CSH Webtalk by Dan Hoyer: “Exploring the role of technology and conflict on global social dynamics with Seshat: Global History Databank”

Apr 30, 2021 | 15:0016:00

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Dan Hoyer, one of the scientists working at Seshat: Global History Databank, will give an online talk on February 26, 2021, 3–4 pm (CET) via Zoom.


If you would like to attend, please email office@csh.ac.at





Previous work utilizing Seshat: Global History Databank, a major resource for studying patterns of sociocultural evolution in world history, has revealed that complex societies from across the globe and at different time periods develop, spread, and collapse in a largely consistent manner, incorporating a package of ‘technologies’ from productivity-enhancing implements like iron plows to forms of governance to normative ideological systems. We theorize that much of these developments are driven by intense inter-state competition and the evolutionary demands of – and limits to – growing complexity.


Here, I will discuss these findings and highlight our recent work trying to uncover the main causal forces behind the development of military technologies, a key factor in and indicator of intense interstate competition. Understanding the evolution of critical military technologies is a complex but important project, as delineating the causes and consequences of the adoption of various military technologies can help us understand not only the evolution of technology generally, but also carries far-reaching implications for the dynamics of social complexity more broadly. I conclude by previewing current efforts within the Seshat project linking these insights on interstate conflict to the dynamics of internal competition and how this research can help shed light on the rise and fall of states, in the past and, perhaps, in the modern world as well.





Daniel Hoyer is project manager of Seshat: Global History Databank and part-time professor at the George Brown College Centre for Preparatory and Liberal Studies. He holds a PhD in Classics from New York University, where he studied economic and social development in the high Roman Empire.


His current research employs comparative historical and social scientific methods to explore the causes and limiting factors to economic growth, societal development, and general well-being. In particular, he is interested in understanding the role of prosocial cultural traits in promoting equitable distribution of resources and limiting predatory activity in past societies.


Apr 30, 2021


Complexity Science Hub Vienna