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Archaeology-Chapter 13-Origin of Cities and States Dec 4 2008


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Marcel Danesi

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Reading Notes
Chapter 13: Origin of Cities and States
y Civilization: urban society, from the Latin word for ³city state´
y State: a political unit with centralized decision making affecting a large population. Many
states have cities with public buildings; full time craft and religious specialists, an official art
style; a hierarchal social structure topped by an elite class; and a governmental monopoly on
the legitimate use of force to implement policies
Archeological Inferences About Civilization
y Egalitarian Society: a society in which all persons of a given age-sex category have equal
access to economic resources, power, and prestige- (earliest Neolithic societies were
Cities and States in Southern Iraq
The Formative Era
y 5000 BC- 3500 BC
y Development of small scale irrigation, lowland river areas (which provided variety of food)-
began to attract settlers
y Differences in status are reflected in the burial of statues and ornaments with children
y Different villages specialized in the production of different goods- pottery, copper, stone
tools, etc
y Certain places may have been centres of political/religious authority for several communities
y Chiefdoms: a political unit, with a chief at its head, integrating more than one community but
not necessarily the whole society or language group
Sumerian Civilization
y 3500 BC- many cities in area of Sumer- most were enclosed in a fortress wall and surrounded
by an agricultural area
y 3000 BC- all of Sumer was unified under a single govt
y Became an empire-> urban centres
y Sumerians learned to construct and use wheeled wagons, sailboats, horse drawn chariots,
spears, swords, armour of bronze
y Economic specialization developed, social stratification became more elaborate
y Social classes- nobles, priests, merchants, craft workers, metallurgists, bureaucrats, soldiers,
farmers, free citizens, slaves (captives of war)
y 3000 BC- first evidence of writing= forms of ledgers containing inventories of items stored in
temples and records of livestock/other items owned or managed by temples
y Cuneiform: wedge- shaped writing invented by the Sumerian around 3000 BC
y Hieroglyphics: ³picture writing´ as in ancient Egypt and in Mayan sites in Mesoamerica
(Mexico and Central America)
Cities and States in Mesoamerica
The Formative Period
y Area around Teotihuacan (1000-3000 BC)
y Was characterized by small, scattered farming villages on the hilly slopes just south of the
Teotihuacan valley
y Few hundred people in each hamlet- politically autonomous
y After 500 BC- shift to settlements on the valley floor- associated with irrigation
y 300- 200 BC- small elite centres emerged in valley
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