Bronze Age Economics: The Beginnings of Political Economies

Bronze Age Economics: The Beginnings of Political Economies

Bronze Age Economics: The Beginnings of Political Economies

Bronze Age Economics: The Beginnings of Political Economies

Synopsis

This collection of Timothy Earle's major essays provides a comparative analysis of prehistoric economies. They look at trajectories of economic development as they affect, and are affected by, political institutions.

Excerpt

The chapters of Bronze Age Economics were written across my career, starting with works of a young and idealistic Assistant Professor at ucla and finishing up with the more senior thoughts of a Full Professor at Northwestern University. the book represents both my personal journey and my growing synthesis of how political economies emerged in human societies. These economies were embedded in the hierarchy of chiefdoms, intermediate-level societies that emerged from Neolithic villages to form the regional polities that prefigured states. I am a social evolutionist. I believe that human societies have changed fundamentally and that a central goal of anthropology is to understand these evolutionary changes. the chapters that follow document at least in outline how the intensification and control of human economies were basic to the evolutionary process.

The social world of academics surely affects our intellectual histories. To understand the goals and the methods found in this book is to understand the anthropology faculty and students with whom I have come of age: as an undergraduate at Harvard University, 1965-1969; as a graduate student at the University of Michigan, 1969-1973; and as a professor at ucla, 1973-1995, and at Northwestern University, 1995 to the present. Harvard in the late 1960s was a place of revolutionary thought. As our contemporaries fought, killed, and died in Vietnam, we talked about a new world improved by progressive action. Academically, I was perhaps most influenced by two young Assistant Professors, James Deetz and Tom Patterson, both just passing through for important future careers, and two established senior scholars, V. Gordon Willey and Ernst Mayr. Jim Deetz's introductory class (later published as An Invitation to Archaeology) seduced me into anthropology, away from an intention to study evolutionary biology. the strongly empirical, analytic, and functional approaches of Harvard's ethnographers (David Maybury-Lewis, Evon Vogt, John Whiting, and the visitor Roger Keesing) appealed to me; the archaeology was unexciting.

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