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星火20篇文章贯通1-6级词汇04-05

Unit 4 Life in antiquity

Part one

For people in modern society, life of our ancestors in the distant past seems mysterious, dreadful, incredible and puzzling, quite beyond our imagination. Yes, when we now enjoy eveything as a blessing from our present civilization, few wound recall what hardship and mishap our ancestors had suffered.

Remember that modern civilization began only no more than 200 years ago, but mankind, according to anthropologists, had trekked a long and dangerous path in wilderness of savagery for more than 2 million years. Feeble and vulnerable they were exposed to constant hardship in Nature, prone to diseases, subject to the inexorable jungle law. But they survived, while many other species of animals became extinct, which appeared much larger, stronger and more savage. Why? Humankind evolved with their intelligence and hands developed to adapt themselves to the hostile environment, to make use of everything available in nature to make tools and weapons, to build shelters ans make artifacts, to gather food and clothes, all by their bare hand! This text tells a story of their hard struggle for survival, but also a real record of human history explored by archaeologists who dig out remains and fragments of artifacts from debris left by our ancestor, and carefully recover them, sort them and analyze them with scientific methods, and finally provide a picture telling us what the life in antiquity was like, adding new dimension to our understanding of prehistorical civilization.

Now let us imagine we were to visit inhabitants living some 8000 years ago in Zhoukoudian, an open wilderness 46 kilometers Southwest of the present location of beijing, a place where the Peking Man’s skull was found.

The season was autumn, the time was late afternoon. There in the South, above a shallow seasonal lake formed by Yongding River as we now call it, a flock of wild ducks flew away in panic as a group of women suddenly emerged from their ambush and cast nets over the birds. The nets were equipped with special weights made of pebbles, each with a tiny hole for attaching itself to the rim of the nets. Another team of women was wading in a row by the bank of the shallow river, stamping in the water to drive the frightened fish into a pit, where some others scooped up the catch in willow sieves and tossed them onto the shore. Still others gathered them up and took them home in willow baskets. Several teenagers most of them were girls, were bending and squatting down to pick up mushroom from the riverbank. To the South, on the slopes of hills, a team of boys, each carrying on shoulder a willow basket filled with chestnuts and walnuts, were returning home from their nut gathering trips, a pet dog came to heel. Autumn was good hunting seasom. Now a team of men returned from their hunting trips, carrying two lambs and one deer on their backs, which had been killed by spear throwers, followed by a few hounds snarling along. The hounds had acute sense of smell. They were good hunting companions which could not only round up the games, but also scare them to run to exhaustion.

On top of the mound besides the cliff in the north, there were wattle houses built with stones as the bases of walls, which were made of woven twigs and covered with mud plaster. The roofs were thatched with reeds and branches and mortared with mud and clay. Other shelters were caves at the foot of the cliffs, with their outlets facing South. Smoke came out of a roasting pit about 2 meters in diameter, where 4 young men were roasting a deer. The fish livers and gills were taken out. Fuels were plentiful here: reed, weed and branches after dried and carried home.

When the sun set behind the hill, the villagers gathered around a rack where 3 old women, assisted by a young man, cut the roast deer into pieces with their stoneknives and distributed evenly the meat to everyone, who waited quietly and patiently. They also shared fish, nuts and mushroom they had just collected. The dogs were gnawing at pieces of bones in safe corners. After the dinner was finished, several young men, accompanied by their dogs, ran to the lake to swim and dive. They were muscular but short, about 1.4 meters tall. Their skin was tanned coarse, as they didn’t have any clothes even in winter. The girls, 5 to 6 in group, gathered around a huge flat stone, where each of crushed nuts with a piece of pebble. A round of cracks burst out but seldom was laughter heard. Their long hair covered their faces whenever they bent down their heads on their jobs. The breast was well-grown but the skin looked coarse and dirty. Some of them had a piece of cloth-like thing wrapping their lower body, which was woven from fibre taken from thorn trees while the rest were actually naked. Five boys drove the cattle and sheep into stables. Four girls added some branches into each roasting pit and smothered the fire with dirt. When the moon rose midair, and old lady clapped her hands as a signal to warn all the members it was the time for them to go back shelters for the night.

This was a period in history historians call Middle Stone Age starting from about 6000 BC, when humans had just settled down in a certain place and developed family and community life. The community was organized with women as the center of families as well as society, which historians call matriarchal society. Marriage in tribes natually enjoyed privilege, for example, women had the last word for tribal affairs, and of course, it was women picked up the men they liked as their mate, even temporarily.

