I realize that the idea of social evolution has been abused and misused over time; however, I agree with the general concept. I see how, throughout time and place, humankind has transitioned from a nomadic life style, to one of a more settled agricultural way of life. Maybe it’s true that this linear perception of human history does not allow for the minutiae of variation to exist and thrive but this is exactly the “evolution” that I see occurring in the Nile Valley.
They transitioned slowly from a sparse set of traveling groups, into a more settled agricultural community with social stratification. We can see the differences between elite and non elite through many avenues; most interesting to me were the grave goods, or lack of grave goods, that were buried with each. Over time we see these groups of people creating a complex state with bureaucracy and means of production. They begin to keep records and hold specialized jobs.
I have always found state formation to be interesting. There is an assumption that each state has a group of homogeneous people who want the state to exist as it does. Throughout history, however, we learn that this concept is often not true. I think that states would operate more smoothly if this was the case; they would acquire more legitimacy from the citizens. People would be adequately represented and more pleased with their means of government. However, this is often impossible to accomplish because so many groups come together in the same areas, as was the case with the Nile Valley.
The last thing I wanted to comment on was the archaeologist’s recreation of the capital, Memphis. I found it very interesting that, while the archaeological evidence from the city was very little, they were able to recreate and hypothesize certain things from the surrounding cemeteries. The information that they theorized from these excavations is really quite specific and I find it fascinating that they could acquire so much information from cemeteries. Also, my curiosity is peaked and I wish we could excavate Memphis, in spite of the “impenetrable silts” (Kohler, 13).
~Cristina M. Cao