Chinese and Harappan Civilization, the two different rise of the state Gordon Childe, an anthropologist, had criteria for the civilization. Based on his theory, Civilization must meet the size and density of cities, full-time specialization of labor, concentration of surplus, class-structured society, and state organization. Essentially in the same way that the ancient Egypt rose from Nile River, and Euphrates and Tigris gave birth to Mesopotamia Civilization, Harapan Civilization took advantage of rich soil and fresh water of the Indus River, and Chinese Civilization took advantage of the Yellow River.
As in Mesopotamia and Egypt, agricultural surpluses in India and China greatly increase the surplus of food and boosted the growth rate of population, and stimulated specialization of labor in religion, art, writing, and so on. These 4 civilizations rose from 4 different locations around the world. Hence, there is much difference in the ideology that they were based on. The ultimate sacred proposition, scapulimancy, Confucian philosophy dictated the Chinese society and the utilization of science and knowledge was the key point behind the rise of the two civilizations.
Chinese civilization formed its first state around 2,000 BC. During the developmental stages, the Chinese civilization had very limited interaction with other civilizations. Moreover, similar to the environment of Egypt, China has a far larger and more varied physical landscape than Egypt or Mesopotamia. And this and other factors made its civilization a rich amalgam of many diverse ethnic groups and cultures. By the formation of extensive network of chiefdoms in Lung-shan Era (3,000 – 2,000 BC), people created wide regional interaction network and multiple hierarchies started to develop.
Ch’eng tzu cemetery shows there were apparently status differences within societies and burial in kin groupings show the importance of lineages. In addition, early Chinese believed in the heaven and ancestors. Shamanism was prevalent. For example, in An-yang during Shang civilization, diviners used the carapaces of turtles or the shoulder blades of cattle and water buffalo to do scapulimancy, a ritual or a way to contact ancestral spirits. Diviners heated the bones until crack lines appear and interpreted the oracle bones depending on the way or direction it cracked.
These were considered the ancestor’s response to questions. Throughout the early to the end of Chinese civilization (until Qing dynasty), divination was the main theme of leadership and justification where people in China believed to be true. This idea using divination was first started in the Zhou dynasty to overthrow the pre-existing Shang dynasty. Somewhat similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, the ruler justified their power and roles. This is called the Mandate of Heaven. However, the ideology does not require that the ruler be of noble birth.
Surprisingly, the Mandate of Heaven contains the idea that if the ruler is thought to be unjustful and seemed to lost the Mandate of Heaven, it was people’s right to overthrow the incumbent ruler and withdraw his mandate. The Mandate of Heaven would then bless succeeding ruler. People in the ancient China believed that occurrence of natural disasters, such as flood, famine, earthquake, and earthquakes, indicates the loss of Heaven’s support to the rule. For them, King was the ruler who communicates with ancestors and the heaven.
Later in the Hundred School of Thought philosophical movement, Confucius, a Chinese social philosopher, wrote many books related with ethics, social justice, ancestral worship, sincerity, and governmental morality that later became the root of most Chinese’s thoughts. Some of his basic teachings were to respect of elders, and the family as a basis for an ideal government. His philosophy became popular because the ethic behind was consented by anyone, no matter one’s social status. For example, he related present moral problems with past political events or past expressions of feelings by common people.
Known for the mother of the various world religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, Harappan Civilization walked different path of state formation. Harappan civilization appeared little late but very suddenly. Many scholars assumes that Harappan civilization could have been impacted Mesopotamian. Moreover, archaeologists discovered the citadel in Mohenjo-daro. Although not sure whether it was to protect their citizens, the citadel definitely represented the centralized authority and increased quality of life.
However, the relative rare luxury artifacts shows that there were apparently little buildup or concentration of wealth. Although there are some artifacts, such as Mother Goddess figurine, from the Harappan period, there is not much evidence that people widely believed in some kind of God and the religion was important part of their lives. Perhaps, these Mother goddess symbolizing fertility became evidence for Hinduism in the later periods. Moreover, there is no evidence that priests or monarchs ruled the city like in Mesopotamia. In addition, in the Cemetery H culture of the ate Harappan period, they also burnt their dead and buried the ashes in the urns. This ritual is also a part of nowadays Buddhism. In addition, there is lack of direct evidence to evaluate the ruler. It misses great tombs, palaces, monuments, and etc. Based on the organization of buildings, citadels and public places, there was strong central control but no sign of kings and priesthoods. Mohenjo-daro, one of the largest settlements of the Harrapan Civilization, was the early urban settlements that have distinct characteristics as a settlement.
Located on nowadays of Pakistan, Mohenjo-daro had peculiarity that any other earlier settlements had. The layout of the settlements, based on a street-grid of rectilinear buildings, shows there were intense and significant amount of effort on pre-planning. Engineering is the most prominent trait. Recall that, Mesopotamia had well-organized and constructed water canals for irrigation. Somewhat similarly, Mohenjo-daro shows that the civilization had advanced engineering to control water supply and sanitation devices.
Some houses had private water well as well as flush toilets. These toilets were connected to a common sewerage pipe. The sophiscated Water Reservoir in Dholavria and Great Bath in Mohenjo-daro also stresses the point that Harappan Civilization had advance hydraulic system. In addition, the city had a central marketplace. It also had public facility as a “Great Granary” to store grains and dry the grain by air-ducts. Other large buildings include a “Pillared Hall”, thought to be an assembly hall of some kind.
In conclusion, rise of both Chinese and Harapan Civilization are indeed distinct of any other civilizations. Nevertheless, Chinese Civilization somewhat fit into the Rappaport’s theory, “Ideology as driving force. ” Like in Egypt, the kings of China were considered to be divine and the sole communicator with the God, or the heaven. However, unified trust in ideology of Confucious’ in the middle Chinese Civilization shows somewhat dissimilarity to Egypt where the elites were the only one to believe god and civilians believed in their own forms of god.
For early Chinese people, the philosophy of Confucius was what kept them morally right and stabilizing social order, justice and sincerity. On the other hand, Harapan Civilization fits into twisted Wittfogel’s hydraulic hypothesis. Although there is no sign of monopolized government, his theory fits where the water management was essential to large-scale society. The development of urban complex and advanced hydraulic system allowed the complex to build up to larger society. Moreover, an example like Great Bath shows how the water was used to put people together.