By Emeritus Professor of Sociology Johann P Arnason, Shmuel N Eisenstadt, Bjorn Wittrock

The overarching subject matter of the e-book is the old which means of the Axial Age, typically outlined as a interval of numerous centuries round the heart of the final millennium BCE, and its cultural techniques. The civilizational styles that grew out of this tremendously inventive part are a very lucrative subject matter for comparative research. The booklet includes essays on cultural differences in old Greece, historical Israel, Iran, India and China, in addition to history advancements within the center civilizations of the traditional close to East. An introductory part bargains with the historical past of the controversy at the AxialAge, the theoretical questions that experience emerged from it, and the current nation of the dialogue. The ebook might be helpful for comparative historians of cultures and religions, in addition to for historic sociologists drawn to the comparative research of civilizations. it's going to additionally support linking the fields of classical, biblical and Asian stories to broader interdisciplinary debates in the humanities sciences.

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These breakdowns of earlier forms of civilized life are also a part of the background to the axial breakthroughs, however difficult it might be to theorize about them. More specifically, there seem to have been two major historical episodes of this kind. 20 The two oldest civilizational centres (Egypt and Mesopotamia) survived, but others collapsed, and this paved the way for new patterns of state formation. Historians seem to agree that several factors were involved, although there is no clear picture of their interaction: rivalry among power centres, exhaustion of a limited resource basis, social unrest, and—particularly impor18 Jacobsen in Frankfort et al.

As for India, everything is more obscure, but it seems beyond doubt that a significant legacy was left by the Indus civilization. 2. There is another—structural rather than interpretive—side to the relationship between axial and pre-axial civilizations. Eisenstadt is, of course, well aware of the varying “political-ecological settings of societies”43 and includes them among the “conditions of emergence and institutionalization of Axial Age civilizations”, but it could be argued that a particular political-ecological constellation should figure more prominently in the model than it has hitherto done.

At one end of the spectrum, interpretations of Egypt and Mesopotamia have—however controversial— opened up whole cultural worlds whose historical experience has yet to be duly integrated into the comparative study of civilizations. At the other end, it seems clear that growing agreement on the importance and originality of the Indus civilization has been accompanied by almost complete disagreement on the specifics: “The geographical sprawl of the Indus civilization is more than twice that of Mesopotamia.

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