Victor Mair explains the linguistic origins of Archaic Chinese weapon terms

Seshat expert contributor and University of Pennsylvania professor Victor Mair recently published his fifth post in a series on reconstructing Old Sinitic (Archaic Chinese) terms for weapons. The posts are available on UPenn’s Language Log linguistics blog. Mair explores various themes in the series, including the Chinese translation of the term “Excalibur” and the origin […]

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Work with us: Seshat seeks Research Assistant

Applications are sought for the position of Research Assistant working on the project Axial-Age Religions and the Z-Curve of Human Egalitarianism. The successful applicant will be supervised by Prof. Peter Turchin. The project is funded by a John Templeton Foundation grant (http://www.templeton.org/) to the Evolution Institute (http://evolution-institute.org). The project brings together an international, interdisciplinary team […]

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Shared suffering, not religious dogma, may be the real cause of suicide attacks, argues Whitehouse

Prof Harvey Whitehouse, a Seshat Founding Editor at the University of Oxford, questions the widely held belief that extreme forms of sacrifice such as martyrdom are a consequence of a virulent religious dogmatism. Citing new anthropological evidence from around the globe, Whitehouse contends in his recent article in the Pacific Standard that extreme Islamist teachings may […]

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The Anatomy of a Seshat Fact

This week I gave a talk at the workshop, organized by Chris Chase-Dunn and Hiroko Inoue at the University of California in Riverside. The talk was about the current status of Seshat: Global History Databank. As I was preparing the talk, I read an article in the Atlantic about digital archaeology, Archaeology’s Information Revolution. Among […]

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Forget memes. You should be studying cultural evolution

Internet memes abound. Those active on social media will see dozens if not hundreds of them a day. The funniest internet memes are shared widely and old memes are often dusted off and adapted to new situations to take on a life of their own. Facebook and Twitter are currently overflowing with Donald Trump memes. Trump memes are […]

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The end of her-story: close-knit fraternal networks as an evolutionary response to powerful archaic women

Author: Edward Turner In Ultrasociety (2015) Peter Turchin memorably uses the label alpha male states to describe the first polities in history. This is, he says, because of their structural inequality with a “god-king” dominating cowering subjects; true, perhaps, but these societies weren’t literally dominated by men. Queens, priestesses and princesses held together the key […]

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A codebook view of history: reflections on working with Seshat

Author: Eva Brandl I am a graduate student in social anthropology at the University of Oxford and have been involved with Seshat: Global History Databank as a research assistant since the summer of 2015. Assistants conduct literature reviews, working with university collections and external databases such as the Human Relations Area Files compendium of ethnographic […]

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Help build Seshat: PhD opportunity at Trinity College Dublin

Seshat: Global History Databank and Trinity College Dublin seek applicants for a PhD studentship. Closing Date: 12 Noon on 4th March 2016 or until filled Post Status: 4 year PhD Studentship Department: ADAPT Centre, School of Computer Science and Statistics, Trinity College Dublin Benefits: Payment of  tax – free stipend and full academic fees for EU students and partial […]

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How we created an ultrasociety—six big questions answered

Author: Daniel Mullins Professor Turchin’s Ultrasociety constructs a new theory to produce an explanatory account of human history. He explains why historical events (e.g., the fall of the Roman Empire) make sense given what we know about how and why humans cooperate and compete in groups. Ultrasociety tells us not only what occurred, but why these things happened in the first place, not […]

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Book Review: “Ultrasociety: How 10,000 Years of War Made Humans the Greatest Cooperators on Earth.”

Author: Cameron K. Murray Professor Turchin’s new book Ultrasociety identifies the causal mechanisms hidden in the twists and turns of human civilisation by quantifying the rise and fall of empires. The book translates some of Turchin’s academic work on cliodynamics, making it accessible to the interested lay reader. What is cliodynamics? My best translation is […]

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