Johannes Preiser-Kapeller examines global connections in Long Late Antiquity

A global view on Long Late Antiquity, 300-800 AD At Seshat, infrastructure is one of the nine dimensions we use to measure social complexity. Nine additional variables are used to measure the various components that collectively make up a polity’s infrastructure. One of these variables is canals. In his introduction to A global view on […]

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Translating Knowledge about Past Societies into Seshat Data

The Seshat: Global History Databank was founded in 2011 with the goal of systematically collecting data about social, political, and economic organization of human societies and how they have evolved over time. From the beginning the first guiding principle of the Seshat project was to reflect the current state of knowledge about past societies as […]

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Using Open Source Geographic Data to Model Ancient Resource Distributions

The increasing availability of open access georeferenced datasets is creating exciting opportunities for researchers in a variety of fields. Here, we discuss how several Open Access datasets have been combined in order to reconstruct the types of vegetation found in the environs of three key Neolithic sites located in the Konya Plain, Turkey. This region […]

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Seshat: Global History Databank’s study of human sacrifice featured in The Atlantic

Human sacrifice is usually studied within the context of a single culture but viewing the practice on a comparative scale could help answer questions on how ritual, religion, and social cohesion influence the evolution of large-scale complex societies. Laura Spinney’s recent article in The Atlantic outlines the Seshat project’s work on testing theories attempting to […]

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We’re hiring: Postdoctoral Researcher (to be based at Oxford)

“The “Ritual Modes: Divergent Modes of Ritual, Social Cohesion, Prosociality, and Conflict, in the Evolution of Social Complexity” project seeks a Postdoctoral Researcher on a full-time, fixed-term, basis from 1 May 2018 (or a soon as possible thereafter) until 30 October 2019. You will be based at the Centre for Anthropology and Mind at the […]

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Seshat periodization: how it’s done

In building Seshat, we’ve had to find a way to make the periods of history useable data. Like all  other Seshat data, our periodization can be revised by experts at any time. But separating history into periods is not an obvious thing (unless the population is completely replaced by another group). How did the ancients […]

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The first article to utilize the full power of the Seshat: Global History Databank has arrived!

Philosophers, historians, and social scientists have proposed a multitude of different theories trying to explain the rise of huge complex human societies over the past few millennia. Was the primary driver the invention of agriculture, which seems to be the default explanation held by many archaeologists? Or was it private property and class oppression, as […]

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How did our ancestors respond to climate change?

Innovative new work studying past interactions with an unstable environment suggest a fairly complex answer. In a previous blog from 2015, I highlighted intriguing preliminary results from a research project by Yale professor of History and Classics and Seshat collaborator Joseph Manning concerning the impact of volcanic eruptions on social instability in ancient Egypt. Since […]

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Help us understand the past to create a better future: Support the Seshat Databank

Dear friends, lovers of history, and those who care about the world we live in: Join us in supporting Seshat: Global History Databank, an international project that seeks to understand how human societies evolve. The Seshat Databank brings together the most current and comprehensive body of knowledge about human history in one place. Our goal […]

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SFI’s Paula Sabloff examines link between royal marriages and risk reduction in pre-modern states

What role did women play in pre-modern politics and warfare? Dr. Paula Sabloff explores the role of marriage and royal women in pre-modern patron-alliance networks in a recent article published in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute and long-time advisor to the Seshat project, Sabloff has encouraged […]

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