Join me in supporting the Seshat Databank!

Peter Turchin


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Dear friends, lovers of history, and those who care about the world we live in:

Please join me in supporting an international project that seeks to understand how human societies evolve. I am donating $10,000 from my book revenues this year to Seshat: Global History Databank, and I challenge you to also make a contribution! Give as much, or as little, as you can, but help us take Seshat forward.

Seshat: Global History Databank brings together the most current and comprehensive body of knowledge about human history in one place. Our goal is to systematically collect what is currently known about the social and political organization of human societies and how civilizations have evolved over time. You can learn more about this project on the Seshat webpage.

Why should you support Seshat? Those of us who live in wealthy and democratic countries tend to take the continuing functioning of our societies for granted. Yes, our wonderful complex societies have delivered unprecedented well-being to large numbers of their citizens (long and healthy lives, freedom from violence, and ability to pursue meaningful careers and fascinating hobbies). Yet they are much more fragile than is commonly realized. They are based on social cooperation, and cooperation can unravel rapidly, with catastrophic results for all. A central goal of the Seshat project is to test scientific theories about how human capacity to cooperate in huge societies evolved, and what explains why such cooperation periodically becomes unglued. Such an understanding will be sorely needed as we negotiate way forward. We should heed early warning signs (the Brexit, the immigration crisis in Europe, the poisonous presidential election in America). By supporting Seshat you will help to make positive futures more possible.

The roots of the Seshat project go back to 2010, and over the past years we’ve done an incredible amount of work to make this Databank reality. We have proven the Seshat concept: how to collect large amounts of high quality historical and archaeological data. The first articles based on these data will be submitted to the top scientific journals in the next few months.

In the process of building the Databank we trained a crew of highly intelligent, knowledgeable, and dedicated research assistants. They are the primary engine that drives data collection in Seshat. But if we can’t continue to support them, we lose them; we would allow all that concentrated talent and energy to dissipate. Your contribution (and mine) will help us continue employing these bright and hard-working women and men.

Thank you for joining me and contributing to a greater understanding of what makes human societies work!


The Evolution Institute, home of the Seshat Project, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Your donation is tax deductible.

Peter Turchin
Founding Editor and Overall Coordinator
Seshat: Global History Databank

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Guillaume Belanger

Now a monthly donor; shared on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Hope others do the same.

Tim G

Is it going to be Open Access? What are the copyright restrictions? I worry about supporting anything like this unless it has something like Creative Commons licensing.

Tim G

Ok, I’ve made a small donation, then. I’m a little skeptical about the need for an 18 month delay, but CC-BY is awesome, nonetheless 😉

Mario Buildreps

How do you verify the correctness of data in the databank? What interests me is how you transform a large amount of subjectiveness into what you believe is objectiveness?

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