Life was peaceful and rather good as there was plenty of food to support a small population living here, and no other tribes nearby would invade into that region, and no war and no conflict had ever fought for almost 2000 years until the population grew too large to live together in a single tribe and internal unrest turned inevitable. Meanwhile, other tribes which had undergone the similar process of development frequently invade into territory of the tribe and plundered cattle and captured men. Warfare became constant, bitter and bloody. Men, as the main force in battles, became important and had more say in tribal affairs. This change led to the collapse of matriarchy and the rise of patriarchal society. The time was about 3000 years BC.

When prehistorical people began to domesticate animals remains a mystery because archaeologists find it difficult to distinguish fossil bones left by livestock from those left by preys. But one thing is certain: Domestication of wild animals was the result of improved hunting skills and tools. When hunters had captured more wild animals than they could consume, the live animals were put in cages and bred. The first herdsmen in human history were amazed to find out that the animals not only had recovered from the wounds they had suffered but also gave birth to cubs. Soon, they had learned that domestication of animals could provide them with stable supply of meat. Cattle, sheep, horse, mule and ass were the first domesticated animals. Husbandry then became an important source of nourishment.

As for agriculture, archaeologists have established that it came much later into prehistorical world than husbandry. Some archaeologists attribute the invention of agriculture to women: casually some women who take care of household affairs lost some grains of wheat to the soil, and as they stayed home year round, they could observe how the seed budded, grew and produced much more grains than the original ones. Then they intentionally spread the seed and tended the crop carefully, finally, they gained a bumper harvest. Since then, agirculture has become a major source of food. And because crops must be planted on land, prehistorical men realized the extreme importance of land and tried to expand their territory by force. This was a major motive that drove tribal heads to wage war.

However , the invention of using manure as fretilizer was totally a matter of coincidence. The prehistorical livestock keepers removed manure from the stalls and put it piled up in a spot near a field. In the end, they were surprised to find out that crops near those piles grew extraordinarily sturdy and produced big ears. Although the manure smelled foul, it really was a miraculous thing that could increase agriculture output.

Another measure that they took to improve their agriculture was the stone tools like the hoe, ax, plough, grinding stone, etc. they were useful tools for planting, ploughing, harvesting and grain-processing. They were associated with the progress in agriculture and thus symbolized the New Stone Age in history.

Part two

The invention of metal was an important milestone, marked a new epoch. In a primitive furnace, where ore and charcoal burned fierily to produce temperature high enough to melt copper. A bellows made of oxhide was used to pump steady flow of air into the furnace. Copper was further alloyed to produce all-purpose bronze ware, for example, sacrificial utensils, arrows, swords, knives, cups, etc. It was not until 1500 BC that bronze became popular that it was used to make farm implements. This event represented the end of the New Stone Age and the beginning of the Bronze Age.

With the development of husbandry and agriculture, life was better off. Ample goatskin was made into clothes, shoes, mittens, mattresses and gloves for every member. Not only could be inhabitants consume adequate food such as wheat, barely, maize, bean, carrot, melon, fish, mutton, beef, pork, chicken, duck, they also had surplus products, to exchange neighboring tribes for something they needed, for example, salt and cloth. Social division of labor became more elaborate. There emerged new professions: carpenter, butcher, barber etc. Now with the increase in productivity, a single laborer could produce food enough to breed more persons than himself and they could have more leisure, which provided an opportunity for those who had talent for music, dancing, arithmetic, calendar, etc. to devote themselves exclusively to these culture activities. They were the first generation of intellectuals in history. Indeed, even today we can see their achievements: for example, on rocks there are paintings and carvings illustrating their life and feeling. On some unearthed bones and shells, we can find patterns and symbols which represent their primitive knowledge of astronomy and calendar. This was particularly important for those primitive farmers who assigned their agriculture activities to everyone, following the changing seasons. They must have noticed the regular movement of the sun, the moon and the visible planets through their repetitive observations. Their understanding of the the periodic movement of celestial bodies thus served as the reference of their calendar.

Spoken language must have developed as humankind began to live in communities. The primitives had great difficulty in coummunication, as they could not understand what their conversationalists were uttering and gesturing. It must have taken quite a long period of time, presumably 5000 years, to form a colloquial language prevalent within a region. Archaeologists cannot find any real unearthed thing to determine when and how a written language formed in history. Carved on shell, stone, and bone, primitive characters speared to be symbol-like pictographic characters that evolved from figures. Simple as they might look, it might have taken the first generations of linguisticians hundreds of years to create and popularize these characters which numbered just a few score.

