Axial Civilizations and World History
Edited by Johann P. Arnason, S. N. Eisenstadt, and Björn Wittrock
The overarching theme of the book is the historical meaning of the Axial Age, commonly defined as a period of several centuries around the middle of the last millennium BCE, and its cultural innovations. The civilizational patterns that grew out of this exceptionally creative phase are a particularly rewarding theme for comparative analysis.
The book contains essays on cultural transformations in Ancient Greece, Ancient Israel, Iran, India and China, as well as background developments in the core civilizations of the Ancient Near East. An introductory section deals with the history of the debate on the AxialAge, the theoretical questions that have emerged from it, and the present state of the discussion.
The book will be useful for comparative historians of cultures and religions, as well as for historical sociologists interested in the comparative analysis of civilizations. It should also help linking the fields of classical, biblical and Asian studies to broader interdisciplinary debates within the humanities sciences.