Ancient Mesopotamia at the Dawn of Civilization: The Evolution of an Urban Landscape

Ancient Mesopotamia at the Dawn of Civilization: The Evolution of an Urban Landscape


By (author) Guillermo Algaze

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Paperback $32.49
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Format: Hardback | 208 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 232mm x 20mm | 481g
  • Publication date: 12 December 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Chicago, IL
  • ISBN 10: 0226013774
  • ISBN 13: 9780226013770
  • Edition: 1
  • Illustrations note: 10 halftones, 9 maps, 6 line drawings, 1 figure, 1 table
  • Sales rank: 1,159,718

Product description

The alluvial lowlands of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Mesopotamia are widely known as the 'cradle of civilization' owing to the scale of the processes of urbanization that had taken place in the area by the second half of the fourth millennium BC.In "Ancient Mesopotamia at the Dawn of Civilization", Guillermo Algaze draws on the work of modern economic geographers to explore how the unique river-based ecology and geography of the Tigris-Euphrates alluvium impacted the development of urban civilization in southern Mesopotamia. He argues that these natural conditions granted southern polities significant competitive advantages over their landlocked rivals elsewhere in Southwest Asia, most importantly the ability to easily transport commodities.In due course, this resulted in increased trade and economic activity and higher population densities in the south than were possible elsewhere. As southern polities grew in scale and complexity throughout the fourth millennium, revolutionary new forms of labor organization and record keeping were created, and it is these socially created innovations, Algaze argues, that ultimately account for why fully developed city-states emerged earlier in southern Mesopotamia than elsewhere in Southwest Asia or the world.

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Author information

Guillermo Algaze is professor of anthropology at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of The Uruk World System: The Dynamics of Expansion of Early Mesopotamian Civilization, now in its second edition from the University of Chicago Press.

Review quote

"This is an important and valuable distillation of Algaze's most recent thinking on the development of southern Mesopotamian society. While it is indeed a worthy complement to his earlier work, this wholly original book takes his argument much further, making a number of important theoretical points." - T.J. Wilkinson, Durham University"