Why Study Ancient World Cultures

Why Study Ancient World Cultures

Length: 815 words (2.3 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Why Study Ancient World Cultures?

Why study ancient cultures? You might feel that the question is moot: students do study and will study ancient cultures; such study is an expected part of a tradition of intellectual development. The response to the why of the initial question is a matter of tradition, if not fact. A study of the ROMAN EMPIRE, a reading of Greek philosophy and literature, a look at the PYRAMIDS OF EGYPT -- these are all accepted parts of a Western education, aren't they?

Probably so: even today, in the plurality of approaches to the study of history and to the study of cultures, people talk about PLATO or DANTE or Krishna or Mohammed. But there is an important proviso: How you approach ancient cultures (or any other culture, for that matter) and how you conceive of the people of such distant worlds are of paramount importance. At this point, you might ask yourself these two additional questions: Do we study these cultures because, to some extent, all cultures share certain characteristics? Does our own culture reflect aspects of these other cultures?

The answer to the first of the two questions has historically been found in a discussion of universality. Consider, for a moment, the case of Arjuna in The Bhagavad Gita. You might well ask how the battle that Arjuna holds off while frozen on his chariot relates, for example, to contemporary battles in World War II. Convinced that his relatives will die in this life only to be reborn in another, Arjuna can reluctantly permit the carnage to begin. No such choice is left to Schindler (featured in Spielberg's film Schindler's List), on the other hand, whose intervention on behalf of Jews saved many people in this life. The danger in looking for universals thus consists in reformulating other, possibly alien, views to fit our own. We must always guard against the assumption that other people think as we do -- or that they should. Arjuna speaks within the context of one culture; Schindler acts within the confines of another.

The differences among cultures are of greatest interest here, and reading about ancient cultures is thus reading about other people whose lives were surely different from our own. The social organization of Socrates' ATHENS -- where a gimpy-legged man could hobble around interrogating citizens at will -- differs profoundly from today's world beset with modern media whereby people rarely get to see or literally hear their critics.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Why Study Ancient World Cultures." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Dec 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=154251>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

History Of The World And Its Various Cultures Essay

- Throughout the world, a substantial amount of people are interested in the history of the world and its various cultures. Museums house artifacts these people visit to study the past, previous cultures, and even “pre-history” events that occurred before written and pictorial evidence of human activity. These collections begin from various sources: donations, archaeologists, and in some cases, built over time by explorers taking items back to their homelands. However, despite the fact museums can be very educational for visitors, if desired, these items should either return to their homelands or, at the very least, more mutually beneficial arrangements worked out for the exchange and sharing...   [tags: Ancient history, Ancient Egypt, British Museum]

Research Papers
1943 words (5.6 pages)

Essay on Ancient Cultures: Mesopotamian Music

- Mesopotamian Music When we study ancient cultures, it is necessary to examine as many aspects of that culture as is possible, though sometimes, there are aspects which are considerably more difficult to study than others. One such aspect is music. Music is difficult because it leaves no physical remains once it s no longer being played, so we must infer what it may have sounded like based entirely on the rare remains of instruments which we find, or the even rarer inscriptions about the playing of music....   [tags: instruments, drum, oldest instrument]

Research Papers
1693 words (4.8 pages)

The Study of Women across Cultures Essay

- ... Though out the world, lesbian relations stretches upon a number of societies and social categories. Researches have stated that being lesbian was acceptable in a a number of cultures before the colonization of the Western World. The colonization of lands has been connected to the increasing prejudices against women. In the United States by the nineteenth century lesbianism was deem an illness, in need of a cure. Women were put into mental asylums, where remedies such as psychotherapy were used to “treat” lesbians....   [tags: empowerment, lebians, feminism, tradition]

Research Papers
1020 words (2.9 pages)

“The Rise and Fall of the Ancient Library at Alexandria” Essay

- The ancient Library of Alexandria is acknowledged as the capital of education in the ancient world, the vanished library was not the initial library in the world; however, it stands out because of its legacy. It lasted over six centuries, and was the globe’s first research center. Her founders were Alexander the Great and Ptolemy II Soter, but it was organized by Aristotle’s student Demetrius of Phaleron. The library was abundance with books and scholars from all over the world. Even though the library was confuted and damaged, there are some pieces that have survived like Letter of Aristeas that where possibly a translation of the Hebrew Bible....   [tags: Ancient Greece ]

Research Papers
1521 words (4.3 pages)

The Study of Archaeology Essay

- ... Archaeology continues to help researchers understand not only where and when people lived in various parts of the world, but also the logistics involving their time on earth including when and how they lived. For example, if weather patterns change this leads to the scarcity of plants or wildlife essential for larger species which may in turn lead to the migration or death of humans and other animals. We are actually seeing this domino effect now in our current environment as global warming escalates....   [tags: evidence, study, time, behavior, society]

Research Papers
1055 words (3 pages)

A Study of Ancient and Modern Architecture Essay

- Behind every architectural work there is an architect, whether the architect is one man or woman, a small group, or an entire people. The structure created by any of these architects conveys a message about the architect: their culture, their identity, their struggles. Because of the human element architects offer to their work not just a building is made, but a work of art, a symbol of a people, a representation, is also created. “The history of the world’s great architecture is the astonishing story of how individuals and groups have taken that basic necessity of building and transformed it into possibly the greatest manifestation of the human spirit—more pr...   [tags: Architectural History]

Research Papers
1501 words (4.3 pages)

Promoting Natural Beauty and Cultures of Indonesia to The World Promoting Natural Beauty and Cultures of Indonesia to The World

- ... However, Rumah Indonesia may be a good start and has potential to support promoting Indonesia to the world. The second way is through advertisement. Advertisements may have strong affection to people who see it. As proposed by (Mitchell, 1986), advertisements appear to be designed to trigger certain emotional reaction of customers. In the other words, the purpose of advertisement itself is to deliver message to customers in order to get their attention and curiosity. The advertisement saying “VISIT INDONESIA” nowadays is everywhere....   [tags: tourism, advertisement, foreigners]

Research Papers
1161 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on The Traditions of Western and Chinese Cultures

- ABSTRACT: In European atomic theory, Euclid's geometry and Aristotle's logic complement each other and are generally acknowledged sources of Western science. In China, the book Zhou Yi is the source of Chinese science because it system contains a unity of philosophic, logical and mathematical thinking. These two systems form the core of the scientific models of the Western and Chinese cultural traditions. In political and ideological arenas, the Western is a contract model based on the individual, but the Chinese is an entirety one base on 'human administration.' In Western societies, the inner general tensile stress of contracts causes losses and breaks of action standards and values, but i...   [tags: World History Essays]

Research Papers
2076 words (5.9 pages)

Ancient Chinese Civilization Essay

- Our book is designed to give a basic history of ancient world civilizations. A civilization that is not normally studied by Western nations is the Asian civilization. Asian culture and history had been a relative mystery, unknown to the Western world. But in realizing the objective of this class and the overall subject of world civilizations, Asian history is given a basic examination. Therefore, I believe theme to our readings of chapters three, six, and twelve is an introductory study of the vast history of ancient Asian civilization....   [tags: East Asia, Culture Evolution]

Research Papers
873 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on Link Of Materialism And Spiritualism In The Cultures Of Antiquity

- As long as man has inhabited earth he has strived to express himself for any number of reasons. Yet over thousands of years the enduring theme of these expressions has been the desire to explain our own existence. This is especially evident when considering the early Egyptian and Sumerian societies. Beginning with cave paintings in France around 15,000 BC and leading up to the grandeur of the great pyramids the cultures of antiquity demonstrate belief in a connection in the material and spiritual worlds....   [tags: essays research papers fc]

Research Papers
1139 words (3.3 pages)

How can we today understand the psychology of the thousands of Egyptian workers who, apparently unquestioningly, spent their lives dragging great blocks of stone across burning sands in the construction of staggering pyramidal edifices whose completion took many lifetimes? Interestingly, these differences may help us better to see -- and know -- the limits of our culture and the limits of our language and experience.

The problem with the second question lies in its formulation. What is a culture after all? This paper and this program proceed under the assumption that there is some sort of definition to the word culture. Most people would ascribe an abstract value to culture -- that which produces good art, great literature, right behavior, etc. Yet the criteria of quality are scarcely international or inter-cultural: a revered "classical" work on the sitar resists comparison to a Mozart symphony beyond the statement that both are considered great cultural achievements in the context of their home cultures. Is, then, culture something that can be taught, or are its constituent parts more sweeping and pervasive than what can be learned from books or lectures? Answers to this second question already exist in the form of canons and reading lists, though there is much discussion today about what makes up those reading lists and about the assumptions concerning what should or should not fit on such lists.

Many people would like to conceive of history as a succession of movements or stages in an on-going (and, generally) ever-improving cultural novel of human life. For these people, the Romantic period is definable, its gifts to the human spirit are calculable. Yet, how can any culture speak for all its practitioners? Do all people share equally in the culture of which they are a part? It is precisely because AKHENATON chose to resist the pantheism that characterized pharaonic Egypt before and after his brief reign and instituted a qualified monotheism that he is remembered (and magically, too, in a contemporary opera by Philip Glass). So, a culture includes both the dominant tradition and its transgression.

As you begin your study of ancient cultures, you might want to recall these questions as you forge for yourself a meaning to the term culture. In the process, try not to measure others against your own cultural standard, which has, in many ways, formed you and your apprehension of the world. Instead, try for a moment to see the glittering battle scene with Arjuna's eyes.
Return to 123HelpMe.com