Mobile Pastoralism and the Formation of Near Eastern Civilizations

Mobile Pastoralism and the Formation of Near Eastern Civilizations : Weaving Together Society

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In this book, Anne Porter explores the idea that mobile and sedentary members of the ancient world were integral parts of the same social and political groups in greater Mesopotamia during the period 4000 to 1500 BCE. She draws on a wide range of archaeological and cuneiform sources to show how networks of social structure, political and religious ideology, and everyday as well as ritual practice worked to maintain the integrity of those groups when the pursuit of different subsistence activities dispersed them over space. These networks were dynamic, shaping many of the key events and innovations of the time, including the Uruk expansion and the introduction of writing, so-called secondary state formation and the organization and operation of government, the literary production of the Third Dynasty of Ur and the first stories of Gilgamesh, and the emergence of the Amorrites in the second millennium BCE.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 177.8 x 251.46 x 30.48mm | 861.82g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 28 b/w illus. 9 maps 6 tables
  • 0521764432
  • 9780521764438
  • 1,414,140

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Review quote

'The volume impressively reflects a great deal of scholarship and depth of thought. It will be useful for scholars and students of the Near East, including archaeologists and historians, and researchers interested in the archaeology of mobile pastoralism more broadly ... It is an important volume, offering a bold and radical, realigned account in the central place it gives to mobile pastoralism across this time period. The significance of the book also lies in its consideration of how archaeologists read the archaeological record and conceptualise past societal organisation. Due to the ephemeral nature of mobile pastoralism, scant traces are often left behind with which to understand it (Cribb, 1991). Porter's ideas will no doubt be much debated, but they will re-focus attention on this question, the conceptualisation of ancient nomads in the Near East and the search for their traces.' Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice '[Porter's] work is a critical resource for understanding both the dynamics of ancient societies and the impact of modern reconstructions on our perception of them.' Brendon C. Benz, Near Eastern Archaeology

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About Anne Porter

Anne Porter is Assistant Professor in the School of Religion and Departments of Classics and Anthropology at the University of Southern California. She served as co-director of excavations at the Tell Banat Settlement Complex, Syria. She has been a Visiting Research Fellow at both the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and at the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia at Princeton University.

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