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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Inferring long-term demographic trends from archaeological data

Nowadays, population growth occupies a central role in the public debate due to its implications on subsistence strategy, environmental change, and its relationship with exogenous factors such as climate variations. A recent report by the UN predicts an average annual rate of global population growth of less than 1% from 2021, which should gradually approach […]

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Seshat: Global History Databank reaches over 200,000 datapoints

The Seshat Global History Databank has now passed 200,000 coded datapoints. To put that number in perspective, there are about 500,000 words in the English language, 10,000 observable stars in the sky, and 5,000 mammal species on Earth. Each bit of data has a spatial-temporal location within one of Seshat’s 34 Natural Geographic Areas (click here for […]

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Evolution and devolution of social complexity: Why do we care?

An Agenda for Research on the Evolution (and Devolution) of Social Complexity What follows is my report on the workshop Evolution of Social Complexity that I organized at Complexity Science Hub-Vienna, October 2–3, 2017. Over the past 10,000 years human societies evolved from “simple” – small egalitarian groups, integrated by face-to-face interactions – to “complex” […]

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“Deep diversity” and other reflections on the inaugural Cultural Evolution Society conference

Last week, 300 researchers from around the world attended the inaugural conference of the newly formed Cultural Evolution Society in Jena, Germany, at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (also newly formed, in 2014). Three Seshat members attended: yours truly plus two of the three Founding Directors, Peter Turchin and Pieter […]

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Dacura creates high-quality social science datasets for researchers

Innovations in computer science help open the field of possibilities for archaeologists; and support ambitious projects like the Seshat: Global History Databank. ALIGNED’s Dacura platform is an exciting new development in the field of computational archaeology. The Seshat project’s board of directors along with consultant and archaeologist Peter Peregrine and former director Rob Brennan have […]

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ALIGNED releases webinar on the tools used to build Seshat: Global History Databank

We get a lot of questions about the technology behind Seshat: Global History Databank. The Databank sits atop a cutting-edge digital infrastructure designed specifically to store, organize, curate, and analyze complex multi-dimensional information; the sort of information we deal with as part of our historical research at Seshat. The infrastructure system is called Dacura. Dacura […]

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Calculating crop yields and carrying capacity in the ancient world

Since the inception of the project, Seshat research assistants have been collecting data relating to agricultural practices in the past. As with all aspects of the Seshat codebook, the intention is that the data collected will be used to understand broader social organization in the past. The scale of a society, in terms of the […]

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