Cliodynamics is a transdisciplinary area of research integrating historical macrosociology, cultural and social evolution, economic history/cliometrics, mathematical modeling of long-term social processes, and the construction and analysis of historical databases. Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access journal that publishes original articles advancing the state of theoretical knowledge in this transdisciplinary area. In the broadest sense, this theoretical knowledge includes general principles that explain the functioning, dynamics, and evolution of historical societies and specific models, usually formulated as mathematical equations or computer algorithms. Cliodynamics also has empirical content that deals with discovering general historical patterns, determining empirical adequacy of key assumptions made by models, and testing theoretical predictions with data from actual historical societies. A mature, or ‘developed theory’ thus integrates models with data; the main goal of Cliodynamics is to facilitate progress towards such theory in history and cultural evolution.
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Volume 7, Issue 2, 2016
In the paper we express some doubts about one of the assumptions of Robert Carneiro’s model on state (and chiefdom) formation, namely the role of circumscription. In our opinion, the main flaw of Carneiro’s original theory of state formation is that it implicitly assumes that every community dreamt to conquer its neighboring communities. We test the presence of various types of warfare (such as conquest warfare, land acquisition warfare, and plunder warfare) in societies with different degrees of political centralization. Quantitative cross-cultural tests reveal a rather strong correlation between political complexity and the presence of conquest warfare suggesting that conquest warfare was virtually absent among independent communities. Newer works by Carneiro propose a model explaining how simple chiefdoms could appear in the absence of conquest warfare. This model also includes circumscription, but our analysis suggests that it is unnecessary.
In the current paper we investigate the relation between secular cycles and millennial trends. The tests we have performed suggest that the structure of millennial trends cannot be adequately understood without secular cycles being taken into consideration. At a certain level of analysis millennial trends turn out to be a virtual byproduct of the demographic cycle mechanisms, which turn out to incorporate certain trend-creating mechanisms. Demographic-political cycle models can serve as a basis for the development and testing of models accounting not only for cycles but also for secular trends. In order to do this, we suggest to alter the basic assumptions of the earlier generations of demographic cycle models (that both the carrying capacity of land and the polity size are constant). The variables such as carrying capacity of land, cultural complexity, and empire sizes are actually not constant, but rather experience long-term trend dynamics in the rise, and the new generation of models needs to account for this fact.
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Military technology is one of the most important factors affecting the evolution of complex societies. In particular, mounted warfare, the use of horse-riders in military operations, revolutionized war as it spread to different parts of Eurasia and Africa during the Ancient and Medieval eras, and to the Americas during the Early Modern period. Here we use a variety of sources to map this spread.
Social Evolution Forum
Social Evolution Forum.
A Review of Peter Frankopan's The Silk Roads: A New History of the World (London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2015)
Review of Tim Lewens' Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges
Review of Dominic Johnson’s God is Watching You