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Emergence of Fusion/Fission Cycling and Self-Organized Criticality from a Simulation Model of Early Complex Polities


A spatial-temporal model of early complex polities is described in which cycles of consolidation and collapse emerged during simulations. Self-organized criticality (SOC) also was clearly observed. SOC is characteristic of simulations for iterative physical phenomena such as earthquakes and forest fires. Social scientists are interested in SOC as a theoretical framework to understand cyclical human cultural processes. In particular there has been considerable speculation that SOC underlies polity cycling. The current model is an attempt to move beyond speculation by demonstrating that: 1) the model unequivocally exhibits SOC, 2) there is a self-evident correspondence between the model’s structure and actual polities as indicated in the archaeological record, 3)hierarchical settlement patterns emerge during simulations, and 4) simulated population distributions are consistent with empirical rank-size survey data typical of early complex polities.

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