SFI Working Group on Analyzing Complex Macrosystems: Civilizations as Dynamic Networks

New from Pajek: Our SVG with controls slide option (Eurasian cities)

China Historical GIS
Climate data

The goals are to stimulate significant theoretical and methodological breakthroughs in historical macrosystems research by focusing on new methods of network analysis and nonlinear systems and dynamical modeling focused on questions such as the interactive processes entailed in the growth and decline of cities and polities. We are doing this by bringing together world-systems and network analysts with historians, archaeologists and other social scientists concerned with the evolution of macrostructural networks is to explore the synergies than can result from the exchange and integration of datasets, the sharing of modeling and analytical tools across disciplines, and exchanges as to intellectual frameworks and problems.
--(draft paragraph for letter to be sent April 14th)

new paper/ppt/svg/comment index
Photos and first pass at Reportage

The workshop will evolve a framework that allows us to sharpen a series of focal issues and projects:

  • the dynamics of growth and decline of city size and territorial sizes of states and empires over the period 3100 BCE-present for which data are available (to date:AfroEurasian, contributions coordinated [Chandler, Modelski, Taagepera] through IROWS).
  • network synchronies, structure and dynamics in civilizational macrosystems. Spatiotemporal synchronies in the dynamics of growth and decline of city size and territorial sizes of states and empires will be a concern
  • developing guidelines and pilot projects for data-intensive reconstructions of
  • The overall focus is on theories and models, methods, data quality, problems of inference, and coordination of research.


      Chris Chase-Dunn ,
      David Wilkinson ,
      Don Saari ,
      Douglas R White ,
      Gabriel Lawson ,
      George Gumerman SFI ,
      Henry Wright ,
      John Miller SFI ,
      Peter Spufford ,
      Peter Turchin ,
      Robert McC Adams ,
      William R Thompson 

    Preliminary considerations

    Background reading items are bulleted

  • Bob Adams Commentary on Richard Hatcher, Understanding the Population History of England, 1450-1750 - Examining assumptions of historically 'fitted' models
    John Hatcher 2003 Understanding the Population History of England 1450-1750 Past and Present: A journal of historical studies pp. 83-130 (August)
  • Don Saari - Can we make more generalizable models that take greater variability into account?
    Dynamics in the Study of Evolution
    Rein Taagepera's Expansion and Contraction Patterns of Large Polities and the IROWS website containing his codes on territorial sizes of empires

    Proposed Presentations (to date - for order of discussion see schedule)

    Peter Turchin Nonlinear time-series analysis: illustrated with data for England, 1100-1900

  • Also, I have been putting together "dynamical maps" of how metaethnic frontiers evolve through time (using Europe 1-1800 as example) and I would like to present these results if there is time (this will be relevant to our discussion of spatio-temporal approaches).
    Turchin's cliodynamics site
    Andrey Korotayev et al. "Do Turchin's results on States and Empires replicate for City size?" CycleTrend3.ppt The Elementary Model of Population Growth Sergei Nefedov
    The Theory of Demographic Cycles and a Social Evolution of Ancient and Medieval Oriental Societies Sergei Nefedov pdf

  • Chris Chase-Dunn Modeling dynamical nested networks in the Prehistoric U.S. Southwest
  • also discussions of a general relational data structure for macrocomparative research. Improving data on cities and states.
  • Findings so far: power and size. Trends and Growth/decline phases. Synchronies.
    dynamics of urban, regional and ecosystem networks Since the Iron age
    Some parsing of the Empires-Cities database drw


    Comments about Network Processes in Evolving Systems Doug White

    Henry Wright The Earliest Bronze Age in Southwest Asia (3100-2700 BC)
    Robert McC. Adams, "Reflections on the Early Southern Mesopotamian Economy," 2004, in Archaeological Perspectives on Political Economies, edited by Gary M. Feinman and Linda M. Nicholas.
    Robert McC. Adams, " Intensified Large-Scale Irrigation as an Aspect of Imperial Policy:- Strategies of Statecraft on the Late Sasanian Mesopotamian Plain. Cotsen Advanced Seminar, UCLA, November 9, 2002 (Draft for publication, 12/9/2003)

    ArchAtlas - Maps and Images compiled by ANDREW SHERRATT
    Trade Routes compiled by ANDREW SHERRATT
    ArchAtlas Site Map

    Peter Spufford "Changing Patterns of Trade in Late Medieval Europe"

