Ranked societies are characterized by disparities in personal status that are often accompanied by the concentration of power and authority in the hands of a few dominant individuals. They stand between the sophistication of developed, states and the relative simplicity of most hunter-gatherer groups and early agriculturalists. In some places and times they represented relatively brief phases of transition to more complex forms of organization; in others they existed as stable forms of adaptation for thousands of years. They are thus of great interest for archaeologists seeking to understand the dynamics of cultural evolution.
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