Power is in the Details: Administrative Technology and the Growth of Ancient Near Eastern Cores

  • Mitchell Allen
Part of the The Evolutionary Processes in World Politics Series book series (EPWP)


World-systems scholars have examined the expansion of the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) core for two decades now, since it represents 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 B.C., when the Assyrian empire expanded to a size unheard of in previous times and survived intact for almost two centuries. Even when it fell Babylonian, Achaemenid, and Macedonian empires of equal size replaced it. What caused this exponential leap in the strength of cores over peripheral areas? Using the example of the western semiperiphery of the Assyrian Empire—Phoenicia, Philistia, and Israel—I demonstrate that the Assyrians used new innovations in Administrative technology to solidify the growth of their empire—standardized weight systems, a lingua franca, currency rationalization, and taxation mechanisms. Curiously, though, these Advances were originally developed by the semiperipheral states that were independent of the Assyrian Empire were only later turned into tools of imperial stabilization.


Ninth Century Seventh Century Eighth Century World System Theory Bulk Good 
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© Christopher Chase-Dunn and E. N. Anderson 2005

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  • Mitchell Allen

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