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Empires? was: Pama-Nyungan, was Re: Indo-European family tree

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Monday, October 3, 2005, 23:55
The discussion below prompts me to ask the question,

What is an empire?

If, by "empire", you mean something semantically related to
"Imperium" and "Imperator",
then you probably mean an area militarily dominated by a military
force under a unified command.

Maybe that could be done without metal weapons, but it couldn't be
done without some sort of military technology, be it command-and-
control, tactics, strategy, recruitment and training, logistics,
breeding of cavalry horses, training of elephants, archery practice,
crossbows, stirrups, compound bows, doubly-recurved bows, laminated
bows, slings, spear-throwers (atl-atls), semaphores, homing pigeons,
triremes, sunstones or lodestones, or what-have-you.

To call a "trading empire" or a "religious empire" or some such thing
an "empire" is a definite stretching of semantics.  I'm not saying
one shouldn't do it; I'm only saying one should notice that one is
doing it when one is.

According to an Encyclopedia Britannica article I read at least 20
years ago, these "peaceful" empires are usually built within existing
military empires.  In other words, only within a Pax -- such as the
Pax Romana or the Pax Mongolica -- will a "trading empire" such as
the Venetian or the Genoese or the Hanseatic, or a "religious empire"
such as Christendom, grow up.  (They may, or may not, then survive
the fall of, or grow beyond the limits of, their parent military

Tom H.C. in MI

--- In, Rodlox R <rodlox@H...> wrote:
> [snip] > >Date: Fri, 30 Sep 2005 18:18:14 EDT > >In a message dated 9/30/2005 8:15:26 AM Eastern Daylight Time, > >andjo@F... > >writes: > > >When IE languages have replaced non-IE ones in historical times,
> >Etruscan > >and > > >many languages of the Americas, the process has been facilitated
> >imperial > > >control by IE-speakers. Since there presumably weren't any
empires around
> >in > > >pre-Roman West and Central Europe, > > there were cultural empires, yes? La Tene, for example. > > >>some other mechanism is presumably > >required > > >to explain its initial spread. > > > >That reminds me of a question about another language family: RMW
> >says > >that one reason to doubt that Pama-Nyungan (in Australia) is
really a
> >language > >family is that it is hard to see how one language (proto-Pama-
> >could > >have replaced all the previously existing languages across a wide
> >(most > >of Australia) in the absence of empires, agriculture, or anything
else that
> >would have given the proto-Pama-Nyungans a decisive advantage over
> >preexisting languages and cultures. > > what about weapons? surely there was difference between *some* > groups...yes? > > >I'd be interested in the opinions of list members about that
> > My opinion about that is - "Can't there be an empire (or a near
> to being empire) without having iron or bronze tools?" > > Certainly, through human history, some groups have come barrelling
> distant hills, to take over (or at least exert influence) over
other hills
> far from their ancestral home. > > yes? > > > thoughts?