———- and development of social complexity is
———- Forwarded message ———From: Delores Benabou
Compare and contrast at least three different parts of the world. The growth and development of social complexity is intrinsically linked with event(S) such as the move towards more sedentary lifestyles, large scale agriculture (in conjunction with Ecosystems engineering/ artificial selection), specialization etc.. Though a majority of large societies experienced a transition towards these forms of societal change, they experienced them at different times with differentiated progressions and social ramifications (divergent ideologies and agricultural and organizational techniques and structures)). In this essay I will examine the factors which stimulated the growth of -societal- complexity of the Near East, Africa and continental Europe prior to 1500 b.c.(.
Only one) NEAR EASTa) The main driver of social complexity- agriculture- first emerged (< —Space) in the Fertile Crescent some 12,000 years ago. The transition from hunter-gathering society to more sedentary forms of habitation is most likely one of the greatest stimulators of societal development. The end of the Pleistocene and ?? saw drastic climatic change with the passing of the last glacial maximum.
<— Preboreal climatic movements and Bølling-Allerød warming started to warm (used warm twice..maybe increased temperatures?) areas of the near east (and vastly expanded) vastly expanding the amount of available arable land. This global warming brought about to (two) major social developments; the formation of sedentary hunter gathering societies and 3000 years later, agriculturally dependant communities. The culture of the Near East was (irrevocably) changed by the negative environmental event that occurred near the end of the Pleistocene. The Near East developed a climate prone to strong seasonality quite similar to the Mediterreaen climate.
This strong (seasonality) defined agricultural (practices) and by extension the (societies) that formed around it. Many areas in the Near East are (separated) by mountains and plains and thus agriculture is dependant on direct rainfall. Due to the pluvial variability of the region many early socieities who had not yet developed complex methods of irrigation chose to hedge their success of survival by developing into socieities of sedentary huntergathers.
An example of such a society is the Natufians . Natufian society ( c. 20,000 BP to c. 10,500 BP) where (were) able to adopt a sedentary lifestyle much before the advent of agriculture.
In fact, (comma here) botanical data indicates that parts of the Near East – Mesopotamia, Iran, Anatolia- where (were) much more forested in the early to midHolocene (10k-6k), (comma here) suggesting that agriculture developed as another source of substance (subsistence?). Technological innovations also spurred the development of social complexity. The diffusion of new methods and techniques such as basket making and sickle production would prove essential in the pursuit of a more agrarian lifestyle. These innovation(s) not only permitted access to new sources of subsistence but increased the capacity and speed of gathering. Sedentary life also brought with it new form(s) of ideology and symbolism. With sedentism came the concept of the home and a greater sense of individuality and a sense of ownership. The burial of relavtives within the home and in cemeteries around the site demostrated a new level (of) social complexity and group identity. Ritual practice also increased in importance as communally practised rituals served to strengthen the sense of cohesion within the group (Algaze2).
Cooperation and cohesion where (were or proved) to be of paramount importance in order to successfully transition to agrarian life. Agriculture transformed socio-economic(hyphen) organization of near east hunter gather (gatherer) societies, (comma here) turning it (transforming it from) from one structured around (based on) sharing and egalitarianism to (one more hierarchical in structure) a more organized and hierarchical form. Pre-agricultural societies hand (had) functioned through ‘immediate returns systems’ where the immediate consumption of available resources precluded the need for storage. Agriculture enabled groups to produce large amounts of food with the possibility of amassing a surplus (that) created the need for storage. This lead (led) to a system of delayed returns where, once the surplus had been harvested, (commas) it would be stored until a time where (when) it could be fairly distributed. The building of storage pits and granaries demonstrates a clear level of intentionality and long-term planning that had until then been almost inexistent. When resource consumption is dependent upon accumulated stocks, communities must ensure their protection and structure their allocation (Gebel 47). The idea of societal organization then becomes a fundamental concept in ensuring the protection and allocation of the surplus.
This necessitates some form a central authority and hierarchical structure. The American scholar Karl Wittfogel hypothesized that the authority of the governing body was deeply linked with control of irrigation systems. In the arid environments of the near east, (comma) farming is hugely dependent on large scale irrigation; cannals, dykes etc. (and) the governing body in charge (space) of protecting and maintaining these irrigation systems would have unrivaled access of (to) the water supply.
(Period) Control of this critical resource provided the basis for the emergence of what was called ‘oriental despotism’ characterized by a single highly centralized authority such as the temple in Sumer (Whitehouse38). The emergence of hereditary elite was also a byproduct of this new form of organized society. These Elite (take out who) held a monopoly over vital resources and could direct others to build of irrigation canals and similar ?. The effects of the political development of the Near east can be seen at sites such as that of Warka (ancient Uruk). The massive temple complexes which dominate the site demonstrate how this rigid social system was able to mobilize large labor forces to construct monumental public (space) works. The development and geographic placement of communities was (were) also largely dependent upon the major river systems of the Euphrates and Tigris. Channel switching avulsions influenced settlement activity and location.
For example, (comma) in Mesopotamia (no comma) the sites to the south became larger first but as the river gradually shifted in position settlements to the north began to dominate the area. The variability of the river’s (apostrophe) geographic position was reasonable (responsible?) for much (of the) migration from dryer areas to those with more ample sources of water. Due to this variability, (comma) many areas (of the) near east experienced an “urban implosion (no comma) in which city-states carved up the countryside while the population of smaller sites shifted into the new cities (thus creating a depopulated, “ruralized” countryside)” (Algaze 199). The transition to sedentary societies, (comma) with its association with a greater sense of self identity and group mentality coupled with the desire to protect crops and surplus from other groups, (comma) prompted an increase in territoriality and philopatrial (philopatric?) competition. More complex notions of possession and group identify began to develop and (a) new definition of Neolithic territoriality emerged which established not only physical borders but social, economic and cognitive ones. Meanwhile, (comma) during much of the late Pleistocene, much of (the) European continent remained in a glacial state.
