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Megaliths, mounds, and monuments: Applying self-organizing theory to ancient human systems

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, 2009
Dissertation
Author: Elizabeth Brownell Mullane
Abstract:
There is a long history of applying theories from various disciplines to archaeological research. This dissertation builds on that tradition and aims to illustrate the utility of applying a self-organizing systems theory perspective to ancient human societies. The theory of self-organization was developed in physics and has been applied successfully to biological systems, especially concerning the interactions of social insects. In human groups, self-organizing systems theory can be used to understand how some traditions and practices within a culture may be implemented, changed, and maintained without direct leadership. Self-organization is the emergence of new forms, trends or behaviors, which are influenced by interactions between agents, their communities and their built and natural environments. There are three distinguishing components of a self-organizing system: emergence, local interaction (neighbor-neighbor interaction and stigmergy), and scale of analysis. Self-organization may be present at various scales, or units, of human action and can be seen by transformations or consistencies in the material record, which are proxies for the change or maintenance of traditions and practices. Three archaeological case studies are the core of this analysis: Megalithic South India of the first millennium B.C., Cahokia and the Middle Mississippi River Valley of the second millennium A.D., and Iron Age and Roman Britain of the first millennium A.D. These examples were chosen because they represent three levels of human social organization: simple, intermediate, and complex. I examine these three case studies to first determine how self-organization arises in groups of various socio-political complexity and then to understand the specific impact those non-directed behaviors have on their development. In this dissertation, I identify the nature of human interactions, understand how local practices can generate large-scale societal changes, and determine the role of self-organization in the creation of sociopolitical complexity.

TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER 1: ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF CULTURE CHANGE 1 Structure of the Dissertation 2 A Brief Definition of Self-Organizing Systems Theory 3 Local and Global Approaches to Changes in Material Culture 4 Macro-Level Perspectives 6 The band-tribe-chiefdom-state model 6 Systems theory 8 Peer polity interaction 10 Micro-Level Perspectives 11 Agency 13 Identity 16 Ethnicity 17 Conclusion 19 CHAPTER 2: AN INTRODUCTION TO SELF-ORGANIZING SYSTEMS 27 Theoretical Background 29 What is a Complex System? 30 Self-Organizing Systems as a Type of Complex System 32 Origins of Self-Organization Theory in Physics and Biology 32 Characteristics of Self-Organizing Systems in Biological Systems 35 Applications of Self-Organization Theory in the Social Sciences 40 Case Studies 43 Quantitative Approaches 44 Cellular automata models 44 Differential equations models 47 Qualitative Approaches 48 South Moresby case study 48 Consideration of Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches 52 Conclusion 54 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY 64 Archaeological Applications of Self-Organizing Systems 65 Limitations in Applying Self-Organization Theory to Ancient Complex Systems 70 The Presence of Leaders in a Self-Organizing Human System 74 iv

Defining Self-Organization 82 Case Studies 84 Data Sets 85 Identifying Self-Organization in the Archaeological Record 88 Material expectations of non self-organizing behaviors 91 Material expectations of self-organization 93 Conclusion 96 CHAPTER 4: SELF-ORGANIZING MEGALITHS? A MEGALITHIC SOUTH INDIA CASE STUDY 99 Megalithic South India 100 Issues with Chronology 100 History of Scholarship in Megalithic South India 102 Why Can a Self-Organization Model be Applied to Megalithic South India? 103 Data Sets 104 The Megalithic Suite: Megaliths, Black-and-Red Ware, and Iron 105 Megaliths 106 Engineering of megaliths 109 Parallels in western European megaliths 114 Black-and-red ware pottery 118 Iron 119 The Emergence of the Widespread Use of Iron 120 Self-Organization at Various Scales of Analysis 122 Local Level Variations in the Megalithic Suite of Artifacts 122 Northwest Karnataka 122 Chingleput and adjacent districts in northeast Tamil Nadu 123 Coimbatore and adjacent districts in western Tamil Nadu 124 Coastal Kerala 125 Eastern Vidarbha in northeast Maharashtra 126 Regional Interactions: Subsidiary Modes of Production in the South Indian Economy 128 Discussion 132 Conclusion 139 CHAPTER 5: SELF-ORGANIZING MOUNDS? ACAHOKIAAND MIDDLE MISSISSIPPI RIVER VALLEY CASE STUDY 160 Cahokia and the Middle Mississippi River Valley 161 v

