Bonus Blog: Urbanism and the Journey to Statehood

I spent some time deliberating with myself as to which of the six primary characteristics seemed o be the most important when considering ancient states. It was between Urbanism and Intensive Agriculture, but I ultimately settled on Urbanism as the most important of the primary characteristics of an ancient state as the most important, and this is why:

Every single one of the other primary characteristics comes as a direct result of urbanism. As populations begin to increase, agriculture must intensify to meet the demands of a growing populace. It might also be viewed that populations bean to expand as a result of increasing agriculture, but for the sake of my argument I will assert that increases in agriculture were a direct response to increasing populations. As populations grew and became more centralized, and agriculture intensified further, new technologies allowed for specialization in the labor force. Less people are required for food production due to new technologies that increase production and efficiency, allowing others to learn additional crafts such as weaving, ceramics, even literacy. These specialized professions gave rise to excess and unique goods and crafts that were sought after by neighboring societies. This created the first trade networks, the large scale exchange of goods over geographic distances. This process would have continued, with populations growing, new technologies emerging, the amount of individuals required for food production decreasing, the number of individuals going into specialized occupations increasing, all resulting in larger numbers of goods leaving the location for trade, bringing in other crafts from elsewhere. This would have directly caused social stratification to occur. The accumulation of goods or control over new technologies, or possession of a particular specialized skill would set one apart from his or her peers, a difference in status essentially. Soon enough, individuals with control over large amounts of land, or important trade connections, or who were able to write, became increasingly powerful, ascending past others, creating a hierarchical structure within the society. One individual will end up on top of this emerging pyramid, and elite systems and bureaucracies begin to develop. Those now in charge, at the top of the new social hierarchy, will start creating codes of law to guide those below them, this ability to make decisions for a large number of people is a large source of power, and after trial and error, a successful system for enforcing those decisions emerges, authority in its simplest form.

And the catalyst for that entire process, the creation of an ancient state was increasing populations, the beginning of urbanism. I realize the preceding example was extremely general, but it highlights the process that can be traced and examined in many ancient states, beginning with the dual process of rising populations and increasing agriculture, which one happens first is hard to determine, but in my opinion, the journey t statehood begins with urbanism.