Steven J. Garfinkle
This chapter examines the history of the formation of city-states in the Fertile Crescent. It provides a working definition of city-state in both spatial and social terms, and describes the city-state, focusing on the historical periods of early Mesopotamia. The chapter also considers the ideology of the city-state, the administration of an integrated economy, the emergence of kingship and institutions of government, and the replacement of the city-state system with territorial kingdoms.
David M. Lewis
Twentieth-century scholarship, guided in particular by the views of M. I. Finley, saw Greece and Rome as the only true ‘slave societies’ of antiquity: slavery in the Near East was of minor economic significance. Finley also believed that the lack of a concept of ‘freedom’ in the Near East made slavery difficult to distinguish from other shades of ‘unfreedom’. This chapter shows that in the Near East the legal status of slaves and the ability to make clear status distinctions were substantively similar to the Greco-Roman situation. Through a survey of the economic contribution of slave labour to the wealth and position of elites in Israel, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Carthage, it is shown that the difference between the ‘classical’ and ‘non-classical’ worlds was not as pronounced as Finley thought, and that at least some of these societies (certainly Carthage) should also be considered ‘slave societies’.
Graeco-Roman slavery can be properly understood only when compared with slave practices in other ancient societies. This chapter shows that in ancient Israel, Egypt, and Babylonia slavery had a major impact on almost all areas of daily life. Therefore Finley’s categorical distinction between slave societies and slave-holding societies must be dismissed. The main difference between Roman and Near Eastern slaving seems to have been political: Rome at the time of the empire was an imperialist society whose conquests led to mass slavery. When conditions were similar (e.g. during conquests), similar slave practices emerged in Near Eastern societies. Other aspects of slavery may have been affected by Roman practices or developed in analogy to Roman customs. At the same time, all developments must also be understood within the context of the respective Near Eastern societies themselves.
This chapter explores the history of the formation of the Iranian Empires, identifying the major phases in state formation, which include the Achaemenid Empire, Iran in Hellenistic times, the Parthian Empire, and the Sasanian Empire. It also describes the key features of the Achaemenid Empire, the Arsacid-Parthian Empire, and the Sasanian Empire, and explains the factors and conditions that influenced state formation.
This chapter examines the history of the formation of Jewish states, discussing the geography and phenomenology of the Jewish states, and the relation between ethnos and state. It highlights the incomplete consolidation of Judaism as the normative ideology of the Jews in the Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods, describes the Hasmonean state under Herod, and identifies the factors that contributed to state formation.