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From an anthropological point of view perhaps one of the earliest conflict would have been between the hunter gatherers and the early farmers. The agricultural revolution in human society would have enticed the agriculturalists to attain ever greater fertile lands, especially along river banks. These lands would also have been the one’s cherished most by the hunters since that is exactly where they could find large game that went to these areas to quench their thirst.
Thus the competition between the hunters and farmers would have been both natural and inevitable. As the farmers encroached ever closer along the riversides it would have sparked imminent conflict with the hunters and the success of the famers in the conflict has had profound consequences for the evolution of human society.
The discovery of iron and the domestication of horses was another great step in the advancement of human society. While historical accounts are few and far in between a group of historians believe that the Aryan race were the first to forge swords from iron and to employ an army on horseback. Their innovation was so successful that emerging from their steppes in Central Asia they swept south as far as the Indian Ocean before marching west into the heartlands of Europe going as far as the Iberian Peninsula.
The human society’s organization to the highest degree first manifested itself in the forms of city-states. The advent of cities proved to be a great advancement in human societies since it freed many of its dwellers from the strife of daily life. Instead humans to devote their energies to new sciences such as architecture, astronomy, mathematics and so on. Cities proved to be the catalyst for human advancement in the fields of the abstract sciences. The foremost amongst such cities emerged around the Nile delta, between the rivers Euphrate and the Tigris as well as around the Yellow river and the Ganges.
However, as the cities could not feed their over-sized populations they naturally looked to the countryside to supply them with the necessary food. As the cities grew ever larger, they naturally looked outward, conquering more and more distant lands to fulfill its insatiable demands. The rise of the greatest historic empires – such as the Mesopotamian and Babylonian Empires, the Egyptian Empire, the Greek, Carthaginian and the Roman Empires – can all be attributed to this impulse.
While these empires rose as the natural consequence of human societal and scientific advancements, other historical empires rose to quench humanity’s thirst for scientific or moral advancement. The Arab-Islamic armies burst out of the Arabian Peninsula conquering most of the known world not due to any material advantage over its rivals but due to its fervent belief in elevating humanity to a higher moral order.
Similarly the European Renaissance to a high degree was attributed to the desire for further knowledge driven in part by its natural rivalry with the Islamic Empire lying to its east. This desire for knowledge naturally led to greater scientific advancements that proved to be critical in subduing their rivals. In the next part of this article we will look at the turmoil surrounding the rise of Europe and how this is comparable to the current political chaos that surrounds us.
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights/WOT and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad. She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”