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Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations Paperback – January 31, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0521521567 ISBN-10: 0521521564

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (January 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521521564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521521567
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 6.7 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #847,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Profoundly interesting volume."-Bruce Trigger, McGill University

"I strongly recommend Myths of the Archaic State to anyone interested in social evolution."-David Webster, Pennsylvania State University

"Norman Yoffee has written an elegant, witty, and substantive critique of neo-evolutionary theory in archaeological anthropology."-Phillip Kohl, Wellesly College

"A highly stimulating book that expounds a clear line of argument while maintaining an entertaining line of discourse. Yoffee has written a superb and exciting book that will provoke thought and discussion wherever it is read."-Roger Matthews, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

"Norman Yoffee identifies a series of what he terms 'myths' in archaeological thought, and then proceeds to demolish them one by one, using an astonishing array of case studies, from Mesopotamia to Chaco Canyon. His book is provocative, inspirational, transformative, and so full of small (and weighty) gems that it is a pleasure to read."-Katharina Schreiber, University of California, Santa Barbara

"In Myths of the Archaic State, Norman Yoffee seeks to rescue the concept of social evolution from its critics--altering its shape, content, and meaning, while retaining its traditional goal of explaining the emergence of early civilizations. It clears away the cobwebs of an earlier generation of anthropological thought and, in its strongest moments, points to a new configuration of global history."-David Wengrow, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, SCIENCE

Book Description

Classical archaeology promotes the view that a state's evolution reflected general, universal forces. Norman Yoffee challenges this model by presenting more complex and multi-linear models for the evolution of civilizations. In his ground-breaking collection of essays he challenges the definition of the prehistoric state, particularly that which hearlds 'the chiefdom' as the forerunner of the ancient state. He explores questions of agency and identity with case studies on the role of women in ancient societies. He examines the building of archaeological theory and the new direction that it is taking.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Atheen M. Wilson on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a superb book, but it really isn't quite what I had expected from the title. I had expected a more cut and dried account of early state development in a variety of world venues as extracted from recent archaeological studies. Certainly the more recent technological developments in the procedural side of archaeological endeavors has produced abundant new results, as the new research on Mellart`s old site at Catal Hoyuk indicates.The Leopard's Tale: Revealing the Mysteries of Catalhoyuk

Instead the author Norman Yoffee, a professor of Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology at the U of Michigan, gives a very thorough account of what has transpired with respect to the theory and practice of archaeology particularly in the field of interpretation of research results. His focus, as the title indicates, is on city, state and civilization development, and he presents considerable amounts of new information on a variety of cultures.

To begin with, in his chapter entitled, The Evolution of a Factoid, he covers neo-evolutionism and processualism in archaeology and discusses what these theories attempted to do and why they failed. He notes that archaeology has been, at least in the US, a sub-department of anthropology in most university settings. According to Professor Yoffee, this history created a perceived need to justify archaeology as a "legitimate" subject of study, particularly scientific study, by adopting some of the theories and research modes of the parent department.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Lauren Astafan on July 14, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book was required reading for my Archaeology of Complex Societies class in Spring 2009. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Professor Yoffee's book and felt that it was an excellent choice for the course content. He is funny and amusing, all the while explaining the theories in an easily intelligible style that made it easy to read. I unfortunately sold this book back at the end of the semester and regret the decision because I would like to reference it for the Humanities class I will be teaching in the upcoming school year. If this is going to be a textbook for you and you enjoy the subject matter, I doubt you'll be disappointed. As for casual reading, it would be an ambitious project without much background in the subject matter, but it would be highly enlightening and worth the effort.
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16 of 38 people found the following review helpful By John A. Maxwell on May 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
[...]

It contains very little material on it's nominal subject; almost all of the content is of the form "So-and-so theorized such-and-such, but This-other-fellow contradicted him, saying this-and-the-other."

Actual facts, raw data, etc. are very sparse.

If a history of the academic squabbles in the fields of archeology and historic anthropology is what you're after, by all means, get this book; I'm sure you'll be delighted. If you're actually interested in the evolution of early civilization, look elsewhere.
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2 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Francesca Vanderbilt on November 21, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to buy this for a class, and we certainly used it, but I never used it for reference material for papers--too dense--unfriendly writing style.
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