  • Initial Maps from Spufford project Doug White and Joseph Wehbe
  • Initial draft from Spufford project Doug White, assistance from Joseph Wehbe
  • other maps
  • sites
  • 193 city data for viewing only
    Power and Profit: The Merchant in Medieval Europe 2002, by Peter Spufford. Thames & Hudson
    Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350. Janet Abu-Lughod. 1988. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Janet Abu-Lughod. 1993. The World System in the Thirteenth Century: Dead-End or Precursor? (xeroxed reprint)

    David Wilkinson Analytical and Empirical Issues in the Study of Power-Polarity Configuration Sequences
    Civilizations as Networks: Trade, War, Diplomacy and Command-Control, David Wilkinson
    Wilkinson - paper for Time-mapping Globalization in the World-System

    William R. Thompson Complexity, Diminishing Marginal Returns, and Serial Mesopotamian Fragmentation
    Comment on Thompson's paper - political dynamics Doug White

    Abstract. Following up on an earlier paper demonstrating statistically significant relationships between measures of recurring political-economic crises (hinterland incursions, trade collapses, economic contractions, and regime transitions) and a measure of climate deterioration (the interaction of falling Tigris-Euphrates river levels and years of warming/drying), the inter-relationships among these variables are examined more closely for the 3400-1000 BCE period. Theoretically focused on a test of Tainter’s diminishing marginal return theory of societal collapse, additional indicators are introduced encompassing population (urban population size, urban population growth rate) as a proxy for diminishing marginal returns, two measures of centralization/ fragmentation (including imperial size), and the indicators used for the climate interaction term in the earlier paper. The bivariate logit outcome for interactions among and between the 11 variables reinforces the earlier findings linking climate deterioriation to political-economic crises, extends the climate deterioration linkage to fragmentation and population decline, and finds relatively strong support for the Tainter derived expectation that diminishing marginal returns and fragmentation are closely linked but that both are less closely linked to recurring political-economic crises than might otherwise have been anticipated.

    Background: Historical Dynamics: Cities, States and Empires

    Turchin, Peter. 2003. Historical Dynamics: Why States Rise and Fall. Book Ms. Princeton: Princeton University Press, in the series Princeton Studies in Complexity.

    Population Dynamics and Warfare: preprint Turchin and Korotayev
    Population Dynamics and Warfare: Addendum
    Population Dynamics and Warfare: Supplementary

    Claudio Cioffi-Revilla. 2001. ASOR paper (2000 ISA) on the West Asian "macrosocial system" tables

    C. Nussli, 2002. Periodical Historical Atlas of Europe. Yverdon, Switzerland.

    Centennia Dynamic Maps (freeware Win 95/97/NT 16 bit)

    Background: Urbanization and Empire Formation Project

    Estimating The Population Sizes of Cities Part i Daniel Pasciuti and Christopher Chase-Dunn

    A measurement error model for Estimating the Population Sizes of Preindustrial Cities Part ii Institute for Research on World-Systems University of California, Riverside 11-25-02 Daniel Pasciuti

    Chase-Dunn, C. K., A. Alvarez, D. Pasciuti and T. D. Hall. 2002 (Updated 2004) Power and Size: Urbanization and Empire Formation in World-Systems
    links to 4 papers that contain results on east/west synchrony. 01 02 03 04 in city and empire growth and decline

    Urban Archaeology Program Roland Fletcher

    TimeMap for Archaeology

    Settlement Systems: Past and PresentChristopher Chase-Dunn and Andrew Jorgenson

    Background: Historical Capitalism

    Arrighi, Giovanni and Beverly J. Silver. 2001. 'Capitalism and World (Dis)order.' Review of International Studies 27:257-279.

    Spatial and Other "Fixes" of Historical Capitalism- Giovani Arrighi - paper for Time-mapping Globalization in the World-System

    Background: Trade and Input/Output Networks in the Contemporary Global Economy

    Structure and Dynamics of the Global Economy: Network Analysis of International Trade 1965-1980 David A. Smith, Douglas R. White Social Forces, Vol. 70, No. 4. (Jun., 1992), pp. 857-893.jstor - pw/GlobalEcon1992.pdf

    New Software and Results for regular equivalence (positional) analysis of input-output economic data and world trade

    Background: Measuring Cohesiveness (asabiya: potential for collective action) in Networks

    2003 James Moody and Douglas R. White, Social Cohesion and Embeddedness: A Hierarchical Concept of Social Groups. American Sociological Review 68(1):1-25. Implemented in NetMiner v2.4.0 (fall 2003)

    2003 Douglas R. White, Walter W. Powell, Jason Owen-Smith and James Moody Networks, Fields and Organizations: Scale, Topology and Cohesive Embeddings. In preparation for Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, for a special issue on Mathematical Representations for the Analysis of Social Networks within and between Organizations, guest edited by Alessandro Lomi and Phillipa Pattison.

