Progress is an intrinsic and integral part of every single element and aspect of the humankind, as well as the universe, in the grand scheme of events. Therefore, while cultural changes within the global society and separate cultures might seem as entirely dissociated from the rest of the world, the mechanism of the global change functions by affecting every aspect of people’s lives all over the world.1
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Thus, the alterations in religious perspectives within different cultures are closely linked to the ancient beliefs. Similarly, the expansion of the Aztec culture affected the growth of the empires in Middle American, in general, and the introduction of plowing and irrigation have altered the landscape of agriculture, prompting the further evolution. Therefore, the identified phenomena should be seen as the prerequisites for impressive changes in all domains of people’s lives, including cultural, economic, and technological ones.
Pervasiveness of Religion
Faith has always been an integral element of the society, religion being its direct effect.2 Religious beliefs allow creating a set of inexorable guidelines and principles based on which the distinction between good and bad, moral and immoral, and other determinants of people’s social behavior, is drawn. Therefore, the pervasiveness of religion in nearly every society since the onset of human development is not only reasonable but also inevitable. In this regard, it is particularly interesting to study the source of specific religions, including the ideas that inspired them, the philosophies that make the bulk thereof, and the ethics that defines their key postulates.
Surprisingly enough, for Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, the common core on which each of these religions founded is Zoroastrianism, a philosophy that explores the cosmology of morality. Taking the key postulates of Zoroastrianism and incorporating them into their religious framework, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam were established. Although each of these religions had its own time frame of development, and they did not emerge simultaneously, the common influence of Zoroastrianism on every one of them is evident once specific evidence is considered.
Islam is, perhaps, the most obvious example of how Zoroastrian principles were integrated into a different culture to produce a new religion. While not being overly explicit, the concept of a cosmic struggle that pervades the Islam religion indicates that it is related very closely to Zoroastrianism.3
However, it should also be noted that the Islam religion was influenced heavily by other philosophies and sacred texts such as Christianity and its Testaments, of which the concept of the Last Judgment is clear evidence.4 The Islam religion has inherited a substantial amount of Zoroastrian concepts and notions, including the narratives that have affected people’s perception thereof, such as the journey of the prophet to Heaven, and religious practices such as the need to pray for a specific number of times per day.5
Similarly, Christianity and Judaism have been affected by Zoroastrianism to a significant extent. The same image of a prophet that ascends to Heaven and leads the humankind to the ultimate state of bliss and happiness is akin to the Zoroastrian traditions of depicting its prophet. Although Judaism has borrowed from Zoroastrianism to a greater extent than Christianity, the aspects of their predecessor’s philosophy are evident in each of the religions.
Finally, the idea of duality as the foundation for both Christianity and Judaism, particularly, the necessity to draw a distinct line between the good and the evil, also comes from the Zoroastrian teachings. Thus, the principles of Zoroastrianism defined the perception of morality in Christianity, the image of a prophet in Judaism, and the concept of ascending to Heaven in Islam, causing the identified religions to bloom and become the foundation for unifying communities within each religious group.
Aztec Expansion: The States and Empires of Middle America
Although being no longer in existence, the Aztec civilization left a significant mark on the cultural and social development of the descendant political entities. As research shows, Aztec imperialism had a profound impact on the development of the Middle American states, including the increase in trade opportunities and the overall rise in the efficacy of the state economies.6 Moreover, the Aztec religion had a profound influence on the changes within the Middle American society at the time. With the expansion of the Aztec culture, the philosophy thereof and the impact of its religion on neighbor states and its successors increased exponentially.
It should be borne in mind that the Aztec culture, in turn, was heavily influenced by its predecessor, the Toltec culture. As Reilly explains, “Toltec Tula created a large empire based on trade as well as conquest.”7 Herein lies the reason for the rapid enhancement of trade relationships between the states as the Aztec expansion continued into the states and empires of Middle America.
Therefore, itself having been affected heavily by the Toltec culture and being defined by a vast and well-developed system of economic interactions, the Aztec civilization determined the evolution of its successors significantly. However, apart from economic changes, the Aztec culture affected its successors by defining their culture and political choices extensively. Specifically, the worshipping of Huitzilopochtli, the god of war and the symbol of the rising sun, Aztecs influenced the behavior of Mexican people, whom Aztecs attempted at conquering.
According to Reilly, “The quick Spanish conquest of Mexico owed much to European ‘guns, germs, and steel,’ but the Aztecs also had many enemies in Mexico who joined the conquistadores in their march on Tenochtitlan.”8 The evolution of the states and empires that emerged after the demise of Aztecs was shaped significantly by the effects that the enforcement of the Aztec culture had on Mexican people.
