EVOLUTION INSTITUTE PROJECTS
Seshat: Global History Databank
The Seshat Databank brings together the most current and comprehensive body of knowledge about human history in one place by systematically collecting what is currently known about the social and political organization of human societies and how civilizations have evolved over time. Over the past year, we’ve expanded our efforts to produce multiple databases on different topics related to human history.
In 2019, we published a major paper in Nature titled “Complex societies precede moralizing gods throughout history.” The reaction was massive, generating over 53 media articles in several languages including English, Spanish, Russian, French, Polish, Portuguese, Croatian, and German. Prominent media outlets covering the article included The Economist, The Telegraph, PBS, Gizmodo, and Science Magazine. An article on the paper in LiveScience received more than 20,000 upvotes and 800 comments on Reddit.
Other highlights included:
- The Seshat project partnered with the Institute for Economics and Peace in 2019 to produce the Human Peace Index (HPI) database. The underlying data has been collected for analysis, and we are working to DataChemist to publish this data on our website.
- Work has almost been completed on ArchSeshat, an archaeological database funded through the University of Oxford’s School of Anthropology and Museum Studies.
- We are in the process of writing a narrative companion to our Nature article. This will take the form of a volume covering the evolution of moralizing supernatural punishment in the regions covered by the Seshat databank. This volume will be published by Beresta Books and funds from its sales will support the Seshat project.
- We will publish our Axial Age volume in late 2019, with funds from the sales of this volume going to support the Seshat project as well.
- We have two articles in press for the Journal of Cognitive History.
- Over 2019, there were three workshops held on Seshat and multiple lectures and presentations across 3 different countries.
- A Guardian article published in November 2019 provides an extensive overview of the databank and its ability to “anticipate the future of human societies based on historical evidence.”
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