Hendrik van Loon

THE BEGINNING OF CIVILISATION IN THE VALLEY OF THE NILE

THE history of man is the record of a hungry creature in search of food. Wherever food was plentiful, thither man has travelled to make his home.

A SHORT SUMMARY OF CHAPTERS 1 to 20

THUS far, from the top of our high tower we have been looking eastward. But from this time on, the history of Egypt and Mesopotamia is going to grow less interesting and I must take you to study the western landscape.

Before we do this, let us stop a moment and make clear to ourselves what we have seen.

WHAT THE PEOPLE OF THE MIDDLE AGES THOUGHT OF THE WORLD IN WHICH THEY HAPPENED TO LIVE

DATES are a very useful invention. We could not do without them but unless we are very careful, they will play tricks with us. They are apt to make history too precise. For example, when I talk of the point-of-view of mediaeval man, I do not mean that on the 31st of December of the year 476, suddenly all the people of Europe said, ``Ah, now the Roman Empire has come to an end and we are living in the Middle Ages. How interesting!''

AS SOON AS NAPOLEON HAD BEEN SENT TO ST. HELENA THE RULERS WHO SO OFTEN HAD BEEN DEFEATED BY THE HATED ``CORSICAN'' MET AT VIENNA AND TRIED TO UNDO THE MANY CHANGES THAT HAD BEEN BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

THE RISE AND FALL OF EGYPT

THE river Nile was a kind friend but occasionally it was a hard taskmaster. It taught the people who lived along its banks the noble art of ``team-work.'' They depended upon each other to build their irrigation trenches and keep their dikes in repair. In this way they learned how to get along with their neighbours and their mutual-benefit-association quite easily developed into an organised state.

THE SEMITIC COLONY OF CARTHAGE ON THE NORTHERN COAST OF AFRICA AND THE INDO-EUROPEAN CITY OF ROME ON THE WEST COAST OF ITALY FOUGHT EACH OTHER FOR THE POSSESSION OF THE WESTERN MEDITERRANEAN AND CARTHAGE WAS DESTROYED

HOW THE CRUSADES ONCE MORE MADE THE MEDITERRANEAN A BUSY CENTRE OF TRADE AND HOW THE CITIES OF THE ITALIAN PENINSULA BECAME THE GREAT DISTRIBUTING CENTRE FOR THE COMMERCE WITH ASIA AND AFRICA

THERE were three good reasons why the Italian cities should have been the first to regain a position of great importance during the late Middle Ages. The Italian peninsula had been settled by Rome at a very early date. There had been more roads and more towns and more schools than anywhere else in Europe.

THEY TRIED TO ASSURE THE WORLD AN ERA OF UNDISTURBED PEACE BY SUPPRESSING ALL NEW IDEAS. THEY MADE THE POLICE-SPY THE HIGHEST FUNCTIONARY IN THE STATE AND SOON THE PRISONS OF ALL COUNTRIES WERE FILLED WITH THOSE WHO CLAIMED THAT PEOPLE HAVE THE RIGHT TO GOVERN THEMSELVES AS THEY SEE FIT

MESOPOTAMIA - THE SECOND CENTRE OF EASTERN CIVILISATION

I AM going to take you to the top of the highest pyramid and I am going to ask that you imagine yourself possessed of the eyes of a hawk. Way, way off, in the distance, far beyond the yellow sands of the desert, you will see something green and shimmering. It is a valley situated between two rivers. It is the Paradise of the Old Testament. It is the land of mystery and wonder which the Greeks called Mesopotamia - the ``country between the rivers.''

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