Governance around the time of Christ


Archaeologists are just beginning to unravel the history of these complex cultures. Most seem to have been marked by some public buildings and were composed of a ruler and an upper class who organized and taxed a complex economic system comprised of farmers, herders, miners, ironworkers, traders, and religious leaders. Cemeteries often show great variations of wealth and, presumably, social status. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Southwest Asia

By Alexander the Great's campaigns around 300 BC, the Anunnaki heritage was weakened to the point that a Greek society representing an independent perspective was able to topple most of the remnants of "divine kingship." The Hellenistic culture of Alexander's empire spread a new perspective to the former Anunnaki-ruled societies. It was replaced by the widespread imposition of the new institutions of the Roman Empire (which had been developing for 1,000 years independently of Anunnaki rule). (Gods, Genes, and Consciousness)


In 332 BC, Alexander the Great marched into Egypt, evicted the Persians, and built the city of Alexandria. (Patterns in Prehistory)

By Alexander the Great's campaigns around 300 BC, the Anunnaki heritage was weakened to the point that a Greek society representing an independent perspective was able to topple most of the remnants of "divine kingship." The Hellenistic culture of Alexander's empire spread a new perspective to the former Anunnaki-ruled societies. It was replaced by the widespread imposition of the new institutions of the Roman Empire (which had been developing for 1,000 years independently of Anunnaki rule). (Gods, Genes, and Consciousness)

Indus Valley



After 1100 BC, the Zhou empire and its successors arranged much of China in a feudal system that led to the growth of cities, great cycles of peace followed by warfare, and minutely differentiated administrative hierarchies. Again and again particular families of nobles or commoners would rise to power, make war on their neighbors, extend their kingdoms, and then collapse under the onslaught of competing warlords. Through it all, exquisite bronzes, porcelains, pots, and jewelry were made and lavished on the rich; untold thousands of people were sacrificed to be buried with their rulers; and millions lived and died in the eternal agricultural cycle of rural China. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The great richness and opulence of the Qin Dynasty is lavishly displayed in the Museum of Qin Shi Huang, in Shaanxi Province. In a project worthy of Egyptian pharaohs, the emperor Qin Shi Huang drafted 700,000 people to build a huge mausoleum and palace complex. The work lasted for thirty-nine years, and when it was finished it was full of rare and beautiful objects. Historical records of the time say that the complex was lighted with lamps fueled by the fat of giant salamanders. In 206 BC the whole complex was burned in a popular revolt. When archaeologists excavated they found 56.25 square kilometers of buildings and features, including "tombs of immolated slaves, table pits, stone material processing workshops, tombs of criminals, pits for the execution of slaves, pits of life-size terra cotta warriors and horses, and pits of bronze chariots and horses." The site so far has revealed thousands of life-size statues of warriors and horses, all rendered in exquisite detail. (Patterns in Prehistory)


Until about the seventh millennium BC, "Barbarian Europe"--the great forests, grasslands, and mountain ranges beyond the Aegean Sea and extending north to Britain, Scandinavia, and Russia, was inhabited only by hunters, and foragers. In succeeding millennia, Europeans developed complex forms of subsistence and adaptation, and a rich cultural repertoire of technology and social systems, but throughout prehistory and well into the early centuries of the first millennium AD, European cultures were not the equal of those of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and other areas in most of the characteristics of cultural "complexity". (Patterns in Prehistory)

By Alexander the Great's campaigns around 300 BC, the Anunnaki heritage was weakened to the point that a Greek society representing an independent perspective was able to topple most of the remnants of "divine kingship." The Hellenistic culture of Alexander's empire spread a new perspective to the former Anunnaki-ruled societies. It was replaced by the widespread imposition of the new institutions of the Roman Empire (which had been developing for 1,000 years independently of Anunnaki rule). (Gods, Genes, and Consciousness)

Strengthening its psychological hold on human consciousness through political, economic, and military force derived from its status in the waning Empire, Roman Christianity would become a monolithic power in its own right. For instance, Emperor Valentinian III, from Constantinople in 455 AD, decreed all Western Bishops must submit to the jurisdiction of the Pope. This extensive hierarchy would 10 years later continue in the Holy Roman Empire (962 AD) that would serve the joint purposes of the economic and military elite. The Roman Church's creation and control of universities would limit education to dogma for hundreds of years. Its long hegemony forced would-be scientists underground. (Gods, Genes, and Consciousness)