    2003 Walter W. Powell, Douglas R. White, Kenneth W. Koput Jason Owen-Smith. Network Dynamics and Field Evolution: The Growth of Interorganizational Collaboration in the Life Sciences. Forthcoming: American Journal of Sociology Download: PDFSFI-WP2003d.pdf See link to movies at Barabási site

    IMBS - Social Dynamics and Evolution


    Institute for Research on World-Systems Repository of papers home

    Time-mapping Globalization in the World-System

    Medieval World System Data Sources

    Early Modern Data Bank: Medieval & Premodern Markets and Trade. Peter Spufford (Emeritus, History. University of Cambridge).

    The Cairo Geniza texts: "The Genizah Collection is a window on the medieval world of the Mediterranean area. Its 140,000 manuscripts fragments, mainly in Hebrew and Arabic, shed light on the mundane as well as the religious and cultural activities of that world. This site provides current information on the activities of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit."

    Topics in Economic and Social History of Later Medieval Europe, 1260 - 1600 http://www.economics.utoronto.ca/munro5/MEDBANK2.htm

    Medieval Economic History http://www.oxbowbooks.com/browse.cfm?&CatID=287&Location=DBBC&CFID=2283021&CFTOKEN=27602291

    Earliest World Systems

    Jemdet Nasr, etc. [[to be completed]]

    Econophysics and Mathematical Findings: World System

    Pattern and repertoire in history Harvard University Press, Cambridge (Mass.), (May 2002, 413 pages) by Bertrand M. Roehner and Tony Syme. Amazon.fr

    Zipf's Law for Cities: An Explanation Xavier Gabaix, Parameswaran Gopikrishnan, Vasiliki Plerou, H. Eugene Stanley Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114 (3), August 1999, pp.739-67. Xavier Gabaix he is looking exclusively at national city size distributions. these are subnetworks within a larger world-wide network of cities. the distribution is much flatter (multicentric) if you look at the whole thing, though it only became so recently (since 1950) when the third world megacities caught up with new york. it seems that there is an upper limit, ceiling effect, on the size of the largest cities, that is now about 20 or 25 million. of course this all depends on how you spatially bound cities and city-regions. roland fletcher _the limits of settlement growth_ (1995) has some interesting thoughts on this. chriscd


    Past and Present A journal of historical studies

    Other Projects

    Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative

    Journal of World Systems Research

    Jonathan Friedman ehess seminar etc

    Caravanserais 1000 year database on the caravan routes and sites, UNESCO, Pierre LeBigre (Paris)

    Search: Old World Trade Routes (100+ sites)

    Dr T. Matthew Ciolek, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200, Australia tmciolek@coombs.anu.edu.au Old World Trade Routes (OWTRAD): A List of Printed Maps Showing the Course of Various Routes and Roads

    Metropolitan Museum of Art: Timeline of Art History Glimpses of the Silk Road : Central Asian in the First Millennium

    Old World Trade Routes the Virtual Maritime Museum

    Rummel's website on conflict and democracy

    Rice U. Hist 424 Patricia Seed History of Navigation and Cartography

    Regents Prep: Global History: Economic Systems Global Trade

    Search: ancient world mapping

    UNC : Ancient World Mapping Center

    UNC :Interactive Ancient Mediterranean


    AllLearn Maps

    Some References with URLs

    McNeill, William H. 1977. Plagues and Peoples. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. Medieval and Early Modern Data Bank [ http://www.nisc.com/factsheets/memd.htm].

    Nefedov, S. 1999. The method of demographic cycles in a study of socioeconomic history of preindustrial society. PhD dissertation, Ekaterinburg University (in Russian), Ekaterinburg, Russia. http://www.eh.net/abstracts/archive/0382.php

    Puga, D., 'The rise and fall of regional inequalities'. European Economic Review 43(2), February 1999: 303-334. http://dpuga.economics.utoronto.ca/

    Puga, D., and G. Duranton. 'Nursery Cities: Urban diversity, process innovation, and the life cycle of prod-ucts', American Economic Review 91(5), December 2001: 1454-1477. http://dpuga.economics.utoronto.ca/

