Centralization, Early Urbanization, and Colonization in First Millenium B.C. Greece and Italy by P. A. J. Attema (Bulletin Antieke Beschaving. Supplement, 9: Peeters) This volume brings together a number of case studies in the landscape archaeology of South and Central Italy by distinguished scholars writing from first-hand experience. The contributions illustrate the growing interest among Mediterranean landscape archaeologists in long-term regional trends and processes, such as the centralization of indigenous society during protohistory, the interaction between indigenous and Greek and Roman colonial culture, and the formation of the early historic landscape of town and country. The contributions also reflect the increasing sophistication of field methods and material studies as well as theoretically informed desktop studies, which now succeed in mapping a wide range of forms of permanent human settlement and ritual activity in the Italian landscape — from subsistence farms to complex urban settlements and from ritual cave sites to institutionalized sanctuarιes. Contributions by Marianne Kleibrink, Alessandro Vanzetti, Helle Horsnæs, Bert Nijboer, Gert-Jan Burgers, Peter Attema & Martijn ván Leusen. More
After Collapse: The Regeneration of Complex Societies edited by Glenn M. Schwartz, John J. Nichols (University of Arizona Press) From the Euphrates Valley to the southern Peruvian Andes, early complex societies have risen and fallen, but in some cases they have also been reborn. Prior archaeological investigation of these societies has focused primarily on emergence and collapse. After Collapse: The Regeneration of Complex Societies is the first book-length work to examine the question of how and why early complex urban societies have reappeared after periods of decentralization and collapse.
Ranging widely across the Near East, the Aegean, East Asia, Mesoamerica, and the Andes, these cross-cultural studies expand our understanding of social evolution by examining how societies were transformed during the period of radical change now termed "collapse." They seek to discover how societal complexity reemerged, how second-generation states formed, and how these re-emergent states resembled or differed from the complex societies that preceded them.
The contributors draw on material culture as well as textual and ethnohistoric data to consider such factors as preexistent institutions, structures, and ideologies that are influential in regeneration; economic and political resilience; the role of social mobility, marginal groups, and peripheries; and ethnic change. In addition to presenting a number of theoretical viewpoints, the contributors also propose reasons why regeneration sometimes does not occur after collapse. A concluding contribution by Norman Yoffee provides a critical exegesis of "collapse" and highlights important patterns found in the case histories related to peripheral regions and secondary elites, and to the ideology of statecraft.
After Collapse blazes new research trails in both archaeology and the study of social change, demonstrating that the archaeological record often offers more clues to the "dark ages" that precede regeneration than do text-based studies. It opens up a new window on the past by shifting the focus away from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations to their often more telling fall and rise.
It's been eighteen years since the anno mirabile of 1988, when Joseph Tainter's Collapse of Complex Societies and George Cowgill's and my edited volume, The Collapse of Ancient States and Civilizations, appeared. These studies have resonated in archaeological theory, since they emphasized that social change was not simply a process of mutually supportive interactions that produced an irreversible succession of levels of holistic integration. They challenged views that human social systems inherently tend to persist or expand and required that levels be broken down into social groupings of partly overlapping and partly opposing fields of action that lend the possibility of instability as well as stability to overarching social institutions. Collapse studies also call attention to what happens after collapse, since collapse seldom connotes the death of a civilization as opposed to the end of a particular form of government. The studies of"regeneration" in this volume explicitly explore issues of what happens beyond collapse.
Of course, what happens beyond collapse depends on what it was that underwent the collapsing, why collapse occurred, and what institutions were left in place after collapse. Although the term collapse usually implies a downward change from something more complex and larger to something else that is less complex and smaller, one might also consider collapse as a movement from a relatively more stable condition to one that is less stable. For example, Steven Falconer and Stephen Savage (1995) have argued that Syria/Palestine in the Middle Bronze Age was a "heartland of villages," and Lisa Cooper in this volume (chapter 2) presents the variations on this theme. Thus, if stability connotes village life, then the appearance of urban sites in the region—which were based, in part, on connections with outsiders and were unstable—could be called a collapse! Of course, such unstable urbanism itself collapsed into the village life from which it sprang. Archaeologists (and others) are not used to talking about the rise of more complexsocial systems as a collapse, and I'm not saying that they should begin to do so. I do wish to point out, however, that trends toward less-complex social organizations need not be thought of as failures of those more-complex organizations, and there is an important example of this principle in one of the chapters in this volume (by Kenny Sims). I also must note that if collapse can be multidirectional, resulting in both more- and less-complex societies, it is simply a species of social change that must be investigated in its appropriate larger temporal and spatial sequences. Logically, then, regeneration—meaning the return to a condition (albeit with significant adjustments) after a collapse—is not necessarily a new category of research or theory, but a more focused attention on a kind of social change.
Comparative studies of social phenomena need to ensure that the comparisons, especially the scale of the social units being compared, are useful. There is no point in comparing the rise, abandonment or partial abandonment, and rise again of particular sites with whole regions or states or civilizations. That having been said, I turn to brief notes on the chapters in this volume.
