logo

War Was the Main Driving Force In the Evolution Of Ancient Societies

TAGS:     

THEME:   LIFE STYLE

By Dan Bart | October 2, 2013 5:38 pm

War was the main driving force in the evolution of ancient societies, a controversial new study of Dr. Turchin finds. 

War was important in driving the evolution of complex ancient societies

War was important in driving the evolution of complex ancient societies

Turchin’s approach — which he calls cliodynamics after Clio, the ancient Greek muse of history — is part of a groundswell of efforts to apply scientific methods to history by identifying and modelling the broad social forces that Professor Turchin and his colleagues say shape all human societies. It is an attempt to show that “history is not ‘just one damn thing after another’”, says Turchin, paraphrasing a saying often attributed to the late British historian Arnold Toynbee.

The study used a computer model to predict the time and place of ancient empires’ origins. Researchers found that incorporating the spread of military technologies resulted in a model that was 65 percent accurate in explaining how these societies evolved and spread. An alternative model that omitted such technologies was only 16 percent accurate.

“Before we went through this exercise we did not know whether competition between societies, taking the form of warfare, was really an important driver in the evolution of large complex societies,” says Peter Turchin, lead author of the study. “Now we know that it is the main factor, with the presence of agriculture as a necessary condition, and various environmental effects also playing a role.”

Since it is only 65 percent accurate, some of the factors that account for the spread of societies are missing. “Undoubtedly, cultural peculiarities also play a role, although they were not included in the model,” Turchin says. “But since the model predicts two-thirds of variance in the data, other factors must be of lesser importance than those included, at best explaining the remaining third.”

If war was important in driving the evolution of complex ancient societies, is it still doing the same today?

“We have a plan to develop a model for post-1500 history, but of course instead of cavalry and archery we will use gunpowder weapons and oceangoing ships,” says Turchin.

This type of model, though, would not be the most accurate to explain 21st century cultural evolution, he says.

“More recently, non-military competition between societies has become of more importance, compared to the period we studied,” he says. “So [to explain today] we need to focus on economic and perhaps ideological competition.”

 “Our results are likely to generate much controversy, which is why we plan to continue with this research program to address various criticisms that people will be bringing forth.”

top_banner PRINT THIS

Comments are closed.

  • PLACE YOUR LISTINGS
  • RED LIGHT CAMERAS

  • MTA UPDATES

  • rek1
  • rek2
  • OUR WRITERS

    SokSok
    Jan OvlandJan Ovland
    Ann TyllerAnn Tyller
    SisiBroadSisiBroad
    Dan BartDan Bart
    Serge KSerge K
  • RSS Top News

    • Celtics roster turnover continues with Kyrie Irving trade - ESPN August 23, 2017
      ESPNCeltics roster turnover continues with Kyrie Irving tradeESPNThe question after each of the Boston Celtics' summer transactions -- and there have been a lot of them -- has been the same: Is Boston better than it was last season? The Celtics continued a dizzying summer overhaul with Tuesday's blockbuster that ...Koby Altman's Magic Act Lets […]
    • Typhoon Hato batters Hong Kong, streets flooded, flights canceled, trading halted - Reuters August 23, 2017
      ReutersTyphoon Hato batters Hong Kong, streets flooded, flights canceled, trading haltedReutersHONG KONG (Reuters) - Typhoon Hato, a maximum category 10 storm, slammed into Hong Kong on Wednesday lashing the Asian financial hub with destructive winds and waves which uprooted trees, flooded streets and forced most businesses to close.Hong Kong Lowers Storm Signal as Typhoon Hato […]
    • Fleet commander to be relieved of duty following collisions - The Boston Globe August 23, 2017
      The Boston GlobeFleet commander to be relieved of duty following collisionsThe Boston GlobeWASHINGTON — One day after ordering a rare suspension of ship operations worldwide, the Navy plans to relieve the commander of the fleet that has suffered four collisions in Asia and the deaths of more than a dozen sailors this year, a U.S. […]
    • Trump threatens shutdown, suggests controversial pardon at Arizona rally - Washington Post August 23, 2017
      Washington PostTrump threatens shutdown, suggests controversial pardon at Arizona rallyWashington PostPHOENIX — President Trump on Tuesday threatened to shut down the government over border wall funding, said the North American Free Trade Agreement is likely to be terminated and signaled that he was prepared to pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe ...Trump hints at potential pardon for […]
    • Daniel Cormier on Jon Jones' failed drug test for steroids: 'I don't know what to think anymore' - MMAjunkie.com August 23, 2017
      MMAjunkie.comDaniel Cormier on Jon Jones' failed drug test for steroids: 'I don't know what to think anymore'MMAjunkie.comIn a statement released to the media, Cormier called the news, which potentially could result in his re-taking of the UFC light heavyweight title, “very emotional.” “It's hard to find words to describe how I'm feeling right now,” Cormier […]
  • RSS NYC Latest News


  •