, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 1-44

Heterogeneity, power, and political economy: Some current research issues in the archaeology of Old World complex societies

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Recent research on Old World chiefdoms and states has largely retreated from the general comparative explanatory paradigm of the 1970s and has focused instead on more historically oriented analyses of culture-specific developmental trajectories. Both theoretical and empirical work tend to emphasize a heterogeneous, conflict-based model of complex society and political economy. This analytical framework has been quite successful in documenting variation and historically determined patterning in the organization of urbanism, craft production, specialization, and exchange. I present an overview of this research and argue that we now need to reintegrate culturally specific analyses within a modified comparative/generalizing perspective on complexity.