The HoloSim project includes a number of efforts to develop spatially-explicit agent-based models of historical processes. Theories about historical processes have long been formulated as primarily verbal models, offering compelling narratives, but with the inherent limitation that it is hard to argue about the importance and scale of specific effects and mechanisms. Translating such verbal theories into dynamic agent-based models offers a promising direction to uncover causal mechanisms approaches.
We are building a number of flexible agent-based models that can represent diverse and competing hypotheses about historical processes, including social, political and environmental factors. We utilize a range of data sources to evaluate model outcomes, directly testing key hypotheses against each other, for instance concerning the emergence and rise of state societies that became dominant in recent millennia, the establishment and spread of hierarchically-organized social formations, and the key mechanisms driving the rise-and-fall of large, complex societies across millennia.