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Science ; 366(6466): 682-683, 2019 11 08.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-31699920
Nature ; 551(7682): 619-622, 2017 11 30.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-29143817


How wealth is distributed among households provides insight into the fundamental characters of societies and the opportunities they afford for social mobility. However, economic inequality has been hard to study in ancient societies for which we do not have written records, which adds to the challenge of placing current wealth disparities into a long-term perspective. Although various archaeological proxies for wealth, such as burial goods or exotic or expensive-to-manufacture goods in household assemblages, have been proposed, the first is not clearly connected with households, and the second is confounded by abandonment mode and other factors. As a result, numerous questions remain concerning the growth of wealth disparities, including their connection to the development of domesticated plants and animals and to increases in sociopolitical scale. Here we show that wealth disparities generally increased with the domestication of plants and animals and with increased sociopolitical scale, using Gini coefficients computed over the single consistent proxy of house-size distributions. However, unexpected differences in the responses of societies to these factors in North America and Mesoamerica, and in Eurasia, became evident after the end of the Neolithic period. We argue that the generally higher wealth disparities identified in post-Neolithic Eurasia were initially due to the greater availability of large mammals that could be domesticated, because they allowed more profitable agricultural extensification, and also eventually led to the development of a mounted warrior elite able to expand polities (political units that cohere via identity, ability to mobilize resources, or governance) to sizes that were not possible in North America and Mesoamerica before the arrival of Europeans. We anticipate that this analysis will stimulate other work to enlarge this sample to include societies in South America, Africa, South Asia and Oceania that were under-sampled or not included in this study.

Agricultura/economía , Agricultura/historia , Clase Social/historia , Animales , Animales Domésticos , Asia , América Central , Producción de Cultivos/economía , Producción de Cultivos/historia , Europa (Continente)/etnología , Composición Familiar/historia , Historia Antigua , América del Norte , Política
Evol Anthropol ; 25(6): 288-296, 2016 Nov.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-28004895


Archeologists investigating the emergence of large-scale societies in the past have renewed interest in examining the dynamics of cooperation as a means of understanding societal change and organizational variability within human groups over time. Unlike earlier approaches to these issues, which used models designated voluntaristic or managerial, contemporary research articulates more explicitly with frameworks for cooperation and collective action used in other fields, thereby facilitating empirical testing through better definition of the costs, benefits, and social mechanisms associated with success or failure in coordinated group action. Current scholarship is nevertheless bifurcated along lines of epistemology and scale, which is understandable but problematic for forging a broader, more transdisciplinary field of cooperation studies. Here, we point to some areas of potential overlap by reviewing archeological research that places the dynamics of social cooperation and competition in the foreground of the emergence of large-scale societies, which we define as those having larger populations, greater concentrations of political power, and higher degrees of social inequality. We focus on key issues involving the communal-resource management of subsistence and other economic goods, as well as the revenue flows that undergird political institutions. Drawing on archeological cases from across the globe, with greater detail from our area of expertise in Mesoamerica, we offer suggestions for strengthening analytical methods and generating more transdisciplinary research programs that address human societies across scalar and temporal spectra.

Evolución Biológica , Conducta Cooperativa , Conducta Social , Arqueología , Humanos , Relaciones Interpersonales
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 112(30): 9224-9, 2015 Jul 28.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-25775557


The Neolithic (ca. 8000-1900 B.C.) underpinnings of early Chinese civilization had diverse geographic and cultural foundations in distinct traditions, ways of life, subsistence regimes, and modes of leadership. The subsequent Bronze Age (ca. 1900-221 B.C.) was characterized by increasing political consolidation, expansion, and heightened interaction, culminating in an era of a smaller number of warring states. During the third century B.C., the Qin Dynasty first politically unified this fractious landscape, across an area that covers much of what is now China, and rapidly instituted a series of infrastructural investments and other unifying measures, many of which were maintained and amplified during the subsequent Han Dynasty. Here, we examine this historical sequence at both the national and macroscale and more deeply for a small region on the coast of the Shandong Province, where we have conducted several decades of archaeological research. At both scales, we examine apparent shifts in the governance of local diversity and some of the implications both during Qin-Han times and for the longer durée.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 109(20): 7617-21, 2012 May 15.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-22547811


Because of advances in methods and theory, archaeology now addresses issues central to debates in the social sciences in a far more sophisticated manner than ever before. Coupled with methodological innovations, multiscalar archaeological studies around the world have produced a wealth of new data that provide a unique perspective on long-term changes in human societies, as they document variation in human behavior and institutions before the modern era. We illustrate these points with three examples: changes in human settlements, the roles of markets and states in deep history, and changes in standards of living. Alternative pathways toward complexity suggest how common processes may operate under contrasting ecologies, populations, and economic integration.

Arqueología/métodos , Conducta/fisiología , Ciudades/historia , Evolución Cultural , Economía/historia , Modelos Teóricos , Características de la Residencia/historia , Arqueología/tendencias , Gobierno , Historia Antigua , Humanos , Factores Socioeconómicos/historia
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 107(11): 4851-6, 2010 Mar 16.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-20194758


Imperial expansion is recurrent in human history. For early empires, such as in ancient China, this process generally is known from texts that glorify and present the perspective of vectors. The legacy of the Qin king, Shihuangdi, who first unified China in 221 BC, remains vital, but we have few details about the consequences of his distant conquests or how they changed the path of local histories. We integrate documentary accounts with the findings of a systematic regional survey of archaeological sites to provide a holistic context for this imperialistic episode and the changes that followed in coastal Shandong.

Colonialismo/historia , Arqueología , China , Demografía , Documentación , Emigración e Inmigración , Geografía , Historia Antigua , Humanos
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 102(32): 11219-23, 2005 Aug 09.
Artículo en Inglés | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-16061797


Petrographic analysis of Formative Mexican ceramics by J. B. Stoltman et al. (see the companion piece in this issue of PNAS) refutes a recent model of Olmec "one-way" trade. In this paper, we address the model's more fundamental problems of sampling bias, anthropological implausibility, and logical non sequiturs. No bridging argument exists to link motifs on pottery to the social, political, and religious institutions of the Olmec. In addition, the model of unreciprocated exchange is implausible, given everything that the anthropological and ethnohistoric records tell us about non-Western societies of that general sociopolitical level.

Arqueología/métodos , Cerámica , Comercio/historia , Indios Norteamericanos , Modelos Teóricos , Comercio/economía , Historia Antigua , Humanos , México , Análisis de Regresión , Proyectos de Investigación , Sesgo de Selección