Location and Environment Phasing Previous Scholarship Why Can a Self-Organization Model be Applied Mississippi River Valley? Data Sets The Emergence of Cahokia Self-Organization at Various Scales of Analysis Scale: Individual Level Burials Elite and non-elite burials to the Middle in greater Cahokia Nonelite burials in the Lohmann Scale: Household Level Architecture Style Size Storage Scale: Village Level Settlement Layout Scale: Region Migration Discussion Conclusion uplands 161 162 163 164 166 167 170 170 170 171 175 180 180 180 183 185 190 190 192 192 193 196 CHAPTER 6: SELF-ORGANIZING MONUMENTS? AN IRON AGE AND ROMAN BRITAIN CASE STUDY 208 Iron Age and Roman Britain 209 A Very Brief History of Roman Britain 210 Historical Sources 212 Traditional/Historical Approaches to Studying the Roman Empire 213 Acculturation models 213 Romanization 214 Creolization 216 Why Can a Self-Organization Model be Applied to Iron Age and Roman Britain? 217 Self-Organizing Systems under a State-Level System 218 Data Sets 222 Emergence: The Development of Urbanism - Not Merely a Roman Import? 224 Self-Organization at Multiple Scales of Analysis 228 Local Level Interactions 228 VI

Foodways 230 Burials 238 Personal adornment and identity 244 Architecture 248 Summary of Local Interactions 250 Discussion 251 Conclusion 254 CHAPTER 7: DISCUSSION 258 Emergent Properties (Megalithic South India Case Study) 259 Iron 259 Neighbor-Neighbor/Stigmergy (Cahokia and the Middle Mississippi River Valley Case Study) 262 Cahokia and Architectural Traditions 263 Scale (Iron Age and Roman Britain Case Study) 267 Household Scale: Indicators of Self-Organization 267 Site Scale: Few Indicators of Self-Organization 270 Regional Scale: No Indicators of Self-Organization 272 Multiple Types of Self-Organization? 274 Conclusion 278 CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSIONS 281 REFERENCES 289 vn

LIST OF FIGURES 1 A schematic showing the characteristics of self-organization 23 2 Bifurcation scheme of possible system outcomes (Allen 1997: Figure 1.9) 24 3 Different typologies of evolutionary social trajectories (Redman 1978: Figure 6-13) 24 4 Evolutionary stepladder of societal complexity as an example of traditional systems thinking (Yoffee 2005: Figure 1.1) 25 5 Types of societies correlated with institutions and ethnographic and archaeological examples showing adaptations of early linear neoevolutionary models (Flannery 1972: Figure 1) 25 6 Different evolutionary trajectories (Yoffee 1993: Figure 6.6) 26 7 Selected archaeological studies of ethnicity highlighting the diversity of material interests (Emberling 1997: Table II) 26 1 Benard convection cell (Allen 1997: Figure 1.4) 56 2 'Segregative Blues versus Segregative Greens' game in time steps 0 through 25, in which t represents the number of timesteps and diss is the Dissimilarity Index (used as a measure for segregation). The propotions are assumed to be equal amongst the newcomers. (Portugali, Benenson, and Omer 1994: Figure 2) 57 3 Elements of the simulation model (Huang, Kao and Lee 2007: Table 2) 58-59 4 History of the South Moresby sociopbiophysical system (Grzybowski and Slocombe 1988: (Figure 3) 60 5 Key variables in the South Moresby sociobiophysical environment at different temporal and spatial scales (Grzybowksi and Slocombe 1988: Figure 4) 61-62 viii

