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POWER IS IN THE DETAILS: Administrative Technology and the Growth of Ancient Near Eastern Cores

ABSTRACT: The expansion of the Ancient Near Eastern core has been addressed by world-systems scholars for two decades now, since it represented the earliest documented case of strong core and peripheral differentiation. But many have pointed out that those differences were fragile, and ANE empires had limits as far as size and longevity. This situation changes drastically in the first millennium BC, where the Assyrian empire expands to a size unheard of in previous times and survives intact for almost two centuries. Even when it falls, it is replaced by Babylonian, Achaemenid, and Macedonian empires of equal size. What caused this exponential leap in the strength of cores over peripheral areas? Using the example of the western semi-periphery of the Assyrian empire—Phoenicia, Philistia, and Israel—I will attempt to demonstrate that the Assyrians used new innovations in administrative technology to solidify its growth—weight systems, a lingua franca, currency rationalization, taxation mechanisms. Curiously, though, these advances were originally developed by the semi-peripheral states independent of the Assyrian empire were only later turned into tools of imperial stabilization. "

Author(s):  Allen, Mitch
Format:  Article
Date:  2002
Source:  Political Economy of World-Systems 2002 Conference