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In a nutshell our argument is that there have been systemic relations among different peoples since at least the first human settlements by the Natufians some twelve thousand years ago (Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997).The developmental logic of these intersocietal systems have changed over time as new techniques of power and institutions have emerged but there are also broad continuities and similar patterns over millennia as world-systems became larger.The comparative world-systems approach developed by Chase-Dunn and Hall (1997) distinguishes between core/periphery differentiation, in which there is important interaction among societies that have different degrees of population density, and core/periphery hierarchy in which some societies are exercising domination or exploitation of other societies.
This paper utilizes the conceptual apparatus of the comparative world-systems perspective to examine the patterns of development in prehistoric and ancient Western Asia.
Thus we speak of strong core polities and weaker and dependent peripheral societies, as well as societies in the middle, which we call semiperipheral.
Semiperipheral marcher chiefdoms and semiperipheral marcher states conquer older core states to form a new core-wide polity.
Semiperipheral capitalist city-states exploit an opportunity to accumulate wealth based on trade and the production of commodities.
One area worthy of further examination is the effects of climate change on patters of social development.
Brian Fagan (1999) contends that it was sudden climate changes and natural disasters that provoked humans to invent new forms of social organization.The rapid and dramatic emergence of states, cities and writing in the West Asian system in the fourth millennium BCE was built upon a set of prior developments that spread from the adjacent Levant over the previous five thousand years.The metaphor of ecological succession is relevant for understand the evolution of world-systems. This produces what is necessary for larger plants and trees to grow.This paper presents an overview of the development of complex and hierarchical societies in ancient Southwestern Asia from a comparative world-systems perspective, and presents an analysis of the timing of urban and empire growth/decline cycles in Mesopotamia and Egypt to test the hypotheses that these two regions may have experienced waves of development synchronously.We also discuss how climate change may have influenced the patterns of development.The hypothesis of semiperipheral development presumes a cross-cultural conceptualization of core/periphery hierarchies in which more powerful societies importantly interact with less powerful ones.The idea of core/periphery hierarchy was originally developed to describe and account for the stratified relations of power and dependency among societies in the modern world-system.It is rather the idea that semiperipheral innovation enables upward mobility and occasionally transforms whole systems.Semiperipheral actors have taken different forms in different systems.Rather this is turned into a research question to be determined in each case.The 8500 year period from 10,000 BCE to 1500 BCE in Western Asia witnessed a series of fundamental pristine transformations in the nature of human societies: the original Mesolithic emergence sedentary diversified foraging (the first dwellers in permanent villages), the Neolithic invention and application of farming, the emergence of the first hierarchical chiefdoms, the first multi-tier settlement systems, and eventually the first cities and states.