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Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Bruce G. Trigger

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Kurzbeschreibung

16. April 2007
Arising independently in various parts of the world, early civilizations-the first class-based societies in human history-are of importance to social scientists interested in the development of complexity, while their cultural productions fascinate both humanists and the general public. This book offers the first detailed comparative study of the seven most fully documented early civilizations: ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, Shang China, the Aztecs and their neighbors, the Classic Maya, the Inca, and the Yoruba. Unlike previous studies, equal attention is paid to similarities and differences in their sociopolitical organization, their economic systems, and their religious beliefs, knowledge, art, and values. Many of this study's findings are surprising and provocative. They challenge not only current understandings of early civilizations but also the theoretical foundations of modern archaeology and anthropology. Rival cultural and ecological approaches are demonstrated to be complimentary to one another, while a comprehensive understanding of human behavior is shown to require that more attention be paid to psychology and the neurosciences. Bruce G. Trigger is James McGill Professor in the Department of Anthropology at McGill University. He received his PhD from Yale University and has carried out archaeological research in Egypt and the Sudan. His current interests include the comparative study of early civilizations, the history of archaeology, and archaeological and anthropological theory. He has received various scholarly awards, including the Prix Leon-Gerin from the Quebec government, for his sustained contributions to the social sciences. He is an honarary fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and an honarary member of the Prehistoric Society (U.K.). His numerous books include Sociological Evolution (Blackwell, 1998), Early Civilizations: Ancient Egypt in Context (Amer. Univ in Cairo, 1993), A

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'This work is a milestone in the scientific study of sociocultural evolution … I know of no other comparative study of early civilizations of similar scope, depth, and originality.' Philosophy of the Social Sciences

'Its comprehensiveness of theme, readiness to pursue profound if difficult and sometimes not readily answerable questions, and impressive control of a wide range of sources, reflect distinguished thought and dedicated effort … a major achievement.' The International History Review

'Understanding Early Civilizations is the capstone of Trigger's remarkable archaeological career. This is, quite simply, a definitive work.' Brian Fagan, University of California, Santa Barbara

'Trigger's study is monumental and magisterial. It is a work to treasure and digest for years to come.' Philip L. Kohl, Wellesley College

'The latest in Trigger's impressive string of ground-breaking works … An astounding work of scholarship.' Boyce Richardson

'This book is an extraordinary undertaking and a great achievement … It provides an accessible introduction to the problems and priorities of cross-cultural comparison and approaches to early civilisations.' Antiquity

Über das Produkt

A detailed comparative study of the seven best-documented early civilizations: ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, Shang China, the Aztecs, peoples in the Valley of Mexico, the Classic Maya, the Inka, and the Yoruba. Equal attention is paid to similarities and differences in their sociopolitical organization, economic systems, religion, and culture.

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Amazon.com: 4.7 von 5 Sternen  3 Rezensionen
17 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Challenging comparative history 11. Juli 2008
Von T. Carlsson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
History can be written in many different ways. Many books on ancient history put an excessive focus on political events, with endless sequences of "Prince A inherited the kingship from his father B, but was soon assassinated by usurper C". Other books focus on very narrow topics without general interest. You will not understand much of ancient societies by collecting bare facts from books like that. Bruce Trigger's book is the antithesis of narrowly focused history. It's a superb comparison of seven early civilizations on many different levels (as you can see from the table of contents). The primary historical sources from these civilizations are not directly comparable, but Trigger's critical analysis of secondary literature is to my knowledge the most complete comparative synthesis ever written on this topic.

Needless to say, nobody can be an expert on seven different civilizations. But on the other hand the benefit of having just one author is that the analysis remains consistent across civilizations, which is a prerequisite for meaningful comparisons. As a result, this book is much more informative than multi-author collections where each author has chosen his own approach to his "own" civilization. But I think the biggest positive in this book is that Trigger is well acquainted with modern anthropological thought. Especially in the introduction and the concluding chapters, the combination of comparative history and cultural anthropology produces a wealth of insights. It is particularly interesting to learn how a small elite exercised extensive control over the common people in all of these early civilizations, and how this relationship formed the basic structure of society.

The one problem I encountered when reading this book was that seven civilizations is a large number. When you compare this many units to each other, the comparison inevitably takes the form of a list (listing the characteristics of civ1, then civ2, civ3 and so on). There's nothing wrong with that, but reading information in list form can be a bit tedious and requires a lot of concentration. I recommend this book to people who have a serious interest in ancient history and are determined to learn as much as possible on this subject. The title of this book is highly appropriate. After reading this book you will definitely be on your way toward understanding early civilizations.
29 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen A great comparative review of early civilizations 3. September 2003
Von César González Rouco - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In the last few years I have tried and read books offering a broad scope and general overviews of history, sociology, anthropology and religion (you may well say that globalization has reached social science too). With that aim in mind, I have read this book.
The description on the approach of the book provided by the "Book reviews" is fairly accurate. Therefore, I will only point out that this book shows both the depths of the present state of knowledge and ignorance on the matter: all relevant issues of 7 early civilizations are compared and the conclusions are basically negative, i.e., current rival explanations are shown to be defective, and the author expects that psychology and the neurosciences may help to provide for better explanations in the future, but the author does not set forth any new paradigma or global explanation on the subject.
Although the content is very interesting, the book often happens to be a tough reading; therefore I have rated the book as a 4 start book(content: 5 starts; pleasure of reading: 3 to 1).
Other books I would recommend to read are the following: "The Dynamics of Global Dominance. European Overseas Empires 1415-1980", by David Abernethy, the trilogy on the Information Age ("The Rise of the Network Society", "The power of Identity", "End of Millennium") by Manuel Castells, "Pre-industrial societies" by Patricia Crone, "The History of Government" by S.E. Finer, "Power and privilege" by Gerhard Lenski, "The world economy. A millennial perspective" by Angus Maddison, "The Rise of the West" by William H. McNeill, "The Phenomenon of Religion", by Moojan Momen and "World History. A new perspective" by Clive Ponting.
10 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen For grad school and professionals 16. Mai 2007
Von Gray Graffam - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
An excellent book for the serious academic interested in the subject. Not suitable as a classroom text, because of the level of knowledge required, as well as the length and complexity of the volume.
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