Norman Yoffee (Prof. emeritus, Depts of Near Eastern Studies and Anthropology, University of Michigan)
Abstract. Archaeologists and others have characterized ancient states and "complex societies" as "integrated." That is, religious and political institutions combined various social and economic groups into functioning wholes, either through consensus or repression. This process of integration has been described as "social evolution." In this talk I examine these common suppositions. I begin with Mesopotamia, the region of my specific research, but drift dangerously into areas far from my expertise. Many early societies were far from integrated and stable, but the opposite, fragile. I explore the nature and implications of social fragility.