The Fifth World



Civilization describes a particularly complex society, one which flourished in the particular climate of the Holocene interglacial period, and which proved untenable in the new climate of the Fifth World.


We often associate civilization with music, art, literature, philosophy, science, and other such hallmarks of social sophistication and achievement, but all of these pre-date civilization by tens of thousands of years. The earliest civilizations emerge in Africa and Asia about 15,000 years ago, but we find our earliest evidence of music, art, mathematics, and religious rituals more than 40,000 years ago. We can either accept “civilization” as a synonym for society itself (since every society has shared these characteristics for tens of thousands of years), or use it more narrowly to mean, specifically, those societies which employed a particular level of complexity marked by cities (as the word ultimately derives from the Latin civitas, meaning “city”).

With cities comes a number of characteristics which civilizations do seem to uniquely possess, in particular:


Most people in the Fifth World think of civilization as ancient history — when they think of it at all. They generally see it as unrelated to their day-to-day lives. Among those who do spend time thinking about their relationship to the ancient past, one can find several general attitudes (with unique stories and myths reflecting them from one family to the next).