New archaeological evidence proves Indus farmers grew rice in the Bronze Age

Seshat expert contributor and University of Cambridge fellow Dr. Cameron Petrie and colleagues recently unearthed evidence to confirm that the people of ancient Indus (modern-day Pakistan and northwest India) first practiced rice farming in the Bronze Age—much earlier than previously believed. The research was undertaken by the University of Cambridge’s Division of Archaeology along with […]

Continue Reading

Alliances and patron-client relationships: a fixture in both ancient and modern complex societies

Alliances and patron-client relationships have helped support states since the beginning of social complexity. In a recent Christian Science Monitor article, Seshat contributor and Santa Fe Institute external professor Paula Sabloff analyzed equal alliances and patron-client relationships. Sabloff’s research was part of a John Templeton Foundation-funded project at the Santa Fe Institute. The project examined […]

Continue Reading

Chiefs Who Eat the Land: Images of Power in Hawai’i before and after Western Contact

The old Hawaiian term for the chief of a district or small island is ali’i ‘ai moku: ‘chief who eats the district’.[1] This had a literal meaning ‒ control over a district came with taxation rights over the crops and livestock of resident commoners ‒ but it also neatly expresses the indigenous conception of the […]

Continue Reading

Join me in supporting the Seshat Databank

Dear friends, lovers of history, and those who care about the world we live in: Please join me in supporting an international project that seeks to understand how human societies evolve. I am donating $10,000 from my book revenues this year to Seshat: Global History Databank, and I challenge you to also make a contribution! […]

Continue Reading

Seshat’s Harvey Whitehouse awarded European Research Council grant on “Ritual Modes”

Prof. Harvey Whitehouse and his team at Oxford University’s Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology have received an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council titled “Ritual Modes: Divergent modes of ritual, social cohesion, prosociality, and conflict.” This grant will enable Whitehouse to continue to investigate the links between ritual and social cohesion Whitehouse explained […]

Continue Reading

Seshat: A brief look at 150,000 data points

It has taken a long time – five years of data input and the assistance of many researchers – to acquire 150,000 sourced data points for the Seshat databank: an epic historical time series which incorporates hundreds of variables. Over this period the Seshat databank has overcome technical obstacles, refined its research methods, and at every […]

Continue Reading

Towards a comparative demographic archaeology

Modern governments regularly take detailed censuses to ensure that they have accurate information about population size and composition. In the UK the census in its near-to-modern form began in 1801 and has taken place every 10 years since, with the exception of 1941. Most industrialized countries have their own versions of censuses while others, such as […]

Continue Reading

The football fan’s dysphoria: new paper on football clubs supports prediction about power of rituals

How can the Seshat: Global History Databank be used to make policy recommendations for modern times? By examining key aspects of societies in the past, we can better understand the factors that lead to political turbulence, war, and the collapse of empires. Ritual is one of these key aspects.

Continue Reading

New Scientist gives a history lesson on Seshat

One of the main motivations for developing Seshat is to use our store of coded information to cut through the tangled undergrowth of competing theories that has grown up around our understanding of human history. An article written by Laura Spinney just published in the latest issue of New Scientist does a nice job of bringing […]

Continue Reading

Can Science Show Us a Way To Stop Terrorism?

Last month, the Science network’s innovative documentary series Through The Wormhole debuted its seventh season with an with a provocative opening line: “We’re at war.” The episode, titled ‘What Makes a Terrorist?’, brings together anthropologists, behaviorists, and other scientists to explain why people would commit atrocious acts in the name of some cause. More importantly, […]

Continue Reading