By Guy D. 米德尔顿. Pp. xx + 441, figs. 49, tables 16. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2017. $37.99. ISBN 9781316606070 (paper).


了解崩溃 is a survey and a rich description of cases of social, political, or cultural transformation that have been characterized as 坍方s in various genres of literature. The arenas of literature covered include archaeology and history, as would be expected, and also the increasing volume of physical science literature addressing past environmental changes. The volume’s strength is its detailed description of a substantial number of 坍方 cases.

Archaeology and history have long been uncertain about how to evaluate 坍方s. These disciplines have predominantly had a progressivist narrative. Archaeologists and historians are socialized members of complex societies. We have been raised in the ideology of modern industrial societies, which emphasizes progress. So, we accentuate how our ancestors tamed fire, developed agriculture, invented the wheel and writing, established cities and artisanship, and created states, all the while improving human life. Much of this narrative resembles what anthropologists term ancestor myths. Ancestor myths validate a contemporary social order by presenting it as a natural, and sometimes heroic, progression from a simpler and less desirable past to the way that we live today. Within this narrative, 坍方s and dark ages have presented troubling contradictions to the story of humanity’s continual progress. If the arc of history leads to inexorable improvement of the human condition, how could that trajectory ever be interrupted? Equally troubling, if 坍方s happened in the past, could 上 e happen again? For archaeologists, postcollapse societies have another annoying characteristic: they often do not present the rich material culture that fills museum displays and spreadsheets and that wins recognition and funding. In the archaeological record, dark ages are indeed often dark.

米德尔顿 begins by noting the superficiality of popular stories about 坍方. “The whole report,”他写了一个有关玛雅崩溃的BBC故事,“持续不超过两到三分钟,这是一个非常短的时间,可以用来解释一个长期而复杂的文明的命运”(1)。引言自然而然地引发了对崩溃研究中问题的讨论:讲故事,对崩溃进行概念化,研究单位,解释崩溃,崩溃后的发展以及主题为何重要。分析单位问题值得关注。期限“collapse” has been applied to individual communities, political units (empires, states, dynasties, chiefdoms), cultural units (civilizations, ideologies, lifestyles, systems, including the analytical units of world-system theory), and populations and peoples. To this, 上 e might add the confusion caused by use of the term in colloquial discourse. There is no uncertainty using the term to refer to unsafe structures, but there can be much confusion in asking whether the Carolingian Empire, the British Empire, or the Soviet Union 坍方d. State 坍方 is an important topic to political scientists today, adding to the lack of terminological clarity. Except for discussing simplistic popular stories, 米德尔顿 refrains from adopting a specific stance 上 matters such as defining or explaining 坍方, or selecting preferred units of analysis. This is in keeping with much of the book, which aims more to describe than to elucidate.

米德尔顿 surveys 16 cases that have been termed 坍方s and describes the explanations that have been offered for these events. The cases are Old Kingdom Egypt, Akkad, the Third Dynasty of Ur, the Harappans, Minoan Crete, Mycenaean Greece, the Hittites, the Western Roman Empire, Monte Albán, Teotihuacan, the Classic 可能a, the Moche, Tiwanaku, Wari, Angkor, and Rapa Nui (Easter Island). This sample is well dispersed across time, space, and cultural contexts. Yet, since 米德尔顿 does not attempt to define 坍方 (relying instead 上 cases that have been termed “collapse” in the literature), it is not clear how the cases were chosen. Two, the Moche and Angkor, seem not to have been 坍方s, as 米德尔顿 acknowledges. There is no evidence of a prehistoric 坍方 上 Easter Island. Collapse here apparently occurred in the historic period, a result of European contact and European diseases. (This fact undercuts the claim of “ecocide”在复活节岛上:cf. J.戴蒙德 崩溃:社会如何选择失败或成功 [New York 2005].) There is a decided bias toward state-organized societies, Easter Island being the sole exception. There are good archaeological examples of 坍方s in prehistory (e.g., Chacoan society in the American Southwest, and Cahokia in the American Midwest), but 米德尔顿 does not discuss these. Although the book surveys complex societies, there is no discussion of complexity, and the term is not in the index.

