Implementing Politogenesis by Canonical Cycling in an Agent-Based Model with Circumscribed Environment

Author(s): Thomas Dover; Claudio Cioffi-Revilla

Year: 2015


`Politogenesis'' is a fundamental social process for understanding how and why early societies increased or decreased their social and political complexity. Agent-based models (ABM) of archaeologically recorded processes of early polity formation and regional dynamics are beginning to show promising results for advancing theory and research on politogenesis, especially when ABM results can be compared with empirical patterns, such as cycling. This study investigates politogenesis in a geographically circumscribed region by implementing an ABM. The model uses a decision-making process enabling agents with bounded-rational adaptive capacity for managing significant changes in subsistence or living conditions. Qualitative analyses of simulation results demonstrate how the model generates regional polities with detailed narratives of politogenesis with face validity. Significantly, model outputs are validated by ``peaks and valleys'' of political and social complexity similar to those proposed by earlier models of polity cycling, such as the Dynamic Model of J. Marcus and related theory and research. Interestingly, the model identifies a period of time in regional politogenesis that exhibits a phase transition from polities with low complexity to polities with higher complexity. Increased population densities that enabled production beyond subsistence, with regional territorial limits imposed by circumscription, can account for this shift.

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Implementing Politogenesis by Canonical Cycling in an Agent-Based Model with Circumscribed Environment. Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, Thomas Dover. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397726)

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