Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Myths of the Archaic State
Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations

$48.99 (C)

  • Date Published: January 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521521567

$ 48.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Classical archaeology promotes the view that a state's evolution reflects general, universal forces. Norman Yoffee challenges the model in this book by presenting more complex and multi-linear models for the evolution of civilizations. Yoffee questions the definition of the prehistoric state, particularly that which heralds "the chiefdom" as the forerunner of the ancient state and explores case studies on the role of women in ancient societies.

    • Offers a radical new interpretation of the origins of early civilization
    • Presents a new multi-layered model for the development of states
    • An invaluable introduction to theories of social evolution
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Profoundly interesting volume."-Bruce Trigger, McGill University

    "I strongly recommend Myths of the Archaic State to anyone interested in social evolution."-David Webster, Pennsylvania State University

    "Norman Yoffee has written an elegant, witty, and substantive critique of neo-evolutionary theory in archaeological anthropology."-Phillip Kohl, Wellesly College

    "A highly stimulating book that expounds a clear line of argument while maintaining an entertaining line of discourse. Yoffee has written a superb and exciting book that will provoke thought and discussion wherever it is read."-Roger Matthews, Institute of Archaeology, University College London

    "Norman Yoffee identifies a series of what he terms 'myths' in archaeological thought, and then proceeds to demolish them one by one, using an astonishing array of case studies, from Mesopotamia to Chaco Canyon. His book is provocative, inspirational, transformative, and so full of small (and weighty) gems that it is a pleasure to read."-Katharina Schreiber, University of California, Santa Barbara

    "In Myths of the Archaic State, Norman Yoffee seeks to rescue the concept of social evolution from its critics--altering its shape, content, and meaning, while retaining its traditional goal of explaining the emergence of early civilizations. It clears away the cobwebs of an earlier generation of anthropological thought and, in its strongest moments, points to a new configuration of global history."-David Wengrow, Institute of Archaeology, University College London, SCIENCE

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: January 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521521567
    • length: 292 pages
    • dimensions: 244 x 170 x 16 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Evolution of a factoid
    2. Dimensions of power in the earliest states
    3. The meaning of cities in the earliest states and civilizations
    4. When complexity was simplified
    5. Identity and agency in early states: case studies
    6. The collapse of ancient states and civilizations
    7. Social evolutionary trajectories
    8. New rules of the game
    9. Altered states: the evolution of history.

  • Author

    Norman Yoffee, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
    Norman Yoffee is Professor of Mesopotamian Studies and Anthropology at the Centre for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His various publications and edited works include Archaeological Theory: Who Sets the Agenda? (0521440149 HB; 0521449588 PB) and The Collapse of Ancient States and Civilizations (co-editor with George L. Cowgill) (University of Arizona Press, 1988).

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.