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Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations
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"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
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.