Neil Faulkner looks at the centuries following 1000 BCE when the scale of civilisation and empire exploded as the productivity of iron tools boosted the surpluses available to Iron Age empire-builders.
The constant rise and fall of Bronze age societies was a product of their wasteful, crisis ridden nature. But in the barbarian periphery around 1300 BCE an industrial revolution had begun that was to transform the world.
The complex societies that emerged from the division of society into classes also created societies that were wasteful, violent, stagnant and crisis prone. Understanding why is the key to how history happens argues Neil Faulkner.
The Early Neolithic economy was doomed by insoluble contradictions. Technique was primitive and wasteful. Society lacked reserves against natural disaster and hard times. Virgin land ran out as old fields were exhausted and populations grew.