South America

In the first millennium AD, Adean South American societies were transformed from relatively simple small political units that we might call chiefdoms into much larger and more populous militaristic cultures that we can legitimately term states. Within this period the population of Andean South America rose from a few hundred thousand to approximately four or five million, large cities appeared in scores of places, armies conquered thousands of square kilometers, irrigation systems brought rich harvests to the desert and mountains, and the ceramic, architectural, metallurgical, and textile arts reached such heights that archaeologists have traditionally referred to this period as the "Classic" Period.

Two of the best known examples of Early Intermediate Period cultures are the Moche and the Nazca. The Moche culture was concentrated in about a 400-kilometer coastal strip that extended about 50 kilometers inland, thanks to an elaborate irrigation system that at its peak probably supported more than 50,000 people. By 200 BC, the community at Cerro Arena, for example, contained hundreds of houses and , public buildings that extended over an area of about a square mile. The economic basis of this and other communities was an irrigation system in which mud canals were built high in the hills, diverting water through kilometers of canals that snaked along the mountainside and down to the valleys. …in the case of the Moche Valley and many other examples, irrigation agriculture and cultural evolution are perhaps better viewed as closely interrelated, with an increase in the complexity of administrative and economic systems going step by step with increases in the complexity of irrigation systems. (Patterns in Prehistory)

…ancient Moche culture was based on massive inequalities in wealth, power, and prestige,…warfare was glorified and celebrated with the ritual executions of captives, …loving skill and precious materials were lavished on making beautiful objects--many of which were buried with dead elites—and…the entire society comprised an expansionistic and militaristic state. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The Sipan burials that reflect these aspects of Moche culture were found in the interior of a large mudbrick pyramid. In one burial a man identified by archaeologist Christoper Donnan as a "warrior-priest" was found lying on his back in a wooden coffin. He was wearing gold nose and ear ornaments, turquoise bead bracelets, and copper sandals, and surrounded by other exotic goods, including spears, war clubs, shields, atlatl darts, sea shells, feather ornaments, lovely cotton fabrics, hundreds of pots, a dog, two llamas, and other goods. This man was also buried with what one might consider the most valuable of all commodities, three young women and two men. (Patterns in Prehistory)

200 BC East Asian contact with Ecuador. (The God-Kings & the Titans)


Between about 500 BC and 150 BC, Teotihuacan supported a few small villages with a combined population of at most 3,000, but between 150 BC and 1 BC the population growth rate exceeded that of any other period and a city extending some six to eight square kilometers formed and reached about one-third its eventual maximum size. Between about AD 1 and AD 150 Teotihuacan's growth rate was still high but had slowed; the average population during this period was probably between 60,000 and 80,000, and rose to between 100,000 and 200,000 by AD 500. During this time work was completed on the massive Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon and on at least twenty other important temple complexes. (Patterns in Prehistory)

By about AD 100 Teotihuacan had hundreds of workshops, with perhaps as much as 25 percent of its population employed as craft specialists, making products in obsidian, ceramics, precious stones, slate, basalt, seashells, feathers, basketry, leather, and other materials. Along the main north-south street were elaborate residences, presumably for societal elites, as well as large and small temple complexes. Many of the more impressive buildings were built on platforms and often faced inward on patios and courtyards. (Patterns in Prehistory)

By the time Teotihuacan reached its maximum size, it had apparently depopulated much of the rest of the Valley of Mexico: only one other major settlement appears in the Valley at about AD 500, and it is but a small fraction of the size of Teotiihuacan. In fact, the abandonment of rural sites correlates so closely with Teotihuacan's growth that it appears likely that populations were either drawn or coerced directly into the city…(Patterns in Prehistory)

Richard B1anton notes that shortly after about 500 BC, Oaxaca experienced at least the following transformations: (1) population density increased at a more rapid rate than in any previous period; (2) agricultural intensification in the form of canal irrigation became important; (3) pottery manufacture became specialized and perhaps was part of the Valley’s first market system; (4) the settlement at Monte Alban, on a high plateau in the center of the Valley, grew to become a major regional center. (Patterns in Prehistory)

