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The Emergence of Complex Societies: A Comparative Approach

David L. Toye
Northeast State Community College


    One of the more daunting tasks facing instructors and students of world history is the effort to survey the rise of a great variety of  "civilizations" or complex societies in different regions of the globe. One method of facilitating this study is to identify the common characteristics of these complex societies and the factors in their development that can be discerned from the archaeological record. Renowned British archaeologist Colin Renfrew, in his seminal 1972 work The Emergence of Civilization: The Cyclades and the Aegean in the Third Millennium B.C., provides such a method with his theory for the development of complex cultures, a theory he termed the multiplier effect. According to Renfrew, innovations in one aspect or subsystem of culture enhance and affect other cultural subsystems through positive feedback. The cumulative effect of the interaction among these different subsystems as a result of these innovations, Renfrew maintains, is the emergence of civilization.1  Renfrew illustrated the multiplier effect in action by interpreting the collection of artifacts from the various cultures of the Aegean Bronze Age in the third millennium BCE as well as analyzing animal bones, seeds, and architectural remains from archaeological sites in the region that date to this period.

    Although Renfrew published this work over thirty years ago, his reconstruction of the development of complex cultures in the Aegean has continued to shape the approach of Aegean archaeologists to this topic.2 Renfrew's views have largely survived the scrutiny of Aegean archaeologists, but can his multiplier effect theory explain the rise of the many diverse complex cultures around the world? Can it, for example, explain the complex culture that arose in the lower Mississippi valley during the second millennium BCE, a culture best known by the massive earthworks at Poverty Point in northeast Louisiana? Analysis of the artifacts and archaeological data of the Poverty Point culture provides an affirmative answer to this question.  The archaeological record does point to the operation of this multiplier effect just as Renfrew found in the prehistoric Aegean-- despite the vast differences between the two cultures' art, architecture, religion, and economics.
    When students can observe that two such contrasting cultures, existing in vastly different environments, were affected by the very same processes, Renfrew's theory gives them a tool they can apply to the archaeological record to help them grasp the global impact that the development of complex societies had on human societies. An additional instructional benefit of this comparative approach is that students can gain an appreciation for the unique elements of each particular culture from the artifacts each produced. Consequently, as students survey one early complex culture after another, they can learn to recognize both how certain types of artifacts reveal similar processes at work in the development of complex cultures and how diverse, in fact, these cultures can be.
    To illustrate this comparative approach, I will first identify the key elements that characterize a complex culture and enumerate Renfrew's cultural subsystems before showing how the archaeological record from the early Aegean Bronze Age and the Poverty Point culture indicate changes in these subsystems that resulted in this multiplier effect.  Finally, I will suggest other recent archaeological discoveries and resources that could provide teachers and students with experience applying Renfrew's theory.


Complex Cultures and the Multiplier Effect


    Anthropologists, historians, and archaeologists employ the neutral terms "complex" and "simple" to classify cultures that were once categorized, respectively, as "civilized" and "savage"--labels that have been replaced due to their emotionally charged connotations. Complex and simple cultures possess different characteristics:

  • In a complex society social stratification divides people and families into distinct ranked groups (strata) on the basis of their wealth and status. Moreover, complex societies can be further divided into groupings on the basis of language, religion, occupation, or place of residence. In contrast, simple societies, which are far smaller in population, possess no such divisions, and wealth and status vary little from family to family.

  • Complex cultures also feature specialization, whereas simple cultures do not. Individuals in complex societies perform specialized tasks within their societies such as a farmer, artisan, soldier, or priest.

  • For such specialization to occur, there must be a surplus. Food producers must provide sufficient goods not only to support their own needs but also to feed those specialists who are not directly engaged in food production. In addition, some system of exchange must operate in which these specialists, who often live in urban areas, provide their goods and services in return for food raised by those in the countryside. In simple cultures, a subsistence economy functions in which families living in small communities produce enough food to meet their own immediate needs. Specialization seldom occurs in these cultures since individuals must devote most of their time to providing themselves with food and other necessities such as clothing and shelter.

  • Complex cultures also are governed by states, which possess sole authority to collect and distribute resources for the common good and to enforce the rules that order society. In simple cultures, kinship ties serve to allocate resources and maintain order in society. For example, in simple cultures clan elders resolve disputes and conflicts rather than government officials or a system of courts.

