- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
This is a work of profound importance...[It] yields insights into a multitude of societies
in the recent and prehistoric past...Flannery and Marcus's magnum opus...[This] is a deeply impressive achievement.
Chapter 2: Rousseau’s “State of Nature”
Rousseau felt that to understand the origins of inequality, one had to go back to a long-ago time when Nature provided all human needs, and the only differences among individuals lay in their strength, agility, and intelligence. People had both “anarchic freedom” (no government or law) and “personal freedom” (no sovereign master or immediate superior). Individuals of that time, which Rousseau called the State of Nature, displayed self-respect but eschewed self-love.
Most anthropologists do not like the phrase “State of Nature.” They do not believe in a time when archaic modern humans had so little culture that their behavior was directed largely by nature. While conceding that the capacity for culture is the result of natural selection, anthropologists argue that humans themselves determine the content of their culture. Many anthropologists, therefore, bristle when evolutionary psychologists presume to tell them which parts of human social behavior are “hardwired into the cerebral cortex.”
Suppose, however, that we pose a less controversial question to anthropologists: What form of human society, because of its highly egalitarian nature, best serves as a starting point for the study of inequality? In that case, many anthropologists would answer, “those hunting and gathering societies who possess no groupings larger than the extended family.”
In this chapter we examine four such societies: the traditional Caribou and Netsilik Eskimo, who lived in a setting as cold as Ice Age Europe, and the traditional Basarwa and Hadza, who lived in a world of African game like many of our earliest ancestors. We do not look at the 21st-century descendants of those ethnic groups; we look, instead, at the way they lived when anthropologists first contacted them. The less altered by contact with Western civilization any foraging group was when first described, the more useful that group’s description is to our reconstruction of ancient life.
Some of the first Westerners to visit clanless foragers considered them Stone Age people frozen in time. This idea was so naïve and demeaning that it triggered a backlash. Soon revisionists were claiming that recent foragers can tell us nothing about the past, because they are merely the victims of expanding civilization. That revisionism went too far, and now the pendulum is swinging back to a more balanced position.
Some of the most eloquent spokespersons for the balanced position are anthropologists who have spent years among foragers. The late Ernest S. (“Tiger”) Burch, Jr., who devoted a lifetime to arctic hunters, conceded that the industrialized nations’ tendency to swallow up ethnic minorities has left few foraging societies unaltered. This situation does not mean, however, that we cannot make use of recent foragers to understand their prehistoric counterparts. What we need to do, according to Burch, is to select a distinct form of society —- clanless foragers would be one example —- and create a model of that society that can be compared to both ancient and modern groups. If we do our work well, some aspects of our model should apply to all clanless foragers, regardless of when they lived. In other words, if you find that the foragers of 10,000 years ago were doing something that their counterparts were still doing in the year 1900, that behavior can hardly have resulted from the impact of Western civilization.
One of the most important behaviors we look at in this chapter is the creation of widespread networks of cooperating neighbors. We also examine the archaeological record for comparable networks in the distant past.
Part I Starring Out Equal
1 Genesis and Exodus 3
2 Rousseau s "State of Nature" 19
3 Ancestors and Enemies 40
4 Why Our Ancestors Had Religion and the Arts 54
5 Inequality without Agriculture 66
Part II Balancing Prestige and Equality
6 Agriculture and Achieved Renown 91
7 The Ritual Buildings of Achievement-Based Societies 110
8 The Prehistory of the Ritual House 121
9 Prestige and Equality in Four Native American Societies 153
Part III Societies That Made Inequality Hereditary
10 The Rise and Fall of Hereditary Inequality in Farming Societies 187
11 Three Sources of Power in Chiefly Societies 208
12 From Ritual House to Temple in the Americas 229
13 Aristocracy without Chiefs 251
14 Temples and Inequality in Early Mesopotamia 260
15 The Chiefly Societies in Our Backyard 298
16 How to Turn Rank into Stratification: Tales of the South Pacific 313
Part IV Inequality in Kingdoms and Empires
17 How to Create a Kingdom 341
18 Three of die New Worlds First-Generation Kingdoms 367
19 The Land of die Scorpion King 394
20 Black Ox Hides and Golden Stools 422
21 The Nursery of Civilization 448
22 Graft and Imperialism 475
23 How New Empires Learn from Old 503
Part V Resisting Inequality
24 Inequality and Natural Law 547
Sources of Illustrations 615