Carnieros theory

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's February 2008

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The land of Mesoamerica changes through time and conflict. Carneiro's theory defines a state as "an autonomous political unit, encompassing many communities within its territory and having a centralized government with the power to collect taxes, draft men for work or war, and decree and enforce laws." Carneiro's model of Mesoamerica shows the growth of two states, Uruk and Susa.

In Caneiro's theory, the two states follow his philosophy by the book. A slow rise in population also increases the growth of control. Thus more people in one area, the greater power they posses over others. However, superiority arouses the problems of war. When a state is on top, someone is always out there looking to surpass them. Conflict rises due to this discrepancy of a high and mighty population. A slight decrease from 4 to 3 in control leaves many possible reasons open. One possibility could be a rebellious or fleeing group, causing the state to become smaller.

Fortunately, a successful state possesses resilience and is able to bounce back. Many social factors are necessary to cause state origins.

Environmental Circumscription is a major factor in the creation and existence of states. Environmental Circumscription is obtaining the good, scarce land from the surrounding dry land and being able to maintain and keep it from surrounding states.

Social Circumscription can also be a deciding factor on the length of existence of each state. It is the relative closeness of a group of people, that results in everyday confrontations and increases chances of fighting. The last factor is Resource Concentration. This is one of the most prominent reasons behind war. When a certain area or state has certain resources that others do not, conflict arises. Trading may occur for a period of time, but when then the other states lack trading materials, war can break out. The increase in population and high political control can be factors in archaeologically identifying a state. It takes time to reach a maximum level of control, and certain estimates of age can be made. When an area reaches the 4-5 range of political control, it is considered a state.

Carneiro's model can be seen in this example as true. With the material and data given, his theory seems to be proven. I highly agree with Carneiro's theory because of its sensible logic and reason. The presence of many people promotes conflict and can be paralleled and proven with our cities today. On occasion, the model showed that high population showed little conflict. It can be inferred that little political control overrides the presence of population and conflict. In its simplest terms and one convenient definition, Carniero's theory can be seen as logical.