    Redman, C. L. and A. P. Kinzig. 2003. Resilience of past landscapes: resilience theory, society, and the longue durée. Conservation Ecology 7(1): 14. online URL:http://www.consecol.org/vol7/iss1/art14

    Rummel, R. J. 2002. url: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/LINKS.HTM#freedom - Link to Cross-National Data/Statistics

    Saari, D. G. 2001. Decisions and Elections : Explaining the Unexpected. Cambridge:Cambridge Univer-sity Press. It is not uncommon to be frustrated by a decision -- whether in elections, law, economics, engineering, management, and so forth. Is this due to bad data, bad colleagues, or is there something deeper? Kenneth Arrow's famed theorem suggests it is a problem we have to accept; his theorem has been interpreted as stating that "No decision procedure is fair." This seminal result has formed a barrier in searching for positive conclusions. In this book, this obsticale is removed; as shown, Arrow's Theorem has a radically different and benign interpretation. As shown, the new explanation for Arrow's result holds for a surprisingly large number of other situations from several ar-eas. Also, by knowing why Arrow's Theorem arises, positive results can be derived.
    _____. 2003. Geometry of Chaotic and Stable Discussions. Amer. Math. Monthly, (May 2004) and MBS 03-12. http://hypatia.ss.uci.edu/imbs/tr/Saaricore2.pdf

    Saari, D. G., and Katri K. Sieberg. 2000. Some Surprising Properties of Power Indices. MBS 00-18. http://hypatia.ss.uci.edu/imbs/tr/abs/2000/mbs00_18.html and Games and Economic Behavior (2001), 241-263.
    ____. 2000. The Sum of the Parts Can Violate the Whole. MBS 00-27 http://hypatia.ss.uci.edu/imbs/tr/abs/2000/mbs00_27.html and APSR 95 (2001), 415-433.

    Sharma, Sandeshika. 2003. Collective Action, Network Externalities and Free-Riding: An Evolutionary Model. 2nd Annual Hawaii International Conference on Social Sciences. http://www.hicsocial.org/Social2003Proceedings/Sandeshika%20Sharma.pdf

    Turchin, P. 2004. Response to Nature 427:488-489 review by Joseph A. Tainter of Historical Dynamics http://www.eeb.uconn.edu/faculty/turchin/Tainter%20resp.htm

    White, D. R. 1969. Cooperation and Decision Making among North American Indians. Ann Arbor, MI: Dis-sertation Reprints.
    _____. 2002 (Edited), Special Issue: Networks and Complexity, Complexity 8(1). http://www.santafe.edu/~chaos/
    _____. 2004. Network Analysis, Social Dynamics and Feedback in Social Systems." Cybernetics and Systems 35(2), Special issue guest edited by Dwight Read. http://taylorandfrancis.metapress.com/app/home/journal.asp?wasp=9b6aqvwulj4wm5rhwbq6&referrer=parent&backto=browsepublicationsresults,223,996;

    White, D. R., and F. Harary. 2001. The Cohesiveness of Blocks in Social Networks: Node Con-nectivity and Conditional Density. Sociological Methodology 2001, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 305-359. Blackwell Publishers, Inc., Boston, USA and Oxford, UK. http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/abstract.asp?ref=0081-1750&vid=31&iid=1&aid=98&s=&site=1

    White, D. R., and M. Houseman. 2002. The Navigability of Strong Ties: Small Worlds, Tie Strength and Network Topology, Complexity 8(1):72-81. url: http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/~drwhite/Complexity/

    White, D. R., and U. C. Johansen. 2004. Network Analysis and Ethnographic Problems: Process Models of a Turkish Nomad Clan. In Press. Boston: Lexington Press. http://www.lexingtonbooks.com http://www.lexingtonbooks.com

    White, H. C. 2002. How Businesses Mobilize Production Through Markets: Parametric Modeling of Path-dependent Outcomes in Network Flows. Complexity 8(1):87-95. url: http://eclectic.ss.uci.edu/~drwhite/Complexity/

    Wilson, M.F. and Henderson-Sellers, A. 1992. A global archive of land cover and soils data for use in general circulation climate models. Digital Raster Data on a 1-degree Cartesian Orthonormal Geodetic (lat/long) 180x360 grid. In: Global Ecosystems Database Version 2.0. Boulder, CO: NOAA National Geophysical Data Center. Five independent single-attribute spatial layers. 347,531 bytes in 13 files. [first published in 1985] http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/seg/eco/cdroms/gedii_a/datasets/a10/wh.htm#dsd