The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

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The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

The site of Kaneland High School's student news publication.

Kaneland Krier

Lessons we can learn from ancient civilizations

People commonly say that history is destined to repeat itself. However, this comes from a misremembered quote by Irish statesman Edmund Burke which states that “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”

If we know more about history, then we can be more careful to not let the bad parts repeat themselves and make more progress off the good ones. But, how can we fix our mistakes if we do not go back and study them? One era of history that many people do not immediately think we can learn from is the ancient civilizations.

From ancient history, we can learn how these great civilizations and empires fell. How could something so great and huge, that had been around for so long, just end? For example, the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia was part of the Akkadian Empire, which suddenly was abandoned about 4,200 years ago. 

Data, from coral fossils found in the area where Mesopotamia was, revealed that the civilization collapsed due to sudden and intense dry spells. The lack of water would not only have dehydrated the people who lived there, but also the animals and crops they relied on. Without food or water, famine would have swept the city. Many people would have died or left, which brought about the end of the empire. 

Today, we also face a change in climate. Ours, however, is more long term and less sudden. With the technology and resources we have today, we can predict these changes and work to prevent them. We have seen throughout history how much humanity has suffered due to change in weather and climate. If we do not stop global warming, we could lose our worldwide civilization.

Another example would be Ancient Egypt and the Egyptian empire, which ended in the year 30 B.C. when it was invaded and conquered by the Romans. This was a pretty common way for a city, civilization or empire to end back then. Each place had its own army and was constantly warring with at least one of its neighbors. 

Similarly, there are multiple wars and conflicts occurring today between different countries: our modern version of empires and cities. People are still fighting over the same things now as they were then. Many conflicts are over power, territory and religious disagreements both then and now. One might think given how much modern technology, communication systems and ideas that are globally had right now, we would be able to prevent the same conflicts that were fought hundreds of years ago. 

Another issue in both our world now and then is gender equality. Despite popular opinion, there were some civilizations with gender equality way back then. Although primarily men held positions of power, there were a handful of women who held positions of power over entire empires. Regardless of class social level, however, women were given the same rights as men. 

Women were able to sue and obtain contracts on all lawful settlements, such as marriage, divorce, property and jobs. Women had the right to choose whom they wished to marry, unlike many places of that time. Some of these rights are not available to women now. Women could also pursue a career commonly as a religious priestess or through art and music. Some even have jobs in medicine, science and education as they could pursue whatever field they wished. 

Ancient Egyptians also had a rather good understanding of modern medicine. They understood the importance of eating healthy, exercise and hygiene and how it can affect the general health of people. Despite their heavy beliefs in amulets and other holy items to cure them, Egyptians could successfully perform some surgeries. 

When Ancient Egypt fell to the Roman Empire, all of these women’s rights were stripped away. In Ancient Rome, women had basically no rights, like many other places in that time and for many years after. Women have many more rights today in many more places which shows great improvement. It can not be argued that Ancient Egypt was vastly ahead of its time. 

However, there are still some places and some rights that women do not have. If women had these rights back in an ancient civilization, why should they not have them now? We should always try to strive to improve our world, but how can we improve if we are behind the past in some ways?

Another interesting evolution throughout history is writing. Back in the ancient time period, most civilizations used a form of writing called picture writing. Picture writing is a series of set images to describe something. Over time these images were adapted into simpler and simpler images as it was easier. Eventually, these turned into the letters in each language used today. 

As they turned into letters to be used in words, they were able to describe things more fully and actually. In recent years, people have started to use emojis to describe things for both easy and accurate descriptions. It is interesting to see how we have now gone full circle back to where we started. 

Over the years many things have changed for the better based on knowledge from previous historical events. However, there are still many things in our world that need to be changed and improved. If we look back at each era of history, we can probably find something that we could use to change our country and world for the better.

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About the Contributor
Clara Saros, Profile Editor