2.6 Land use projections from simulation as compared with known values (Huang, Kao and Lee 2007: Figure 6) 63 3.1 Attendance list of workers from the Papyrus Reisner I (Ezzamel 2004: Table 1) 98 4.1 South India (after Brubaker 2008) 141 4.2 Distribution of Megalithic Monuments in South India (Brubaker 2008: Figure 1) 142 4.3 Regions 1-11 (after Brubaker 2001: Map 15) 143 4.4 Brahmagiri cist and stone circle megalith VI (Wheeler 1948: Plate LXXXI B) 144 4.5 Dolmen at Bukkasagara (Johansen 2008: Figure 6) 144 4.6 Illustrations of various types of Megaliths found across South India (after John 1985: Figure 1) 145 4.7 An example of a Black-and-Red ware sherd (Sinopoli, Morrison, and Gopal 2008: Figure 4) 146 4.8 Various examples of Black-and-Red ware sherds with graffiti (Deo 1970: Plate VI) 146 4.9 Late Prehistoric iron objects from Kadebakele (Gallon 2008: Figure 4) 147 4.10 Area described as "iron working terrace" at Bukkasagara (Johansen 2008: Figure 4) 147 4.11 Sites with stone circles by region (after Brubaker 2001: Map 7) 148 4.12 Sites with cairns or barrows by region (after Brubaker 2001: Map 4) 149 4.13 Sites with cists, dolmens or dolmenoid cists by region (after Brubaker 2001: Map 6) 150 4.14 Sites with alignments or avenues by region 151 (after Brubaker 2001: Map 8) IX

4.15 Sites with terracotta sarcophagi by region 152 (after Brubaker 2001: Map 11) 4.16 Sites with porthole chambers by region 153 (after Brubaker 2001: Map 5) 4.17 Sites with urn burials by region (after Brubaker 2001: Map 10) 154 4.18 Sites with rock-cut caves by region (after Brubaker 2001: Map 9) 155 4.19 Sites with transepted cists by region 156 (after Brubaker 2001: Map 12) 4.20 Russet coated painted sherds from megaliths 157 (Rao 1972: Plate XIII) 4.21 Construction events and equivalent person-hours in the presumed construction of a tomb in 12th Dynasty, Egypt (Ezzamel 2004: Table 4) 157 4.22 The distribution of Megalithic sites and soil types in South India (Moorti 1994: Table 2.2) 158 4.23 Distribution of Megalithic sites and resource deposits. Sites must be located within 0-20 km of a deposit to be considered proximate. (Moorti 1994: Table 2.4) 159 5.1 Select sites in the American Bottom (after Milner et al. 1984: 159) 198 5.2 Transformation in community organization at A.D. 1050 in Tract 15A at Cahokia (Pauketat 1997: Figure 2.1) 199 5.3 Select cemeteries in the Illinois uplands (after Emerson, Hargrave, and Hedman 2003: Figure 10.1) 200 5.4 Map of Knoebel South cemetery (Emerson, Hargrave, and Hedman 2003: Figure 10.2) 201 5.5 Map of Halliday cemetery (Emerson, Hargrave, and Hedman 2003: Figure 10.3) 202 x

6 Map of Stemler Bluff cemetery (Emerson, Hargrave, and Hedman 2003: Figure 10.4) 203 7 Map of Center Grove cemetery (Emerson, Hargrave, and Hedman 2003: Figure 10.5) 204 8 Postmold architecture (left) and wall-trench architecture (right) (after Pauketat 1993: Figure 7) 205 9 Richland Complex Site Data (Alt 2002: Table 1) 205 10 A building for the Halliday site in the Richland complex illustrating the 'faux wall-trench' or hybridized style of architecture. The image above shows what appears to be a wall-trench form, but the bottom picture shows that once the top levels of dirt is removed, postmolds are clearly visible. (Pauketat and Alt 2005: Figure 7) 206 11 Emergent Mississippian community plan at the Range site (Kelly et al. 1984: Figure 53) 207 1 Study Areas (after Mattingly 2006: Figure 4) 256 2 An example of an enclosed oppidum, Winchester (Cunliffe 1976: Figure 5) 257 3 Percentage of brooches of the Colchester and Colchester Derivative types recovered from sites in Hertfordshire and Essex (Carr 2001: Table: 10.1) 257 1 The characteristics of the selected three case studies of this dissertation, highlighting the importance of scale and the development of emergent properties 288 XI