One of the most interesting points about regeneration that was stressed in many chapters is that new opportunities were presented to peripheral regions and secondary elites in the aftermath of the collapse of ancient states. Ellen Morris (chapter 4) shows that the collapse of Old Kingdom Egypt—accompanied by diminished flood levels of the Nile, famine, and political chaos—led to trends toward increased social mobility in the succeeding First Intermediate Period. Although there were always local power structures, craftspeople, and avenues of resistance to the central state in Egypt, these were effectively suppressed in the heyday of the Old Kingdom. In the decentralized environment of the First Intermediate Period, however, and into the Middle Kingdom, rich tombs of nonofficials were erected, and social competition became a topic in literature. Eventually, the ideology of statecraft in Egypt provided the model for the regeneration of the centralized state, but changes in that ideology took into account the experience of the First Intermediate Period.
In the chapters by Diane and Arlen Chase (chapter 11) and by Marilyn Masson, Timothy Hare, and Carlos Peraza Lope (chapter 12), the regeneration of Maya cities and states depended on more than the reassertion of the ideology of Classic Maya statecraft. Although the major sites of the Classic Maya in the Petén had been progressively abandoned in the ninth and tenth centuries and reoccupied only by "squatters" (Webster 2002), other Maya sites, especially to the north in Yucatan, were founded or grew in size and complexity. Although these sites were constructed not according to Classic
Maya models, not everything changed. This was not simply an economizing movement from "monstrous visual symbols" to more demotic architecture and a vigorous market economy (according to Masson and her coauthors) and away from an economy and political system that was based in state-sponsored ritual (as in the Classic period). Rather, in Postclassic cities, the Maya created a new amalgam of Classic symbols and those from a "Mexican" belief system. New political formations, regional alliances, and regional economic interactions ensued in the Postclassic. What had collapsed were not only the Classic Maya city-states, but also the ideology supporting them. Regeneration could take place only in the drastic rearrangement of social and ideological systems. The establishment of new landscapes and the creation of new social memories (and the forgetting of others) were, perhaps, not so much evidence of failures of the past as new opportunities for those people who lived on the margins of the Classic Maya core.
The chapters on Andean archaeology by Christina Conlee (chapter 7), Gordon McEwan (chapter 6), and Kenny Sims (chapter 8) all concern the opportunities presented by the collapse of the Wari and Tiwanaku expansionist states. The opportunities, however, resulted in different kinds of regenerations. Conlee's chapter, like Ellen Morris's on Egypt, emphasizes that the collapse of the Wari state presented the chance for local elites to increase their status. In her study of the site of La Tiza, the evidence is for local Jaggregation and local ritual behavior at a central pilgrimage site in which ritual elites held much power. McEwan argues that the collapse of Wari presented a "fortuitous set of circumstances" that allowed the Inca, first competing with rivals such as the Chanca confederation, to meld old ways of statecraft with invented traditions that legitimized their expansion. Sims discusses the situation in Moquegua, in which Tiwanaku and Wari colonial regimes competed for resources and labor. He envisions that the local elites, traditional nobility in Moquegua, increased their status and power by serving as middle officials for the states and were able through their access to labor to serve the invading states. With the collapse of those states, however, these elites were faced with resistance to centralization. Commoners and secondary elites rejected the old symbols and markers of prestige and power. This lack of regeneration was far from a failure, however. It was a positive assertion of local ways and resistance to central authority.
Bennet Bronson (chapter 9) calls our attention to kinds of false regeneration, stimulus regeneration, and template regeneration. The chapters by John Nichols and Jill Weber (chapter 3) and Miriam Stark (chapter 10) might all fall under template regeneration. They differ, however, in that
Stark's case is one of formulation of the template, and this would also hold for the rise of states in northern China (discussed by Liu Li at the SAA symposium in Milwaukee but not included in this volume; see Liu and Chen 2003). The Chinese case is so new and important for the concept of "template regeneration" that it deserves at least brief discussion here.
The earliest state in north China was probably centered on the city of Erlitou (ca. 1900-1500 BC). This collapsed in favor of the state centered at Zhengzhou (ca. 1600-1400 BC), whose collapse was followed by other competing cities, the most famous of which is the late Shang dynasty capital of Anyang (ca. 1250-1046 BC). Later Han (206 BC—AD 220) historians invented the Chinese dynastic cycle to imply that China was always ruled by dynasties, and the collapse of one was followed by the regeneration of another one. Such regeneration was molded by the model of statecraft that was carried by Confucian literati, semiautonomous elites who were also the bureaucrats of the state (Hsu 1988). Governments fell in China for the reasons that governments fall, but the literati were able to regenerate the state more or less on the timeless model they maintained, preserved, and reproduced. The earliest states in China, however, which were really competing cities that brought into their orbits outlying towns and regions with their needed resources (in the opinion of Yoffee 2005), had no such model of statecraft. That ideology and the literati who safeguarded it did not emerge until the late first millennium BC. The earliest states were not part of any dynasty, and the template of Chinese statecraft was only in a formative stage (if one takes a teleological position on the development of the Han state). Important features of the earliest states were the bronzes that were controlled by kings and enabled their claims to rule nonkinsmen (Chang 1983) and the use of oracle bones that also connected the ruler with the world of the ancestors in new ways. Those who inscribed the oracle bones formed a kind of protobureaucracy that set the stage for the transformation of later Confucian principles into a "template-making" institution with its organization of literati. Collapse of the earliest cities and states followed by the rise of other early states is not, in my view, an example of regeneration, at least not one of the kind that is stipulated in the Chinese dynastic cycle. Regeneration doesn't just happen; it has to be engineered.