Cases cannot be discussed extensively here, but a brief review of the Mycenaean 坍方 (selected because it is 米德尔顿’的专业)说明作者 ’s approach. He begins by discussing some of what we know of the Mycenaeans. The archaeological phenomenon we call Mycenaean varied across Greece and Crete; some sites had palaces and megaron complexes, others did not. Palaces were used by the elites to orchestrate ceremonial occasions, reflected archaeologically in thousands of kylikes (wine cups). Some areas may not have had state-level societies. Around 1200 B.C.E., there was a series of destructions of major centers and palaces, with many sites abandoned. The number of sites declined dramatically. After this there is no evidence of monumental architecture, and the Linear B script was discontinued. These events are taken to reflect a 坍方. Local and overseas trade continued. Carpenter (希腊文明的不连续性 [Cambridge 1966]) proposed that climate change caused the Mycenaean 坍方. That idea has never gone away. 米德尔顿 surveys the evidence and arguments for and against. One supposed consequence was the movement of various peoples, including the mysterious “Sea Peoples” mentioned in an Egyptian inscription. An old idea is that Dorian Greek invaders caused the 坍方, with climate change, it is suggested, driving such invaders from north to south. Another possibility is a disastrous earthquake, shattering palaces that were never rebuilt. Maran (“危机年代?关于迈锡尼宫殿近十年来不稳定迹象的思考,” Scienze戴尔’antichità: ScAnt 15 [2009]) proposed that the cost of monumental construction provoked a labor crisis, so fewer people were available to farm. Conflict ensued. Others argue for a disruption in the trade in exotic goods that elites needed to display their status. Predictably, some scholars postulate plagues and epidemics. Alternatively, barbarians using chariots perhaps defeated Mycenaean infantry. 米德尔顿 downplays some of these proposals, especially climate change, while leaving others vague—在卷中令人沮丧地通用的一种方法。

米德尔顿’的汇编可用于深入了解崩溃学者的思维方式。在他的章节中,关于崩溃的解释有八个重复出现的主题。这些主题及其提出的案例包括:(1)气候变化(埃及第一中级时期,阿卡德,印度河,迈锡尼人,赫梯人​​,西罗马帝国,特奥蒂瓦坎,莫切,蒂瓦纳库,吴哥,玛雅人); (2)侵略者或其他外部冲突(阿卡德,印度河,米诺克里特岛,迈锡尼人,赫梯人​​,西罗马帝国,特奥蒂瓦坎,莫切,吴哥,[由欧洲人造成的]复活节岛,阿卡德); (3)叛乱或叛乱(埃及,蒙特阿尔布án, the Mycenaeans, the Moche, Teotihuacan, the 可能a); (4) intrasocietal conflict (Egypt, Minoan Crete, Teotihuacan, the Western Roman Empire, the Mycenaeans); (5) environmental deterioration ([sometimes self-induced] the Indus, the Moche, Easter Island, the Third Dynasty of Ur); (6) catastrophes ([e.g., epidemics, plagues, earthquakes, volcanoes] Minoans, Mycenaeans); (7) change in trade patterns (Mycenaeans, Hittites), and (8) mystical ([e.g., religious or ideological change] Teotihuacan, Wari). Barbarian invaders are an old and favored theme (11 cases). In a current age fearful of climate change, many scholars are convinced that it caused past 坍方s (11 cases). In all, 米德尔顿 describes 43 proposed explanations. Of these, 25 (58%) are what can be termed deus ex machina explanations (climate change, invaders, catastrophes). That is, most scholars explain 坍方 as resulting suddenly and surprisingly from outside a society, a “bolt from the blue,”而不是寻找系统的解释或跨文化规律。在这种思维方式下,崩溃只是倒霉。社会并没有把它变成现实。鉴于过去的大多数学生都专注于特定的文化或特定时期,因此专注于具体案例的解释就不足为奇了。但是,这种思维方式可能还有更多。如上所述,在许多历史研究中都有进步主义者的观点。如果文化的发展导致社会的不断发展,从霍布斯(Hobbesian)的觅食者到伟大的文明,那么崩溃必定是一个外部原因。而且,如西方意识形态所强调的那样,如果进步是由于个人或社会的主动性而产生的,那么崩溃就必须来自社会之外的某些因素。’的控制。如果社会破坏自己,进步主义的叙事就会受到挑战。

The book is well researched, and 米德尔顿’s scholarship is impeccable. In the final chapter, however, the text meanders across various topics, including explaining 坍方 (he downplays climate change) and whether there should be concern about a future 坍方. 米德尔顿 has said that he wrote the book for students (personal communication). This chapter, however, reaches no strong conclusions, and its lack of focus is not suitable for pedagogy. 米德尔顿 thinks that no general theory of 坍方 can be devised. He seems to prefer a few themes, including intrasocietal conflict, cultural continuity, and human agency. “人类的故事和选择,”他写关于后者,“underpin 坍方”(349)。这些陈述缺乏实质性内容,对学生或未来的奖学金均无指导作用。尽管有这本书’s title, readers hoping to understand 坍方, or looking for original thinking, will be disappointed.


的书评 了解崩溃:古代历史与现代神话, by Guy D. 米德尔顿

由Joseph A.Tainter评论

美国考古学杂志 卷122,第4号(2018年10月)

在线发布于 www.ajaonline.org/book-review/3721

DOI:10.3764 / ajaonline1224.tainter



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