Evolution of Complex Hierarchical Societies
Peter Turchin, Sergey Gavrilets
One of the greatest puzzles of human evolutionary history concerns
the how and why of the transition from small-scale, ‘simple’ societies to large-scale, hierarchically complex ones. This paper reviews theoretical approaches to resolving this puzzle. Our discussion integrates ideas and concepts from evolutionary biology, anthropology, and political science. The evolutionary framework of
multilevel selection suggests that complex hierarchies can arise in
response to selection imposed by intergroup conflict (warfare).
The logical coherency of this theory has been investigated with
mathematical models, and its predictions were tested empirically
by constructing a database of the largest territorial states in the
world (with the focus on the preindustrial era).