Authority Over Everything (sort of)

So I was sitting here thinking about which characteristics of a state is the most important and I’m having a really hard time. While I don’t think one characteristic is more important than the other per say, i think having a state authority is the easiest way to identify and classify a state. I came to this conclusion because I figured most (if not all) of the secondary characteristics of a state pop up after a state authority is formed. The characteristics such as monumental public works, writing, metallurgy (decorative or warfare), tribute/taxation, mass production of goods state religion (associate arts like astrology & calendric) and state art all are the result of one centralized power producing and ruling. We’ve discussed a lot this semester on how monumental works (pyramids) were built as a way to dominate over the non-elites a d justify the ruler’s position, so if there was no ruler would we have these giant buildings? Mass production also means standardization. Take the mud bricks homes from the Harappan city of Mohenjo-Daro for instance. Each brick was the same size in every building and all the buildings were formed from the same layout. What this says to me is that there had to be one central power demanding and planning the schooling and labor required for this intricate planning. Tribute and taxation is also another big primary characteristic we discussed this semester that can be explained through the idea of a state authority. We see late in the Ubaid period the “temple economics” of the urban centers which require tribute in the forms of labor to the city. Even if it wasn’t labor, if any form of tribute is considered to be a characteristic of a state than we must understand the importance of the state’s authority role.

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