Seshat Projects

The Seshat: Global History Databank is an umbrella organization for numerous research projects that examine different facets or themes of human life. Each project is headed by various members of the Seshat Team along with a group of consultants and contributing experts (see Who We Are for more information).

Themes include: the evolution of social complexity in early civilizations, the creation of prosociality (i.e., how and why large groups of unrelated individuals come together and cooperate for a common goal), the role of ritual and religion in social cohesion, the causes of economic growth and its consequences on individual’s well-being, and many others.

We are also heavily engaged in improving the way that digital technologies can aid in research, with projects devoted to developing cutting-edge systems for collecting, analyzing, and distributing information with computer assistance.

All of the material gathered by this research is stored in our Databank and will be available for open access in 2018. The work on these projects is made possible by generous contributions from a range of governmental, academic, and private funding agencies (see Acknowledgements).

War, Peace, and the Evolution of Social Complexity

  • What is the importance of ritual systems in the formation, organization, and cooperation within large groups of humans? Can this understanding help us comprehend – and address – the propensity for groups to engage in violent behavior?

Axial Age Religions and the Z-curve of Human Egalitarianism

  • Why have societies alternated between greater and lesser levels of inequality? What role do large ‘world religions’ play in these shifts?

Deep Roots

  • What causes differences in economic performance between societies? Does economic growth determine political and social stability? How far back in time do these causal forces date?

Aligned: Quality-Centric Software and Data Engineering for the Seshat Databank

  • How can we structure and control the uploading of data by very large numbers of users as the Seshat program evolves? How can we help to control and improve the quality of the data being inputted and utilized?