do we mean by civilisation?
It's time for a new history of the world!
For over 40 years now I have been editing Current Archaeology, and more recently I have been exploring the rest of the world in Current World Archaeology. During this time I have had an unparalleled insight into what is happening in the world of archaeology. I have visited excavations, discussed their results, and learnt how to fit these results into the overall pattern of the past.
However during this time I have been conscious that I have been living a double life, living in two very different worlds. On the one hand I have lived in the world of academia, hearing what both academics and practical archaeologists have to say about their finds and how they interpret them. And I have gradually become aware of their fashions and, dare I say it, their biases.
But I have also been living in a very different world of a businessman. For most of the time I have been not only editor but also publisher. I have been dealing with printers, running a database of subscribers, dealing with banks and advertisers, discovering the secrets of direct debits and postcodes, writing my own advertisements, preparing my own accounts and wrestling with the taxman. And constantly I have been hearing from the most important people of all, our readers.
I have come to understand the point of view of the businessman, and have investigated some of those these philosophies that lie behind the marketplace from Adam Smith and David Hume to Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman and Karl Popper — philosophers whose voices are rarely heard in academic discussions about archaeology.
In my retirement or semi-retirement, I want to bring these two worlds together. I want to write a new history of the world, a history that brings together the views of the market philosophers alongside those of the archaeological academics. In particular this means emphasising the role of money and markets, the advent of which was one of the great turning points in the history of mankind.
I want to study this, not just from the economic point of view, seeing that this meant a great leap forward in efficiency — for market economies are rather more efficient than redistributive societies where goods are distributed by the rulers; I want also to study the societies themselves, for societies where goods are distributed by the marketplace are far more equal, more open, and more ‘democratic’ than those where goods are distributed by the ruler.
I start by looking at a pre-money societies. I begin with the societies that anthropologists studied in the western Pacific. I then look at Egypt and Minoan Crete. I then come on to the big change: the revolution that took place in Greece, where Athens adopted money and democracy, and where Sparta rejected money and democracy. I then move on to the rise of Rome and then its decline, and I end with an epilogue on the Middle Ages and the rise of our modern Society.
This website is essentially a work in progress. As chapters are written, they are added to the site. My progress is episodic as my interests shift. But gradually I hope to build up to a new history of the world that I can lay before a more general readership.
Parts of at least four sections have been written so far:
But see the Contents page for a full guide to the various sections.
This is very much a work in
progress. I hope you enjoy reading it, and I will be very glad to have
feedback from any readers.
Latest revision: 16th February 2011, adapted January 2012