- continued -


In spite of ample historical and archaeological sources on early empires and cities particularly in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia we have today no clear ideas about what really supported the political hegemony of the urban centres over wider rural districts. Max Weber explained these early systems of hierarchically structured power with economical innovations, mainly new irrigation techniques in agriculture. Others rather emphasised new weaponry, newly organised armies and strategic innovations.

Evidently the historical method ends up at its own limits here. It can not explain the origins of these sudden developments of hierarchical social systems with godly kings, an elaborated aristocracy and a well developed administration. Nor are there any clear explanations for this sudden tremendous monumentality of gigantic pyramids, mastabas and temples with elaborated formal expressions. The surprising cult systems too have been an enigma, and have been explained with "religious beliefs" or dynastic myths.

The historical method is content here with its results, with the documentation of what it values as its discoveries. It integrates these findings into its own glorious set of human grandeur. Tourism profits from this today. Egypt, the marvellous pyramids and temples, the mysterious tombs of its kingly dynasties.

However, this marvellous fairy world of human inventions is gradually becoming scientifically more realistic with the expansion of cultural anthropology into the important interfaces between early cities and empires and their predynastic prehistory, particularly in Ancient Egypt. In contrast to earlier Egyptology, which was dominantly historical, deriving Egyptian religion and theocracy from dynastic myth, more recent developments stress the cultic system and derive it from predynastic regional and local cults (H. Kees).

This is a very important change. It shows that the cultic system of the Egyptian empire is an evolution from its autonomous predynastic village cultures. Its most important characteristics are its origins in settlement genetical traditions.

In other words, Egyptology made an important step from a narrow historism to settlement anthropology. Consequently the whole structure of the Egyptian empires, from Early to Middle and New Empires can now be recognised as an evolution from its predynastic widely autonomous villages. The pharaonic system must have developed from structural principles pre-formed in predynastic village cult systems. The temple architecture shows the same. It is a metabolistic transformation of fibrous prototypes that have left practically no traces in archaeology. The access-path structure of temples, tombs and pyramids too implies that they were monumental incrustations of predynastic cults related to the cyclic dissolution of the static category of the sacred topos by exposing the deity to ecstatic movements (processions).


Let us now return to the list "Structural characteristics of the urban - rural dichotomy" (Fig. 2) We follow phase [C] and obtain a set of seven new hypothetic statements:

If we answer these hypotheses in a positive sense, it becomes evident that, by widely excluding the rural factor, urban history maintains its superiority. The historical method supports the urban values and, naturally, the urban elite refers to these higher values to justify its control over the rural domains. However, becoming theoretically aware of the deliberate discontinuity between the urban and rural produced by the historical method, we also become aware of the virtuality of the urban system. It merely rests on an exclusive historical method.

The urban population is not conscious of this virtuality. It takes its higher values for granted. In the following some points, that indicate this tension with various parameters.

These questions may indicate the tensions involved between urban and rural worldviews. In fact, we have outlined two totally different systems of orientation in the wider sense. Evidently this dichotomy of the rural and urban can be discussed in very diverse cultural conditions. It has a long history, as ancient as the city itself. However, we become more and more aware today of these tensions, because the megalopolises all over the world have gone out of control (Istanbul II). Conventional views facetted into isolated disciplines projected the Euro-urban image on the human habitat, urban or rural, whether in the United States, or in India today. The resulting images lacked the relevant parameters, those which cause the problems.

In contrast to this anthropology transcends the conventional concept of disciplines by searching structurally for relevant paradigms cross culturally (time, space, forms of material culture, social and political structure). With this methodological shift it might manage to bridge the gap between the historical and the traditional. It suggests a continuity which is more likely to correspond with factual processes of cultural developments. Evidently, this wider anthropological view is also scientifically more valid than the historistic urban view. In synthesising the rural and the urban genetically to form a human continuity, this wider horizon might contribute to change values from Eurocentric urban views to globally valid anthropological concepts of man. An increasing synthesis of urban and rural values opens an 'objective' scientific programme towards 'sustainability' with which the global population - as a whole - might be able to survive against the destructive processes imposed by the presently dominant urban values.

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