What Is a Cultural Hearth?


Quick Answer

Cultural hearths are civilizations that have cultural influence around the world. There are seven original culture hearths that include West Africa, Mesoamerica, the Nile River Valley, the Indus River Valley, the Wei-Huang Valley, the Ganges River Valley and Mesopotamia.

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What Is a Cultural Hearth?
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Full Answer

Cultural hotbeds have influenced other parts of the world through religion, agriculture and societal structures. These core civilizations also made weapons, tools and iron. The United States is considered a cultural hearth in modern society. Tokyo and London also qualify as culture hearths in the modern world, and Mecca is a cultural hearth within the Islamic community.

Culture regions surround hearth cultures. The people within culture regions may not necessarily share the same cultures and values as hearth societies, but they were influenced by these important civilizations. Within culture regions, there are four areas that include the core, domain, sphere and outlier.

The core are regions that have been heavily influenced by the hearth cultures, and these areas have greater populations. The domain encompasses the core, having its own set of values and traditions, but it is still influenced by the core. The sphere encircles the domain, and the outlier closes around the sphere.

The spreading of core and hearth cultures around the world is known as cultural diffusion. Direct diffusion occurs when two societies are in close contact through war, intermarriage or trade. Forced diffusion happens when one culture dominates over the other. Indirect diffusion spreads cultural values abroad indirectly. One example is Italian food reaching North America.

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