By Guillermo Algaze
The alluvial lowlands of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Mesopotamia are widely recognized because the “cradle of civilization,” due to the size of the tactics of urbanization that came about within the zone through the second one half the fourth millennium BCE.
In historic Mesopotamia on the sunrise of Civilization, Guillermo Algaze attracts at the paintings of recent fiscal geographers to discover how the original river-based ecology and geography of the Tigris-Euphrates alluvium affected the advance of city civilization in southern Mesopotamia. He argues that those average stipulations granted southern polities major aggressive merits over their landlocked competitors somewhere else in Southwest Asia, most significantly the facility to simply delivery commodities. in the end, this ended in elevated alternate and financial job and better inhabitants densities within the south than have been attainable somewhere else. As southern polities grew in scale and complexity in the course of the fourth millennium, innovative new sorts of hard work association and checklist maintaining have been created, and it truly is those socially created thoughts, Algaze argues, that eventually account for why absolutely constructed city-states emerged past in southern Mesopotamia than somewhere else in Southwest Asia or the area.
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Extra resources for Ancient Mesopotamia at the Dawn of Civilization: The Evolution of an Urban Landscape
In addition, we need to understand why, under conditions prevalent in fourth-millennium southern Mesopotamia, initial urban emergence did not take the form of a single city of considerable size controlling the whole of the Tigris-Euphrates alluvial delta (such as modeling the dynamics of urban growth 29 Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico, for instance) but rather appears to have consisted of multiple contemporary, and no doubt competing, urban centers of varying size, each seemingly controlling only a portion of the southern Mesopotamian alluvium.
She argues that social differentiation results from economic differentiation and that social evolution and urban growth ultimately both depend on economic expansion. 1 The most salient of these similarities are that (1) the viability, stability, and resiliency of the two types of systems, as well as their ability to expand, are directly related to the degree of diversity present (Jacobs 2000, 22, 37); (2) expansion ultimately depends on capturing and using external energy, principally light in the case of ecosystems and exogenous resources in the case of human societies, and the more diverse means a system possesses for using, modifying, and passing around energy/resources, the larger the cumulative consequences to the system as a whole (Jacobs 2000, 47); and (3) development takes place as part of a larger web of codevelopments; the greater the internal diversity of the system, the more numerous and intricate the codevelopment relationships that will exist within it and the greater the number of emergent properties that will be spawned (Jacobs 2000, 19–22).
Turning fi rst to the issue of motivation, in many cases we fi nd that the very same institutions that are at the center of early Mesopotamian cen- factors hindering our understanding of the sumerian takeoff 19 trally managed economies also engaged in what can only be described as wealth-maximizing behaviors that are incompatible with Polanyi’s characterization of those economies. Most commonly this took the form of urban temples that used silver derived from the conversion of accumulated agricultural surpluses into usable capital (Powell 1996) to fi nance risky trading ventures in order to acquire nonlocal resources for profit, whether alone or in conjunction with palaces (Leemans 1960; Postgate 1972).