Though the glacial ice graually receeded and the flora and fauna returned, nomadic life still dominated european socieities throughout but (much) of the early interglacial period. It wasn’t until around the 6th millennium B.C.
that methods of cultivation and agriculkture where (were) brought over from the Near East. The temperate European climate was ideal for agriculture and, (comma) with abundant and relavitely assecible resources, (comma) complex hierachical society (sp) was not apparent (did not appear) until much later (remove on) (and coincided) with the development of metal goods. Without the climatic pressures of the Near East, (comma) much of pre-historic (sp) Europe consisted of fragmented societies (sp) and isolated villages. However, (comma) European societies (sp) underwent a major social shift with the advent of the Age of Copper. Raw material(s) for metallurgy were scare (scarce) and highly localized (sp). Thus, (comma) control over copper sources became greatly controlled (sp) and politically (sp) vital.
As a result, (comma) those who controlled such sources rapidly emerged (sp) as the political (sp) elite. The new importance of metal works (take out and) ushered in an (take out new) age of craft specialization and many migrated to these new sources of economic and politcal power. Thus, (comma) the location of settlemnt was intrinsically linked with sources of metal. (as unlike in) In contrast to the Near East, Europe’s (cap) abundance of water sources and arrable land precluded the necessity to converge towards cultivatable (cultivable) land. The geography of the European (sp) continent played another crucial roll (role) in the diffusal of innovations and (new) methods (of what?). The introduction of metal tools and goods was (represented) not only a change in technology but a change in the social and economic workings of Europe.
With increased settlement (sp) concentration (sp) came a marked increase in fortified sites indicating that the social econoimuc (social and economic) importance of metal and thus control over sources created a greater amount of social tension (J. A. Barceló & G. Capuzzo & I. Bogdanovi? 487). AFRICA Of the areas where climatic pressures has (have) the most stimulating effect towards (on) social complexity, Africa stands out as by far the best example. During the last glacial maximum, (comma) much of northern Africa was abandoned by its inhabitants due to the instantiable (unstable?) and inhospitable (sp) environment. It wasn’t until around 9500 BP that it was (once) again (re)populated by nomadic hunter gathers.
The harsh climatic conditions attributed to the African continent made the adoption of agriculture a much more gradual progression (Because of the harsh climatic conditions on the Aftrican continent, adoption of agricultural activity was gradual). The climatic variability, particularly that of “interannular rainfall patterns , (commas) tended to promote the implementation of labor-intensive (and labor-absorbing) risk-reduction strategies (that included) )including live meat storage (husbandry) and/or economic diversification” (Webster 341). And in fact, cattle domestication, which spread from the near east, rapidly became a major source of subsistence and played a huge role in social status. As agriculture could not flourish as easily in Africa, as opposed to Europe and the Near East, cattle was the major indicator of wealth and status (and became) becoming the largest valuable commodity. Because of the limited availability of natural resources, (comma) individuals could not gain monopolies over essential substance thus the stratified and hierarchical social structures of the Near East and Europe where (were) rarely found in Africa. In its absence emerged a system of small chiefdoms and tribes where political importance was ascribed to those holding the largest herd of cattle. As a commodity cattle was (were) used to trade, secure political and familial union through marriage (doweries sp was were generally made up of cattle), settle debts and as gifts to increase social ties. As herding (was) often a family practice and most individuals had no means of paying others for their labor, family size and cohesion became of paramount importance.
The larger the family the greater the herd the (that could be managed) could manage and thus the more wealth and influence (they) the family could control. Gradually, (comma) powerful kinship groups formed loose political organizations (Chiefdoms) where influence (SP) and wealth was directly related to familial relationship to the chief. However, (comma) intensive herding – especially of large animals – (hyphens) and farming require cooperation and reciprocity on a level above a nuclear family.
As these chiefs held no monopoly over essential good with which to control a labor force, the”common avenues for the recruitment of nonfamilial dependents or clients included raiding for captives, trading for slaves, the exaction of tribute, and the provision of protection, security, economic assistance, or asylum to strangers,” ( Webster 348) As agriculture and seventies gradually took hold in the northern parts of Africa the tradition of herding and seminary life moved father south as the need for constant viability of food was driven by population pressures. Though the movement towards complex society was driven my (by) numerous and varying factors in these three disparate areas of the globe, (comma) it is possible to distinguish overlapping themes. Firstly, (comma) environmental pressures dramatically influence (influenced) the societal trajectories of populations, (comma) forcing individuals to find the best methods of adaptions for survival. Every society appears driven by opportunism and those that are best suited to manipulate their environment(s) have the highest chances of being successful. In addition, (comma) it is visible (clear) that control of essential resources such as water sources (Near East) and material resource (e.
g. copper and other metals in Europe) played a key role in developing the stratified societies that emerged there. It is apparent that without agricultural innovations and access to surplus none of these areas would have been able to develop as rapid rapidly (with perhaps the exception of Africa). Cooperation and group cohesion, essential for the mass exploitation of arable land , (comma) were also key factors (plurals) in the successful developments of these societies. (There seems to be a clear pattern that) As societies move from hunter gathering to more sedentary lifestyles, (comma) stratification and hierarchical structures gradually begging (begin) to emerge along with a more selfish understanding (interpretation) of individuality, concepts of territoriality and possession.
However, (comma) none of these developments would have been able to occur without the climatic changes which came at the end of the glacial maximum.