  • A formal religion in a complex culture provides a system of common values and concepts about the supernatural that often serves to validate and legitimize the social order; this explains why the state and religion are so often intertwined in complex cultures. In simple cultures there is no state, and thus no need for a formal religion to legitimize it.3 Religious views in simple cultures tend not to be systematized into a formal set of beliefs.

     According to one estimate, simple cultures have dominated 99.8 percent of human history. Complex cultures are therefore quite a recent development.4 Renfrew saw the development of these rare complex cultures arising from the interaction of positive feedback stemming from innovations in the various cultural subsystems--his multiplier effect. He identified five distinct subsystems in operation within both simple and complex cultures that are subject to such innovations:
  • The subsistence subsystem concerns the activities related to the acquisition and distribution of food.

  • The technological subsystem encompasses the human resources and raw materials necessary for the manufacture of goods.

  • The social subsystem involves the patterns of interpersonal behavior either in an economic or social context.

  • The projective or symbolic subsystem includes all the diverse ways a culture understands and portrays the relationship between human beings and the world--its worldview--through religion, language, and the arts.

  • The trade and communication subsystem relates to the movement of ideas, people, and goods from one population center to another.

    Renfrew maintained that for a complex culture to arise substantial changes and innovations in one subsystem must be coupled with innovations in another subsystem. For example, the production of an agricultural surplus through innovations in the subsistence subsystem will not by itself result in a complex culture unless accompanied by changes in the social and projective subsystems that result in the emergence of social stratification or a formal religious system.5
    Renfrew's theory is, of course, only one of many approaches to the study of the origins of complex cultures. In recent decades some archaeologists, the "postprocessualists," have questioned whether it is possible to identify universal processes or systems at work in cultures. Postprocessualists, unlike "processualists" such as Renfrew, prefer to examine each culture as a distinct and separate entity and apply different theories and methods to interpret the archaeological record.6 Just as a postmodern literary critic might employ diverse approaches to elicit meaning from a text, postprocessualists apply various approaches to interpret artifacts.7   Students should be made aware that Renfrew's position concerning the emergence of complex cultures is not without its critics and should be seen only as a working hypothesis for purposes of comparison and analysis.


The Multiplier Effect in the Early Bronze Age Aegean


    Renfrew sought to demonstrate the multiplier effect in action in the Aegean in the Early Bronze Age of the third millennium BCE. The Aegean in this period hosted a number of different cultures that were centered on the island of Crete (Early Minoan culture), the islands of the southern Aegean or Cyclades (Early Cycladic culture), the southern and central Greek mainland (Early Helladic culture), and in northwest Turkey and the islands of the northern Aegean (Troy I, II, III-V culture). According to Renfrew, the emergence of complex culture in the Aegean in the Early Bronze Age was a gradual, evolutionary development, culminating in the construction of the first great palaces on Minoan Crete near the beginning of the second millennium (the Middle Minoan period) and later in the Shaft Grave dynasty of the Mycenaean civilization on the Greek mainland in the middle centuries of that millennium (the Late Helladic period). Recent analysis of the archaeological data, however, has shown that this process may not have been as smooth and gradual as envisioned by Renfrew, with evidence indicating that the period directly preceding the Middle Minoan period on Crete (the Early Minoan III period) experienced significant instability, including the violent destruction of settlements and population decline.8 Nonetheless, a number of dramatic changes in the cultural subsystems during the third millennium undoubtedly set the stage for the flowering of Minoan-Mycenaean civilization in the second millennium.

