How do civilizations die

(ORDO NEWS) — Since the Earth is our only home, we do not know anything about other worlds and possibly the creatures inhabiting them. Of course, scientists are working in this direction, but the cosmos is still silent.

So answering the question of how civilizations perish, you will have to rely solely on your own experience. But here problems arise: can we compare modern civilization and those that were before us?

According to various estimates, the first people appeared on Earth about 2.8 million years ago, and during this time nothing happened.

Many researchers even call climate change the main culprit in the death of entire empires. Thus, archaeological evidence suggests that both ancient Rome and the Maya empire fell as a result of a number of factors.

Scientists identify five main reasons for the fall of civilizations: uncontrolled population movement; new epidemic diseases; the collapse of states and the intensification of wars; destruction of trade routes and subsequent famine; changing of the climate.

Great empires of the past

The ruins of ancient cities and civilizations that once flourished excite our imagination. One of the main factors why this or that civilization can be called an Empire is the political system under the control of either a monarch or an oligarchy. Interestingly, in addition to the leadership model of the civilization of the past, their disappearance unites them.

So, the Mayan Empire once occupied the entire Yucatan Peninsula in the territory of modern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize.

But even before the arrival of European settlers in this region, the great civilization had already fallen into decay. Among the main reasons, scientists name climate change and internal conflicts.

How do civilizations die 2The Mayan civilization has left us with many mysteries. The death of this empire should be a lesson for us

As archaeologists have been able to establish, the Maya were engaged in agriculture and domesticate animals. Among the most striking ruins that have survived to this day are Nabta Playa – stone circles reminiscent of Stonehenge. The presence of these circles implies that the Maya also practiced astronomy.

Another empire, also known as the Angkor civilization, was located in Southeast Asia (the territory of modern Cambodia) and existed between the 9th and 15th centuries AD.

The inhabitants of the empire erected temples and monuments, forged partnerships with China and India, and developed road networks. Among other things, the Angkorians created an innovative water management system.

Climate change and the transition from Hinduism to Buddhism led to their decline and disappearance: a communal Buddhist culture supplanted the former royal style of government, and weather changes, including monsoons and droughts, devastated the capital of the country.

How do civilizations die 3Scientists call the fall of the Angkor civilization a transformation – this process lasted a long time

Interestingly, research findings point to a slower exodus that began nearly 100 years before the empire’s demise. There was an economic shift from agriculture to trade, which led to the migration of people to areas closer to rivers and outside the capital.

The Persian Achaemenid Empire was founded around 550 BC. And although it collapsed at the hands of Alexander the Great in 330 BC, it had a significant impact on the subsequent development of world civilizations and future empires, setting the standard for what it means to be an empire for future generations.

How do civilizations die 4The Achaemenid dynasty collapsed in the 4th century BC, unable to withstand the onslaught of the army of Alexander the Great

Moreover, the Persian Empire dominated much of the Middle East and controlled more of the world’s population than any other empire in history.

In 480 B.C. the population of the empire was approximately 49.4 million people (that is, 44% of the world population of those times). And the Persian Empire was the first to unite many regions of the planet.

Why do empires fall?

Many books have been written about the fall of empires. Especially about the collapse of the late Bronze Age and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Careful study of historical processes allowed scientists to identify the basic principles of civilizational collapse. Scientifically speaking, this is a complex process in which the largest public institutions disappear.

Falling material wealth, the physical vulnerability of citizens, and a massive decline in the amount of knowledge – this is what knocks out empires. Of all the factors described above, the most dangerous is the loss of knowledge – it accelerates other aspects of the collapse and guarantees that they will be long-lasting.

How do civilizations die 5In the vastness of the universe, nothing lasts forever. Don’t forget about it

There is one more important thing. Almost all of the available written evidence of the decline of society comes from the elites – only they could somehow read and write.

This explains the complete disappearance of writing in the Late Bronze Age, since there were very few literate people in the societies of that time. The result was a complete loss of civilizational knowledge.

According to archaeological evidence, many major Roman cities were deserted during the 4th and 5th centuries AD.

Some scholars believe that the so-called great founder theory is to blame – social technologies do not develop as a result of mass actions, but rather are developed by a minority of institutional actors. Sometimes one person is able to create a new social or material technology (hello, Steve Jobs).

How do civilizations die 6Someday our civilization will disappear from the face of the Earth. But when this happens is up to us

The problem of the loss of knowledge leads us straight into the Dark Ages. When a society does not realize that it is experiencing a total decline, those who could notice it simply do not remain.

We all die

What do you think modern civilization is like? The most powerful technology that we possess is incomparable to the achievements of the empires of the past. One of the major events that have taken place in the last 500 years is the industrial revolution, which, according to most, is going on right now. But what happens if (or when) it ends?

It looks like we should seriously consider the possibility that we are already living in a post-industrial society and the industrial revolution has stopped. Modern society is a product of once advanced and rational systems of production. Now we’re back to a more familiar system that hasn’t changed in the last 40 or 50 years.

How do civilizations die 7The competition of the powerful states of the region and their vassals destroyed the Late Bronze Age

Such stagnation, along with the loss of knowledge and climate change, is painfully reminiscent of the last days of the great empires of the past.

We were able to populate the planet, sent real robots into space and created the Internet. It seems our next step should be space exploration and taking care of the planet. But everything happens the other way around.

A rapidly changing climate, military conflicts, population migration and the COVID-19 pandemic look like a harbinger of the end.

As if the four horsemen of the apocalypse were knocking on our doors. True, we are unlikely to be able to fight back: since 2004, the IQ level of each subsequent generation has been decreasing. This problem is called the inverse Flynn effect.

And if you can argue about the latter, then this will not work with climate change. The average temperature on Earth is constantly rising, which negatively affects our ability to think clearly.

Modern technologies and access to information have played a cruel joke on us – you no longer need to remember anything, the phrase “Just Google it” is enough.

How do civilizations die 8Illustration for the novel “Cat’s Cradle”

Fortunately, the international academic community noticed the problem and came to a consensus – rapid climate change threatens our civilization. So is the current international environment: huge sums of money are being spent not on fighting climate threats and deadly diseases, but on weapons.

These issues worried science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut, who described the future of mankind in the novel “Cat’s Cradle”:

“And I remembered the Fourteenth volume of the works of Bokonon – last night I read it in its entirety. The fourteenth volume is titled: “Can a reasonable person, considering the experience of past centuries, harbor even the slightest hope for a bright future for mankind?”

Read the Fourteenth volume for a short time. It consists of just one word and a period: “No.”

If for some reason you haven’t read The Cradle, now is the time. The plot of the novel is built around the most dangerous invention of Dr. Felix Honikker – a substance called “ice-nine”. This crystalline modification of water with a melting point of 45.8 ° C, once in a reservoir, will destroy civilization. So it goes.


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