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Culture Identification Series: What Exactly IS Culture?

Introduction

Photo: Lama Temple Entrance - Yonghegong, Andingmen Beijing, People's Republic of China

What exactly is culture? For centuries we always identified culture as something unique to a country. How unique is culture exactly?

Culture has always been a key reference to us remembering old nations, and current ones, from the Pharaohs of Egypt, to the Emperors of China and the old civilisations of Peru and North America. However, even the oldest of cultures, such as Chinese culture and Indian culture, even they have borrowed from other countries and incorporated it into their own.

The Pharaohs of Egypt and the Ancient Chinese emperors are probably as old as culture can get.

The Ancient Pharaohs of Egypt lasted for 550 years, from approximately 3100 BCE with the first king Narmer, to the death of Cleopatra VII (Caesar and Antony's Cleopatra) in 30 BCE.

Ancient Egypt in modern times is known for its advanced building techniques, its old civilisation, the pyramids, the gods, its pharaohs (and curses), and its unique form of writing, hieroglyphics. However, how unique was this ancient civilisation's culture? This will be answered in another blog post.

However, although many can be mistaken, ancient China is not the oldest civilisation in the older. Although it probably existed around the same time as Ancient Egypt, it was not fully established until approximately 1600 BCE, and its writing can be traced but as far as Shang Dynasty 1200 BCE. At this time, Egypt already had its writing system since 3400 BCE, developed by the Sumerians. Although not the oldest civilisation, it is the one that was able to outlive other ancient civilisations such as the Romans, Ancient Greeks, Celts, and the Moors.

However, how unique, even to today, are these cultures?

Every culture in the world is somehow unique to itself. Even though many would argue that every country's culture is unique to themselves, how right can they be? Nonetheless, it is important to not exclude any country when talking to culture, because at one point in history they have been borrowed from cultures which now get swept under the rug, forgotten to time due to their short-lived time in history.

The question to keep in mind is, if not obvious already, how unique is culture?

Now, we all know that unless you’re a history nerd, you will not know about those forgotten cultures and civilisations. How many people out there have actually heard of the Hoysala? Does the name Genghis Khan mean anything to anyone?

(Apart from Disney’s Mulan.)

Prussia? The Royal Roman Empire?

Ottoman Empire?

Or even how many cultures have influenced Europe?

Europe’s history is actually very vast from what we know. Unfortunately we don't know much about the other nations such as America, Australia, and South America because we never really knew they existed, until Europe decided to get out there. By the way, the Vikings had already been there and done that when Europe went there and did that.

Does anyone actually know who the Moors were? They were a Muslim nation who pretty much conquered Mediterranean territory during the middle ages. Yes, they were around the same time as the Romans. By the way, don’t get mistaken. The Roman Empire ended May 29, 1453, not earlier like most people mistook it.

However, with all of these nations going around Europe, conquering this and conquering that, how can we identify culture using these nation's influence?

Let’s keep in mind that everyone has his or her own opinion on this topic. I personally believe that culture is ever changing, and it borrows from different cultures before it stopped at one point in time, and it became an icon of that culture. I will make my point in this series of Culture identification.

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Culture Identification Series: What Exactly IS Culture?
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