The life of a time traveler in China, India and Mesoamerica in 400 B.C.E
My travels have taken me to different corners of the world; their enriching history is beyond amazing. Of all the places I have visited, I have enjoyed three places the most, China, India and Mesoamerica. Their histories are fascinating; their cultures and religious beliefs quite intriguing; their political systems quite developed. I will take you through my encounters in these regions; you will travel with me and see the places I visited.
We start off with India, a country well renowned for the Mahabharata as the source of their rich history and culture. I was most fascinated by this source of culture because as we all know India is one of the few countries that still preserve their culture even with the spread of western culture. This poem is said to have been written somewhere between 400 BC and AD 400 (Kak, 2000). The Indian way of life is based on the teachings taught in their Hindu religion which is characterized by different gods who are characterized for different roles. What really caught my attention are the stories of the higher beings in India.
The Mahabharata gives some of the most fascinating stories about the Indian higher beings. For example, while I was staying at Ajmir in the province of Hajpootana, I was told of the story of Prince Rama and Princess Sita. Prince Rama, in this text, is described to have the shape of the god Vishnu who was described as an avatar. This poem tells of the Great War at Delhi and it asserts the moral obligation of all (Kak, 2000).
There are 292 rules passed on by Marduk, the god of righteousness that forms the basis of the laws of India and how people carry out their day to day routines. One rule that really did not seat well with me was the one that gives a fine of ten shekels in money to a woman who was struck by a man and lost their child. That rule does not give power to the sanctity of life. How is paying ten shekels of money comparable to a life? I think that after learning such an atrocity, I would not live there because I value life.
My next visit was in China where we get to understand that their culture is quite similar to that of the Japanese. It is said that most of the Japanese ways of living heavily borrow from Chinese culture which is true. However, this culture at the time had a misguided way of treating women. They were seen as not being equals with men and were viewed as lowly. In her work, Ban Zhao (77-6 BC) wrote about the life of a woman in the Chinese culture. She describes in words her fears, her dreams and the tribulations a girl goes through. Married at 14, she narrates to us some of the requirements girls were forced to meet; being humble, how to carry oneself as a wife, respect and the qualifications to be called a woman (Swann, 1968).
In this era, the Zhou Dynasty was most predominant. The Zhou dynasty was one of the most prosperous of time for the Chinese. The feudal system came into being in this era when King Wu was able to quell Shang’s resistance. This system saw a central Zhou system which created bonds through blood or marriage to ensure loyalty. In this era, China became famous for their rich literature and philosophy. Many schools of thought developed which led to this period also being described as “Spring and Autumn” period (Feng & Bokke, 1989). I would have loved to live in this era. Having this many schools of thoughts definitely would have been a good challenge for me to pick my brains and converse with some of the greatest minds this world had to offer. I would have loved to be among the people to create history and maybe, just maybe my great grand children would have read about me. Too bad I am just a time traveler.
My next and final stop is Mesoamerica. This is a description of the early settlement in the Gulf Coast of Mexico. This civilization is characterized by amazing arts which were referred to as Olmecs and have been discovered in various parts of Mexico and across the Gulf of Mexico. The largest and most concentrated discoveries were in San Lorenzo and La Venta suggesting that this was their cultural homeland (Christopher, 2007). It has been shown that San Lorenzo was their initial homeland from about 1200-900BC before they moved along the coast to La Venta. Relics as high as 53m have been discovered in this areas but due to difference in ages it was concluded that the older ones were from the earliest points of location.
Mesoamerica can be credited with some of the earliest civilizations dating back to 400 BC. During this period, population increased and is said to have doubled by 310 AD (Webster & Evans, 1992). Political systems developed and it is during this time that the first true cities developed in Mesoamerica; Monte Alban in Oaxaca and Teotihuancan in Mexican Basin (Webster & Evans, 1992). This would have been definitely a good place to live in to witness the greatest inventions of man at that time. During developments of such civilizations, it would have been better to understand how government systems were established in these areas. It would have been amazing to live in these areas to witness these historic eras.
Kak, Subhash. The Astronomical Code of the Rgveda. Munshiram Manoharlal, New Delhi. 2000. Print.
Feng, Yu-lan, and Derk Bodde. The Period of the Philosophers: From the Begennings to Circa 100 B.c. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983. Print
Ohio State University. Chinese History http://people.cohums.ohio-state.edu/bender4/eall131/EAHReadings/module02/m02chinese.html
Pool, Christopher A. Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica. Cambridge [u.a.: Cambridge Univ. Pr, 2007. Print.
Swann, Nancy L. Pan Chao, Foremost Woman Scholar of China, First Century A.d.; Background, Ancestry, Life, and Writings of the Most Celebrated Chinese Woman of Letters. New York: Russell & Russell, 1968. Print.
Webster, David & Evans, Toby Susan. Mesoamerican Civilization-Out of the Past. Pittsburgh: University of Pennsylvania, 1992. Video.