Saturday, 13 August 2016

The development of states and government in human history

WORK in Progress. NEEDS TIDY UP.

  •  for a time in the Neolithic period societies were pretty egalitarian and stateless.
  • "Evidence of the earliest known city-states has been found in ancient Mesopotamia around 3700 BC, suggesting that the history of the state is less than 6,000 years old; thus, for most of human prehistory the state did not exist."
  • Generally speaking, the archaeological evidence suggests that the state emerged from stateless communities only when a fairly large population (at least tens of thousands of people) was more or less settled together in a particular territory, and practiced agriculture. Indeed, one of the typical functions of the state is the defense of territory. Nevertheless, there are exceptions: Lawrence Krader for example describes the case of the Tatar state, a political authority arising among confederations of clans of nomadic or semi-nomadic herdsme

Characteristically the state functionaries (royal dynasties, soldiers, scribes, servants, administrators, lawyers, tax collectors, religious authorities etc.) are mainly not self-supporting, but rather materially supported and financed by taxes and tributes contributed by the rest of the working population. This assumes a sufficient level of labor-productivity per capita which at least makes possible a permanent surplus product (principally foodstuffs) appropriated by the state authority to sustain the activities of state functionaries. Such permanent surpluses were generally not produced on a significant scale in smaller tribal or clan societies.[7]
  • The archaeologist Gregory Possehl has argued that there is no evidence that the relatively sophisticated, urbanized Harappan civilization, which flourished from about 2,500 to 1,900 BC in the Indus region, featured anything like a centralized state apparatus. No evidence has yet been excavated locally of palaces, temples, a ruling sovereign or royal graves, a centralized administrative bureaucracy keeping records, or a state religion—all of which are elsewhere usually associated with the existence of a state apparatus.[8]

    Similarly, in the earliest large-scale human settlements of the stone age which have been discovered, such as Çatal Höyük and Jericho, no evidence was found of the existence of a state authority. The Çatal Höyük settlement of a farming community (7,300 BC to circa 6,200 BC) spanned circa 13 hectares (32 acres) and probably had about 5,000 to 10,000 inhabitants.[9]
  • Possehl however does not believe that the Indus Civilization was a state. "There are no clear signs of kingship in the form of sculpture or palaces. There is no evidence for a state bureaucracy or the other trappings of 'stateness.' Nor is there evidence for a state religion in the form of large temples or other monumental public works…It is clear that the Indus Civilization is an example of archaic sociocultural complexity, just as complex in its own way as the archaic civilizations of Mesopotamia and Dynastic Egypt or the Maya and Inca of the New World. But the Indus Civilization was not organized as a state, if by state we adhere to the criteria previously outlined."
    The author recognises the sociocultural complexity of the Indus Civilization. It expresses itself in the absence of the temples and other monumental buildings either for kings or priests. In fact, the religious and political institutions of the Indus Civilization express themselves in significantly different ways from all other civilizations of the ancient world.


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