Mon29Aug2016Thomas Currie and Arkadiusz Marciniak, WAC-8 Kyoto, Doshisha University
The dynamics of societal change over the longue durée: Perspectives from comparative approaches in archaeology and the “Seshat: Global History Databank” project
Comparative archaeology is a vital way of understanding the processes that have shaped human
societies. However, our collective knowledge about past societies is often scattered over many sources. Furthermore, a variety of factors can hamper comparisons including, diverse theoretical approaches, varying methods of analysis, and regional differences in preservation and discovery. In this session we want to examine how we can overcome these issues. We will discuss the challenges of identifying suitable archaeological measures that are explicit, and broadly applicable. We believe this is best tackled through working collaboratively with researchers from a variety of disciplines, including expert archaeologists who are interested in placing their sites of study within a broader comparative framework. We will illustrate this approach by describing our current efforts to build a large, global-scale historical and archaeological database known as Seshat: Global History Databank, that is using the latest computer science technologies to collate, curate and organize information. We will discuss how we are assembling data on religions and rituals, agricultural productivity, and warfare in order to assess how these factors may have shaped the dynamics of change in social and political organization in societies in different regions of the world over the longue durée.
For more details see the WAC-8 Kyoto website: http://wac8.org/