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Math Model Explains How Modern Societies Evolved

Update Date: Sep 24, 2013 11:59 AM EDT
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Mathematics and history may be closer linked than previously imagined. According to a news release from the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBIoS), researchers have devised a model which explains the evolution of human society from small groups to larger, more complex societies of the modern era.

The cultural evolutionary mode, devised by the University of Connecticut, the University of Exeter in England, and the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS), has been able to able to accurately pinpoint when and where the largest-scale complex societies arose in human history.

According to the research report, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers say intense warfare is the evolutionary backing behind larger, sophisticated societies.

"Simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afro-Eurasian landmass during 1,500 BCE to 1,500 CE, the mathematical model was tested against the historical record," NIMBioS, an organization dedicated to solving basic and applied problems in the life sciences, explained in a statement. "During the time period, horse-related military innovations, such as chariots and cavalry, dominated warfare within Afro-Eurasia."

Simulated within a realistic landscape of the Afro-Eurasian landmass during 1,500 BCE to 1,500 CE, the mathematical model was tested against the historical record. During the time period, horse-related military innovations, such as chariots and cavalry, dominated warfare within Afro-Eurasia. Geography also mattered, as nomads living in the Eurasian Steppe influenced nearby agrarian societies, thereby spreading intense forms of offensive warfare out from the steppe belt, the press release said.

"The study focuses on the interaction of ecology and geography as well as the spread of military innovations and predicts that selection for ultra-social institutions that allow for cooperation in huge groups of genetically unrelated individuals and large-scale complex states, is greater where warfare is more intense," NIMBioS said.

"While existing theories on why there is so much variation in the ability of different human populations to construct viable states are usually formulated verbally, by contrast, the authors' work leads to sharply defined quantitative predictions, which can be tested empirically," they added.

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