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What is the oldest organization on earth?

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posted on May, 5 2009 @ 01:25 PM
I would define "organization" here as any body or group with actual membership rolls (i.e., you either belong or you don't) and hierarchy that has continuiously existed since its inception and continues to exist now. Examples would be a nation, a company, a church, a school, a society, etc. It has to be fairly solid; for example, I would not consider a religion itself to count (like "Christianity" or "Buddhism," for example), but I would consider a specific church to count (like "the Catholic church"). This because the former is a *belief system* while the latter is a *defined, closed group* with members, an organizational hierarchy, etc. Something that proports to be ancient but has actually been revived recently after a long dormancy (like "Rosicrucianism") does not count because there has been no continual existance...the original hierarchical organizational thread has been broken. I'm not counting stuff like race, either, for example, as that's more a biological *fact.* I would count a single continuious government (like "The Chinese Communist regime"), but I would not necessarily count a nation (like "China") that has gone through changes in leadership and governmental systems over the centuries.

I'm thinking right now it must be the Catholic Church. There is a university in India (Nalanda? I can't remember) that is very old, maybe older, but I'm not sure. Some Asian group might qualify...the oldest *corporation* (business) in the world still running is in Japan (founded in the 800s). Or perhaps something from Egypt or the Middle East? Seems unlikely although possible.

Any ideas?

posted on May, 5 2009 @ 04:46 PM
reply to post by silent thunder

This won't be near the top of the list, but might be a UK record...I don't quite know. There is a removal firm in Aberdeen called the Shore Porters Society that has been in business continuously since 1498.

The oldest university I could find is the University of Bologna in Italy, founded in 1088, although there are a few in very close second place.

You got me thinking now.....

And this one from Japan...very impressive, but a little sad too.

[edit on 5-5-2009 by caitlinfae]

posted on May, 5 2009 @ 05:21 PM
I'll toss a dart at the board.....

It would have to be an organization in China or Japan because these nations have seen long periods of stability in which a business or military could operate with some sort of impunity and not be destroyed or dismantled.

Do the Samurai have an official structure that would count in your question ?
I can't think of anything else that would come close to their documented history.

As far as continuous governments you probably could look at China, but even there I don't think you have continuity due to occupation by other nations in times of war.

That's my best guess, but now I'm tempted to do some research to verify facts.

Edit for syntax.

[edit on 5/5/2009 by anxietydisorder]

posted on May, 5 2009 @ 05:44 PM
I did a bit of thinking and wouldn't the Jewish Faith be considered as the oldest religious organisation? Unless there is a far eastern religion that predates it....maybe about 3500 years old?

There was also some mention of the funeral pyres on the Ganges which are rumoured to have been kept burning for over 3000 years continually...there must be some kind of organisational structure that makes this happen.

I think you might be right about the Chinese or Japanese connection...they seem to have many long established organisations.

posted on May, 5 2009 @ 07:08 PM
With all due respect, the Catholic Church isn't anywhere near the oldest.

What about Native American tribes? I suppose I will now have to dive into a google-fest to see what I can see.....but wouldn't the various tribes count as organizations? And how long have they been in existence?

Then you can look at all indigenous peoples all over the planet. Which group of indigenous peoples first separated into separate clans? Clans with leaders and members with other roles. Clans that fought against other clans because the members of one wanted what the other had or wanted them dead because they were a different group or gang as it were.

This seems to meet your criteria...

posted on May, 5 2009 @ 10:57 PM
Good input, people, thanks for playing along...

I thought it would be an interesting question since its something that is hard to instantly google up a difimitive answer to.

I would definitly not count "Judaism" in and of itself as there are many forms of Judaism. If you could pick out a specific organizational structure within the religion that has been existing for a long time, you might be on firmer ground. For example, there were ancient groups like "the Pharasees" and the "Sanhedrin" (sp?) that were kind of scriptural and legal boards. If there is something in the religion like that that's been around for that long, I suppose it would count. Don't know much about the fire-keepers metntioned, but that sounds interesting and certainly a possibility.

Tribes like the native Americans...hmmm...I actually did think of that and probably you could make a case for that as an ancient and still existing organization, especially in terms of tribe leadership and initatory stuff. Being born into a tribe itself, I think, wouldn't count because that's not a choice...a key componant of the definition of "organization" rather than, say, "ethnicity" is the fact that the former is something you have to actively join. If tribes have initatory structures this might qualify...not sure...

I would definitely count stuff like that Japanese company mentioned (sad that it closed recently...).

It really does depend on where you draw the line. There does seem to be a fundamental difference to me between the notion of being a tribe member and an *organization* like a specific church or company, but I'm not sure I can articulate it...If we are going to count tribes, I'd guess the most ancient would be the Aboriginies of Australia rather than the New World native peoples. The former have been in Australia for at least 40,000 years, while people "only" crossed over into the Western Hemisphere sometime maybe 15,000 years ago. Also, Indian, polynesian, and African stuff might be worth checking out in this regard. Maybe we can have a couple of "layers" of answer...

[edit on 5/5/09 by silent thunder]

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