The Evolution Of Urban Society / Edition 1

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The Evolution of Urban Societyis concerned with the presentation and analysis of regularities in the two best-documented examples of early, independent urban society: Mesopotamia and central Mexico. It provides a systematic comparison of institutional forms and trends of growth that are to be found in both of them. Emphasizing basic similarities in structure rather than the many acknowledged formal features by which each culture is rendered distinguishable from all others, it demonstrates that both societies can usefully be regarded as variants of a single process.

Generalizing, comparative analyses of the origins of ancient civilizations in early anthropological studies emphasized the diversity of their cultures rather than their similarities. As this volume illustrates, early societies, in actuality, provide a significant example of broad regularities in human behavior. The emergence of states—of stratified, politically organized societies based upon a complex division of labor—is one of those great transformations that have punctuated human civilization. Adams shows why the study of societal evolution is so significant, and why it has remained a durable and attractive anthropological focus of interest.

Originally published in 1966, The Evolution of Urban Society is based on a series of lectures at the University of Rochester in honor of the esteemed anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan. It remains required reading for students of anthropology, ethnography, ancient civilizations, and world history. As Elizabeth Carter noted in Science at the time: "Adams's The Evolution of Urban Society set the agenda for contemporary research into early urbanism in the [Mesopotamian] region."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[I]n The Evolution of Urban Society, Robert Adams has produced a work which uses new data not only to amend some of Steward’s daring “trial formulations” but to show us how “specialists in particular subjects can reformulate general positions in the light of their particular knowledge”… One of the many virtues of this brief but extremely valuable book is that its author provides us with the data with which we may, if we choose, examine our personal prejudices or doubts on these tired theoretical issues… [I]n his insightful comparison of the processes of development and change in two widely-separated urban societies he has, I believe, provided clear empirical evidence that the developments in Mesopotamia between around 3900 B.S. and 2300 B.C. are enough like those that took place in Mexico around 100 B.C. and A.D. 1500 to be regarded as independent “variants of a single processual pattern.” And that is no small achievement.” —Robert A. Manners, American Antiquity “[B]y his comparison of the Mesopotamian and Mexican developments he has contributed significantly to our understand of each. We need more such comparisons.” —Irving Rouse, ManThe Evolution of Urban Society is marked not only by the freshness of its approach to the problem of understanding the growth of early civilization, but also by a depth of fact and insight that will require careful study and more than a single reading to assimilate. That this is true is merely recognition of the unique authority imposed by the special background and exceptional gifts that only Professor Adams could bring to such a study.” —Joe D. Seger, Journal of American Oriental Society “From the point of view of the history of civilization, this little book, the work of a scholar with a superb anthropological training and background as well as intimate knowledge and understanding of the archeology, history, and culture of Ancient Mesopotamia, may well turn out to be a minor classic.” —Samuel Noah Kramer, Journal of Near Eastern Studies
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780202308180
  • Publisher: Transaction Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/15/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 204
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert McC. Adams, until his retirement in 1994, was the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He is presently adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego, and has also served on the faculty of the University of Chicago, in its Oriental Institute and Department of Anthropology. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Land Behind Baghdad and Paths of Fire: An Anthropologist's Inquiry into Western Society. In 1996, Adams was recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the Society for American Archaeology.

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