Understanding Ancient Interactions
Archaic State Interaction casts valuable new light on how extra-societal contacts may be implicated in processes of increasing social complexity. As the title makes clear, the contributors ground their discussions of interaction theory in the specific sequence of events dating to 3100-1000 BCE in that portion of the Mediterranean basin stretching from Italy to the Levantine Coast. Their goals, as stated clearly by Parkinson and Galaty in the introduction, are to consider how local social and economic changes, on the one hand, were related to: variations in the intensity of interactions occurring at differing spatial and temporal scales; changes in how, and by whom, such contacts were conducted; and, shifts in the routes these transactions followed. The result is less a consensus than a healthy, productive debate on these issues. The main points of contention concern: rates of socio-political change; how to translate patterns among static material remains into dynamic political and economic processes; whose interests drove and shaped the course of cross-border contacts; and what interpretive frameworks are best suited to modeling the latter interactions. With respect to the last point, a consistent theme running throughout the papers deals with the utility of world-systems theory (WST) in describing and understanding the developmental significance of inter-polity contacts.
Journal of World Systems Research