Some members who had skills in making pottery ware, stone ware and bronze ware, were now professionalized as the first generation of craftsmen. Their products were first distributed evenly to every family for daily use and then gradually became goods they could take to marketplace to exchange for something they needed, for example, grain, meat, salt, cloth, etc, when they became independent workers fending for themselves. Once their products went to bazaar, competition set in, and to be a winner of market, every craftsman tried hard to improve their products in quality, shape, color, pattern, usefulness and durability, and needed innovation in their tools in order to produce more. Then came the first stage of independent handicraft mills.

The bazaar was originally located in a small spot where villagers often gathered. Then it expanded to occupy a “square” in the center of the village. Regularly, craftsmen and villagers went there to exchange their possessions. But barter proved inconvenient, as it was difficult to strike a fair deal. To promote extensive trade in markets, someone began to exchange her/his possessions for something valuable, instead of something useful. What would be “valuable” ? They must be something very rare or something hard to make obtain, for example, invory, pearl, diamond and ruby. These were the first currency in history. However, as trade expanded, demand for currency increased. To make something that could be sued as currency, some tribal chiefs began to make money, that is, something that bore the recognized value and guaranteed by authority of that tribe. At the first stage, it circulated only in the territory of the tribe, but as trade expanded among the tribe nearby, the money made by an economically strong tribe became a universal money circulating all over the region. In most cases, money was made of bronze.

However, life there was far from perfection. Disaster, plague and war were frequent occurrence, and the villagers simply could do nothing to protect themselves. They were captured by haunting fear and submitted themselves to something supernatural, holy, mighty and sympathetic, which gave rise to superstition. At first, tribal members worshiped something fierce and dreadful, for instance, tiger, lion, panther, and dragon, as their totem and then attached divinity to them to make them supreme and awful. Witches emerged as times required them to propagate superstitious ideas and to demonstrate tricks in ceremonial activities. Tribal chiefs soon found superstition to be a useful means for protecting his rule over his unsatisfied subjects, as mental domination proved more effective and credible in making a fiery person yield than any torture.

It was at this point that superstition developed into religion. Buddhism, Islam, Christianity etc., with support from the tribal heads, enriched with myths and doctrines, and mystified in variety of rituals, hitherto these have very deep effect yet. Jesus era is one of the examples. Monasteries appeared, professional monks and nuns disseminated doctrine and became respectable persons. This trend became more and more obvious as some strong tribes developed and finally ruled over a large population living on a vast land. With religious coloring added it , human authority could expect loyalty from devout but ignorant subjects. Integration of power and religion began.

Unit 5 the value of friendship

Part one

Friendship is both a source of pleasure and a component of good health. Without friendship, the world is but a wilderness, and we may affirm that it si a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends. A principal fruit of friendship is the ease and discharge of the gloom. No receipt opens the heart but a true friend, to whom you mat impart grieves, joys, fears, hopes, suspicious, counsels, and whatsoever lies upon the heart to oppress it. People who have close friends naturally enjoy their company. Of equal importance are the concrete emotional benefits they derive. When something sensational happens to us, sharing the happiness of the occasion with friends intensifies our joy. Conversely, in times of troubles and tension, when our spirits are low, unburdening our worries and fears to compassinate friends lightens the agony. Moreover, we may even get some practical suggestions for solving a particular problem.

From time to time, we are intensitive and behave in a way that hurts someone’s feelings. Afterwards, when we feel guilty and down in the damps, friends can comfort us. This positive interaction is favorable.

Youngsters and old age are the two stages in our lives when the need for friendship is crucial. In the former stage, teens are plagued by uncertainty and mixed feelings. In the latter stage, old people are upset by feelings of unslessness and insignificance. In both instances, friends can make dramatic difference. With close friends in their lives, people develop courage and positive attitudes. Teenagers have the moral support to assert their individuality; the elderly approach their advanced years with optimism and an interest in life. These positive outlooks are vital to cope successfully with the crisis inherent in these two stages of life.

Throughout life, we rely on small groups of people for love, admiration, respect, moral and support and help. Man is just a drop in the bucket. Almose everyone has a “network” of friends: co-workers, neighbors, and schoolmates. While both men and women have some friends, evidence is accumulating that indicates men rarely make close friends. Men are sociable and frequently have numerous business acquaintances, golf buddies, and so on. However, friendship does not merely involve a sharing of activities; it is a sharing of self on a very personal level. Customarily, men have shied away from close relationships in which they have faith in others. By bottling up their emotions, men deprive themselves of a healthy outlet for their negative feelings.

