Math model explores emergence of early human societies via warfare

Written by: Ani
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Washington, Jan 20 (ANI): A new mathematical model developed at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville explores the emergence of early human societies via warfare.

The model, developed by Sergey Gavrilets and his team, reveals the dynamical nature of societies, which can be difficult to uncover in archaeological data.

The largest effect was a result of 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.

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 then the stability of large, complex polities is strongly promoted.

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

The authors also found that many other factors besides wealth that can affect the outcome of a conflict.

The team was 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."

The study is published in the first issue of the new journal Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History. (ANI)

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