Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2007-04-16
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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This book offers the first detailed comparative study of the seven best-documented early civilizations: ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, Shang China, the Aztecs and adjacent peoples in the Valley of Mexico, the Classic Maya, the Inka, and the Yoruba. Unlike previous studies, equal attention is paid to similarities and differences in their sociopolitical organization, economic systems, religion, and culture. Many of this study's findings are surprising and provocative. Agricultural systems, technologies, and economic behaviour turn out to have been far more diverse than was expected. These findings and many others challenge not only current understandings of early civilizations but also the theoretical foundations of modern archaeology and anthropology. The key to understanding early civilizations lies not in their historical connections but in what they can tell us about similarities and differences in human behaviour.

Author Biography

Bruce G. Trigger was James McGill Professor in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. vii
Prefacep. ix
Rationalism and Relativismp. 3
Comparative Studiesp. 15
Defining 'Early Civilization'p. 40
Evidence and Interpretationp. 53
Sociopolitical Organization
Kingshipp. 71
States: City and Territorialp. 92
Urbanismp. 120
Class Systems and Social Mobilityp. 142
Family Organization and Gender Rolesp. 167
Administrationp. 195
Lawp. 221
Military Organizationp. 240
Sociopolitical Constants and Variablesp. 264
Food Productionp. 279
Land Ownershipp. 315
Trade and Craft Specializationp. 338
Appropriation of Wealthp. 375
Economic Constants and Variablesp. 395
Cognitive and Symbolic Aspects
Conceptions of the Supernaturalp. 409
Cosmology and Cosmogonyp. 444
Cultp. 472
Priests, Festivals, and the Politics of the Supernaturalp. 495
The Individual and the Universep. 522
Elite Art and Architecturep. 541
Literacy and Specialized Knowledgep. 584
Values and Personal Aspirationsp. 626
Cultural Constants and Variablesp. 638
Culture and Reasonp. 653
Conclusionp. 684
Referencesp. 689
Indexp. 733
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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