This book, a comparative study of specialized production in prehistoric societies, examines both adaptionist and political approaches to specialization and exchange using a worldwide perspective. What forms of specialization and exchange promote social stratification, political integration and institutional specialization? Can increases in specialization always be linked to improved subsistence strategies or are they more closely related to the efforts of political elites to strengthen coalitions and establish institutions of control? Are valuables as important as subsistence goods in the developmental process? These and other questions are examined in the contexts of ten prehistoric societies, ranging from the incipient complexity of Mississippian chiefdoms through to the more complex systems of West Africa, Hawaii and Bronze Age Europe, to the agrarian states of Mesopotamia, Mesoamerica, Peru and Yamato Japan. Each society is the subject of a separate study by a scholar whose own research has provided new insights into the interplay of specialization, exchange and social complexity in the region studied.
Table of Contents1. Specialisation, exchange, and complex societies: an introduction Elizabeth M. Brumfiel and Timothy K. Earle; 2. Salt, chert, and shell: Mississippian exchange and economy Jon Muller; 3. Unequal development in Copper Age Iberia Antonio Gilman; 4. From stone to bronze: the evolution of social complexity in Northern Europe, 2300-1200 BC Kristian Kristiansen; 5. Power and moral order in precolonial West-Central Africa Michael Rowlands; 6. Specialisation and the production of wealth: Hawaiian chiefdoms and the Inka empire Timothy K. Earle; 7. Economic change in the lowland Maya Late Classic period Prudence M. Rice; 8. The role of the be in the formation of the Yamato State Gina L. Barnes; 9. Elite and utilitarian crafts in the Aztec state Elizabeth M. Brumfiel; 10. Forms of finance and forms of production: the evolution of specialised livestock production in the ancient Near East Kathleen F. Galvin.