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

    • The Latest: McMaster: N. Korea a 'grave threat' to US, China - Washington Post April 30, 2017
      Washington PostThe Latest: McMaster: N. Korea a 'grave threat' to US, ChinaWashington PostSEOUL, South Korea — The Latest on North Korea test-firing a missile (all times local):. 10:10 p.m.. Trump's national security adviser, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, says North Korea's most recent missile test represents “open defiance of the ...S.Korea says US reaffirms it […]
    • Hasan Minhaj's Trump-bashing comedy routine at the White House correspondents' dinner, annotated - Washington Post April 30, 2017
      Washington PostHasan Minhaj's Trump-bashing comedy routine at the White House correspondents' dinner, annotatedWashington PostPresident Trump did not attend the White House correspondents' dinner, but he was still the butt of host Hasan Minhaj's jokes. We have annotated Minhaj's remarks using Genius. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text. Thank you ...For Journalists, […]
    • Wild storms bring death, destruction from Texas to Missouri - USA TODAY April 30, 2017
      USA TODAYWild storms bring death, destruction from Texas to MissouriUSA TODAYFlash flood warnings were issued in multiple states Sunday, hours after tornadoes, heavy storms and floods roared through the Midwest from Missouri to Texas, leaving a trail of death and destruction. Five people were feared dead and dozens more injured ...WDAM via CNNLocal 10Official: Deaths reported, […]
    • Doug Whaley fired as Bills general manager - ESPN April 30, 2017
      ESPNDoug Whaley fired as Bills general managerESPNORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Bills fired general manager Doug Whaley, the team announced Sunday. The Bills were 30-34 in Whaley's four seasons as general manager. His only winning season came in 2014, when the Bills finished 9-7 but missed ...Doug Whaley Fired by Bills, Owner Terry Pegula Releases […]
    • The Latest: US won't seek South Korean money for THAAD - New York Daily News April 30, 2017
      New York Daily NewsThe Latest: US won't seek South Korean money for THAADNew York Daily NewsA South Korean protester holds up a card during a rally to oppose a plan to deploy the advanced U.S. missile defense system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, near U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, April 29, […]
  • RSS NYC Latest News


  •