Book Review Metals, Nomads and Culture Contact is an ambitious book. It aims to shed new light on aspects of social, economic, and cultural transformation in the fifth and fourth millennia BC: the period of later prehistory that directly preceded the emergence of the world's first large-scale, centralized polities in North East Africa and South West Asia. Throughout the entire duration of this long period, societies on the cusp of those two continents developed in markedly different cultural directions, while nevertheless sharing and exchanging a range of important technological innovations. Anfinset chooses to focus his study on the spread of specialized pastoralism and copper metallurgy, emphasizing the importance of ritual practices and alliances as an organizing principle for both. The choice appears to be strongly informed by his own ethnographic exposure to herding societies, in both African and Asian contexts, which has sensitized him to the social and cultural diversity lurking behind such a seductively simple term as `pastoralism', and also to the importance of mobile groups in sustaining large-scale patterns of interaction. From a traditional, social evolutionary standpoint, state formation is often viewed as the key institutional transformation around which studies of Old World prehistory are to
Journal of African Archaeology – Brill
Published: Oct 25, 2011
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