American Anthropologist

On Theocracies



Although many archaeologists and anthropologists have used the concept of theocracy in discussing the structure and evolution of early complex societies there has been little systematic thought or consensus about its implication. The concept of theocracy is evaluated in the context of present thought on the evolution of complex societes. It is suggested that theocratic organization was well-suited and even necessary for the emergence of state-type institutions, and that there is no evolutionary dichotomy between “theocratic” states and, later, more “secular” ones. [theocracy, structure and evolution of complex societies, state formation]