Heterarchy and Hierarchy among the Ancient Mongolian Nomads

Author: Kradin, Nikolay N.
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 10, Number 1 / March 2011


In this paper the social hierarchy of several ancient Mongolian polities from the 3rd – 2nd centuries BC to the 3rd century AD is described in terms of heterarchy, hierarchy, and chiefdom. These polities are characterized by the similar ecological environment, common cultural space, and common frontier with the Chinese civilization in the south and nomadic Xiongnu empire in the west. However, these ancient Mongols' polities differed in social complexity level. In this paper it is discussed how and why this happened.