What many anthropologists regard as the major step in political development occurred when, for the first time in history, previously autonomous villages gave up their individual sovereignties and were brought together into a multi-village political unit--the chiefdom. Though long neglected as a major stage in history, recent years have seen the chiefdom come in for increased attention. As its importance has been more fully recognized, it has become the object of serious scholarly analysis and interpretation. In this volume specialists in political evolution draw on data from ethnography, archaeology, and history and apply fresh insights to enhance the study of the chiefdom. The papers present penetrating analyses of many aspects of the chiefdom, from how this form of political organization first arose to the role it played in giving rise to the next major stage in the development of human society--the state.