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From Tribe to Empire: Social Organisation among Primitives and in the Ancient East


IN his foreword, Mr. Henri Berr emphasises the importance of the social factor in history, and points out that in the early volumes of this series, which deals with the evolution of humanity, it has been necessary repeatedly to refer to the problem to which it gives rise. This volume thus marks a critical point in the general scheme of the series. For here we ‘come to grips’ with the problem. The aim of the book is to introduce the social as such into historical explanation. We find, therefore, that it falls into two parts. In the first part, six chapters introduce the reader to what is known of primitive social development, the material being arranged in a progressive framework. After a statement of the problem, it starts with the totemic organisation in which the individual is lost in the totemic group, or, perhaps it might almost be put, the individual is a function of the totem. It then traces the gradual development of individualised power. This is in effect the centralisation of the magic of the totem, of the land and the community, in one individual, the king. In Part 2 the transition of the clan to the kingdom is considered. This is traced in the early civilisation of Egypt and Mesopotamia. Finally, the working out of the social factor is studied in the first empires of the Orient, and the reader is carried down to the Egypto-Hittite entente and the invasion of Egypt by the peoples of the sea in the Nineteenth Dynasty.

From Tribe to Empire: Social Organisation among Primitives and in the Ancient East.

By Prof. A. Moret G. Davy. Translated by V. Gordon Childe. (The History of Civilisation Series.) Pp. xxx + 371. (London: Kegan Paul and Co., Ltd.; New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.) 16s. net.

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From Tribe to Empire: Social Organisation among Primitives and in the Ancient East . Nature 119, 556–557 (1927).

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