Download Europe: A Cultural History by Peter Rietbergen PDF

By Peter Rietbergen

This significant contribution to the belief of Europe sweeps the continent from its Celtic and German origins during the impression of the Greeks and Romans to the fruitful--and occasionally bloody--contacts with different cultures. Peter Rietbergen portrays Europe's historical past as a chain of 4 grand stages of continuity and alter set within the context of political, social and financial advancements. those stages are new varieties of: surviving; believing; taking a look at guy and the realm; and intake and conversation. Rietbergen's descriptions are supported by means of a range of illuminating excerpts resembling: Chaucer's description of London in 1378; Michelangelo on Italian paintings; and renowned song lyrics of Iron Maiden and Sting.

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For a very long time, in the cold, relatively unattractive, sparsely populated north the economic, social and political situation did not change much. The agricultural economy remained the principal means of existence; stone remained the primary raw material for tools and weapons and the village remained the main form of settlement. 3000 BC, and later large stone structures, megalithic monuments, both in the form of circular religious buildings, like the enormous circle at Stonehenge, or the Danish, Dutch and Breton oblong barrow graves.

Whereas in the temple-states of Egypt and Mesopotamia reading and writing the complicated sign system was deliberately restricted to a small group of highly educated and hence powerful people, such trading societies as Ugarit and the Phoenician cities needed a simple way of writing that would be easy to learn by a large group who could not afford to spend long years at school. A ‘marginal’ culture? Democracy and its limitations in Greece In the mean time, in Greece the Mycenaean and Cretan civilizations had disappeared.

Now, in about 1000 BC, the Phoenicians further developed this system, whereby each sign (‘letter’) came to stand for only one sound, usually the first sound of the object which the sign had originally been associated with: alef, from the first sound for ‘cow’, became the letter or sound ‘a’, and so on. This revolutionary discovery can perhaps be explained by the commercial milieu in which it was made. Whereas in the temple-states of Egypt and Mesopotamia reading and writing the complicated sign system was deliberately restricted to a small group of highly educated and hence powerful people, such trading societies as Ugarit and the Phoenician cities needed a simple way of writing that would be easy to learn by a large group who could not afford to spend long years at school.

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