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Empires: Perspectives from Archaeology and History [Hardcover]

Susan E. Alcock , Terence N. D'Altroy , Kathleen D. Morrison , Carla M. Sinopoli

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Book Description

9 Aug 2001 0521770203 978-0521770200
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.

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Book Description

Distinguished scholars in anthropology, archaeology, history and classics discuss empires from Central and South America, the Mediterranean, Europe, the Near East, South East Asia and China. The book contains five themes: sources, approaches and definitions; empires in a wider world; imperial integration, imperial subjects; imperial ideologies; the afterlife of empires.

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In attempting to come to terms with the structure and dynamics of imperial polities, the contributors in this volume are hardly pioneers. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lets you in on the debates 25 Feb 2010
By Listo - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book begins with admissions that 1. the book was never meant to be 'the big book of empires,' and 2. some areas of the world (most notably SE Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa) would not be covered. It is what it is: a compendium of essays on the subject of empire, specifically pre-modern empires. They explore ideology, imperial strategy, and the definitions of empire. The Portuguese presence in the Indian Ocean in the 16th century, that attempted military control of pre-existing trade routes, is examined as are the interactions between Xiongnu and Han China, a re-examination of ancient Kush's relationship with Pharaonic Egypt, and a class-based analysis of Aztec ideology-- and these are only a few of the essays. Needless to say, it's a book that covers diverse ground. It also assembles authors from various academic backgrounds and differing ideas on what constitutes empire. If you're looking for strong, conclusive definitions and conclusions, don't look here! This book lets the reader in on the various ideas and disagreements on the subject, it lets us in on the debates going on in the disciplines of history and anthropology, debates which have been going on in some cases for decades.
If you are, say, a graduate student in history, this would doubtless be useful for your studies. Even if you aren't studying a society examined in one of these essays, the approach to them may be useful analytic tools. If you're an armchair historian, this may not be up your alley as much-- but then again, maybe it is! I rather enjoyed it, and despite being a thick sucker it went by fairly quickly.
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