Page
  1. 1
    1
  2. 2
    2
  3. 3
    3
  4. 4
    4
  5. 5
    5
  6. 6
    6
  7. 7
    7
  8. 8
    8

Compare and Contrast Ancient Egyptian and Mayan civilisations, can archaeology help account for these differences?

Do not show me this again

Are you in the right place?

Jump to Anthropology and see how teachers think you should prepare in:

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Kris Breadner Compare and Contrast Ancient Egyptian and Mayan civilisations, can archaeology help account for these differences? The legends and myths of both the Egyptian and, to a lesser extent, Mayan civilisations have always been a point of fascination for the peoples of the developed world. It is perhaps a testament to our own cultural arrogance that we grapple to comprehend the technological and cultural achievements of these great civilisations. However, it would be all too easy to group all of these wonderful and inactivating cultures together, and look only to the similarities which they share. This would be to ignore the fact that these cultures were, geographically, nearly antipodean, and also that these cultures reached perhaps their 'golden eras' roughly 3,000 years apart from each other. This is what makes a comparative study of the two cultures so interesting, as undoubtedly they both shared similarities, which seem particular to only a handful of societies, yet they did this in different corners of both the earth and time. It is important, in order to carry out a comparative analysis of these great races, to obtain a feeling of perspective over the periods and areas with which we are dealing. To begin with, it is important to point out that when looking at Mayan civilisation, we are dealing with what is considered the most historically interesting and culturally important, that is the period between 300 and 900 A.D. This period, known as the 'Classic Period' is the most interesting to historians and archaeologists as it was at the point where technological development and cultural progression was at its zenith. ...read more.

Middle

The idea that Mayan agriculture was of a simple slash and burn nature is indeed a direct fault of archaeologist's reluctance to let go of certain theses and theories. This idea of the primitive nature of Mayan agriculture is part of the Swidden theory; something which many who studied in the field clung to despite overwhelming evidence to suggest that Mayan agriculture was far more developed than the theory allowed for. In fact a study of the Mayan lowlands shows use of raised fields or bajos, whose use in other developed parts of Mesoamerica has been widely emphasised, whereas their existence in the Maya territories has been ignored. There is also evidence for the use of terraced farming in the region, and also complex irrigation networks, which was almost certainly omitted from archaeological reports, as they did not fit in with the widely accepted Swidden theory. It would seem that the conservative nature of a few archaeological studies is accountable for many of the differences that we see between the great ancient civilisations. It is however, necessary that the study of archaeology should be carried out in this particularly conservative fashion, for if we were to accept all theories as possibly correct then it would be almost impossible to carry out historical analysis of archaeological theses. It is for this reason that some of the apparent differences between Mayan and Egyptian cultures appear, the advancement of agriculture is just one of those domains. Yet this is not entirely surprising considering the conditions in which studies must be carried out, for the rainforests of Guatemala are considerably harder to study than the land of the Nile Valley. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, in Mayan civilisation there was no room for social movement; whereas it was reasonably common for men of lowly birth to rise in the Egyptian social structure. Although it is also true that the Egyptians differed greatly from the Mayans in their organisation, having made almost a modern capital from Memphis, in which a bureaucracy operated outside of the Pharaoh's appointment. The Mayans used a much more traditional system of feudalism that operated on a less bureaucratic level. Archaeologists have tried to account for this development in Egyptian culture by the claim that they were visited by what were known as 'newcomers' around 3,400 B.C who brought new enlightened ideas which were incorporated into Egyptian thinking. This arrival is depicted on the ivory sword handle of Gebel el-Arak, which shows the arrival of a race similar to the Mesopotamians. It is inevitable that between to cultures in such differing parts of the world, there will exist certain differences and similarities. To look at the two cultures, it would appear that the Egyptians, by western standards were further developed than the Mayans who still practised sacrifices and blood letting even at the end of their period. Yet archaeologists have little difficulty in explaining the reasons for these differences, as there is no reason why the two cultures should emerge in a way that resembles the other. I believe that what causes the most controversy and the most interesting argument is the existence of deep similarities between these ancient and extinct peoples. It is more the archaeologists task to present an account for these similarities than it is to ponder on the differences. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree Anthropology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree Anthropology essays

  1. How far had the 'New Soviet Man' emerged in the USSR by the end ...

    All was not lost however, as the 'liquidation of illiteracy' decree of 1919 attempted to eradicate illiteracy, through 'liquidation points' set up across Russia. It was illegal to refuse to learn and between 1920 and 1926 5million people passes though the courses, and whilst it is not a huge figure

  2. To what extent can human cooperative and social behaviour be explain by the selfish ...

    members of the family when often this doesnât appear to benefit the actorâs genetic success directly or indirectly; the fact that this seems to decrease the fitness of the actor means that this provides a limitation regarding the kin selection concept within the selfish gene theory when trying to explain cooperative and social behaviours.

  1. Colonialism, Nationalism and Islamism: Discourse on Women in Egypt.

    Egypt for the last 30 years), the removal of the veil and an end to segregation. Amin's book promoted the inherent superiority and desirability of western culture while savagely attacking his native culture (Ahmed: 1992). This is a perfect example of how the discourse on modernisation, culture and the treatment of women has become inextricably linked.

  2. The organisation - what makes it 'tick'?

    an advertising and promotion house often responsible for media advertising campaigning for companies. Organisational Culture Is the collection of relatively uniform and enduring values, beliefs, customs, traditions and practices that are shared by organisations members, learned by new employees and transmitted from one generation to the next.

  1. What is Postmodernism? Fashion in Postmodernism

    Madan Sarup (1930 - 1993) supports this view, suggesting that educational agenda puts an emphasis on the skills and training rather than giving a value to humanist ideal of education system. In postmodern societies, knowledge is being looked at very differently than in modern.

  2. To What Extent are Cultural Differences a Hindrance to Effective Communication? How Can They ...

    All information is however composed of both syntax and semantics and is inextricably bound up with meaning and / or metaphor. If a computer were to receive a syntactically correct piece of information, even though it was correctly constructed and seemed sensible to the sender, the receiver would not know

  1. A PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE.

    to have been successful in producing the ego strength of 'fidelity' whereby the need is felt to be 'true to ourselves'. Indeed, Erikson suggests that the achievement of a sense of self-identity can carry people through difficult times in their lives and provide them with a "...feeling of being at

  2. First They Killed My Father - account of the Khmer Rouge 'killing fields' in ...

    There is a parallel in that as the people are forced in herds, they are also forced into themselves. Loung discovers loneliness for the first time. She presents herself as a loud, difficult, attention seeking girl with few cares. Loung allows us to witness how her values change from the

  • Over 180,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.

Do not show me this again

Are you in the right place?

Jump to Anthropology and see how teachers think you should prepare in: