Histories of civilizations, some of them ancient or classical, have been written during the past two centuries. There have been general histories in many languages. There have been scholarly reports on particular civilizations. Prof. A.J. Toynbee’s massive ten volume Study of History is a good example. Still more extensive is the thirty volume history of civilization under the general editorship of C.K. Ogden. These writings have brought together many facts bearing chiefly on the lives of spectacular individuals and episodes, with all too little data on the life of the silent human majority.
At the end of this volume the reader will find a list, selected from the many books that I have consulted in preparation for writing this study. Most of these authorities are concerned with the facts of civilization, with far less emphasis on their political, economic and sociological aspects.
In this study I have tried to unite theory with practice. On the one hand I have reviewed briefly and as accurately as possible some outstanding experiments with civilization, including our own western variant. (Part I. The Pageant of Experiments with Civilization.) In Part II I have undertaken a social analysis of civilization as a past and present life style. In Part III, Civilization Is Becoming Obsolete, I have tried to check our thinking about civilization with the sweep of present day historical trends. Part IV, Steps Beyond Civilization, is an attempt to list some of the alternatives and opportunities presently available to civilized man.
Any reader who has the interest and persistence to read through the entire volume and to browse through some of its references will have had the equivalent of a university extension course dealing with one of the most critical issues confronting the present generation of humanity.
The Pageant of Experiment With Civilization
EXPERIMENTS IN EGYPT AND EURASIA
Thousands of years before the city of Rome was ringed with its six miles of stone wall, other peoples in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa were building civilizations. New techniques of excavation, identification and preservation, subsidized by an increasingly affluent human society, and developed during the past two centuries of archeological research have provided the needed means and manpower. The result is an imposing number of long buried building sites with their accompanying artifacts. Still more important are the records written in long forgotten languages on stone, clay tablets, metal, wood and paper. These remnants and records, left by extinguished civilizations, do not tell us all we wish to know, but they do provide the materials which enable us to reconstruct, at least in part, the lives of our civilized predecessors.