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Archaic States


Edited by Gary M. Feinman and Joyce Marcus

One of the most challenging problems facing contemporary archaeology concerns the operation and diversity of ancient states. This volume addresses how ancient states were structured and how they operated, an understanding of which is key to our ability to interpret a state’s rise or fall. Archaic States presents new comparative studies of early states in the Old and New Worlds and identifies important avenues for research and discussion in the decades ahead. Among the themes addressed are the scale, size, and organization of ancient states; state typologies and corporate political economy; the ground plans of buildings in archaic states; strategies of state expansion; the incorporation of autonomous polities in the state and their subsequent governance; evidence of order, legitimacy, and wealth; warfare and status rivalry; and the political and social complexity of states. With essays on the Near East, India and Pakistan, Egypt, Mesoamerica, and the Andes.

1998. 448 pp., 64 black-and-white illustrations, 10 tables, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: John Baines, Richard Blanton, Gary M. Feinman, Kent Flannery, Joyce Marcus, Craig Morris, Gregory Possehl, David L. Webster, Henry T. Wright, Norman Yoffee

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“Archaic States is rich in its theoretical dimensions…the challenge of applying the concepts and theories laid out in this volume and integrating them with agency, factionalism, households, and gender will occupy a generation of scholars.”
—Deborah Nichols, Journal of Field Archaeology, vol. 27, 2000

“The impressive breadth of the volume leaves the reader with a clear impression of the diversity and complexity of ancient states.”
—Science Books and Films


  1. Introduction
    Joyce Marcus and Gary M. Feinman
  2. The Ground Plans of Archaic States
    Kent V. Flannery
  3. The Peaks and Valleys of Ancient States: An Extension of the Dynamic Model
    Joyce Marcus
  4. Scale and Social Organization: Perspectives on the Archaic State
    Gary M. Feinman
  5. Beyond Centralization: Steps Toward a Theory of Egalitarian Behavior in Archaic States
    Richard E. Blanton
  6. Uruk States in Southwestern Iran
    Henry T. Wright
  7. Order, Legitimacy, and Wealth in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
    John Baines and Norman Yoffee
  8. Sociocultural Complexity Without the State: The Indus Civilization
    Gregory L. Possehl
  9. Inka Strategies of Incorporation and Governance
    Craig Morris
  10. Warfare and Status Rivalry: Lowland Maya and Polynesian Comparisions
    David Webster
There are no working papers for this book at the present time.