" Evolutions and temporal delimitations of Bronze Age world-systems in western Asia and the Mediterranean "

Abstract : This paper has two main objectives. First, it offers new perspectives on the concepts of world-system and of transfers of wealth in the exchange (by reconsidering the notion of exchange value). Secondly, it tries to shed light on the evolutions of possible Bronze Age World-Systems in western Asia and the Mediterranean and to delimit their temporal frames. The birth of states in regions benefiting from particular geographical and demographic assets (Mesopotamia, Susian, Egypt and later the Indus valley) was accompanied by a spectacular expansion of exchange networks, with exchange of goods, but also of knowledge, beliefs, and values. They led to an integration of interconnected regions of western Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean into unified and stratified spaces wherein events and developments occurred interdependently. For the whole period prior to 1500 BC, insights in possible world-systems are confronted by major problems of geographical and temporal delimitations, and by difficulties in interpreting the data or due to the lack of it. Nevertheless, data for the Bronze Age show the permanence of two cores in South Mesopotamia and in Egypt, and changes in extension and structuring of exchange networks. From the 4th millennium B.C., the observed cycles reacted to climate variations which are an integral part of a systemic logic. Each period created a new inter-regional division of labour, partially in continuity with the previous one, with a phenomenon of oscillations between regions in competition (North Mesopotamia/South Mesopotamia...). In the 2nd millennium, Egypt joins the western Asian world-system, whose center of gravity finally moves to the eastern Mediterranean, and connexions were established between the western world-system and an eastern world-system centered on China, announcing the future developments of the 1st millennium BC.
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Contributor : Philippe Beaujard <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, June 20, 2012 - 9:46:33 AM
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Philippe Beaujard. " Evolutions and temporal delimitations of Bronze Age world-systems in western Asia and the Mediterranean ". " What would a Bronze Age World System look like ? World Systems Approaches to Europe and Western Asia 4th to 1st Millennia BC ", Apr 2008, United Kingdom. pp.7-26. ⟨halshs-00710096⟩



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