World Sample 30

Our goal is to test rival social scientific hypotheses with historical and archaeological data. Therefore, the Databank is systematically compiled with information about polities from around the globe.

In order to make this data collection manageable given our limited time and resources, we take a representative sample of polities from around the globe and throughout human history (specifically, the late Neolithic to the early modern period, roughly 4,000 BCE to 1,900 CE). This is our World Sample 30.

World Sample 30 Map

The World Sample-30 was designed with two goals in mind: (1) to include as much variation amongst sampled societies as possible, focussing along the dimension of social complexity , and (2) to ensure that representation of different parts of the world was maximized.

We selected 30 areas across the globe for our initial worldwide sample, stratified by world region and history of social complexity. We divided the world into ten major regions and then selected three natural geographic areas (NGAs) within each region: one NGA was selected in each world region that developed complex state-level societies very early; another NGA which selected complex societies very late (relative to other areas in that world region), ideally one free of centralized polities (chiefdoms and states) until the colonial period; and a third NGA that was intermediate in social complexity.

World RegionLate appearance of complex politiesIntermediate appearance of complex politiesEarly appearance of complex polities
Africa1-Ghanaian Coast11-Niger Inland Delta21-Upper Egypt
Europe2-Iceland12-Paris Basin22-Latium
Central Eurasia3-Lena River Valley13-Orkhon Valley23-Sogdiana
Southwest Asia4-Yemeni Coastal Plain14-Konya Plain24-Susiana
South Asia5-Garo Hills15-Deccan25-Kachi Plain
Southeast Asia6-Kapuasi Basin16-Central Java26-Cambodian Basin
East Asia7-Southern China Hills17-Kansai27-Middle Yellow River Valley
North America8-Finger Lakes18-Cahokia28-Valley of Oaxaca
South America9-Lowland Andes19-North Colombia29-Cuzco
Oceania-Australia10-Oro, PNG20-Chuuk Islands30-Big Island Hawaii
World Sample 30 NGAs