    One such cultural subsystem was the subsistence subsystem, which experienced the development of a more diverse agricultural economy. In this period, farmers cultivated wheat, oats, and barley as well as grapes and olives. They also raised sheep, goats, pigs, and cattle.  The expansion of olive and grape production at this time was especially significant since their cultivation allowed farmers to raise crops on terrain unsuitable for wheat production, thereby substantially increasing the food supply.  Because of expanding food production, nutrition must have improved considerably. A larger food supply and better nutrition, in turn, resulted in a population increase in the Aegean. Archaeological surveys on Crete, for example, have shown that the number of settlements grew enormously from the end of the Neolithic through the Early Minoan (EM) II period (ca. 2200 BCE).9
    These changes in the subsistence subsystem were accompanied by new developments in the technological subsystem. The archaeological record provides evidence that artisans had the time to specialize and devote more attention to perfecting their skills, indicating that part of the agricultural surplus was allocated for artisans. The third millennium in the Aegean saw tremendous advances in metallurgy. Artisans around 3000 BCE first manufactured bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, and hence inaugurated the end of the Neolithic (New Stone Age) and the beginning of the Bronze Age. Metallurgists used this material as well as silver and gold to manufacture weapons, tools, jewelry, and drinking vessels.10 While the agricultural surplus enabled artisans to specialize, it is also likely that the desire for manufactured goods provided an incentive for farmers to increase production so that they might exchange their goods for those of artisans. Thus the archaeological record demonstrates that the growth of an agricultural surplus, population growth, and technological advances all appear to share a causal relationship to another.
    The exchange of goods between food producers and specialists required innovations in the social subsystem as well. Throughout the Aegean region the appearance of large numbers of stone and bone seals in the archaeological record point to some exchange practice. These seals are decorated with various designs and were used to stamp an imprint on ceramic storage vessels, allowing the owner of a seal to signify ownership of the contents of the vessel. Since seals were often placed in burials, one can assume that seals belonged to the buried individuals. Seals were probably used to keep accounts of economic transactions, such as was their function in the ancient Near East. At the site of Lerna in southern Greece, archaeologists discovered a large number of these seals in an impressive, well-constructed, two-story building with long corridors on its first floor. This structure in the Early Helladic (EH) II period (ca. 2400 BCE) may have served as a local exchange center, where agricultural goods were gathered and inventoried using the seals so that they could be exchanged for the products of manufacturing specialists. Such "corridor houses" have been found in southern and central Greece at various archaeological sites that date to this same period. If the interpretations of these structures are correct, these buildings were the predecessors of the immense palaces of Minoan Crete and Mycenaean Greece that served a similar function on a much larger scale.
    Such buildings and the construction of fortifications point to another innovation in the social subsystem--the emergence in this period of a formal system of government or state, one of the key attributes of a complex culture. At sites such as Lerna in mainland Greece, Myrtos on Crete, and Troy in northwest Turkey, stout defensive walls arose, often accompanied by towers. The construction of these fortifications and corridor houses would have required some system of organization to allocate the necessary resources to complete these projects. Defensive walls also indicate that warfare was a threat to communities, which would have had to organize themselves for common defense. The frequency with which weapons appear in burials seems to indicate that these objects were highly prized and testifies, along with the fortifications, that war was a constant occurrence in this era. Fortifications and large-scale or monumental architecture such as the corridor houses provide evidence for the development of political organization and a system of economic exchange. 13
    Burial sites also provide evidence for social stratification, another innovation in the social subsystem that is an attribute of a complex culture. Although tomb design and construction varied from region to region, the burial of goods with the deceased became more elaborate throughout the Aegean over the course of the third millennium. Weapons, stone and ceramic vessels, jewelry, tools, and marble figurines were placed in tombs near the dead. These grave artifacts show that the accumulation of wealth in Aegean societies quickened over the course of this millennium. Since some of the dead were entombed with more of these goods than others, one can conclude that some families had much more disposable wealth than their neighbors, a sign that the egalitarian social structure of a simple culture had disappeared.11 14
    Grave artifacts also show that changes were occurring in the projective subsystem as well. The placing of precious objects in tombs in the Bronze Age, a practice that was absent in the preceding Neolithic period, suggests an innovation in how the living viewed the dead. Perhaps these objects were love offerings to the dead to be used in the afterlife, or perhaps they were intended as bribes to keep the deceased's spirit away. Nude, female, marble figurines with folded arms often appear in graves in the Cyclades over this same period. Figurines of this particular type in the third millennium were imported and copied in Crete and the Greek mainland and likewise placed in tombs.12 Since the so-called "Snake Goddess" was worshipped later in Minoan Crete, and goddesses of childbirth, marriage, and fertility such as Hera, Athena, and Artemis were the focus of cult activity across the Aegean in the Classical period, it is tempting to see these figurines as representations of some female deity whose worship came to extend over a wide area at this time. This practice indicates the emergence of a formal religion, yet another characteristic of complex societies. These innovations in the projective subsystem would have affected the subsistence and technological subsystems since artisans would have been put to work manufacturing goods to be placed in tombs or to replace those goods that had already been offered to the dead, while food producers would have expanded production so that they could exchange their products for such goods.
    Female "folded arm" figurines were not the only artifacts that were distributed over a wide area of the Aegean in the third millennium. Archaeological evidence indicates that by the middle centuries of this millennium the trade and communication subsysterm had dramatically expanded in this region as compared to the Neolithic period. A type of ceramic pitcher known to archaeologists as a "sauceboat" came into use over a wide area of the Aegean as did a particular type of two-handled cup known as a depas. Communities in this period were also no longer relying on their own resources to meet their needs. For example, chemical analysis of metal objects uncovered from tombs in Crete from this period has shown that the metal used originated in the Cyclades and mainland Greece. On the Cycladic island of Kythnos, copper was mined, smelted, and exported to Crete and other islands in the southern Aegean.13 This development of trade networks and the corresponding expansion of certain cultural tastes, such as demand for certain types of figurines or ceramic vessels (a sort of "globalization" at a microlevel), undoubtedly had ramifications for the technological and social subsystems. Artisans would have seen demand for their work increase as trade and communication expanded the number of their customers, while this trade, in turn, could have facilitated the organization of participating communities into larger political units, yet another of the attributes of a complex society. (For graphics, lessons, and detailed chronologies for this period, see Dartmouth's site called "Prehistoric Archaeology of the Aegean," at


The Multiplier Effect in the Poverty Point Culture


    The archaeological record from the Poverty Point culture also appears to show substantive changes in the five cultural subsystems identified by Renfrew. This culture flourished between 1730 and 1350 BCE in the lower Mississippi Valley at various sites in what is today Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, during the so called Late or Terminal Archaic period in North America. The subsistence subsystem of this culture came to support a large settled population, which, unlike most complex societies, did not rely on agriculture. Analysis of the domestic trash heaps from archaeological sites of the Poverty Point culture has not indicated that these people had domesticated any plants. Instead, they harvested wild nuts, beans, grapes, and seeds. After wild vegetation, fish was an important part of the diet along with other aquatic wildlife, such as turtles and oysters. The presence of great numbers of both large and tiny fish bones from rubbish heaps indicates that Poverty Point fishermen used some method of poisoning or muddying water to enable them to harvest mass catches of fish with their nets. Rubbish heaps also show that wild game such as deer and rabbit, whose bones are also found, were eaten in smaller quantities than fish. Without knowledge of agriculture, the people of Poverty Point developed a method to harvest efficiently the abundant vegetation as well as the fish and game of the lakes and streams of the Mississippi delta in order to produce a food surplus.14 This is evident from other changes that occurred in the technological and social subsystems.

    Poverty Point artisans were busy manufacturing stone and ceramic vessels, jewelry, and figurines on a scale never before seen in North America. These artisans apparently independently developed a method to produce ceramic pottery for storage vessels, which along with stone vessels were sometimes decorated with incised designs. Stone pendants in the shape of owls, woodpeckers, crows, songbirds, clams, animal claws, bird talons, and turtle shells were also manufactured in large quantities as well as stone beads for necklaces and bracelets in the shape of frogs and cicadas.15 This manufacturing activity suggests that these artisans had the time to develop specialized technical skills because of a food surplus that was allocated for their use.
    The evidence for changes in the social subsystem consists of the massive earthworks created by this culture. At each major population center the inhabitants constructed earthen embankments in the shape of concentric semi-circles to form a C-shape structure enclosing a large plaza. Circular and effigy earthen mounds were also raised up in these plazas or near the embankments. The largest and most elaborate of these structures is located at Poverty Point in northeast Louisiana on the banks of the Mississippi. Six concentric semi-circular embankments were raised up to form a C-shape that enclosed a plaza measuring nearly two thousand feet across at its base and covering about thirty-seven acres. Five earthen mounds were constructed in this plaza or surrounding the C-shaped embankments. The largest effigy mound (Mound A) is located adjacent to these embankments and was built in the shape of a flying bird, standing 70 feet tall and measuring 710 feet from head to tail with a wingspread of 640 feet. Radiocarbon tests show that this immense building project was completed possibly as quickly as within a few years.  Construction of this building complex must have required extensive planning and organization as well as a large labor force, strongly suggesting that the community possessed a formal system of government or state to organize this effort as well as a food surplus to feed those involved in its construction.16
    Although archaeologists have found no burial sites or grave goods associated with the Poverty Point culture that might help determine the presence of social stratification, there are other types of evidence that suggests that such an innovation in the social subsystem did develop. Archaeologists have found more jewelry, decorated vessels, and other manufactured articles at the Poverty Point site than at the smaller, less populated sites that surrounded it. Perhaps the residents of this town enjoyed a higher social status than those who inhabited surrounding villages, a status reflected in their personal adornment and in their possession of manufactured goods.17
    The artifacts produced by this culture also may point to a change in the projective subsystem. The various bird pendants, frog- and cicada-shaped beads, and the owl designs on stone plummets and vessels may show the development of a formal religion in this culture. Among the Choctaw people, who inhabited the lower Mississippi Valley in the historic period, the owl was associated with the spirits of the dead and sorcery, and the frog and cicada played important roles in their creation myths. Could these myths and beliefs have existed in some form among the people of Poverty Point some three thousand years earlier? The giant earthworks may have also served as a ceremonial center for religious observances. Large, deep pits located in the plaza once held huge posts that might have been used to mark solar equinoxes and solstices. The later Mississippian culture that flourished in the Mississippi Valley centuries later constructed mounds and erected such posts for this same purpose, performing religious rituals there connected to sun worship. It is possible that rituals of a similar kind may have been enacted at Poverty Point.18 The emergence of new religious concepts may have stimulated the manufacture of objects with ritual significance and massive new building projects, thus altering the technological and social subsystems of the culture. 21
    These changes were accompanied by new developments in the trade and communication subsystem. To obtain stone for tools, items of personal adornment, and other manufactured goods, the people of the Poverty Point culture traveled far. Soapstone for stone vessels was obtained in the southern Appalachians; hematite for plummets came from the Ozarks, while gray northern flint for spearheads was acquired from the upper Ohio and lower Tennessee valleys. Since archaeologists have not found Poverty Point artifacts at these locations, Poverty Point settlements may have sent expeditions to these areas to obtain raw materials directly rather than acquiring them through trade with the local inhabitants. Within the various Poverty Point settlements, the Poverty Point site itself possessed the largest number and the greatest variety of these materials.19 The archaeological evidence thus indicates that some system of exchanging imports existed among Poverty Point communities, which suggests a level of specialization and social organization associated with a complex society. (For graphics, maps, and analysis of the Poverty Point culture, see "Poverty Point" at


Conclusion: Tracking the Multiplier Effect in Other Complex Cultures


    The analysis of the multiplier effect in operation in the early Bronze Age Aegean and the Late Archaic Lower Mississippi Valley demonstrates how the interpretation of the archaeological record can reveal the emergence of those attributes associated with a complex society through changes in the cultural subsystems. Rubbish such as animal bones and seeds can indicate new patterns of subsistence that resulted in the creation of an agricultural surplus. Artifacts such as weapons or tools can relate to archaeologists' information concerning technical advances and the degree of specialization of a culture through the assessment of the artifacts' level of design, sophistication, and artistic execution. The decorative motifs or function of certain types of artifacts such as figurines in light of comparative data (such as the Choctaw myth or Classical Greek religion) can tell us about the development of new religious concepts. The distribution of artifacts over a wide region and the sources of the raw materials used to fabricate them can indicate the existence of trade systems as well as social stratification through the unequal distribution of these artifacts. In addition to refuse and artifacts, burials and monumental architecture can also provide evidence for social stratification as well as state formation. As students learn to recognize the significance of the archaeological record, they can reconstruct the early complex cultures they study by interpreting the archaeological data for themselves and noting the various features of these ancient societies that make them complex.


