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The Creation of Inequality: How Our Prehistoric Ancestors Set the Stage for Monarchy, Slavery, and Empire Paperback – October 6, 2014
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The origin of inequality is one of the most basic questions about human societies. We all arose from egalitarian hunter/gatherer ancestors. Why, then, do almost all of us poor peasants now tolerate affluent leaders, whether they are democratically elected presidents or military dictators? In this clear, readable survey, the distinguished archaeologists Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus extract the answers by comparing the histories of societies over the whole world for the last 10,000 years. This book will become the standard account of long-term political evolution. (Jared Diamond, Professor of Geography at UCLA and Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse)
By carefully articulating and integrating archaeological and ethnographic data, Flannery and Marcus present a panoramic view of the development of particular cultures in various parts of the world. Moreover, in selecting case studies the authors have gone beyond the familiar examples so often cited in anthropology textbooks. The Creation of Inequality promises to be a landmark work. (Robert L. Carneiro, Ph.D., Curator Emeritus and Professor Emeritus, Anthropology, Richard Gilder Graduate School at the American Museum of Natural History)
Flannery and Marcus are two of the most distinguished anthropological archaeologists in the world. The Creation of Inequality distills two lifetimes of work on the origin and evolution of complex societies throughout the ancient world. This work brings much of this together in an eminently readable and fascinating way. (Charles S. Stanish, Ph.D., Director, Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, and Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles)
This provocative work, likely to become an important contribution to the literature of social and political anthropology, will be of interest both to scholars in the field and to anthropology and archaeology enthusiasts seeking understanding of the development and perpetuation of inequality in human societies. (Elizabeth Salt Library Journal 2012-06-01)
Extraordinarily erudite...It would be an excellent addition to collections on the rise of civilization or on how to use the data gathered by cultural anthropologists and archaeologists to understand broad patterns of social change. Professionals in the field will also benefit from this tour de force by two of archaeology's most provocative scholars. (L. L. Johnson Choice 2012-11-01)
Kent Flannery and Joyce Marcus have done a remarkable job in synthesizing the two key disciplines of social anthropology and archaeology, and their book represents a significant advance in our understanding of the evolution of complex societies. (Peter Turchin Times Literary Supplement 2013-03-08)
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.(Steven Mithen London Review of Books 2013-04-11) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Kent Flannery is James B. Griffin Distinguished University Professor of Anthropological Archaeology and Curator of Human Ecology and Archaeobiology at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan.
Joyce Marcus is Robert L. Carneiro Distinguished University Professor of Social Evolution and Curator of Latin American Archaeology at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology, University of Michigan.
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Top Customer Reviews
Actually the book discusses the same issue of institutional development from the antropology and argeology point of view as Francis Fukuyama's The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution does from history and political science point of view but concentrating on human prehistory instead of history.
So I would say this book is not only for antropology&argeology enthusiasts but should also be read by people interested in economy and political science who will widen their understanding on the evolution of institutions. Meaning people following scientists like Fukuyama, Daron Acemoglu, Avner Greif or Peyton Young. Institutional evolution has been an ongoing process duuring the human history since extended families started to give room for more complex societies and collective ownership for private ownership.
If you are really curious about this topic pick up a copy of Rousseau's "A Discourse on Inequality". Rousseau manages to pack more insight and observation into his short work than Flannery could ever hope for.
Outstanding example of how coordinated ethnographic and archaeological investigations can provide a nuanced understanding of the origin of hereditary inequality and the evolutionary consequences of this transition.