As we discussed the Andean state(s), I thought about how in a lot of the ancient states we talked about, we talked about the geography as being split into two or more spaces, as well as the fact that there were lots of little states before some group of people unified everybody into one state. In Ancient Egypt, the northern and southern portions each had their own fairly distinct culture. Each was also viewed as its own state society. But, then Upper Egyptian culture (shown through ceramics) started to influence, and eventually overtake, Lower Egyptian culture. Once this takeover was complete, Egypt was considered a unified state. In a similar way, Mesopotamia started as a bunch of little ethnic and cultural groups, eventually unified by the Sumerians and, later, the Akkadians. Again, some of these smaller settlements and cultural groups could be considered states before they were joined with others by the Sumerians. In the Indus Valley, the Harappan state emerged from a bunch of smaller communities that may or may not have been smaller states themselves. In China, we never even really covered unification – there were so many little states cropping up and collapsing that we only gestured toward the much later unification of China into one state. In Mesoamerica, the Maya similarly united various groups of people either at or working toward the complexity indicating statehood. And, now, in the Andes, we see the Inca unite the Northern and Southern poles.
I guess part of what I am attempting to figure out/articulate, is why these states appear to have been made up of two or more smaller, earlier states. In some cases, the smaller state appears to simply have collapsed, leaving the floor open for whomever (like Teotihuacan did). However, at other places, such as with the Inca or with Upper Egypt, it appears a dominant culture emerged. Sometimes this emergence happened through militaristic power, but other times it seems to have happened without that power. In the smaller, more primitive states (some of which might be questioned as states), we see a significant split between those in different geographical areas (such as norther China and southern China). But, somehow, a group was able to supersede these differences and unite all of these smaller cultures and identities. I am wondering what made this particular group (the Inca in this case) able to overcome not only the ethnic and cultural differences between themselves and the people they subsumed/absorbed, but also the geographic differences accompanying these different cultures. I feel like, looking back at each state, it is unclear what the common element is to this rise/unification. But I also feel like this is a key bit of information/inference to have in order to understand what makes a state a state.