Our collective knowledge about past societies is almost entirely in a form inaccessible to scientific analysis, stored in historians’ brains or scattered over heterogeneous notes and publications. The huge potential of this knowledge for testing theories about political and economic development has been largely untapped. Seshat: Global History Databank brings together the most current and comprehensive body of knowledge about human history in one place. Our unique Databank systematically collects what is currently known about the social and political organization of human societies and how civilizations have evolved over time.
This massive collection of historical information allows us and others to rigorously test different hypotheses about the rise and fall of large-scale societies across the globe and human history. Working with a large international and interdisciplinary team, our database offers the means to study the past through well-established scientific techniques.
We believe that our approach is the best way to provide meaningful answers to some of the most important questions about the human experience – how and under what circumstances does prosocial behavior evolve in large societies? What roles do religion and ritual activities play in group cohesion and cultural development? What is the impact of climatic and the environmental factors in societal advance? What mechanisms translate economic growth into quality of life improvements for the average person?