The Collapse of Complex Societies

Author: Joseph Tainter
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521386739
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
Download Now
Dr Tainter describes nearly two dozen cases of collapse and reviews more than 2000 years of explanations. He then develops a new and far-reaching theory.

After Collapse

Author: Glenn M. Schwartz
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
ISBN: 9780816529360
Format: PDF, Docs
Download Now
From the Euphrates Valley to the southern Peruvian Andes, early complex societies have risen and fallen, but in some cases they have also been reborn. Prior archaeological investigation of these societies has focused primarily on emergence and collapse. This is the first book-length work to examine the question of how and why early complex urban societies have reappeared after periods of decentralization and collapse. Ranging widely across the Near East, the Aegean, East Asia, Mesoamerica, and the Andes, these cross-cultural studies expand our understanding of social evolution by examining how societies were transformed during the period of radical change now termed Òcollapse.Ó They seek to discover how societal complexity reemerged, how second-generation states formed, and how these re-emergent states resembled or differed from the complex societies that preceded them. The contributors draw on material culture as well as textual and ethnohistoric data to consider such factors as preexistent institutions, structures, and ideologies that are influential in regeneration; economic and political resilience; the role of social mobility, marginal groups, and peripheries; and ethnic change. In addition to presenting a number of theoretical viewpoints, the contributors also propose reasons why regeneration sometimes does not occur after collapse. A concluding contribution by Norman Yoffee provides a critical exegesis of ÒcollapseÓ and highlights important patterns found in the case histories related to peripheral regions and secondary elites, and to the ideology of statecraft. After Collapse blazes new research trails in both archaeology and the study of social change, demonstrating that the archaeological record often offers more clues to the Òdark agesÓ that precede regeneration than do text-based studies. It opens up a new window on the past by shifting the focus away from the rise and fall of ancient civilizations to their often more telling fall and rise. CONTRIBUTORS Bennet Bronson, Arlen F. Chase, Diane Z. Chase, Christina A. Conlee, Lisa Cooper, Timothy S. Hare, Alan L. Kolata, Marilyn A. Masson, Gordon F. McEwan, Ellen Morris, Ian Morris, Carlos Peraza Lope, Kenny Sims, Miriam T. Stark, Jill A. Weber, Norman Yoffee

Collapse

Author: Jared Diamond
Publisher: Penguin UK
ISBN: 0141976969
Format: PDF, Docs
Download Now
From the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive is a visionary study of the mysterious downfall of past civilizations. Now in a revised edition with a new afterword, Jared Diamond's Collapse uncovers the secret behind why some societies flourish, while others founder - and what this means for our future. What happened to the people who made the forlorn long-abandoned statues of Easter Island? What happened to the architects of the crumbling Maya pyramids? Will we go the same way, our skyscrapers one day standing derelict and overgrown like the temples at Angkor Wat? Bringing together new evidence from a startling range of sources and piecing together the myriad influences, from climate to culture, that make societies self-destruct, Jared Diamond's Collapse also shows how - unlike our ancestors - we can benefit from our knowledge of the past and learn to be survivors. 'A grand sweep from a master storyteller of the human race' Daily Mail 'Riveting, superb, terrifying' Observer 'Gripping ... the book fulfils its huge ambition, and Diamond is the only man who could have written it' Economist 'This book shines like all Diamond's work' Sunday Times Jared Diamond (b. 1937) is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. Until recently he was Professor of Physiology at the UCLA School of Medicine. He is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the widely acclaimed Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, which also is the winner of Britain's 1998 Rhone-Poulenc Science Book Prize.

Beyond Collapse

Author: Ronald K. Faulseit
Publisher: SIU Press
ISBN: 0809333996
Format: PDF, Docs
Download Now
New approaches to collapsed complex societies. The Maya. The Romans. The great dynasties of ancient China. It is generally believed that these once mighty empires eventually crumbled and disappeared. A recent trend in archaeology, however, focusing on what happened during and after the decline of once powerful regimes has found social resilience and transformation instead of collapse. In Beyond Collapse: Archaeological Perspectives on Resilience, Revitalization, and Transformation in Complex Societies, editor Ronald K. Faulseit gathers scholars with diverse theoretical perspectives to interpret how ancient civilizations responded to various stresses, including environmental change, warfare, and the fragmentation of political institutions. Contributors discuss not only what makes societies collapse but also why some societies are resilient and others are not, as well as how societies reorganize after collapse. Putting in context issues we face today, such as climate change, social diversity, and the failure of modern states, Beyond Collapse is an essential volume for readers interested in humanenvironment interaction and in the collapse--and subsequent reorganization--of human societies.

Questioning Collapse

Author: Patricia A. McAnany
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1107717329
Format: PDF, ePub
Download Now
Questioning Collapse challenges those scholars and popular writers who advance the thesis that societies - past and present - collapse because of behavior that destroyed their environments or because of overpopulation. In a series of highly accessible and closely argued essays, a team of internationally recognized scholars bring history and context to bear in their radically different analyses of iconic events, such as the deforestation of Easter Island, the cessation of the Norse colony in Greenland, the faltering of nineteenth-century China, the migration of ancestral peoples away from Chaco Canyon in the American southwest, the crisis and resilience of Lowland Maya kingship, and other societies that purportedly 'collapsed'. Collectively, these essays demonstrate that resilience in the face of societal crises, rather than collapse, is the leitmotif of the human story from the earliest civilizations to the present. Scrutinizing the notion that Euro-American colonial triumphs were an accident of geography, Questioning Collapse also critically examines the complex historical relationship between race and political labels of societal 'success' and 'failure'.

Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail

Author: Scott A J Johnson
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISBN: 1315512882
Format: PDF, Mobi
Download Now
Ideas abound as to why certain complex societies collapsed in the past, including environmental change, subsistence failure, fluctuating social structure and lack of adaptability. Why Did Ancient Civilizations Fail? evaluates the current theories in this important topic and discusses why they offer only partial explanations of the failure of past civilizations. This engaging book offers a new theory of collapse, that of social hubris. Through an examination of Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Roman, Maya, Inca, and Aztec societies, Johnson persuasively argues that hubris blinded many ancient peoples to evidence that would have allowed them to adapt, and he further considers how this has implications for contemporary societies. Comprehensive and well-written, this volume serves as an ideal text for undergraduate courses on ancient complex societies, as well as appealing to the scholar interested in societal collapse.

Understanding Collapse

Author: Guy D. Middleton
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 110715149X
Format: PDF, Mobi
Download Now
In this lively survey, Guy D. Middleton critically examines our ideas about collapse - how we explain it and how we have constructed potentially misleading myths around collapses - showing how and why collapse of societies was a much more complex phenomenon than is often admitted.

Drilling Down

Author: Joseph A. Tainter
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9781441976772
Format: PDF, Docs
Download Now
For more than a century, oil has been the engine of growth for a society that delivers an unprecedented standard of living to many. We now take for granted that economic growth is good, necessary, and even inevitable, but also feel a sense of unease about the simultaneous growth of complexity in the processes and institutions that generate and manage that growth. As societies grow more complex through the bounty of cheap energy, they also confront problems that seem to increase in number and severity. In this era of fossil fuels, cheap energy and increasing complexity have been in a mutually-reinforcing spiral. The more energy we have and the more problems our societies confront, the more we grow complex and require still more energy. How did our demand for energy, our technological prowess, the resulting need for complex problem solving, and the end of easy oil conspire to make the Deepwater Horizon oil spill increasingly likely, if not inevitable? This book explains the real causal factors leading up to the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history, a disaster from which it will take decades to recover.

Megadrought and Collapse

Author: Harvey Weiss
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199329192
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
Download Now
Megadrought and Collapse is the first book to treat in one volume the current paleoclimatic and archaeological evidence of megadrought events coincident with major historical examples of societal collapse. Previous works have offered multi-causal explanations for climate change, from overpopulation, overexploitation of resources, and warfare to poor leadership and failure to adapt to environmental changes. In earlier synthetic studies of major instances of collapse, the archaeological record has often not been considered. Included in this volume are nine case studies that span the globe and stretch over fourteen thousand years, from the paleolithic hunter-gatherer collapse of the 12th millennium BC to the 15th century AD fall of the Khmer capital at Angkor. Together, the studies constitute a primary sourcebook in which principal investigators in archaeology and paleoclimatology present their original research. Each case study juxtaposes the latest paleoclimatic evidence of a megadrought (so-called for its severity and its decades to centuries-long duration) with available archaeological records of synchronous societal collapse. The megadrought data are derived from all five archival paleoclimate proxy sources: lake, marine, and glacial cores, speleothems (cave stalagmites), and tree rings. The archaeological records in each case are the most recently retrieved. The editor derives two arguments from the discussions in the volume: (1) Societal collapse would not have occurred without megadrought. Attendant social disruptions may have been present in some instances. Nonetheless, megadrought rendered agriculture-based societies unsustainable in different regions, periods, and levels of social complexity, from simple foraging to vast empires. (2) A set of adaptive responses can be observed across the nine cases: adaptive collapse in the face of insurmountable megadrought, region-wide and settlement abandonment, and habitat tracking to sustainable agricultural environments. The evidence points to a paradigm shift: the insertion of another major force, natural climate variability-megadrought-into the global historical record.

Cosmic Evolution

Author: Eric J. Chaisson
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 9780674009875
Format: PDF, Mobi
Download Now
We are connected to distant space and time not only by our imaginations but also through a common cosmic heritage. Emerging now from modern science is a unified scenario of the cosmos, including ourselves as sentient beings, based on the time-honored concept of change. From galaxies to snowflakes, from stars and planets to life itself, we are beginning to identify an underlying ubiquitous pattern penetrating the fabric of all the natural sciences--a sweepingly encompassing view of the order and structure of every known class of object in our richly endowed universe. This is the subject of Eric Chaisson's new book. In Cosmic Evolution Chaisson addresses some of the most basic issues we can contemplate: the origin of matter and the origin of life, and the ways matter, life, and radiation interact and change with time. Guided by notions of beauty and symmetry, by the search for simplicity and elegance, by the ambition to explain the widest range of phenomena with the fewest possible principles, Chaisson designs for us an expansive yet intricate model depicting the origin and evolution of all material structures. He shows us that neither new science nor appeals to nonscience are needed to understand the impressive hierarchy of the cosmic evolutionary story, from quark to quasar, from microbe to mind.