January 26, 2023

Evolution of Weapons, Armor, and Fortifications: What Drove the Invention of Military Technologies?

Peter Turchin from the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH) and an interdisciplinary team of associates set out to test contending theories about what drove the evolution of war makers throughout world history.” Some military innovations had cascading impacts on cultural and social advancement,” explains Turchin, who conducted the information analyses in this research study. According to our research study, this package of military technologies was one of the most crucial elements leading to the increase of mega-empires and of world religious beliefs like Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam throughout the very first millennium BCE.”
“A particular level of food production may have been essential for the subsequent development of new war technologies,” states co-author Dan Hoyer, who leads and arranges Seshat data collection. “To explore the function of agriculture for the advancement of military innovation in more information would be an intriguing next research study action.”

For their analyses, the scientists utilized Seshat: Global History Databank, a big and constantly growing collection of archaeological and historic data from across the globe. To date, Seshat has assembled around 200,000 entries from more than 500 societies, spanning 10,000 years of human history.
” Seshat is a goldmine for the study of cultural advancement,” says Turchin, who started and additional developed the database together with a group of anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, and evolutionary scientists. To explore this data, the authors applied innovative quantitative approaches of mathematical modeling and analytical analysis.
Bit and bridle led to mega-empires
” Some military inventions had cascading results on social and cultural development,” explains Turchin, who conducted the information analyses in this research study. “The development of bit and bridle, for example, made it simpler to control horses, which resulted in advances in weapons or the appearance of mounted archers and knights, which once again made it required to construct much better strongholds. According to our study, this bundle of military technologies was among the most important factors causing the increase of mega-empires and of world religious beliefs like Christianity, Buddhism, and Islam throughout the very first millennium BCE.”
Turchin and associates specify a mega-empire as a society supporting 10s of countless inhabitants and covering countless square kilometers of area, which they say started to appear in various parts of Europe and Asia as part of a process of growing social intricacy driven by the connection– and competition– between states with significantly sophisticated and dangerous technology.
The scientists likewise discovered strong signs of the importance of farming productivity. “A particular level of food production might have been necessary for the subsequent advancement of brand-new war innovations,” says co-author Dan Hoyer, who leads and arranges Seshat information collection. “To explore the role of farming for the advancement of military innovation in more detail would be an intriguing next research action.”
Questions from the past for our future
Seshat was established to differentiate cause and effect in theories of social evolution.
” Good data and techniques like the ones we established here offer a fresh point of view on a wide range of open questions, theories, and controversies in various fields, ranging from archaeology, to history, to the social sciences,” emphasizes Turchin. Studies like this can contribute to a general understanding of what makes a society thrive or how to acknowledge early indications of degeneration and societal collapse.
” A basic understanding of social characteristics is not only of academic interest,” states Turchin who works with a team at CSH on Social Complexity and Collapse. “To comprehend what leads to social improvement, and being able to determine the tipping points that result in either strength or catastrophe, is crucial for all of us, specifically today,” he concludes.
Reference: “Rise of the War Machines: Charting the Evolution of Military Technologies from the Neolithic to the Industrial Revolution” by Peter Turchin, Daniel Hoyer, Andrey Korotayev, Nikolay Kradin, Sergey Nefedov, Gary Feinman, Jill Levine, Jenny Reddish, Enrico Cioni, Chelsea Thorpe, James S. Bennett, Pieter Francois and Harvey Whitehouse, 20 October 2021, PLOS ONE.DOI: 10.1371/ journal.pone.0258161.

The development of bit and bridle ultimately caused the development of armed installed warriors like the one depicted in an Assyrian remedy for 8th century BCE. Credit: Ealdgyth
New research study performed through the Complexity Science Hub Vienna and used to a rich historical dataset clarified the advancement of weapons, armor, and fortifications in human history.
Peter Turchin from the Complexity Science Hub Vienna (CSH) and an interdisciplinary team of colleagues set out to check completing theories about what drove the development of war devices throughout world history. Their research study, published today (October 20, 2021) in the journal PLOS ONE, sees the greatest impact on the advancement of military technology originating from world population size, the connection between geographical areas, and advances in important innovations such as iron metallurgy or horse riding. Alternatively, and rather surprisingly, state-level factors such as the size of the population, the territory, or the complexity of governance appear not to have actually played a major role.
Utilizing Big Data for historic questions
” We had two objectives for this study,” primary detective Peter Turchin explains. “First, we wished to draw a clear photo of where and when military technologies appeared in pre-industrial societies. Second, we intended to discover why crucial technologies were established or embraced in certain locations.”

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