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Heterarchy is a useful paradigm for reanalyzing aspects of social evolution. It supplies a fresh perspective on the concept of hierarchy and complexity. This study examines the effect of external trade on local social development. The Trobriands and the Yapese empire of the Carolines supply examples of the relationship between the evolution of hierarchy and centrality and the capture of external trade. If external trade is not captured as an economic armature for evolutionary development, external trade can serve as an alternative power base that works against the development of a strong hierarchy and centrality in evolution at home. The city-states of ancient Greece, the Maya, and Mesopotamia supply archaeological examples of social development that did not capture larger regional external trade networks. These archaeological analyses question the assumed inherency of taxation and tribute in state level evolution.