After the collapse of most early states in the East around 1200 BC, parts of the western Mediterranean experienced technological progress and demographic rise, apparently without adapting forms of hierarchic political organization. A very good example is Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age nuragic Sardinia, which had been connected to eastern trade networks since Mycenaean times, and developed into one of the most important venues for culture contact and exchange in the West after 1200 BC. However, its rich archaeological record, including figurines, architecture, sanctuaries, villages and tombs, does neither indicate the existence of ‘elite’ groups, nor does it show any traces of a hierarchic society. This article examines the possibility that a non-hierarchical form of socio-political organization devoid of elites developed to a high level of cultural complexity and progress on the island. Other important aspects are the role of immigration as an integrant in nuragic society, considering comparable situations of non-hierarchic politics in ethnography and history, as well as theoretical approaches to forms of social organization. It is concluded that socio-economic development does not necessarily require a centralized political authority.
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