By 200 BC the population of Monte Alban reached about 17,OOO-a great city by ancient standards. Agriculture was intensified around Monte Alban as well, and rural population densities soared. Craft specialization in pottery and other commodities was sharpened, and the location and products of kilns indicate some degree of regional administrative control, although Blanton concludes that Monte Alban Itself remained mainly a ceremonial center with few economic functions. …by 200 BC or shortly thereafter, a state, by almost any definition, appears to have been operating in Oaxaca. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Between about 150 BC and AD 50 the people of El Mirador built hundreds of large stone constructions, including buildings, pyramids, plazas, and causeways. (Patterns in Prehistory)

We will never know exactly what happened to effect this transformation at Cerros, but the archaeological evidence suggests that this was a conscious reformulation of a community: they apparently broke their pottery, jade ornaments, and other objects into small bits and scattered them over their simple houses, buried flowers and other talismanic objects in the rubble, and then proceeded to build a new, vastly larger community around and over the remains of their abandoned village. On one temple, for example, representations of the Jaguar Sun God on a south-facing wall would, when lighted by the sun, present the sun “rising” on the east side of the wall and “setting” on the west side as the sun made its daily trek across the sky. (Patterns in Prehistory)

Mayan culture, which combines a unique conjunction of gods, human beings and mathematics, was sufficiently distinctive to be called 'Mayan' by the beginning of the Christian era. The civilization reached its apogee during what is termed, the 'Classical period', C.300-900 AD. It developed most fully in the central areas of the lowlands, responding to the natural challenges of the tropical forest. The highland Maya of Guatemala developed a rich and thriving economy, but played very little part in the development of the hieroglyphics, sculptures and architecture of their lowland cousins. Because the Maya had no metal, beans of the cacao tree were used as currency during the Classical period. (The Mayan Prophsies for 2012)

... by 400 BC, intensive, direct interaction with Olman was on the wane throughout most of Mesoamerica as powerful competitors emerged in the Basin of Mexico, the Valley of Oaxaca, and the Maya region. ...western Olman experienced a cultural and intellectual florescence in the Late and Terminal Formative periods (400 BC - AD 300), adapting ancient Olmec traditions to the requirements of a more competitive political landscape. The redundant forms and arrangements of architecture in the four plaza groups indicate they not only served similar ceremonial, political, and elite residential functions, but they also employed a common directional symbolism that associated their east-west axis with religious ceremony and the north- south axis with ruling authority. The north-south association with rulership was enhanced in Group I and the Nestepe Group by the incorporation of colossal heads, portraits of by-then ancient rulers, which were placed opposite to and facing the elite residential/administrative structures on the long mounds to the north. (Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica)

According to Kaufman and Justeson, La Mojarra Stela, which was erected about three years after its last Long Count date (i.e., in AD 161), describes the events leading up to and following the accession of Harvester Mountain Lord, the ruler depicted on the stela. Among the events described were solar eclipses, appearances of Venus, battles, and ceremonies. The ceremonies mentioned included Harvester Mountain Lord drawing offerings of blood from his penis and buttocks, and sacrificing his brother, an apparent rival for the throne. ...these ceremonies included calling up his animal spirit companion, a shamanic practice that was maintained from Olmec times and continued among the Classic Maya and their modern descendants. All the common components of factional competition and exclusionary political strategy are there in their Mesoamerican particulars: the glorification of the individual ruler, the struggles with other claimants and the aid of political allies ("Coronated ones hallowed by sprinkling, noble war-leader ones, fought against succession-supporters [would-be usurpers]"), the use of prestige goods as symbols of authority ("His-Macaw sign, his eccentric flint, and his pectoral stone memento got brandished"), the manipulation of ideology through bloody autosacrifice, shamanic trance, and the timing of battles and ceremonies to celestial events. (Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica)

Within Olman, Olmec culture did not simply collapse with the fall of La Venta. Instead, Olmec culture evolved in western Olman as their descendants, still speaking a Sokean language, drew on the symbols of their Olmec ancestors and adapted them to the requirements of a new, more competitive political landscape. One form this adaptation took was a continuation of the Middle Formative Olmec trend toward increasing historicity in public monuments displaying the activities of rulers, sometimes under the watchful gaze of ancestors and supernaturals. The culmination of this trend was the development of a complex logo-syllabic writing system and the development of the Long Count for recording events in historical time. It was not so much that Olmec culture regressed, but that it was equaled and, in some respects, surpassed by developments elsewhere. (Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica)