LIST OF TABLES Table 1.1 Comparison of peer polity interaction and self-organizing systems 21 theory 3.1 Material correlates of ritual behavior as applied to the Bronze Age Aegean (Renfrew 1985: 19-20) 90 4.1 Estimate of labor required for Megalithic burial (Mohanty and Walimbe 1996: Table 4) 112 4.2 Number of megalith types represented in each region of South India 122 4.3 Selected resource types and the number of known sites within 20 km (Moorti 1994: 14-15) 129 5.1 Cahokia Period and Phase Chronology (Pauketat 1998: 46) 163 5.2 Instances of leader-directed and self-organizing behaviors across Cahokia and the Middle Mississippi River Valley, which illustrates that these behaviors can occur concurrently 166 5.3 Characteristics of Mississippian cemeteries (after Emerson, Hargrave, and Hedman (2003; Milner 1984) 173 xn

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Those who have not yet started may believe that a dissertation is a hard thing to begin. Sitting where I am today, I would argue that a dissertation is a hard thing to end. I entered UCLA as a naive twenty-two year old who was passionate about archaeology. I will leave some years older, hopefully wiser, and still excited about the field. It feels bittersweet to be writing these acknowledgements because although I am excited to be moving forward, I will miss my extended family here in Los Angeles. This dissertation is the product of the hard work of many dedicated people. My profound thanks go first to my mentor Monica Smith for continually encouraging me to freely explore the possibilities within archaeology. Her unfailing support has given me the courage to challenge myself. I would also like to thank Liz Carter for taking me under her wing and bringing me with her to Turkey all those years ago. I am also indebted to my other committee members, Greg Schachner, Ann Bergren, and Dwight Read, for their nuanced and thoughtful criticisms of my ideas. In addition to my committee, I would like to thank John Papadopoulos, Sarah Morris, and Susan Downey, who mentored me and helped guide me through the gauntlet that is graduate school. I must also thank Carla Sinopoli and Robert Brubaker for so willingly sharing their knowledge. My interest in comparative work would not have been possible without the support of the many project directors who graciously allowed me to work with them in xiii

the field. I would particularly like to thank Stuart Campbell, Susan Alcock, John Cherry, Tim Pauketat, and Dr. Mohanty for welcoming me onto their research teams. I am grateful for the closeness of the archaeological community. Since the day we started at UCLA together, Mac Marston has continually been both a close friend and a helpful colleague. Additionally, I must extend my thanks to my lab mate Liz Brite. Hours researching and writing in the basement would have been tedious without her banter. In particular, I am grateful to Rachel Mittelman, who was willing to listen to non stop dissertation talk for the past year. Finally, I would like to thank Vikas Shah. You reaffirmed my faith in my abilities and encouraged me to accomplish what I had dreamed. In closing I must thank my family and my friends, particularly my mother and my sister. You believed in me. You encouraged me when I was frustrated and cheered for my successes. You watched me travel the world, yet always welcomed me back home. xiv

VITA August 15, 1981 Born, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA May 18, 2003 B. A., Archaeology and Environmental Studies Tufts University Medford, Massachusetts, USA 2003-2007 Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship University of California, Los Angeles 2004-2005 Teaching Assistant Department of Classics University of California, Los Angeles 2005-2006 Teaching Assistant Departments of Anthropology and Classics University of California, Los Angeles March 24, 2006 M. A., Archaeology University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, California 2007-2008 Teaching Assistant Departments of Anthropology and Classics University of California, Los Angeles June 13, 2008 C. Phil., Archaeology University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles, California 2008-2009 Dissertation Year Fellowship University of California, Los Angeles xv

ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION Megaliths, Mounds, and Monuments: Applying Self-Organizing Theory to Ancient Human Systems by Elizabeth Brownell Mullane Doctor of Philosophy in Archaeology University of California, Los Angeles, 2009 Professor Monica L. Smith, Chair There is a long history of applying theories from various disciplines to archaeological research. This dissertation builds on that tradition and aims to illustrate the utility of applying a self-organizing systems theory perspective to ancient human societies. The theory of self-organization was developed in physics and has been applied successfully to biological systems, especially concerning the interactions of social insects. In human groups, self-organizing systems theory can be used to understand how some traditions and practices within a culture may be implemented, changed, and maintained without direct leadership. Self-organization is the emergence of new forms, trends or behaviors, which are influenced by interactions between agents, their communities and their built and natural environments. There are three distinguishing xvi

components of a self-organizing system: emergence, local interaction (neighbor-neighbor interaction and stigmergy), and scale of analysis. Self-organization may be present at various scales, or units, of human action and can be seen by transformations or consistencies in the material record, which are proxies for the change or maintenance of traditions and practices. Three archaeological case studies are the core of this analysis: Megalithic South India of the first millennium B.C., Cahokia and the Middle Mississippi River Valley of the second millennium A.D., and Iron Age and Roman Britain of the first millennium A.D. These examples were chosen because they represent three levels of human social organization: simple, intermediate, and complex. I examine these three case studies to first determine how self-organization arises in groups of various socio-political complexity and then to understand the specific impact those non-directed behaviors have on their development. In this dissertation, I identify the nature of human interactions, understand how local practices can generate large-scale societal changes, and determine the role of self-organization in the creation of sociopolitical complexity. xvii

CHAPTER 1 ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS OF CULTURE CHANGE Archaeological theories concerning the development of human behaviors have primarily focused on either agency and local-scale phenomena or global patterns and comparative universals. Both of these established perspectives, however, only represent a fraction of the scope of analysis in deconstructing the development of ancient human groups. By incorporating multiple scales of analysis and focusing on how local patterns may influence global changes, different interpretations of the past may be developed. This project focuses on self-organizing systems, which are systems that exhibit global patterns of behavior derived from simple interactions. I will apply this biological theory of the emergence of new interaction patterns and test the extent to which self-organizing systems theory is an appropriate perspective for understanding ancient human systems. I utilize three archaeological case studies of increasing complexity to identify the underlying organizational structure within these human systems. Three archaeological case studies are the core of this analysis: Megalithic South India of the first millennium B.C., Cahokia and the Middle Mississippi River Valley of the second millennium A.D., and Iron Age and Roman Britain of the first millennium A.D. These examples were chosen because they represent three levels of human social organization: simple, intermediate and complex. These cases permit the evaluation of elements of self-organization that present themselves in human groups in order to determine how they manifest themselves differently or have differential visibility due to 1

due to the size of the system. These three case studies represent very different environments, historical periods and societies. By identifying self-organizing behaviors within all of these case studies, I will strengthen my argument that self-organization is present in all human systems. Structure of the Dissertation In this chapter, I investigate existing approaches to explaining how changes in material culture indicate social organization and identity construction. This discussion includes a review of both macro and micro scale approaches: neoevolutionary social modeling, systems theory, peer polity interaction, agency, identity, and ethnicity. In Chapter Two, I explore self-organizing systems theory from its origins in physics to its applications in biology. This chapter concludes with a review of applications of self- organizing systems in the social sciences. Chapter Three outlines the methodology of this research project beginning with how self-organizing systems theory may be usefully applied to ancient human groups. In addition, I introduce the case studies, which are the focus of this dissertation and define the data that I am interpreting. Following this, in Chapters Four through Six, I examine each case study to determine whether the material culture indicates how some practices emerged due to self-organization. Chapter 7 draws out three specific examples from these case studies to highlight the utility of employing a self-organizing systems model for archaeological analysis. The final chapter concludes with a discussion of the utility of a self-organizing systems approach for archaeological

