For Concordance in Macro-historical Datasets

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This working group brings together researchers from four macrohistory projects examining long-term historical and evolutionary processes to explore common problems and concerns. The focus is on ways to achieve coherence in data coding, format, and archiving so that the datasets created by each project can be accessed and integrated by scholars in the future. One goal of the working group is to consider establishing Seshat: Global History Databank ( as a central portal for accessing macrohistorical data sets, and to explore possible physical and organizational structures for this archive of linked data. One focus is the Linked Data approach, which develops data structures that allow automatic computer evaluation and categorization so that data can be readily interlinked. Time will be spent discussing other projects, both complete and planned, that might be included in a macrohistory data archive.

The four macrohistory projects represented at this working group are each focused on creating quantitative data sets to answer specific problems but which might also be used by future scholars exploring completely different questions. Quantitative data are central to macrohistorical research, and these efforts to create data sets capable of answering a broad range of questions are vital to the future of this research.

The first project represented is the SFI’s “Defining Universal Patterns in the Emergence of Complex Societies.” This project has produced a large comparative data set charting the evolution of technology and socio-political organization in seven early states, from their egalitarian predecessors through their emergence and consolidation. The second project is on “Axial-Age Religions and the Z-curve of Human Egalitarianism” and is coding data on religious, political, and economic systems for a large world-wide sample of polities to explore the relationship between moral ideology, political organization, and violence. The third project, “The Deep Roots of the Modern World” is coding long-term economic and political data to test whether contemporary economic inequalities have roots in the deep past. Finally, the project on “Natural Hazards and Cultural Transformations” is coding a world-wide sample of contemporary societies that experience regular, but unpredictable natural disasters to identify strategies of resilience. To understand long-term resilience the project will be coding both historical and archaeological data for select cases.