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Democracy's Ancient Ancestors

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Table of Contents

Preface; Part I. Introduction: 1. The Mari texts; 2. A survey of Mari history; 3. The Mari archives and political history; 4. A text-based study: comments on methodology; Part II. The Tribal World of Zimri-Lim: 5. Tribally organized pastoralists and the Amorrites; 6. The primary constituents of the confederacies: Sim'alite gayum and Yaminite li'mum; 7. The local leader of tribe and town: the Sugagum in service to the Mari kingdom; 8. The chief of pasture: the Merhum; 9. The 'Hana' tent-dwellers; 10. The other confederacy: the Yaminites; Part III. The Archaic State and the Matum 'Land': 11. Urbanism and archaic states; 12. The matum: the basic unit of regional politics in the early second millennium; 13. Subdividing the major matums: the halsum district; 14. Population terminology not tied to political entity; 15. Zimri-Lim and the land of the tent-dwellers (mat Hana); Part IV. The Collective and the Town: 16. The towns of the Mari archives; 17. The collective face of town or land; 18. Elders; 19. Heads; 20. Words for assembly; 21. Imar, Tuttul, and Urgis: old towns with strong collective traditions; 22. Mari in third-millenium towns; 23. On explaining corporate power; Part V. Conclusions: 24. The political world of the Mari archives; 25. Before democracy; Bibliography; Glossaries; Indices.


'This is an important and impressive work ... What emerges from this study is a picture that is much more complex, nuanced, and to some extent confusing than those traditionally drawn of Mesopotamian societies and states. It is thus certain to be received with great interest by a number of disciplines beyond Assyriology (such as history, political science, and anthropology) and to stimulate intensive discussions on a wide range of issues. Not least, it makes a serious contribution to an old debate, triggered more than a half-century ago by Thorkild Jacobsen, on whether certain traits in Mesopotamian mythical and literary traditions can be interpreted as evidence for the existence of 'primitive democracies' in an early period, before the emergence of the great empires led by centralized monarchies. In this respect the book is certain to attract the interest of classicists and ancient historians as well.' Kurt A. Raaflaub

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