Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies
Key Concept 2.1 As states and empires increased in size, and contacts between regions multiplied, people transformed their religious and cultural systems. Religions and belief systems provided a social bond and an ethical code to live by. These shared beliefs also influenced and reinforced political, economic, and occupational stratification. Religious and political authority often merged as rulers (some of whom were considered divine) used religion, along with military and legal structures, to justify their rule and ensure its continuation. Religions and belief systems also generated conflict, partly because beliefs and practices varied greatly within and among societies.
Key Concept 2.2 As the early states and empires grew in number, size, and population, they frequently competed for resources and came into conflict with one another. In quest of land, wealth, and security, some empires expanded dramatically. In doing so, they built powerful military machines and administrative institutions that were capable of organizing human activities over long distances, and they created new groups of military and political elites to manage their a airs. As these empires expanded their boundaries, they also faced the need to develop policies and procedures to govern their relationships with ethnically and culturally diverse populations, sometimes to integrate them within an imperial society and sometimes to exclude them. In some cases, the successes of these empires created further problems. By expanding their boundaries too far, they created political, cultural, and administrative difficulties that they could not manage. They also experienced environmental, social, and economic problems when they over-utilized their lands and subjects and when disproportionate wealth became concentrated in the hands of privileged classes. Key Concept 2.3 With the organization of large-scale empires, the volume of long-distance trade increased dramatically. Much of this trade resulted from the demand for raw materials and luxury goods. Land and water routes linked many regions of the Eastern Hemisphere. The exchange of people, technology, religious and cultural beliefs, food crops, domesticated animals, and disease pathogens developed alongside the trade in goods across extensive networks of communication and exchange. In the Americas and Oceania, localized networks developed.