    Through this method, students can also come to appreciate the differences among these cultures. For example, the great earthworks at Poverty Point far excel in size and scope the comparatively pitiful corridor houses and the defensive walls of the early Aegean Bronze Age, yet the achievements of Aegean artisans in metallurgy were never matched by the artisans in the Poverty Point culture. Moreover, Aegean farmers produced an agricultural surplus, while the people of Poverty Point raised a food surplus from fishing and food gathering. When students examine, for example, the archaeological record of the Harappan Civilization of the Indus River Valley in Pakistan, or of the Longshan Culture of the Huanghe or Yellow River Valley in China, they will be able to identify the same processes operating in the development of a complex culture while still recognizing the unique features that each culture possessed.

    One exercise that might excite the interests of students and expand their understanding of early complex cultures is to discuss recent archaeological discoveries and the significance of these newly uncovered artifacts as they pertain to early complex culture. Internet sites as well as the popular magazine National Geographic offer information about new archaeological findings.20 What follows are examples of recent archaeological discoveries that could be used in classrooms to promote this kind of critical analysis. 25
    In May 2002 archaeologists at Amesbury, England, uncovered the graves of two men who were buried with rich grave goods, including gold ornaments. It was determined that the graves date to around 2300 BCE, and the analysis of the two skeletons revealed that two men were related, possibly father and son, one of whom had spent his youth near the Alps in central Europe. In addition, the graves were located within three miles of Stonehenge and date to a time when this ancient structure was undergoing a major building phase. What do these finding tell us about complex culture in Bronze Age England? The wealth of these two burials as compared to other contemporary burials suggests that these men were of high social status in a socially stratified society. The graves' proximity to Stonehenge raises the question whether or not these two men were the rulers who oversaw the construction of this famous example of monumental architecture. The foreign birth of one of the skeletons, presumably the father, suggests a level of communication in Bronze Age Europe that was previously unproven.21 26
    At Caral, Peru, in 2001 archaeologists determined that an ancient city at this location was one of a number of settlements in the Supe Valley near the Pacific coast that flourished around 2400 BCE, making it the oldest known city in the Western Hemisphere.  The site contained six large earthen mounds as well as numerous smaller mounds that served as platforms for residences. Because this culture flourished prior to the introduction of maize from Mexico, fish rather than maize was the staple of the diet. What can the archaeological evidence relate to us in this case? The construction of large earthworks, as at the Poverty Point site, is evidence for complex political organization. The construction of some, but not all, residences on platform mounds indicates that this society was socially stratified. It is also noteworthy that here, as at Poverty Point, a complex culture could produce a food surplus through fishing.22 27
    In 2000 it was announced that archaeologists at Tell Hamoukar in the Khabur River Basin of Northeastern Syria had discovered the remnants of possibly a large mud brick city wall and seal stamps of bone that were used to stamp ceramic vessels. These findings were dated to the middle of the fourth millennium. What is the significance of these discoveries? The city wall, if archaeologists have correctly identified it as such, would be an example of monumental architecture and a sign that this community had a system of government. The seal stamps, as was the case with such seal stamps in the Aegean Bronze Age, show that an economic exchange system and food surplus were in operation since seals were used to inventory economic transactions. What is most remarkable about these findings, however, is their date. If a complex society flourished in Northern Syria around 3500 BCE, it would have been contemporaneous with the ancient Sumerian civilization of Southern Iraq, which is considered to be the oldest known complex culture.23
    In 1986 and 2001 workers in the Sichuan Province of Southwest China uncovered large caches of bronze artifacts that appear to date to around 1200 BCE. The style and workmanship of the bronzes differ significantly from bronze artifacts from the well-known, contemporary Bronze Age Shang culture to the northeast. Why are these discoveries so startling? The skill and sophistication of these bronzes show that specialized artisans were at work in an apparent complex culture, one not simply an offshoot of the Shang culture, in a region of China where archaeologists had not previously even suspected there to be such a society.24 
    By analyzing such recent archaeological discoveries using this comparative approach to the study of complex cultures, students can perhaps see the data through the eyes of an archaeologist and interpret the artifacts for themselves in the context of class discussion. Rather than grudgingly memorizing information a teacher has enumerated about extinct ancient societies, students become active learners in interpreting archaeological evidence. Understanding Renfrew's multiplier effect thus provides students with a learning tool to analyze for themselves the rise of complex cultures and its implications.

