, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 297-336

Bureaucrats and managers, peasants and pastoralists, imperialists and traders: Research on the Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods in Mesopotamia

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In recent decades the Uruk and Jemdet Nasr periods of the fourth millennium B. C. in Mesopotamia have been the subject of considerable research by scholars of the ancient Near East. Interests in and interpretations of these periods have focused on their credentials as early states, urban societies, and the immediate antecedents of Sumerian civilization. In this overview, I first present a brief historical background on the study of these periods, followed by a critical review of recent approaches that have had significant impacts on current directions of research and understanding of the fourth millennium. Finally, I suggest some research avenues currently being tentatively explored that may be especially appropriate for developing further our understandings of these periods.