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Max Weber is widely recognized as the greatest of the founders of classical sociology. Yet whilst his thought is often associated with the development of capitalism in Western Europe or the analysis of modernity, Weber also had a profound scholarly interest in ancient societies and the Near East.
The Agrarian Sociology of Ancient Civilizations – Weber’s neglected masterpiece which first appeared in German in 1897 and was reissued in 1909 – represents a fascinating and rigorous exercise to bring the newly-forged concepts of sociology to bear on civilizations as diverse as Mesopotamia and Egypt, Hebrew society in Israel, the city-states of classical Greece, the Hellenistic empire and, finally, republican and imperial Rome. Blending, throughout the work, description of socio-economic structures with investigation into mechanisms and causes of the rise and decline of social systems, the volume ends with a magisterial explanatory essay on the underlying reasons for the ultimate fall of the Roman Empire and, with it, of the close of Antiquity itself.