Empires, the largest political systems of the ancient and early modern world, powerfully transformed the lives of people within and even beyond their frontiers in ways quite different from other, non-imperial societies. Appearing in all parts of the globe, and in many different epochs, empires invite comparative analysis - yet few attempts have been made to place imperial systems within such a framework. This book brings together studies by distinguished scholars from diverse academic traditions, including anthropology, archaeology, history and classics. The empires discussed include case studies from Central and South America, the Mediterranean, Europe, the Near East, South East Asia and China, and range in time from the first millennium BC to the early modern era. The book organises these detailed studies into five thematic sections: sources, approaches and definitions; empires in a wider world; imperial integration and imperial subjects; imperial ideologies; and the afterlife of empires.