Scientists told how root crops could interfere with the emergence of the state in antiquity

(ORDO NEWS) — Complex hierarchical government structures may have arisen in antiquity from the use of crops. An article about this was published in the Journal of Political Economy.

For many years, researchers have been inclined to believe that in order to form a complex state system, it is necessary to levy taxes, and for this, agricultural productivity must increase.

Yoram Maishar of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his colleagues believe that the productivity of agricultural land did not play a key role in the formation of states.

The main thing, in their opinion, was the cultivation of grain crops. Unlike other crops, grains can be stored centrally and for a long time, and therefore they are easy to count and tax.

Root crops are difficult to store and therefore tax. Therefore, even if they are produced enough for food, this does not lead to the emergence of tax-collecting nobility and state structures. “Only where the climate and geography favored cereals could a social hierarchy develop.

According to our data, the higher the productivity advantage of cereals over tubers in the region, the higher the likelihood of the emergence of complex forms of social organization,” the authors write.

Scientists came to such conclusions after analyzing data on the distribution of cultivated plant species in different regions in different historical periods, as well as considering several historical cases.


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