Personally, the most interesting thing to learn regarding early human civilizations was the use of dance as a means of cultural, social, and spiritual significance. As a dancer myself, I found it particularly engaging to learn about how the ancient civilizations used a variety of dance rituals and techniques to strengthen their communal bonds of unity, while simultaneously surpassing the physical dimension and engaging in communication with the gods. It was interesting to learn about how dance served multiple purposes and allowed even the earliest of humans to have an outlet of self expression, a common shared interest, and an avenue to an enhanced spiritual connectedness. The dancing rituals of these early human civilizations signified the birth of a tradition of dance that continues on to this day.
I also believe that the universal aspects of religious emphasis and a desire for political order are evident in both the lives of early and modern humans alike. A focalization on religious components and spiritual awareness stemmed back from the beginning of time, as we witnessed the rise of various religious beliefs of civilizations such as the Israelites, Vedic people, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians. Religion played a key component in the establishment of a society’s moral and ethical code, along with their perception of social classes and stratifications. For example, we learned this week that the Vedic people used the divine authority of Purusha to justify the distinction of four different social classes, each with their own given responsibilities and levels of power. The Vedic people’s understanding of their creation narrative containing a heavy emphasis on religion thus formulated the basic makeup of their society and political culture (Herbst Video, Wk 4 “Vedic Worldview”, 4:33). The concept of religion is a broadly universal aspect, where different cultures use their unique religious beliefs to enrich their communal ties and understanding of the universe. From the earliest of times to the present, various religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, and more often embody a deep sense of culture, tradition, and history that shape our societies as we know them. Religion directly correlates to every other aspect of life, forming the basic foundation of people’s views on social, economic, political, spiritual, and physical factors that impact every corner of the world. In addition to religion, both early and modern humans have been affected by their innate inclination to establish order and justice. The Babylonians established the Hammurabi code of laws, which established the standards for commercial interactions and set fines and punishments to meet the requirements of justice (WTWA Ch. 2, p. 93). This initial set of laws set the bedrock for future government systems to come across the globe, including our modern-day code of law – the US Constitution. Every early civilization formulated their own set of rules or laws in an effort to obtain some level of peace and justice, thus establishing a universal pattern and emphasis on structure. These universal aspects relate to all humans, regardless of their time period, and will continue to develop and evolve as time progresses.