What Influences Specifically
What influences, specifically, have each of the ancient civilizations – Mesopotamia, Greek, Roman, Islamic – had on modern-day Western civilizatiion?
I also want to know if there is any reason why we trace our heritage back to these civilizations, and not, say, Egypt. It will be helpful if you can give me examples. Thanks!
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There are different elements of these civilizations that had influenced the western civilization as we know today. Hence they need to be discussed separately.
(1) Mesopotamia: it was not a consolidated civilization but rather an amalgamation of different cultures. The two biggest influence of Mesopotamia on the world are – the rise of city as we know of it today and writing. Even though Egypt, India and China separately started writing, the Western world traces its writing to Mesopotamia. The innovation of wheels and thus increased mobility helped in the building of civilization.
(2) Greek: the influence of Greece on Western civilization is manifold. Most important o these influences are – democracy, mythology, sports and theatre. Greece brought in the system where the people’s voice in conducting the country mattered. It also brought in the great pantheon of religious gods and goddesses and narratives about them. This enriched the future narrative. Ancient Greece brought in the idea of sports as an entertainment through Olympics. Theories regarding the theatre that were prevalent in Ancient Greece are still relevant.
(3) Roman: the Romans borrowed a lot of important aspects from Greece and thus they entered the Western civilization. Senate is one such important concept that came from Rome. The idea of vetoing a ruling also came from Rome. Civil law and uniform punishment are two other important aspects of Roman rule. Finally the alphabets and the Romance languages are of immense importance as well.
(4) Islam: Islam’s influence was through the knowledge it emitted. In art, science, alchemy and in many other things Islam has influenced Europe.