Gil Stein

Economic Dominance, Conquest, or Interaction among Equals? Theoretical Models for Understanding Culture Contact in Early Near Eastern Complex Societies

Many studies of cultural contact begin with the hierarchical assumption that colonizing societies dominate local societies and that economic, military, and cultural influence flow one way from the colonizers to local societies. Stein argues that in the ancient Middle East, power relations followed a range of models, and culture contact was much more complex than hierarchical interaction models suggest. To illustrate his point, Stein examines early stages of culture contact in the Ubaid period, which saw the first emergence of chiefdom, and the Uruk period, when the first urbanized state societies developed. He finds that a number of major factors affect balance of power and the organization of culture. Factors such as transportation economics, technology, demographics, disease, military organization, and degree of social complexity account for a tremendous range of variation in cultural dynamics.

Proceedings of the International Conference of Young Archaeologists

The University of Chicago