The second fruit of friendship is healthful and excellent for the understanding, as the first is for the affections; for friendship makes indeed a fair day in the affections from storm, but it makes daylinght in the understanding, out of darkness and confusion of thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a man receives from his friend; but before you come to that, certain it is, that whosoever has his mind filled with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and discoursing with another; he tosses his thoughts more easily; he arranges them more orderly; he sees how they look when they are turned into words; finally, he waxes wiser than himself; as there is between the consel of a friend and of a flatterer. For there is no such flatterer as is a man’s self; and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man’s self as the liberty of a friend. Counsel is of two sorts: the one concerning manners, the other concerning business. For the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man’s self to a strict account is a medicine sometimes too acid; reading good books of morality is a little flat and deed; observing our faults in others is sometimes improper for our case; but the best receipt is the admonition of a friend. It’s a strange thing to see what gross errors and extreme absurdities many people do commit for want of a friend to tell them of them, and disgrace both their fame and fortune; for they are as men that look sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape and favor. As for business, a man may think, if he will, that two eyes see no more than one; or, that a gamester sees always more than an onlooker; or, that a man in anger is as wise as he that has said over the four and twenty letters; and such ither fond and imagination, to think himself all in all; but when all is done, the help of good counsel is that which sets business straight, avoiding making big blunders. And if any man think that he will take counsel, instead of cynical remarks, but it shall be by pieces, asking counsel in one business of one man, and in another business of another man; it is well; but he runs two dangers: one, that he shall not be faithful counseled; the other, that he shall have counsel given, hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly of mischief and partly of remedy, even as if you would call a physician who is good at curing your sickness but don’t acquanint with your body; and therefore, may put you in a way for a present cure, but overthrows your health in some other kind, and so cure the disease and kill the patient. But a friend, wholly acquainted with a man’s condition, will take care of, by furthering present business, how he could not dash upon other inconvenience. And therefore, rest not upon scattered counsels; they will rather distract and mislead than settle and direct.

Part two

After these two fruits of friendship (peace in the affections and support of the judgment), follows the last fruit, which is like the pomegranate, full of many kernels; I mean aid, and bearing a part in all actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent life and manifold use of friendship is to cast and see how many things there are which a man can not do himself; and then it will appear that it was a sparing speech of the ancients to say that a friend is another himself, for a friend is far more than himsel. Men have their time, and die many times in desire of some things which they principally take to heart; the bestowing of a child, the finishing of work, or the like. If a man has a true friend, he may rest almost secure that the care of those things will continue after him; so that a man has, as it were, two lives in his desires. A man has a body, and that body is confined to a place; not where friendship is, his friend may act as his deputy. How many things are graceful in a friend’s mouth, which are blushing a man’s own. So, again, a man’s person has many proper relations which he cannot put off. A man cannot speak to his son but as a father; to his wife but as a husband; to his enemy but upon terms; whereas a friend may speak as the case requires, and not as sorts with the person. In these cases friends act as lubricant. If a man hasn’t friend, he may quit the stage. Because friendships enhance our lives, it is important to cultivate them. Unfortunately, it is somewhat difficult to make long lasting close friends. People are mobile, and mobility puts a strain on friendships. Long distances between friends discourage intimacy. Long distance telephone conversations are costly, and letter writing is not a deeply ingrained habit, besides, actions that are inconsistent with principles are harmful to friendship. Divorce is also destructive to friendship. In many cases, when divorce occurs, friendships disintegrate because couples usually prefer to associate with other couples.

People choose some friends because they are fun to be with; they “make things happen”. Likewise, common interests appear to be a significant factor in selecting friends. Families with children, for instance, tend to gravitate toward families with children. It is normal to be friend people who have similar lifestyles, and organizations such as Parents without Partners have appeared on the scene as a natural outgrowth of this tendency. These groups provide an opportunity to socialize, make new acquaintances and friends, obtain helpful advice in adapting smoothly to a new lifestyle. Other groups focus on specific interest such as camping or politics. It is perfectly acceptable to select friends for special qualities as long as there is a balanced giving and taking that is mutually satisfying.

Very close and trusted friends share confidences candidly. They feel secure that they will not be ridiculed, and their confidences will be honored. Betraying a trust is an instant and painful way to terminate a friendship.

As friendships solidify, ties strengthen. Intimate relationships enrich people’s lives. Some components of a thriving friendship are honesty, thoughtfulness, and some common interests. Never be ironic to others.

Circumstances and people are constantly changing. Some friendships last “forever”; others do not. Nevertheless, friendship is an essential ingredient in the making of a healthful, rewarding life.
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