The Collapse of Complex Societies

The Collapse of Complex Societies

Paperback New Studies in Archaeology

By (author) Joseph A. Tainter, Series edited by Lord Colin Renfrew, Series edited by Wendy Ashmore, Series edited by Clive Gamble, Series edited by John O'Shea

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  • Format: Paperback | 262 pages
  • Dimensions: 174mm x 244mm x 14mm | 540g
  • Publication date: 1 May 1990
  • Publication City/Country: Cambridge
  • ISBN 10: 052138673X
  • ISBN 13: 9780521386739
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: 31 b/w illus.
  • Sales rank: 88,979

Product description

Any explanation of political collapse carries lessons not just for the study of ancient societies, but for the members of all complex societies in both the present and future. Dr Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than 2000 years of explanations. He then develops a new and far-reaching theory that accounts for collapse among diverse kinds of societies, evaluating his model and clarifying the processes of disintegration by detailed studies of the Roman, Mayan and Chacoan collapses.

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Review quote

'Tainter's model accommodates all levels of complexity and all kinds of evidence. It deserves to be widely read.' Antiquity 'Tainter's is an attractive and compelling thesis, of a genre which is nearly extinct among domestic historians.' History Today

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction to collapse; 2. The nature of complex societies; 3. The study of collapse; 4. Understanding collapse: the marginal productivity of sociopolitical change; 5. Evaluation: complexity and marginal returns in collapsing societies; 6. Summary and implications; References; Index.