‘The Plant for the Heart Grows in Magan …’: Redefining southeastern Arabia’s role in ancient western Asia

31st December 2013

Dan T. Potts


The archaeological investigation of the four great riverine civilisations of the Old World—Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and Shang China—has been conducted on a scale which undeniably dwarfs research in the intervening areas of the Asian landmass. Yet attempts to understand the ancient world of Asia which are narrowly pre-occupied with these so-called core areas, and those which, in the newer jargon, focus on the articulation of so-called centres with their peripheries, are, in my opinion, doomed from the outset to failure. The study of Civilisation with a capital C, like the study of centres and peripheries, fails to acknowledge the fact that ancient Asia was always a mosaic of interlocking cultures, each important in its own right, and an understanding of each is necessary if are to move beyond a simplistic, reductionist view of the past and confront the complexity of this part of the world in antiquity.

*Note that an abstract was not included with this paper, and so the introductory paragraph has been included here instead of the abstract.

Potts, D.T.
'The Plant for the Heart Grows in Magan …': Redefining southeastern Arabia's role in ancient western Asia
June 1999
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