Seshat’s Alessio Palmisano featured in news doc “Isis and the Missing Treasures.”

As the war in Syria continues, Isis reaps profits from the illegal sale of antiquities looted from Syria and Iraq. Syrian and Iraqi antiquities are now on sale in London, the second largest antiquities market in the world. In Channel 4’s Dispatches news documentary “Isis and the Missing Treasures”, journalist Simon Cox assembles a team of historians and archaeologists to track down stolen antiquities in London.

Seshat collaborator and University of London research associate Dr. Alessio Palmisano and Professor August McMahon of Cambridge University go undercover in the documentary to investigate a suspect lintel on sale in London. They suspect that the lintel, a stone block decorated with carvings, was stolen from a building in Nawa, an ancient town in Syria. Dr. Palmisano and Dr. McMahon’s interactions with the antiquities dealers can be seen in the full documentary, available streaming to those in the UK. We’ve also put together a short preview of the segment:


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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 ( to the Evolution Institute ( The project brings together an international, interdisciplinary team of anthropologists, economists, historians, archaeologists, and evolutionary theorists. This three-year program of research will test hypotheses about the evolution of religion and long-term patterns of social inequality in human history by coding a set of theory-driven variables in SESHAT: The Global History Databank ( This project will involve working with historians and archaeologists to contribute to a large historical database detailing our best current knowledge about the characteristics and functioning of past human societies. The Research Assistant will focus on data collection for variables dealing with social, political, economic, and religious organization over the past five thousand years of global history.

The successful applicant will possess the skills appropriate for collating and coding information from historical, archaeological and/or ethnographic material (generally secondary sources). They will hold a bachelor degree in a relevant discipline (including, but not limited to, anthropology, history, sociology, political science, and economics).

This is a fixed-term post ending in February 2017. The position is remote and will start at 30 hours a week with the potential to increase to a full time schedule.

Applicants should submit Curriculum Vitae and a cover letter to Jill Levine ( They should also provide the names of two individuals familiar with their studies or research who are willing to supply a recommendation letter. This is a rolling application process and applications will be considered on a first come first serve basis.


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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 fees for non-EU students

Research Topic
The Seshat Global Databank ( is collecting data on every human society throughout history and prehistory to better understand the dynamics of human social evolution. The ADAPT Centre has partnered with Seshat to provide the sophisticated Linked Data –based data curation infrastructure for semi-supervised data collection, refinement and publication. But we want to do more. There is increasing amounts of data published on the web that could be integrated into Seshat, especially structured data such as historical GIS. However there are a wide variety of information sources and standards, increasing data  integration costs. This PhD will develop new methods and tools to make data integration more flexible and self-managing within the Seshat project. This post is part of the new ADAPT Centre and will work closely with the ADAPT and Seshat affiliated H2020 project ALIGNED (

The successful candidate will have an excellent academic record (first class primary degree) in Computer Science or a related discipline. Experience in Knowledge Engineering is a distinct advantage.

Application Procedure
Please apply via email to and include:
a) Targeted cover letter (600-1000 words) expressing your suitability for a position
b) Complete CV

Please include the reference code E2_PhD7 on all correspondence.
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Seshat predictions featured in Cliodynamics journal

As humans, we are limited in the amount of knowledge that we can accumulate, access, and share. This is why we need Seshat: Global History Databank—a massive collection of information based on the collective work of thousands of scholars of human history. University of Oxford’s Dr. Harvey Whitehouse, University of Connecticut’s Dr. Peter Turchin, and University of Hertfordshire’s Dr. Pieter François make the case for Seshat in their recent article The Role of Ritual in the Evolution of Social Complexity: Five Predictions and a Drum Roll.


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Aligned develops tools for Seshat’s big data project

ALIGNED has been building tools to help Seshat with historical big data, and now you can find out more.



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Animation about Seshat Databank wins a top prize

The “Cultural History Database Initiative” refers to a broad set of projects, including the EI-hosted Seshat Databank and the SSHRC-funded Database of Religious History (DRH). An animation describing these projects and their ambitious goal of consolidating disparate information about human culture was one of five top projects in the annual SSHRC Storytellers’ Contest. We are proud of the diverse collaborations that have generated this growing body of knowledge and the predictions it will help researchers make about humanity.

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