Communities differently construct systems of knowledge

This assignment is the one final paper I did for ANP 363 Rise of Civilization course, in which I discuss several factors that led to each ancient states create their ideology and understanding of the world differently, and more importantly, how ideology was used as a tool to solidify the reign of elites, provide conformity to the people, and justify certain social-economic inequalities.

Firstly I point out how ideology and world views of each ancient cultural groups were embodied into their agricultures and material cultures. For instance, the Maize God worshiped by ancient Mayans, the importance of Nile in the construction of Egyptian mythology, and the usage of jade as both signs of the elite and tools for certain rituals in Liangzhu Culture of ancient China.

Then I discuss how the ruling classes of each ancient states used ideology as tools to maintain their reigns over common people. In this case, the elites were often centralized themselves from the common people either by using different materials that indicates privilege, constructing various types of public works that put themselves in the center of the state’s spiritual world, and many rulers were seen as omnipotent presences that were the embodiment of gods. Certain cases I discuss in this paper include the rulers of Shang dynasty in ancient China; the Narmer Palette and presences of Horus in Hierakonpolis and their roles to solidify Narmer’s reign over the north and south Egypt; as well as the complex daily rituals and human sacrifices practiced by various Mesoamerican ancient states like Olmec, Mayan, Teotihuacan, and Aztec. This assignment showcases how different ancient states construct ideology differently depending on the environment and agriculture, as well as how the elites would use ideology to maintain the equilibrium of each state.

ANP363-Final Zhou#4