Stark's chapter seems to illustrate the birth of a template of the Khmer state in mainland Southeast Asia (chapter 10). She shows that many interacting small polities from the mid first millennium AD through the mid second millennium were fragile and only loosely integrated. Stimulated by economic ties with China and with significant influence from India—both
in economic and in ideological terms (Wheatley 1975)—the Khmer elites forged new systems of power and governance. The collapse of old polities and the rise of new ones in Southeast Asia seems less an example of regeneration than one of state formation.
John Nichols and Jill Weber's chapter details the collapse and regeneration of Tell Umm el-Marra within a larger region of Syrian states and statelets, all influenced in one way or other by contacts with earlier Mesopotamian states (chapter 3). In early Mesopotamian history, there were many collapses of states and empires, but these were all followed by the regeneration of new states and empires. There are a few instances of sites being abandoned and then reoccupied (e.g., Uruk and Nippur in the late Old Babylonian period [ Stone 1977; van Ess 1991]), but most urban places, with variations in the density of occupation and political leadership, flourished uninterruptedly for roughly three thousand years.
In the second half of the second millennium BC, new regional states of (Kassite) Babylonia and Assyria arose. In the first millennium BC, Assyria was the greatest empire in the world. It fell in the late 600s but did not regenerate. Babylonia, which replaced it as the dominant state in western Asia, was conquered by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 539 BC. Thereafter, there was no Mesopotamian state, the rulers of Mesopotamia did not think of themselves as Mesopotamians, and the gods and languages of Mesopotamia were only options to the people living in Mesopotamia, who could also choose among many other belief systems. Exploring the differences in the collapse, regeneration, and nonregeneration of these two states is an interesting exercise in assessing change and continuity (Yoffee 2005).
The collapse of Assyria was not followed by the regeneration of an Assyrian state, and for good reasons. In the fourteenth century BC, the Assyrian state effected its independence of rivals by investing strong kings with an increasingly large and influential military establishment. Kings progressively disenfranchised local elites and their councils, increased the effectiveness of the military, conquered new territory, and frequently deported defeated peoples to various parts of its growing empire. Although these policies led to an increasingly centralized Assyrian state and an unprecedented military supremacy, there was a price. When the Assyrian army became bogged down in a civil war with Babylonia from 652 to 648 BC, conquered provinces took the opportunity to rebel. Foreign enemies in the north and the east consolidated their opposition to Assyria. From 616 to 610 BC, the enemies of Assyria conquered and sacked the major cities of Assyria. By this time, the population in Assyria was a mixture of peoples, Assyrians andothers, both in the cities and in the countryside, and the traditional Assyrian nobility had been replaced by military leaders and bureaucrats who owned agricultural land and villages. With the defeat of the king and the army there was not only the end of the Assyrian government. The removal of natural ties between the local, rural people—who were largely non-Assyrian—and their traditional leaders had been effected by the Assyrian kings themselves. Such non-Assyrian elites as existed had little reason to follow Assyrian models and to rebuild the Assyrian state.
In Babylonia, Cyrus and succeeding Persian rulers who ruled the land honored Babylonian traditions, refurbished temples, and were regarded by Babylonians as rightful rulers of the land. They had no choice in this matter. Famous for their policies of toleration of all local belief systems as long as these did not challenge the legitimacy of their rule, Persian kings claimed in effect that regeneration of the Mesopotamian state was irrelevant. The Persian state was the Mesopotamian state. But was it? Over time, being Mesopotamian was only one of the available orientations for the citizens of the land, and they chose progressively to abandon their Mesopotamianness under Achaemenid Persian, Hellenistic, and then other Persian dynasties (see more fully in Rempel and Yoffee 1999; Yoffee 2005).
The chapters in this volume show that "regeneration" requires research into ideology: Why is the past recalled or one part of the past emphasized and other parts forgotten? Who is vested with preserving the past, and what are the opportunities for rebuilding it or resisting such rebuilding? Studies of regeneration, like those of collapse, require that archaeologists reckon on the active participation of individuals who make choices among the multiple and overlapping identities available to them. We must ask who profits from which choices and who does not. These questions are quite different from many of the old preoccupations of archaeologists who sought to identify types of societies, focused on political institutions, and tended to ignore the different classes of people within a society and their various interests and identities. The archaeology of the new millennium is witnessing the collapse of many old and tired questions, and the field is consequently being (happily) regenerated as a result.
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