Similarly, the Mayan culture had a profound effect on the further evolution of the Mexican civilization that emerged afterward. For example, Reilly mentions that the classical Mayan writing has influenced the literacy of the Mexican culture.9 The Mayan calendar, which included 365 days and was famous for its precision also affected the culture and technology of the empires that were its successors.10 Therefore, the connection between the life of Mayan people and the traditions of Mexicans that populated the area after the Mayan culture disappeared is explicit.
The case under analysis shows that the impact of Aztecs on the cultures that emerged after them was at least twofold. On the one hand, due to the persistence with which Aztecs promoted their culture, their reign was detrimental to the development of other states and empires since it dismissed the plight of other ethnicities. Furthermore, Aztecs introduced Mexicans to a range of cultural ideas and economic principles that would define the development and progress of the Mexican state in the future.
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Agriculture: Plowing and Irrigation Techniques That Enhanced the Progress
Listing the issues that challenges the further progress of the humankind and introduced the ideas and tools that purred its further evolution, one must consider innovations in agriculture. Due to the shift in the perception of the role of a community and the society, in general, people recognized the importance of agriculture as the means of sustaining the said community and encouraging its growth. Thus, the invention of the techniques that allowed controlling the process of planting and harvesting to a greater extent was essential to the progress of the global society as a whole and local communities specifically.
The impact that plowing and irrigation had on the changes that the global society had experienced up until 1450 CE is vast and mostly positive. A significant improvement in farming techniques helped to increase the amount of products available for local communities, which served as the method of preventing the instances of famine and an increase in death rates among community members. Moreover, due to the increase in the popularity of plowing techniques, the phenomena of domestication and farming became the cornerstones of agricultural development, causing a massive rise in its effects.
However, some of the outcomes of the specified innovations were also quite negative. Without a proper understanding of possible side effects of uncontrolled irrigation and plowing, people produced a rather negative impact on the environment, including tillage erosion and destruction of wetlands. Therefore, the described changes demonstrate the need to develop a profound understanding of how specific changes in techniques, behaviors, and beliefs affect the evolution of culture, technological progress, and environmental issues. While certain precursors make further societal, technological, or economic changes nearly unavoidable, being able to control these alterations at least to some degree and having a proper understanding of their effects is a necessity.
Affecting every domain of people’s lives, the changes that occurred to them on the cultural, religious, and technological levels defined their further development and provided the platform for building new ideas, philosophies, and lifestyles. The profound effect that Zoroastrianism had on the further development of world religions can be found in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Similarly, the expansion of the Aztec culture predetermined the evolution of the Middle American empires, in general, allowing them to bloom and explore unique philosophies and ideas of Aztecs. Finally, the economic impact that irrigation and plowing have had on agriculture can hardly be underrated since the identified changes have made it possible to advance it and address the lack of food resources by increasing the amount of products harvested each season.
Thus, innovations and the process of sharing ideas create the grounds for a rapid increase in the quality of life, the accessibility of important knowledge, and the unceasing progress. Although the link between a specific culture and the phenomena changing the lives of the forerunners thereof might not seem noticeable at first, on a closer examination, the precursors of change will become evident once most of the cultural, social, and technological issues are considered.
The described changes can be seen as critical to the evolution of the humankind. Due to the cultural influences that the phenomena mentioned above had on the further progress of the philosophical thought, political development, and economic changes, they can be viewed as important starting points for increasing the overall well-being of the global society. More importantly, the line of the legacy that world religions and cultures have maintained has allowed sharing knowledge and integrating beliefs into the system that has contributed to the global dialogue. Thus, the general tendency for a range of modern concepts to have an inherent connection to the issues described above should be deemed as an opportunity for a positive change.
Omer, Atalia. R. Scott Appleby, and David Little. The Oxford Handbook of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2015.
Cohen, Maurie J., Halina Szejnwald Brown, and Philip J Vergragt. Social Change and the Coming of Post-consumer Society: Theoretical Advances and Policy Implications. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 2017.
Reilly, Kevin. The Human Journey: A Concise Introduction to World History – Prehistory to 1450. New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012.
- Maurie J. Cohen, Halina Szejnwald Brown, and Philip J Vergragt, Social Change and the Coming of Post-consumer Society: Theoretical Advances and Policy Implications (New York, NY: Taylor & Francis, 2017), 11.
- Atalia Omer, R. Scott Appleby, David Little, The Oxford Handbook of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2015), 322.
- Kevin Reilly, The Human Journey: A Concise Introduction to World History – Prehistory to 1450 (New York, NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012), 129.
- Ibid., p. 129.
- Ibid., p. 129.
- Ibid., p. 196.
- Ibid., p. 196.
- Ibid., p. 197.
- Ibid., p. 195.
- Ibid., p. 195.