A major research problem in anthropology is the origin of the state and its bureaucratic form of governance. Of particular importance for evaluating theories of state origins are cases of primary state formation, whereby a first-generation state evolves without contact with any preexisting states. A general model of this process, the territorial-expansion model, is presented and assessed with archaeological data from six areas where primary states emerged in antiquity: Mesoamerica, Peru, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, and China. In each case, the evidence shows a close correspondence in time between the first appearance of state institutions and the earliest expansion of the state's political-economic control to regions lying more than a day's round-trip from the capital. Although additional research will add detail and clarity to the empirical record, the results to date are consistent with the territorial-expansion model, which argues that the success of such long-distance expansion not only demanded the bureaucratization of central authority but also helped provide the resources necessary to underwrite this administrative transformation.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
When do human groups form states?
Spencer suggests that human states evolve (without contact with any preexisting states) when the area controlled by a group becomes larger than a day's round trip from the capital: