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 Sample 30 NGAs
World Region Late appearance of complex polities Intermediate appearance of complex polities Early appearance of complex polities
Africa 1-Ghanaian Coast 11-Niger Inland Delta 21-Upper Egypt
Europe 2-Iceland 12-Paris Basin 22-Latium
Central Eurasia 3-Lena River Valley 13-Orkhon Valley 23-Sogdiana
Southwest Asia 4-Yemeni Coastal Plain 14-Konya Plain 24-Susiana
South Asia 5-Garo Hills 15-Deccan 25-Kachi Plain
Southeast Asia 6-Kapuasi Basin 16-Central Java 26-Cambodian Basin
East Asia 7-Southern China Hills 17-Kansai 27-Middle Yellow River Valley
North America 8-Finger Lakes 18-Cahokia 28-Valley of Oaxaca
South America 9-Lowland Andes 19-North Colombia 29-Cuzco
Oceania-Australia 10-Oro, PNG 20-Chuuk Islands 30-Big Island Hawaii