Bureaucracy linked to a nation's growth

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Washington, Apr 20 (ANI): The first bureaucratic systems may have a lasting influence on today's modern states, concludes a new research.

The research by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) was conducted in the Valley of Oaxaca near Monte Alban, a large pre-Columbian archaeological site in southern Mexico.

"The earliest evidence of state organization is contemporaneous with the earliest evidence of long-distance territorial expansion. This pattern was consistent with the territorial-expansion model of primary state formation, which I have proposed in a number of publications over the years," said lead researcher Charles Spencer, curator of Mexican and Central American Archaeology at the AMNH.

Spencer's territorial-expansion model argues that states arise through a mutual-causal process involving simultaneous territorial expansion and bureaucratization.

His model breaks with previous ideas that suggest states rise through a protracted, step-by-step process-first the state forms, then an organizing bureaucracy takes hold, and sometime later, the state begins to expand into other regions in an "imperialistic" fashion, thus giving birth to an empire.

Archaeological research conducted by Spencer in an Oaxaca canyon some 50 miles north of Monte Alban suggests that the old distinction between state and empire probably is not useful.

In the Oaxaca Valley, Spencer found evidence of a royal palace and a multi-room temple dating to 300-100 B.C.

Most Oaxaca archaeologists consider the royal palace to be evidence of a specialized ruling class and the multi-room temple to be evidence of a specialized priestly class.

Spencer notes that around 300 B.C., the first signs of state organization start to appear in the Oaxaca Valley where Monte Alban is situated.

It also is the same time that the ancient Monte Alban state started conquering the surrounding regions.

Spencer suspects that all bureaucratic states-even modern ones- may be inherently predisposed, or "hard-wired," to engage in predatory expansion as a legacy of the original process of primary state formation.

The new research compares Spencer's work in Mesoamerica with archaeological data from five other states most anthropologists recognize as the only other locations of true primary state formation in history: Peru, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and China.

Primary states are first-generation states that evolved without contact with other pre-existing states.

In each case, Spencer's territorial-expansion theory holds. But he said more research is needed at the other locales.

The study has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). (ANI)

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