investigations and I point out potential areas for future research using this theoretical framework. A Brief Definition of Self-Organizing Systems Theory Self-organizing systems theory is a framework taken from biology that explains how some patterns emerge in social groups and become the prevailing norm. This appears to happen organically without the presence of direct hierarchical or dominance structures. It seems that biological self-organizing systems develop from basic, repeated interactions and a particular pattern or behavior emerges because of complex exchanges with the surrounding environment. Applied to human societies, self-organization forms from daily contact as shaped by changing social, political and ecological conditions. Self-organizing systems theory has been applied to single archaeological case studies ranging from nomadism (Erickson-Gini 2007), city development (Portugali, Benenson, and Omer 1994) to dispersed states (Mcintosh 2005). Regardless of approach, there are three core components of all self-organizing systems: systems are not at equilibrium, lower level interactions produce global level patterns, and a new pattern emerges after a bifurcation event (Figures 1.1 and 1.2). This perspective provides a framework for understanding the development of all societies, simple and complex, without reducing the people to predetermined relationships, top-down enforcement and a priori outcomes. No previous archaeological studies have tested whether there is evidence of self-organization in human societies at multiple levels of complexity. Thus, this project will provide information on the appropriateness of using such a theoretical 3

basis for studying ancient human systems. Additionally, the methodologies of this project are widely applicable to understanding the mechanisms of the sustainability of human systems. I will explore the origins of self-organizing systems theory and continue to define it in the following two chapters. Now, however, I will examine alternative archaeological theories explaining the cultural meaning of transformations in material culture. There are many established archaeological theories that address issues that are also central to self- organizing systems theory. In this section, I discuss archaeological theories which concentrate on applying micro or macro scale approaches to changes in material culture. I will briefly discuss theoretical examples, which have elements that are similar to or directly contradict self-organizing systems theory. The popularity of these perspectives has waxed and waned in the past four decades, but all of the theories I will discuss below have sparked further investigation and debate of the past, which only enriches our understanding of ancient peoples. Local and Global Approaches to Changes in Material Culture The focus of this dissertation is on the study of how human groups are able to self-organize. These self-organizing behaviors are due to interactions at a local scale, in which individuals and communities interact with their social and physical environment in a variety of ways. These non-directed actions are manifested in their material culture. Archaeologically, this often results in heterogeneity in archeological materials. These local, autonomous behaviors may evolve to have global manifestations and meanings. 4

The examination of how changes in the material record may be correlated with certain cultural adaptations has often been an implicit component of archaeological research. Shifts in architecture, ceramic styles, and floral and faunal remains often have been viewed as corresponding to changes in political power, new economic foundations, or the introduction of different ideological frameworks imposed upon the system in a hierarchical fashion (e.g., Hastorf and Johannessen 1993 for their study on transformations in maize use in the Andes in the Wanka and Inca periods; Krautheimer 1975 for a discussion of the adoption of the Roman basilica for Christianity; Rice 2000 for her examination of ceramics and obsidian in relations to economic changes in the Late Classic lowland Maya). These changes often have been viewed from two polarizing perspectives: global, macro scale processes versus local, micro scale processes. In this manner, Stephen Sherman argues that the archaeological record provides information from two extreme scales: micro and macro (Sherman 1993). Sherman distinguishes between these two scales as "important 'events' which affected the way social space was structured" versus "the routinized activity of individuals going about their daily round, repetitive everyday happenings" (Sherman 1993: 55). He further contends that it is not possible to "bracket out" the micro-level analysis and asserts that it is in fact these micro scale processes that are the archaeological record (Sherman 1993: 55). The examples that I discuss in the succeeding section fit Sherman's expectation of all archaeological analysis occurring at either the micro- or macro- scale. I contend that although these approaches have provided valuable insight into the nature of human 5

