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The Political MachineAssembling Sovereignty in the Bronze Age Caucasus$
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Adam T. Smith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691163239

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691163239.001.0001

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The War Machine in the Middle Bronze Age

The War Machine in the Middle Bronze Age

(p.127) Chapter 4 The War Machine in the Middle Bronze Age
The Political Machine

Adam T. Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the breakdown and redevelopment of the civilization machine during the Middle Bronze Age alongside a fearsome new assemblage that is best described as a “war machine.” The operation of the war machine entailed not only the reproduction of political violence but also the dissection of social orders, severing a sovereign body from the bodies of subjects—those who command from those who obey. Through the conspicuous consumption of Middle Bonze Age mortuary ritual, the war machine reproduced the terms on which social order was predicated—charisma, violence, and distinction. However, built into the conjoined operations of the civilization and war machines was a contradiction. As the one (the erstwhile sovereign) pulled away from the many (the constituted public), demands upon material resources exceeded capacities. Territorial fragmentation and military stalemate—consequences of the war machine's proliferation—threatened to undermine the workings of the civilization machine, dissecting a previously expansive public into smaller and smaller segments. As a result, the central principle of charismatic authority was put at risk insofar as political power flowed from the provision of needs through conflicts successfully waged.

Keywords:   Middle Bronze Age, civilization machine, war machine, political violence, political sovereignty, mortuary ritual

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