Global Civilizations

Introduction

Major World Regions

The inhabited world can be divided into twelve major regions.

Major World Regions

The regions of North Africa, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia are known collectively as the Middle East.

Main Article

Living Global Civilizations

The modern world arguably features four global civilizations, each of which spans much of the world's population and territory. The nations within a global civilization share a common cultural foundation, despite their vast cultural diversity.

Global Civilizations
civilization territory
Islamic Middle East
South Asian South Asia Southeast Asia
East Asian East Asia
Western Europe and its colonial offshoots
Global Civilizations Map

The above map indicates the oldest global civilization in a given region; some parts of the world have experienced the arrival of another global civilization (overtop the original civilization). For instance, while South Asian civilization is the original global civilization of South Asia, Islamic civilization was eventually superimposed upon parts of South Asia (especially Pakistan and Bangladesh). In the modern age, Western civilization has been superimposed (to varying degrees) over the entire world.

Historic Global Civilizations

As noted above, the modern world features four global civilizations. By studying the art and history of these civilizations, one would become familiar with much of the world's art and history. One's education would be better-rounded, however, if one added the most influential historic civilizations to the list.

Essential Humanities recognizes five especially influential historic civilizations. While some covered relatively little territory, the extent of their influence nonetheless merits the term "global civilization". This brings the list of global civilizations to a total of nine.

The Nine Global Civilizations
Middle East Mesopotamian > Persian > Islamic
Egyptian
South Asia South Asian
East Asia East Asian
Europe and colonial offshoots Western
Meso/South America Mesoamerican
Andean

Essential Humanities surveys the history and art of the nine global civilizations. Yet this approach still falls short of covering the entire world, since civilization (urban culture) did not emerge everywhere (in pre-modern times). In order to compensate, four additional regions are considered: Sub-Saharan Africa, North America, Oceania, and the Steppe (a strip of grassland from Ukraine to Mongolia).

Region of the Steppe

In summation: Essential Humanities' coverage of history and art history should be well-rounded, given that all nine global civilizations are considered, plus the four additional regions noted above.

Civilization Zones

The nine global civilizations can be divided into three zones: eastern Old World, western Old World, and New World. Within a given zone, civilizations exerted significant cultural influence upon each other, while cultural influence between zones was limited (prior to the modern age).

Zones of the Nine Global Civilizations
New World western Old World eastern Old World
Middle East Mesopotamian > Persian > Islamic
Egyptian
South Asia South Asian
East Asia East Asian
Europe and colonial offshoots Western
Meso/South America Mesoamerican
Andean

A prominent example of cultural influence in the eastern Old World is Buddhism, which spread from India across East and Southeast Asia. A familiar example in the western Old World is the embrace, by the ancient Greeks, of much Mesopotamian and Egyptian culture. The flow of cultural influence across the New World is illustrated by similarities between Mesoamerican and Andean visual art.