National Geographic : 1897 Jan
30 GEOGRAPHIC DEVELOPMENT OF CIVILIZATION environment exercised a controlling influence on life, character, insti tutions, and religion; it was the primary if not the sole cause of de velopment in the transition of man from savagery through barbarism to civilization. The same cause continued to influence the successive stages of civilization, though as man advanced in knowledge and intelligence he became more and more independent of his surroundings. Even now they influence him in various ways. The first lecture will be of a general character, showing prehistoric man, the beginnings of industries (such as agriculture and the domestica tion of animals), of institutions and religion, and of the acquisition of real and personal property, and will be delivered by the President of the Society. We look for the earliest civilization where the environment was most favorable, as in Babylonia and Egypt, and possibly in China. The tran sition of man from barbarism to partial civilization in these countries probably originated at about the same time, and therefore the second lecture will be on Babylonia, where the environment is in some respects more marked than in Egypt or China. In the rich valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates men were first gathered into great cities under the rule of a despot who was above all humanity, the representative only of him self and of God. Here the family seems to have become obsolete, all rights undefined, personal and civil liberty unknown, for there were only two classes, the master and slave. Yet here we find the first great library, hanging gardens, and magnificent architecture. This lecture will tell us of the development of the city, library, and architecture, and of the rule of the despot, and will be delivered by Mr Talcott Williams, of the Philadelphia Press, a gentleman born in Mesopo tamia and well acquainted with the country and its inhabitants. The third lecture will be on Syria. In Syria we have an entirely dif ferent geographic environment, developing different institutions and religious beliefs, with a nationality and history of a different type. The Semites, probably Bedouins, came from the desert of Arabia, a country as unlike the valley of the Euphrates as the people of the two countries are unlike each other. In these deserts originated the ideas of humanity and charity, and a religion tending to monotheism. The chiefs or rulers of the nomad clans were patriarchs, like Abraham and Jacob, wandering over the desert. Although their civilization was in some respects and for a long time inferior to that of the Babylonians, yet they had a love of freedom and manly character unknown in the despotisms of the Eu phrates and Nile. While they estimated the value of the life of the indi vidual higher than did the Assyrian, yet even here personal liberty, as we understand it, did not exist, as every man belonged to a family group and was subject to its head, and every family to its clan. This lecture will trace the development of the family, monotheism, and the Jewish nation, and will be delivered by Prof. Thomas J. Shahan, LL. D ., of the Catholic University of America. The fourth lecture will be on Tyre and Sidon, cities which derived their civilization from Assyria. Here we find a third condition of environ ment-mountains behind, the sea in front-evolving a higher civilization.