The Political Landscape
Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities
Publication Year: 2003
The Classic-period Maya, the kingdom of Urartu, and the cities of early southern Mesopotamia provide the focal points for this multidimensional account of human polities. Are the cities and villages in which we live and work, the lands that are woven into our senses of cultural and personal identity, and the national territories we occupy merely stages on which historical processes and political rituals are enacted? Or do the forms of buildings and streets, the evocative sensibilities of architecture and vista, the aesthetics of place conjured in art and media constitute political landscapes—broad sets of spatial practices critical to the formation, operation, and overthrow of polities, regimes, and institutions? Smith brings together contemporary theoretical developments from geography and social theory with anthropological perspectives and archaeological data to pursue these questions.
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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Perhaps because this book is concerned with the role that landscapes playin our lives, it is di‹cult for me to reflect on the many individuals whocontributed to the manuscript except in terms of the places where the booktook shape. The present study owes a profound debt to the institutionswhere it was pursued and the numerous friends, colleagues, and students...
Introduction: Surveying the Political Landscape
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Perhaps never in two thousand years has the reality of the state beenIn 1928, the Illustrated London News published a sensational pair of im-ages based on C. Leonard Woolley’s excavations at the ancient Mesopo-tamian city of Ur that seemed to capture political authority at the veryinstant of its reproduction.1 The precociously cinematic illustrations...
1. Sublimated Spaces
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Space is the mark of new history and the measure of work now afootCharles Olson, poet and precocious postmodernist, was wrong. Althoughhis call in 1948 to spatialize our understanding of the human past is reg-ularly trotted out as an intellectual precursor to late-twentieth-centurytrends in social and literary theory, it would be di‹cult to argue at present...
2. Archaeologies of Political Authority
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The moment we utter the words “the state” a score of intellectualIt is not coincidental that the vision of modern political analysis came tobe obscured just as the spatial dimensions of human life were systemati-cally dismissed as elements of explanation, interpretation, and critique.Only at rare moments in twentieth-century thought—when the highly...
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After the flood had swept over (the earth) (and) when kingship wasTwenty-three kings (thus) ruled it for 24,510 years, 3 months, and 3 1⁄2days. Kish was defeated in battle,... its kingship was removed toIn The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (1987), Paul Kennedy describesmodern macropolitical history as a progress of successive “Great Pow-...
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The Scribe Inena communicating to his lord, the Scribe of the Trea-sury Qa- g[abu]. . . . Another communication to my lord to [wit: We]have finished letting the Bedouin tribes of Edom pass the Fortress [of ]The countries of Khor and Kush, The land of Egypt You [ god Aten]Egyptian Hymn to Aten, late Eighteenth Dynasty (ca. 1552–1295 ...
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You ought to speak of other States in the plural number; not one ofthem is a city, but many cities, as they say in the game. For indeedany city, however small, is in fact divided into two, one the city of thepoor, the other of the rich; these are at war with one another; and ineither there are many smaller divisions, and you would be altogether...
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...garlic plot of the ruler, and the best fields of the gods became thegarlic and cucumber plots of the ruler. Teams of asses and spiritedthe temple administrators was distributed by the personnel of theruler.... The administrators felled trees in the orchards of the poorand bundled oª the fruit.... The bureaucracy was operating from...
Conclusion: Toward a Cartography of Political Landscapes
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Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is com-pletely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complexand interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons butAbove a gate into his imperial city of Samarkand, the legendary Timurordered inscribed the resounding architectonic boast “If you doubt our...
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Page Count: 346
Publication Year: 2003