Biographical Note: David Toye received his PhD. in Ancient History from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has participated in several archaeological excavations in Greece and on the island of Crete. Since 1987, he has been teaching both Western Civilization and World History survey courses at UCSB, Santa Barbara City College, Oklahoma State University, and Northeast State Community College in Tennessee.


1 Colin Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization: The Cyclades and the Aegean in the Third Millennium B.C. (London: Methuen and Co. Ltd., 1972), 27-44.

2 Tracey Cullen, "Introduction: Voices and Visions of Aegean Prehistory," in Aegean Prehistory: A Review, ed. Tracey Cullen  (Boston: Archaeological Institute of America, 2001), 9-10.

3 Joseph A. Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 23-31.

4 Robert Carneiro, "Political Expansion as an Expression of the Principle of Competitive Exclusion," in Origins of the State: The Anthropology of Political Evolution, ed. Ronald Cohen and E. R. Service (Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1978), 219.

5 Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization, 15-44.

6 Cullen, "Introduction," 11-12; and Ian Hodder, "Postprocessual Archaeolgy," Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory  8 (1986): 1-26.

7 Robert J. Wenke,  "Explaining the Evolution of Cultural Complexity: A Review," Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 4 (1981): 79-127.

8 L. Vance Watrous, "Crete from the Earliest Prehistory through the Protopalatial Period: Addendum, 1994-1999," in Cullen, Aegean Prehistory, 179-82.

9 Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization, 225-64;  and Watrous, "Crete from the Earliest Prehistory," 163-67.

10 Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization, 308-61; and Jack L. Davis, "The Islands of the Aegean," in Cullen, Aegean Prehistory, 38-39.

11 Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization, 362-403; Watrous, "Crete from the Earliest Prehistory,"163-79; and Jeremy B. Rutter, "The Prepalatial Bronze Age of the Southern and Central Greek Mainland: Addendum, 1993-1999," in Cullen, Aegean Prehistory, 108-24.

12 Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization, 404-39.

13Renfrew, The Emergence of Civilization, 440-75; Davis, "The Prepalatial Bronxe Age," 48; and Watrous, "Crete from the Earliest Prehistory," 174.

14Jon L. Gibson, Poverty Point: A Terminal Archaic Culture of the Lower Mississippi Valley (Baton Rouge, La.: Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, 1996), 12-17.

15 Gibson, Poverty Point, 19-28; and Jon L. Gibson, " Religion of Rings: Poverty Point Iconology and Ceremonialism," in Mounds, Embankments, and Ceremonialism in the Midsouth, ed. Robert C. Mainfort and Richard Walling (Fayetteville: Arkansas Archaeological Survey, 1996), 4-6.

16 Gibson, Poverty Point, 4-12; Gibson, "Religion of Rings," 2-3; and Jon L. Gibson, "Poverty Point Reconsidered," Mississippi Archaeology 22, no. 2 (1987): 26-27.

17 Gibson, Poverty Point, 27.

18Gibson, "Religion of Rings," 3-6; and Elizabeth B. Garland, "Some Observations on Ceremonialism at the Obion Site," in Mainfort and Walling, Mounds, Embankments, and Ceremonialism, 47-49.

19 Gibson, Poverty Point, 16-26.

20The websites for the Cable News Network, at, and National Public Radio, at, sometimes carry stories about new archaeological discoveries with links to related web sites. The Website Archaeologica,, lists daily links to news stories concerning recent archaeological discoveries.

21 Wessex Archaeolgy, "The Amesbury Archer," 7 July 2003, (accessed 29 January 2004).

22 Bruce Bower,  "Peru Holds the Oldest City," Science News Online 159:17, 28 April 2001, (accessed 29 January 2004).

23 McGuire Gibson, "Hamoukar: Early City in Northeastern Syria," The Oriental News and Notes 166, 25 May 2000, (accessed 29 January 2004).

24 Peter Hessler, "The New Story of China's Ancient Past," National Geographic 204, no. 1 (2003): 56-81.




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