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  • Judi Lynn (5299 posts)
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    It wasn't just Greece: Archaeologists find early democratic societies in the Ame


    Public plazas were scattered through every neighborhood in the republic of Tlaxcallan. Some had modest temples like this one built off to one side.

     

     

    It wasn’t just Greece: Archaeologists find early democratic societies in the Americas
    By Lizzie Wade Mar. 15, 2017 , 9:00 AM

     

     

    The candidate for political office stood in a plaza, naked, bracing himself against the punches and kicks. The crowd roared, pulsing around him like a beating heart. People for whom he had risked his life in war after war hurled blows and insults from all directions. The candidate breathed deeply. Trained as a warrior, he knew he had to stay calm to reach the next phase of his candidacy.

    This ordeal, documented by a Spanish priest in the 1500s, was merely the beginning of the long process of joining the government of the Mesoamerican city of Tlaxcallan, built around 1250 C.E. in the hills surrounding the modern city of Tlaxcala, Mexico. After this trial ended, the candidate would enter the temple on the edge of the plaza and stay for up to 2 years, while priests drilled him in Tlaxcallan’s moral and legal code. He would be starved, beaten with spiked whips when he fell asleep, and required to cut himself in bloodletting rituals. But when he walked out of the temple, he would be more than a warrior: He would be a member of Tlaxcallan’s senate, one of the 100 or so men who made the city’s most important military and economic decisions.

    “I’d like to see modern politicians do all that, just to prove they can govern,” says archaeologist Lane Fargher, standing in the shadow of one of Tlaxcallan’s recently restored elevated plazas. Fargher has led surveys and excavations here since 2007, studying the urban plan and material culture of a type of society many archaeologists once believed they’d never find in Mesoamerica: a republic. “Twenty or 25 years ago, no one would have accepted it was organized this way,” says Fargher, who works at the research institute Cinvestav in Mérida, Mexico.

    Now, thanks in part to work led by Fargher’s mentor Richard Blanton, an anthropologist at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, Tlaxcallan is one of several premodern societies around the world that archaeologists believe were organized collectively, where rulers shared power and commoners had a say in the government that presided over their lives.accepted it was organized this way,” says Fargher, who works at the research institute Cinvestav in Mérida, Mexico.

    More:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/it-wasnt-just-greece-archaeologists-find-early-democratic-societies-americas

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  • jdpriestly (5679 posts)
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    1. Very interesting. Here is some more from the article.

    Both cities support Blanton and Fargher’s belief that the best predictor of collective rule is a strong internal revenue source—that is, taxes. Revenue sources are admittedly difficult to detect from artifacts and buildings. But after surveying 30 premodern societies documented ethnographically and historically, the researchers found that states with internal revenue sources were characterized by a high level of public goods and services, a strong governmental bureaucracy, and citizens empowered to judge the ruler’s actions. “When taxpayers are paying for the state, then the people in charge know they have to do the right thing,” Blanton says.

    Collective states may have another tendency that can be spotted archaeologically: They attract people from beyond their borders, who bring artifacts that can be linked to other cultures. “When you have a collective formation that’s funded by internal resources, it’s in the interest of those in government to bring in more people,” says Gary Feinman, an archaeologist at The Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, and a co-author on Blanton’s 1996 paper. Economic equality and markets may also attract immigrants to collective societies. “People move where they think there’s better opportunity—where they can make a living, where their kids are going to do better than they did. That’s always a motivation,” Feinman says.

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/it-wasnt-just-greece-archaeologists-find-early-democratic-societies-americas

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  • The Crone (3016 posts)
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    2. Wish I could see you on the greatest

    Page more often. and glad to get you there tonight.

    (Though personally I have always had a fondness for the Mound Societies of American Indians in Ohio back around 600 Ad. Apparently they only spent some 30% of their time securing their shelters, their food, water and medicines so the rest of their time was spent just having fun and relating to each other.)

    "Let us not seek the Republican answer nor the Democratic answer but the right answer." John F. Kennedy   America is the only country that has real   lemons in its furniture polish, and artificial lemon flavoring  in its lemonade!