The Rise of States in the Old World

Module code: AR2552

How do we define and understand the incredibly complex social structures that are states in archaeology? Drawing on ideas from anthropology, history and sociology as well as archaeology, this module explores the origins of four old world states (Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus, Shang China) and what might have led to their development at certain times and places. The archaeological evidence for such things as settlement, craft production, trade warfare and burials are all explored in some depth for each state.


This module is studied by distance learning. This can include resource-based learning; directed reading; self-assessed exercises, independent research; assignment feedback; academic support from tutors; electronic discussion groups; peer-group support and interaction.


  • Literature critique, 1,500 words (30%)
  • Essay, 3,000 words (70%)