- continued -
In spite of ample historical and archaeological sources on early empires and cities
particularly in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia we have today no clear ideas about
what really supported the political hegemony of the urban centres over wider rural
districts. Max Weber explained these early systems of hierarchically structured power with
economical innovations, mainly new irrigation techniques in agriculture. Others rather
emphasised new weaponry, newly organised armies and strategic innovations.
Evidently the historical method ends up at its own limits here. It can not explain
the origins of these sudden developments of hierarchical social systems with godly
kings, an elaborated aristocracy and a well developed administration. Nor are there
any clear explanations for this sudden tremendous monumentality of gigantic pyramids, mastabas
and temples with elaborated formal expressions. The surprising cult systems too have
been an enigma, and have been explained with "religious beliefs" or dynastic myths.
The historical method is content here with its results, with the documentation of
what it values as its discoveries. It integrates these findings into its own glorious
set of human grandeur. Tourism profits from
this today. Egypt, the marvellous pyramids and temples, the mysterious tombs of its
However, this marvellous fairy world of human inventions is gradually becoming scientifically
more realistic with the expansion of cultural anthropology into the important interfaces
between early cities and empires and their predynastic prehistory, particularly in Ancient Egypt. In contrast to earlier Egyptology, which was dominantly historical,
deriving Egyptian religion and theocracy from dynastic myth, more recent developments
stress the cultic system and derive it from predynastic regional and local cults (H. Kees).
This is a very important change. It shows that the cultic system of the Egyptian empire
is an evolution from its autonomous predynastic village cultures. Its most important
characteristics are its origins in settlement genetical traditions.
In other words, Egyptology made an important step from a narrow historism to settlement
anthropology. Consequently the whole structure of the Egyptian empires, from Early
to Middle and New Empires can now be recognised as an evolution from its predynastic
widely autonomous villages. The pharaonic system must have developed from structural
principles pre-formed in predynastic village cult systems. The temple architecture
shows the same. It is a metabolistic transformation of fibrous prototypes that have
left practically no traces in archaeology. The access-path structure of temples, tombs
and pyramids too implies that they were monumental incrustations of predynastic cults
related to the cyclic dissolution of the static category of the sacred topos by exposing the deity to ecstatic movements (processions).
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Let us now return to the list "Structural characteristics of the urban - rural dichotomy"
(Fig. 2) We follow phase [C] and obtain a set of seven new hypothetic statements:
- Per-/con-ception of space in its extended forms evolved from local space organisation.
- Linear time developed from cyclic time.
- Monumental nuclear demarcation developed from perishable nuclear demarcation.
- Analytical rationalism developed from categorial polarity.
- Theocracy developed from local village constitutions.
- Early monumental culture and early script sources evolved in regard to form and
content from pre-urban perishable territorio-semantic cult traditions.
- The early hegemony of urban centres over rural domains evolved from a matrix developed
in preurban autonomous settlements.
If we answer these hypotheses in a positive sense, it becomes evident that, by widely
excluding the rural factor, urban history maintains its superiority. The historical
method supports the urban values and, naturally, the urban elite refers to these
higher values to justify its control over the rural domains. However, becoming theoretically
aware of the deliberate discontinuity between the urban and rural produced by the
historical method, we also become aware of the virtuality of the urban system. It
merely rests on an exclusive historical method.
The urban population is not conscious of this virtuality. It takes its higher values
for granted. In the following some points, that indicate this tension with various
These questions may indicate the tensions involved between urban and rural worldviews.
In fact, we have outlined two totally different systems of orientation in the wider
sense. Evidently this dichotomy of the rural and urban can be discussed in very diverse cultural conditions. It has a long history, as ancient as the city itself.
However, we become more and more aware today of these tensions, because the megalopolises
all over the world have gone out of control (Istanbul II). Conventional views facetted into isolated disciplines projected the Euro-urban image on the human habitat,
urban or rural, whether in the United States, or in India today. The resulting images
lacked the relevant parameters, those which cause the problems.
- Space: only very few may be aware of the highly abstracted instruments the urban
worldview in general works with (description, calculation, geometry, geography, planning,
industrialised production, transport, urbanism and architecture). These abstractions are based on education. In this closed process, they develop an immanent autonomy,
away from man. They show tendencies to become inhumane, thus contraproductive for
the human existence.
- The outcomes of these highly abstracted systems are imposed on populations who have
grown up in physically conditioned local environments. They have to adapt to extended
and abstracted space concepts on all levels. Tremendous efforts are required.
- In addition populations with a cyclic time conception (e.g. festival calendar in
its widest meaning of social, environmental and cultic identity) are forced to adapt
to the linear urban time system. Evidently the gravity points in both frameworks
are entirely different. Note that, in contrast to cyclic (festival-) time, which is eminently
social, linear time is measured with artificial apparatuses. This implies a loss
of personal autonomy.
- The rural population confronted with the urban might also have difficulties to understand
the urban need for monumentality, this urban gigantomania of building and design, also the rationalistic mentality with which this is supported and produced.
- The original rural domain is very economically - namely topologically - structured,
using widely perishable semantic systems that require a minimum of effort and leave
no substantial records on the earth's crust.
- Note that these theoretically devalued ("primitive") arrangements might be re-evalued
highly from the urban side, if, in the urban domain the rationalistic element should
become dominant (worldwide rural tourism).
- What the urban view never understood from his own multicategorial dependency is that the rural world originally rests on a high cultural autonomy.
- Let us assume that man became man essentially also because he developed harmony
and a sense for beauty over thousands of years and that these processes can be traced
down to Meso-/Neolithic villages.
- How can someone, who grew up in this extremely conservative elementary aesthetic
world, half topos, half nature, how can he or she understand the urban elite, which
destroys its own environment systematically, by designing it rationalistically,
producing in fact a horrifying staffage with very low sustainability, the "pollution of
tomorrow" (Mario Botta)?
- Are slums an expression of human depression caused on the higher, social level by
the aesthetic degeneration of the habitat? (Loss of identity)
- Only few educated urbans will understand to what extent their own 'beliefs' are
an outcome of transitional fields where written abstractions based on primary physical
cults spatially, temporally and terminologically distort the original meanings of
these cults into a virtual system which steers social behaviour.
- Consequently, no urban will understand to what extent the introduction of urban
concepts of religion based on script can uproot local populations. If rural cults
are, in fact, topologically focussed local constitutions, the higher religion with
its global space concepts will completely destroy the identity based on the local environment.
- Do we have to counterbalance urbanisation by re-identifying local populations with
their own habitat? Was, what was called 'primitive belief' by the urban value system in fact an environmentally founded traditional system of territorial
- Is the scientifically invalid value-dichotomy between high and lower religion related
to urban problems?
- Why are modern urbanists not capable of designing nuclear values? Do they maintain
historistically distorted views of urbanisation processes?
In contrast to this anthropology transcends the conventional concept of disciplines
by searching structurally for relevant paradigms cross culturally (time, space, forms
of material culture, social and political structure). With this methodological shift
it might manage to bridge the gap between the historical and the traditional. It suggests
a continuity which is more likely to correspond with factual processes of cultural
developments. Evidently, this wider anthropological view is also scientifically more valid than the historistic urban view. In synthesising the rural and the urban genetically
to form a human continuity, this wider horizon might contribute to change values
from Eurocentric urban views to globally valid anthropological concepts of man. An increasing synthesis of urban and rural values opens an 'objective' scientific programme towards 'sustainability' with which the global population - as a whole - might be
able to survive against the destructive processes imposed by the presently dominant