Surpluses were traded over long distances. Within small fortified towns there emerged garrisons, manufacturing, administrative and ritual centres. In these towns we would soon find carpenters, distillers of alcohol, dyers, potters, ivory workers, fletchers, and joiners and garland makers. These large centres were enmeshed in a political and economical network of small societies: socially diversified and specialised lineage groups, extended families, clans and craft organisations (Bailey & Mabbett 2001). Many of those were semi-nomadic communities, but still living in close economic interaction with the centre as forest guides, timber suppliers, elephant tamers, cow herders, and hunters. In other words, the emerging regional kingdoms of this period actually consisted of a network of large-scale societies encapsulating smaller groups. This was a hugely heterogeneous society, caught in a painful process of emerging civilisation and empire building.
Axial Age: an earthquake in the social-political foundation
This civilisation and state building process of the Axial Age underwent a major acceleration and centralisation drive between 600-300 BC. New iron technology enabled an agricultural surplus and gave rise to unprecedentedly violent forms of warfare. Revolutionary new institutions such as written language and monetary economy emerged. Fortresses and market places turned into large towns and slavery became widespread. This process immensely increased the power of the State and created a new style of large-scale warfare among competing power centres of kingdoms and republics never experienced before (Witzel 2003, Gat 2008, Graebel 2011, Bellah 2011).
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