behaviors and societal development, work needs to be done that bridges the micro and macro scale. I maintain that examining self-organizing behaviors is one way to escape the tyranny of only micro or macro scale approaches to archaeology. Macro-Level Perspectives One of the characteristics of archaeological inquiry has traditionally been a focus on macro-scale events (Thomas 2000). This interest in cross-cultural comparison and long-term processes seems to have developed from early and mid-twentieth century attention to understanding "technological development, social evolution and ecological adaptation" (Thomas 2000: 331). Although global perspectives have been criticized, these approaches have provided a better understanding of societies around the world. The band-tribe-chiefdom-state model. One of the earliest global analyses of the human past was to classify ancient human groups according to their socio-political complexity. There have been many attempts to characterize different societies (Figure 1.3). One highly influential approach is Service's (1962) band-tribe-chiefdom-state model, whose legacy is both expansive and pervasive. Service's model (1962) characterizes the social and organizational traits necessary to distinguish between societies that are organized differently. An explicit part of this neoevolutionary framework is the assumption that groups must move through the model sequentially (Figure 1.4). Bands must first transform into tribes before they can achieve the status of a 6

chiefdom, and states are only derived from chiefdoms (Yoffee 2005). Service's (1962) band-tribe-chiefdom-state model explains how groups evolve towards civilization. Many later archaeologists have critiqued and adapted these early linear neoevolutionary models. Flannery (1972: 401-404) maintains Service's band-tribe- chiefdom-state model (Figure 1.5). He distinguishes further between their evolution by dividing them into egalitarian societies (bands and tribes), chiefdoms, and stratified societies (states). Flannery (1972: 400) elects to not include Service's ideas of civilization because of the perceived ambiguity of the term and chooses instead to more carefully define the state in his rubric. Norman Yoffee (1993) is a vocal critic of these neoevolutionary models. He finds fault with the neoevolutionary framework because it unrealistically requires holistic change, in which all institutions, political, social and economic, need to change "at the same time, at the same pace, and in the same direction" (Yoffee 1993: 64). He further states that these stages are "only failed intellectual exercises at identifying sets of diagnostic features" (Yoffee 1993: 64). Instead, Yoffee (1993: 71-73) advocates for a new social evolutionary model in which there are many different trajectories. His framework (Figure 1.6) does not preclude one society moving between trajectories and allows for the diversity of known human societies, both modern and ancient (Yoffee 1993: 72). As a short-hand for quickly cataloging relationships and similarities among societies, the band-tribe-chiefdom-state model construct has proven extraordinarily useful in archaeology (see Renfrew 1984: 41). I will refer to my case studies using the band- 7

tribe-chiefdom-state model because of the utility in generally classifying the socio political organization of societies which differ in scale. Although scholars have long debated these classifications in their fields, for the purposes of this dissertation, I will not discuss arguments for alternative classifications that have been presented, such as whether Cahokia is a chiefdom or a state (see Milner 1998 for an overview of the debate) or whether Megalithic South India is organized into tribes or chiefdoms (Deo 1985; Sinopoli 2002). Whether a case study is one level of classification or another has little relevance in identifying how self-organizing behaviors may develop and impact the evolution of a cultural group. Systems theory. One of the most frequently utlized macro scale, universal perspectives has been systems theory. As with many other theories, systems theory was formulated outside of archaeology. Systems theory is attributed to biologist, Ludwig von Bertalanffy, who "proposed that living systems engage in an open interchange with the environment, in which inputs and outputs can be largely explained in terms of feedback loops" (Houston 1999: 123). The early proponents of systems theory wanted to create rules that could define how any system functions (Trigger 1989: 303). Systems theory became the dominant paradigm in anthropological archaeology from the 1960s through the early 1980s. These mathematical formulations appealed to the emerging New Archaeology movement of the 1960s in which scholars were looking to move beyond that qualitative work of earlier culture historians (Trigger 1989). 8

