SFI President Jerry Sabloff asks why the state arose some 5,000 years ago in six parts of the world independently, and asks how this advance in human social complexity can instruct us about modern human systems.
Watch the SFI video interview with Jerry Sabloff (6 minutes)
The rise of the state was a key step in the evolution of human society. States typically emerged when one chiefdom (amid a competing set of chiefdoms) achieved a greater and more effective level of organization, he says
"This project wants to explore and see if there are regularities in the evolution of early states," says Sabloff. "But also we want to know why in similar circumstances in other parts of the world at different times and places, the state did not arise."
Sabloff goes on explore what what social, political, and economic conditions seemed to accompany the emergence of the earliest states; and he poses unanswered questions about why states emerged that a quantitative approach to archaeology might help unravel.
Sabloff, an archaeologist, leads the "Emergence of Complex Societies" project, which is part of a three-year SFI research program supported by the John Templeton Foundation that seeks a deeper quantitative and theoretic understanding of the nature of complexity in the social and biological worlds.
More about SFI's "Principles of Complexity" research program supported by the John Templeton Foundation
The program also includes SFI research into "The Hidden Laws in Biological and Social Systems" (watch the video) and "The Evolution of Complexity and Intelligence on Earth" (watch the video), as well as development of a complex systems curriculum called the "Complexity Explorer."
Watch videos of lectures from SFI's 2012 scientific symposium on the "Principles of Complexity" (August 6, 2012)
Read an article in the Templeton Foundation's "Templeton Report" about SFI's research
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