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In modern nation-states the central authority exercises an unprecedented degree of control over the lives of individuals, with an impact on everything from the weapons they are allowed to use, to the quality of what they eat. This control is assured by the technologies available, not least the technologies of communication: where an ancient or even early modern government might need a fortnight for its representatives (civil or military) to reach a border area from the centre, the modern government has the weapons of telecommunications. On the other hand, so, to at least some extent, does the modern citizen.

In general the reach of early states or administrative authorities is low: the borders between one early state and the next may be exact, but it is more likely that there is no adjacent early state of comparable structure. New technologies of communication transform the reach of the state; new technologies of material production transform its destructive potential.

The aspects of control open to research include the following (the links take you to pages presenting evidence from ancient Egypt):

communication: spread and impact of writing
administration: structures of control
law in ancient Egypt
control at a distance: speed of travel
economic control: exact measuring
war and weapons in ancient Egypt




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