Romila Thapar

in From Lineage to State

Published in print October 1991 | ISBN: 9780195626759
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080656 | DOI:

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  • Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)


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This chapter discusses the various available theories on the nature and formation of the early states in India such as Oriental Despotism and the Asiatic Mode of Production. It also looks at the various factors which might have contributed to state formation like the development of irrigation systems, population growth, social stratification, and growth of trade and urban centres. It discusses a working definition of the term ‘lineage’ and provides a comparison between a lineage based society and a state. The chapter also discusses the defining features of a state and differentiates between terms like ‘state’, ‘government’, and ‘society’. The centralization of power in the state is also examined, before the discussion shifts to a study of four different situations regarding state formation. The situations that are included in the study are the Rg Vedic and Later Vedic societies in the Indo-Gangetic watershed and western Ganga valley, the gana-sangha system, and the arrival of the monarchies in the middle Ganga valley.

Keywords: state formation; early states; Oriental Despotism; Asiatic Mode of Production; irrigation systems; urban centres; lineage; Rg Vedic societies; Later Vedic societies; tribal society; gana-sangha system

Chapter.  7433 words. 

Subjects: Ancient History (Non-Classical, to 500 CE)

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