It’s time for a new history of the world. Every age needs a new history, because every age has its new ideas and new philosophies of how to assemble our story of the past. It is time once again to ask some of the big questions about civilisation. What do we mean by civilisation? And what do we mean by barbarism? I am setting out to take a new look at civilisation, and to re-assess the importance of the Greeks and Romans.
The Trobriand Islands. We begin with anthropology and with the Trobriand Islands in the Western Pacific where, during the First World War, a Polish anthropologist visited the islands and began finding out just how these primitive but successful people worked and functioned, uncovering the mysteries of ‘gift exchange’.
The Minoans. The first part of my book deals with societies before the existence of money, where distribution was based on palaces. The most instructive of all the palaces societies are the Minoans, for there are four Minoan palaces, all well excavated, which provide a very useful introduction to life in a Palace society.The decipherment of Minoan Linear B allows us to see into their economy.
Egypt. We then move on to ancient Egypt, one of the most successful and long lived societies the world has ever seen. Just how did they achieve this long-lived success? We look at how they built the pyramids, and at the fascinating palace at Amarna, and see how the workmen used pseudo-money
The Bible. At the fringes of the Mediterranean, – between the Desert and the sea, there arose the Jewish religion, the source of three of the world’s great religions. Here I sort them out and give the real story behind the evolution of the Jews and the origins of Christianity.
China We then go on to China, which in many ways challenges my basic theory, for it is an Empire that used money but was ruled from palaces. Here you can read about the mysteries of ancient, and indeed modern China and how modern China in many ways follows on from the state that was first established in 220 BC.
The Greeks. The big change comes with the Greeks: why are the Greeks so important and what is the secret of their innovation? The answer is money; they invented a new form of exchange based on money, and this enabled a huge leap forward in economic success and brought forth a new type of society, with the invention of democracy and history and the theatre.
The Romans. The Romans succeeded where the Greeks failed, and produced one of the world’s the most civilised civilisations. How do they do it? They were late in discovering how to use money properly, yet they fought Hannibal and won. The Romans have a bad press today, but why was it they were so successful?
And finally, who am I? Every author has his prejudices and his biases, and you may wish to know who I am and where I come from. Click here for a brief note about myself and then my confessions about my beliefs, and in effect, what this book is all about.
On to the Trobriand Islands
16th March 2014, revised 23rd January 2018