Khan
and teacher as well as a prolific writer.
See also Islamic World Razis most famous medical works are the Kitab al-
al-razi 81

Truth in medicine is an unattainable goal, and the art as described in books is far beneath the
knowledge of an experienced and thoughtful physician. al-Razi (c. 864c. 930)

Hawi (Liber Continens; The Comprehensive Book of ing transformed the study of alchemy into an embryonic
Medicine) and the Kitab al-Mansuri (Liber Almansoris; form of chemistry. Throughout his works there are
The Book of Medicine for Mansur). The Kitab al-Hawi, a descriptions and classifications of mineral substances,
twenty-three-volume encyclopedia posthumously pre- chemical processes, and explanations of experimentation
pared by Razis pupils, contains extracts from Greek, that meet the standards of empirical investigation in
Indian, and Arabic sources on pathology, therapy, and modern chemistry. While Razis famous Sirr al-Asrar
pharmacology as well as records from his