North America

Between about 800 BC and AD 800, population densities in many parts of eastern North America increased sharply, thousands of gigantic earthworks were constructed, inter-regional trade expanded, and large villages were built. This era of change, usually referred to as the Woodland Period, is associated with two major cultural traditions: the Adena (centered in Ohio, and extending into Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia), and the Hopewell (centered in southern Ohio but extending widely over much of eastern North America. Both are defined on the basis of styles of pottery, engraved stone tablets, textiles, and worked bone and copper. Adena mound-building and artifact styles seem concentrated in the interval between about 500 BC and A. 700. Many of the mounds were mortuary centers in which one or more corpses were placed in log tombs or clay pits in communal burials, sometimes with beautiful stone tools and other goods, and then covered with earth. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The Hopewell Culture dominated parts of the Middle West from about 200 BC to AD 750. The Ohio Hopewell was centered in southern Ohio, and the Havana Hopewell dominated the central and lower Illinois River Valley, but Hopewell religious traditions were practiced as far north as Wisconsin, south into Louisiana, and east into New York.

While grave goods are not usually profuse in Adena mounds, Hopewell tombs often contain finely worked copper, pipestone, mica, obsidian, meteoric iron, shell, tortoise shell, shark and alligator teeth, bear teeth, ceramics, and other commodities; there is also evidence of the ultimate grave good--sacrificed humans. Hopewell settlements and mounds increased in size and number in the centuries before about AD 400, and major earthworks were often built near the burial mounds.

…one of the many puzzling things about these mound complexes is that in many areas they do not seem to have any associated domestic houses.

…these societies seem to have been less complexly organized than, for example, Mesoamerican cities like Teotihuacan. Most of the Hopewell and Adena communities were small sedentary groups of hunter-collectors who built the burial mounds and ceremonial complexes for reasons that may fundamentally have had to do with distributing resources. Whereas Archaic hunters and gatherers met their needs by following seasonal rounds and exploiting a diversity of resources, Hopewell communities probably accomplished the same thing by exchanging products among themselves. Like the Adena mounds, however, these constructions could have also been territorial markers. (Patterns in Prehistory)

The Mogollon peoples (pronounced something like "Mug-ee-yone"), who also were heirs to the Archaic desert foraging cultures of the last several millennia BC, lived mainly in the mountains of east central Arizona and west central New Mexico. Sedentary villages and ceramics of the Mogollon type may have already been established by the last few centuries BC, but the distinctive Mogollon red-and-brown pottery is securely dated to about the third century AD, at which time villages of about fifteen pit houses each were scattered along ridges, bluffs, and terraces. Like their contemporaries in much of the Americas, they relied on the maize-beans-squash complex, supplemented by many wild plants and game. Mogollon burials of this period were often simple inhumations in house floors, accompanied by a few pottery vessels, turquoise ornaments, and stone tools typical of unstratified societies. Natural limitations on agricultural intensification seem to have restricted the complexity of social and political organization here. (Patterns in Prehistory)

…the Colorado Plateau societies never intensified agricultural production to the level that typically supported more complex societies, nor did they ever seem to include full-time craftsmen working in administered centralized workshops. The small steps the Southwesterners made in these directions, Plog concluded, arose out of the need to address imbalances between population densities and resources, but these changes were always strictly limited by the relatively great environmental diversity and generally low agricultural potential of the region.


One of the most interesting examples of the evolution of sociopolitical complexity is Hawaii. Hawaii was probably settled in the late first millennium BC, by settlers from the Marquesas Islands and perhaps other areas of eastern Polynesia. Eighteenth and nineteenth-century ethnographic accounts provide a detailed account of a highly stratified society with inherited power, prestige, and wealth, a diversified economy, complex trade relationships, monumental architecture, and many other elements associated with complex societies. (Patterns in Prehistory)

400 AD Flight of some of Peruvian white ruling class to Easter Island. (The God-Kings & the Titans)