Kent Flannery (1968) was a pioneering proponent of the application of systems theory to archaeology. His seminal work asserts that genetic changes in maize and beans led to Mesoamerican hunter-gatherers changed their foraging patterns, which through various interrelated feedback loops, led to the intensification of agriculture of those two plants (Flannery 1968). Systems theory was propounded as an objective perspective for understanding complex human organizations (Clarke 1968; Flannery 1986, 1972; Hill 1977; Renfrew 1972). As systems theory was originally defined, a systems theory framework emphasizes the persistence and stability of systems, the interconnection of subsystems, and the tendency of all systems towards a state of equilibrium. Systems not in this equilibrium state are said to make homeostatic changes in order to achieve such a desired stability. Therefore, from a systems theory perspective, change only occurs in disequilibrium conditions. If a system is at equilibrium, then no change would occur. The presumed universality of the conservative nature of culture, what Renfrew calls the "... natural tendency of culture to persist unchanged" (Renfrew 1972: 487, emphasis original), defines human systems as equilibrium systems and privileges instances of change because these are perceived as significant events. An additional premise of a systems theory framework is that human systems are closed, which allows for the interconnections between subsystems to be measured (Ellen 1982). Critics of systems theory argue that it ignores and under-theorizes social conflicts and contradictions and reduces the complexities of cultures to a series of line drawings with arrows indicating poorly understood feedback loops (e.g., system diagrams of Bentley 2003: 12; Flannery 1972: 410, 1986: 22-3; systems theory critiques of Bentley 9

and Maschner 2003: 1-5; Shanks and Tilley 1987; Whitley 1998: 311-2). These authors observe that human systems are not closed entities, but rather act and react at a variety of scales to influences from both within the system as well as from outside forces. Criticism of the simplicity of the analysis and the perceived omission of the possibilities of social conflict and contradictions within human systems led to a dramatic reduction in applications of the theoretical paradigm in the 1980s. A systems theory perspective was considered too mechanistic and did not consider the impact of human decision-making. Partially in response to the perceived omissions inherent in systems theory, attention has shifted to understanding small-scale transformations. The focus today is on understanding small-scale actions and decision makers in order to explain observed changes in the archaeological record (Dornan 2002; Hegmon 2003; Hodder 2000). With this current interest in human agency, change in the material record is most often seen as being local, rather than a homogeneous shift visible throughout the society. Peer polity interaction. Peer polity interaction is defined by Colin Renfrew (1986) as the "full range of interchanges taking place (including imitation and emulation, competition, warfare, and the exchange of material goods and of information) between autonomous (i.e. self-governing and in that sense politically independent) socio-political units which are situated beside or close to each other within a single geographical region, or in some cases more widely" (Renfrew 1986: 1). The principle is applied to complex states but Renfrew argues that it is likely appropriate for examples of societies with less socio-political complexity. 10

Full document contains 332 pages
Abstract: There is a long history of applying theories from various disciplines to archaeological research. This dissertation builds on that tradition and aims to illustrate the utility of applying a self-organizing systems theory perspective to ancient human societies. The theory of self-organization was developed in physics and has been applied successfully to biological systems, especially concerning the interactions of social insects. In human groups, self-organizing systems theory can be used to understand how some traditions and practices within a culture may be implemented, changed, and maintained without direct leadership. Self-organization is the emergence of new forms, trends or behaviors, which are influenced by interactions between agents, their communities and their built and natural environments. There are three distinguishing components of a self-organizing system: emergence, local interaction (neighbor-neighbor interaction and stigmergy), and scale of analysis. Self-organization may be present at various scales, or units, of human action and can be seen by transformations or consistencies in the material record, which are proxies for the change or maintenance of traditions and practices. Three archaeological case studies are the core of this analysis: Megalithic South India of the first millennium B.C., Cahokia and the Middle Mississippi River Valley of the second millennium A.D., and Iron Age and Roman Britain of the first millennium A.D. These examples were chosen because they represent three levels of human social organization: simple, intermediate, and complex. I examine these three case studies to first determine how self-organization arises in groups of various socio-political complexity and then to understand the specific impact those non-directed behaviors have on their development. In this dissertation, I identify the nature of human interactions, understand how local practices can generate large-scale societal changes, and determine the role of self-organization in the creation of sociopolitical complexity.