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After Collapse

The Regeneration of Complex Societies

Glenn M. Schwartz

Publication Year: 2010

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. This 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.

Bennet Bronson, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Christina A. Conlee, Lisa Cooper, Timothy S. Hare, Alan L. Kolata, Marilyn A. Masson, Gordon F. McEwan, Ellen Morris, Ian Morris, Carlos Peraza Lope, Kenny Sims, Miriam T. Stark, Jill A. Weber, Norman Yoffee

Published by: University of Arizona Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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1. From Collapse to Regeneration

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pp. 3-17

In the 1960s and 1970s, comparative studies of early complex societies in anthropological archaeology focused overwhelmingly on the emergence of the first states and urban societies.1 Prime movers, primary states, and the earliest urban systems...

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2. The Demise and Regeneration of Bronze Age Urban Centers in the Euphrates Valley of Syria

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pp. 18-37

In the Near East, the end of the third millennium BC was a tumultuous time characterized in many regions by the demise of state society or, at the very least, the increased fragmentation of urban polities that had once controlled large tracts of land...

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3. Amorites, Onagers, and Social Reorganization in Middle Bronze Age Syria

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pp. 38-57

If societal collapse and regeneration occur as a result of the failure and reorganization of regional systems that structure networks of people and places, how are these processes manifested at individual communities within those systems...

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4. “Lo, Nobles Lament, the Poor Rejoice”: State Formation in the Wake of Social Flux

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pp. 58-71

Within a comparative framework of early state societies, pharaonic Egypt stands out as one of the most stable, integrated, and long-lasting political entities of which we have record. Indeed, in the two millennia or so that constituted...

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5. The Collapse and Regeneration of Complex Society in Greece, 1500–500 BC

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pp. 72-84

Greece between 1500 and 500 BC is one of the best-known cases of the collapse and regeneration of complex society. In the 1870s, Heinrich Schliemann showed that a Mycenaean (Late Bronze Age; see table 5.1) culture had preceded Greece’s Classical civilization...

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6. Inca State Origins: Collapse and Regeneration in the Southern Peruvian Andes

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pp. 85-98

As a result of archaeological fieldwork of the past two decades in Cuzco, Peru, Inca origins can now be viewed from a perspective significantly different from the traditional ethnohistoric analyses of the postconquest Spanish chronicles...

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7. Regeneration as Transformation: Postcollapse Society in Nasca, Peru

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pp. 99-113

The Wari empire was probably the first true imperial power in the Andes, and its expansion, consolidation, and ultimate collapse profoundly changed the nature of power and political organization in many areas that were part of its dominion...

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8. After State Collapse: How Tumilaca Communities Developed in the Upper Moquegua Valley, Peru

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pp. 114-136

The peak of centralization and political power in the Moquegua Valley occurred circa AD 800, when the Wari state controlled the upper valley and the Tiwanaku state, the middle valley. Following the withdrawal of Tiwanaku (ca. ad 950) and...

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9. Patterns of Political Regeneration in Southeast and East Asia

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pp. 137-143

In the archaeologically visible history of Asia, there are numerous declines, apparent and real, and several patterns of regeneration. These may be divided into patterns of the false, stimulus, and template type. There would seem to be two kinds of false regeneration...

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10. From Funan to Angkor: Collapse and Regeneration in Ancient Cambodia

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pp. 144-167

The cyclical quality of ancient states (Adams 1988; Feinman 1998; Marcus 1998; Yoffee 1988b) is abundantly evident in mainland Southeast Asia, where multiple and overlapping histories of collapse and regeneration characterized the region from the first millennium...

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11. Framing the Maya Collapse: Continuity, Discontinuity, Method, and Practice in the Classic to Postclassic Southern Maya Lowlands

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pp. 168-187

Despite substantial new research on both the Classic (AD 250–900) and the Postclassic (AD 900–1542 [1697]) period Maya, views of the Classic Maya collapse and of the changes that took place in the subsequent Postclassic period are very little changed...

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12. Postclassic Maya Society Regenerated at Mayapán

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pp. 188-207

Most prior studies of collapse in the Maya area focus on the abandonment, decline, and transformation of Late or Terminal Classic period polities, which suffered far more permanent and damaging regional-scale demographic consequences...

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13. Before and After Collapse: Reflections on the Regeneration of Social Complexity

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pp. 208-221

This book addresses an extraordinarily complicated sociohistorical phenomenon: the regeneration of cultural complexity in the aftermath of state collapse. The case studies presented here graphically demonstrate the highly variable nature of this process...

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14. Notes on Regeneration

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pp. 222-227

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...


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pp. 229-276

About the Editors

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pp. 277

About the Contributors

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pp. 279-282


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pp. 283-289

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780816521203
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816529360

Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2010