Earth Science News  





.
ABOUT US
Mathematical Model Explains How Complex Societies Emerge And Collapse

This image shows a hexagonal array of initially autonomous local communities or villages, which is part of a polity. Polities grow, decrease in size, or disappear as a result of conquest with the winner absorbing all of part of the loser. Credit: Gavrilets S, Anderson D, Turchin P.
by Staff Writers
Bethesda MD (SPX) Jan 21, 2011
The instability of large, complex societies is a predictable phenomenon, according to a new mathematical model that explores the emergence of early human societies via warfare. Capturing hundreds of years of human history, the model reveals the dynamical nature of societies, which can be difficult to uncover in archaeological data.

The research, led Sergey Gavrilets, associate director for scientific activities at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis and a professor at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is published in the first issue of the new journal Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History, the first academic journal dedicated to research from the emerging science of theoretical history and mathematics.

The numerical model focuses on both size and complexity of emerging "polities" or states as well as their longevity and settlement patterns as a result of warfare. A number of factors were measured, but unexpectedly, the largest effect on the results was due to just two factors - the scaling of a state's power to the probability of winning a conflict and a leader's average time in power.

According to the model, the stability of large, complex polities is strongly promoted if the outcomes of conflicts are mostly determined by the polities' wealth or power, if there exist well-defined and accepted means of succession, and if control mechanisms within polities are internally specialized.

The results also showed that polities experience what the authors call "chiefly cycles" or rapid cycles of growth and collapse due to warfare.

The wealthiest of polities does not necessarily win a conflict, however. There are many other factors besides wealth that can affect the outcome of a conflict, the authors write.

The model also suggests that the rapid collapse of a polity can occur even without environmental disturbances, such as drought or overpopulation.

By using a mathematical model, the researchers were able to capture the dynamical processes that cause chiefdoms, states and empires to emerge, persist and collapse at the scale of decades to centuries.

"In the last several decades, mathematical models have been traditionally important in the physical, life and economic sciences, but now they are also becoming important for explaining historical data," said Gavrilets.

"Our model provides theoretical support for the view that cultural, demographic and ecological conditions can predict the emergence and dynamics of complex societies."




Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS)
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here



Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
ABOUT US
Big City Life May Alter Green Attitudes
East Lansing MI (SPX) Jan 20, 2011
People with good jobs found in large cities are more likely to engage in pro-environmental activities. So says a new study of China's environmental behavior published in the British journal Environmental Conservation. For the first time, scientists weighed employment and leadership when considering how people act regarding their natural surroundings. They found the status and politic ... read more

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  


ABOUT US
Australia flags taxpayer levy for floods

German NGO denies corruption allegations

Sri Lanka mine fears as floods recede

Struggling Haiti faces crucial week in politics

ABOUT US
Portable devices linked to US pedestrian death spike

NEC, Lenovo in talks on joint venture: report

Apple targeted in China pollution, work safety report

Steve Jobs surrenders reins as Apple thrives

ABOUT US
Water pacts 'could bring Mideast peace'

Thailand closes dive spots due to reef damage

China earmarks $303 bn for safe water: report

Dramatic Ocean Circulation Changes Revealed

ABOUT US
Record melt from Greenland icesheet in 2010

VIMS Team Glides Into Polar Research

Loss Of Reflectivity In The Arctic Doubles Estimate Of Climate Models

Mountain Glacier Melt To Contribute 12 Centimetres To World Sea-Level Increases By 2100

ABOUT US
Japan to cull 410,000 chickens to fight bird flu

Philippines rice 2010 farm output hit by weather

Toward Controlling Fungus That Caused Irish Potato Famine

Rising food prices spell trouble for Arabs

ABOUT US
From fire to flood for Australia's farmers

Brazil flood death toll could top 1,000: official count

Panic as major quake hits Pakistan

First burials as Australian flood crisis deepens

ABOUT US
South Sudan eyes landslide to secede

Africa's violent polls threaten stability

Tunisian army emerges strong from people's revolt

Ouattara: West Africa ready to intervene in I.Coast

ABOUT US
Mathematical Model Explains How Complex Societies Emerge And Collapse

Big City Life May Alter Green Attitudes

Study: Neanderthals' looks not from cold

Climate tied to rise, fall of cultures


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement