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INTRODUCTION

All this does not mean to imply that the ancient world is interesting for these reasons alone. Antiquity is an integral part of human history, fascinating in its own right. Ancient history, moreover, offers us a wonderful opportunity for comparative research. Numerous processes, phenomena, and relations that we find important in more recent historical periods actually occurred in analogous forms in antiquity, too. Phenomena of all times and all places first manifested themselves in the Mediterranean in antiquity: this area witnessed the emergence of states and cities and of their governments, social stratification, the development of decision processes, the origins of expansion and its effects on social relationships and modes of thought, the interaction of different cultures (acculturation and integration processes), and developments in religion and philosophy. They are all very similar to what we have witnessed in recent times, and yet at the same time quite different.