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Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study (Anglais) Relié – 5 mai 2003

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

'This work is a milestone in the scientific study of sociocultural evolution … I know of no other comparative study of early civilizations of similar scope, depth, and originality.' Philosophy of the Social Sciences

'Its comprehensiveness of theme, readiness to pursue profound if difficult and sometimes not readily answerable questions, and impressive control of a wide range of sources, reflect distinguished thought and dedicated effort … a major achievement.' The International History Review

'Understanding Early Civilizations is the capstone of Trigger's remarkable archaeological career. This is, quite simply, a definitive work.' Brian Fagan, University of California, Santa Barbara

'Trigger's study is monumental and magisterial. It is a work to treasure and digest for years to come.' Philip L. Kohl, Wellesley College

'The latest in Trigger's impressive string of ground-breaking works … An astounding work of scholarship.' Boyce Richardson

'This book is an extraordinary undertaking and a great achievement … It provides an accessible introduction to the problems and priorities of cross-cultural comparison and approaches to early civilisations.' Antiquity

Présentation de l'éditeur

This book offers the first detailed comparative study of the seven best-documented early civilizations: ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, Shang China, the Aztecs and adjacent peoples in the Valley of Mexico, the Classic Maya, the Inka, and the Yoruba. Unlike previous studies, equal attention is paid to similarities and differences in their sociopolitical organization, economic systems, religion, and culture. Many of this study's findings are surprising and provocative. Agricultural systems, technologies, and economic behaviour turn out to have been far more diverse than was expected. These findings and many others challenge not only current understandings of early civilizations but also the theoretical foundations of modern archaeology and anthropology. The key to understanding early civilizations lies not in their historical connections but in what they can tell us about similarities and differences in human behaviour.

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Amazon.com: 4.8 étoiles sur 5 5 commentaires
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Idea Laden Reading 31 janvier 2017
Par Alan Dale Daniel - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
A highly academic read. The author isn't one to make a treatise easy going, but the ideas expressed and the information communicated is well worth the effort for those wishing to understand early cultures and ultimate issues arising from our studies of early civilizations.

The book reviews seven civilizations in what I will term a Neolithic-early bronze age setting. Egypt and Mesopotamia will be familiar ground for most readers, as will the Classic Mayans and Inka (Inca); however, the African area of the Yoruba and the Shang civilization of China may not be so well known. In reviewing these cultures Mr. Trigger is answering this question: "...given the biological similarities and the cultural diversity of human beings, how much the same or how differently are they likely to behave under analogous circumstances?" The entire book is an exercise in answering this inquiry.

The best part of the book may be the Introduction where the author discusses rationalism and relativism at length. He also includes romanticism and a few words on the Marxist impact before going into the confrontation between these ideologies. The author shows how being in one camp or the other has unduly influenced the outcome of various famous historical studies. He wishes to avoid these pitfalls in his review and he at least recognizes his problems. In my opinion he has avoided the worst of the intellectual traps through consistent application of his rigorous methods and therefore has produced an excellent study of these seven cultures.

This book isn't one that describes how one kingdom followed another or inherited a set of traditions, rather it steps across the boundaries of time and space to look at how these various peoples acted like one another - or not - and what we might collectively discern from these actions. Are we alike because of the hard wiring in our brains? Are we different because of the environmental conditions we live under? How much are we alike or different in the fundamentals? What evidence do we really possess to show that we are alike or unalike?

Lots of ideas about civilization and human living arrangements are approached and thoroughly examined. Whether the answers are satisfactory will be up to the reader, but, no matter what one's opinion might be about the ultimate questions, the reader will have been exposed to a wonderful set of thoughts and facts for consideration.


Trigger, Bruce G.. Understanding Early Civilizations: A Comparative Study (p. 3). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.
19 internautes sur 19 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Challenging comparative history 11 juillet 2008
Par T. Carlsson - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
History can be written in many different ways. Many books on ancient history put an excessive focus on political events, with endless sequences of "Prince A inherited the kingship from his father B, but was soon assassinated by usurper C". Other books focus on very narrow topics without general interest. You will not understand much of ancient societies by collecting bare facts from books like that. Bruce Trigger's book is the antithesis of narrowly focused history. It's a superb comparison of seven early civilizations on many different levels (as you can see from the table of contents). The primary historical sources from these civilizations are not directly comparable, but Trigger's critical analysis of secondary literature is to my knowledge the most complete comparative synthesis ever written on this topic.

Needless to say, nobody can be an expert on seven different civilizations. But on the other hand the benefit of having just one author is that the analysis remains consistent across civilizations, which is a prerequisite for meaningful comparisons. As a result, this book is much more informative than multi-author collections where each author has chosen his own approach to his "own" civilization. But I think the biggest positive in this book is that Trigger is well acquainted with modern anthropological thought. Especially in the introduction and the concluding chapters, the combination of comparative history and cultural anthropology produces a wealth of insights. It is particularly interesting to learn how a small elite exercised extensive control over the common people in all of these early civilizations, and how this relationship formed the basic structure of society.

The one problem I encountered when reading this book was that seven civilizations is a large number. When you compare this many units to each other, the comparison inevitably takes the form of a list (listing the characteristics of civ1, then civ2, civ3 and so on). There's nothing wrong with that, but reading information in list form can be a bit tedious and requires a lot of concentration. I recommend this book to people who have a serious interest in ancient history and are determined to learn as much as possible on this subject. The title of this book is highly appropriate. After reading this book you will definitely be on your way toward understanding early civilizations.
0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Easy reading if the subject interests you 29 août 2015
Par A Reader - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Easy reading if the subject interests you. I know of no better source on this topic. Many books on early civilization focus on Mesopotamia and Egypt. This book pays plenty of attention to early civilizations in the Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa.
37 internautes sur 42 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A great comparative review of early civilizations 3 septembre 2003
Par César González Rouco - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
In the last few years I have tried and read books offering a broad scope and general overviews of history, sociology, anthropology and religion (you may well say that globalization has reached social science too). With that aim in mind, I have read this book.
The description on the approach of the book provided by the "Book reviews" is fairly accurate. Therefore, I will only point out that this book shows both the depths of the present state of knowledge and ignorance on the matter: all relevant issues of 7 early civilizations are compared and the conclusions are basically negative, i.e., current rival explanations are shown to be defective, and the author expects that psychology and the neurosciences may help to provide for better explanations in the future, but the author does not set forth any new paradigma or global explanation on the subject.
Although the content is very interesting, the book often happens to be a tough reading; therefore I have rated the book as a 4 start book(content: 5 starts; pleasure of reading: 3 to 1).
Other books I would recommend to read are the following: "The Dynamics of Global Dominance. European Overseas Empires 1415-1980", by David Abernethy, the trilogy on the Information Age ("The Rise of the Network Society", "The power of Identity", "End of Millennium") by Manuel Castells, "Pre-industrial societies" by Patricia Crone, "The History of Government" by S.E. Finer, "Power and privilege" by Gerhard Lenski, "The world economy. A millennial perspective" by Angus Maddison, "The Rise of the West" by William H. McNeill, "The Phenomenon of Religion", by Moojan Momen and "World History. A new perspective" by Clive Ponting.
12 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 For grad school and professionals 16 mai 2007
Par Gray Graffam - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché
An excellent book for the serious academic interested in the subject. Not suitable as a classroom text, because of the level of knowledge required, as well as the length and complexity of the volume.
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