Nav: Home

International study suggest ancient globalization

September 18, 2018

Using energy consumption as a measure, a team of international scientists has found that ancient civilizations engaged in globalization more than previously believed, suggesting that an integrated global economy is nothing new and may have benefited societies for ages.

This archaeological research is the first of its kind, because instead of focusing on specific regions or cultures, it used radiocarbon dating to examine human societies on a broader and longer-term scale.

The findings are the result of a study co-authored by Jacopo A. Baggio, an assistant professor in the University of Central Florida political science department, and published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The research team included lead author Jacob Freeman, an assistant professor of archaeology at Utah State University, and Erick Robinson, a postdoctoral assistant research scientist in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Wyoming

The researchers found that societies often experienced booms and busts simultaneously, a process known as synchrony.

They used radiocarbon dating and historical records to measure energy consumption through a period of history ranging from about 10,000 to 400 years ago, a time frame that encompasses a large portion of the current Holocene era.

The greater the energy consumption, the more likely a society was booming with population and political and economic activity.

Some of the areas examined included the western United States the British Isles, Australia and northern Chile.

The radiocarbon dates came from preserved organic items such as seeds, animal bones and burned wood from ancient trash deposits at these sites. Radiocarbon dating measures the radioactive decay of the atom carbon-14 from organic matter to find the organic matter's age.

The researchers' findings suggest that early globalization was possibly a strategy for societies to grow through migration, trade and conflict with other, distant societies when a society's carrying capacity began to be overloaded.

Baggio, who is also a member of UCF's National Center for Integrated Coastal Research and the Sustainable Coastal System research cluster, said it is especially important to study societies' resilience, or ability to recover from a disaster, over the long term, and radiocarbon dating is a useful tool for this assessment.

"Resilience is intrinsically dynamic," Baggio said. "So, it becomes very hard to understand resilience in a short time span. Here we have the opportunity to look at these longer trends and really see how society has reacted and adapted and what were the booms and busts of these societies. Hopefully this can teach some lessons to be learned for modern day society."

The researcher said the rise and fall of societies seems to be an inherent part of civilization.

"Our data stop at 400 years ago, and there has been a huge change from organic economies to fossil fuel economies," Baggio said. "However, similar synchronization trends continue today even more given the interdependencies of our societies."

Freeman said the new study suggests the process of societies creating connections and becoming interdependent, known as globalization, also played out among human society millennia ago.

"If every culture was unique, you would expect to see no synchrony, or harmony, across human records of energy consumption," Freeman said.

Robinson said it is important to look at not only cultures at specific times, but also over the long term.

"We must move back and forth between different spatial and temporal scales in order to understand the whole picture," Robinson said.

"When we take a broader perspective, we are still interdependent on others, no matter our cultural differences,"

Although interconnectedness has advantages for societies, there can be downfalls as well, Robinson said.

"The more tightly connected and interdependent we become, the more vulnerable we are to a major social or ecological crisis in another country spreading to our country," he said. 'The more we are synced, the more we put all our eggs in one basket, the less adaptive to unforeseen changes we become."

"The financial crisis of 2007 to 2008 is a good recent example," Robinson said.
-end-
Authors of the study also included David A. Byers and Judson Byrd Finley of Utah State University; Eugenia Gayo of the Center for Climate and Resilience Research and Center of Applied Ecology and Sustainability in Santiago, Chile; Jack A. Meyer of the Far Western Anthropological Research Group Inc.; Robert Kelly of the University of Wyoming; and John M. Anderies of Arizona State University.

The work was produced as part of PEOPLE 3000, an ongoing study of the long-term growth and synchronous collapse of human societies by an international team of scholars, including archaeologists and sustainability scientists in North and South America.

Baggio received his master's in development economics and doctorate in international development from the University of East Anglia. Before starting at UCF this year, he worked for three years as an assistant professor at Utah State University and for nearly four years as a postdoctoral student at Arizona State University.

University of Central Florida

Related Energy Consumption Articles:

Optimizing of VCSEL photon lifetime for minimum energy consumption at varying bit rates
Prof. Bimberg's group at Bimberg Chinese-German Center for Green Photonics Changchun at Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics, and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed VCSELs emitting at 850 nm, 880 nm, 910 nm, 940 nm, which were optimized to achieve 50+ Gb/s, enabling 200+ Gb/s data transmission across a multimode fiber.
Solar assisted heating networks reduce environmental impact and energy consumption
More than 40% of energy consumption in the European Union is by buildings and 63% of this figure is due to residential dwellings.
First measurement of electron energy distributions, could enable sustainable energy technologies
To answer a question crucial to technologies such as energy conversion, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan, Purdue University and the University of Liverpool in the UK have figured out a way to measure how many 'hot charge carriers' -- for example, electrons with extra energy -- are present in a metal nanostructure.
Long-term developments of energy pricing and consumption in industry
Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI have collaborated with British economists to study how energy consumption by Swiss industry develops depending on energy pricing.
Mandatory building energy audits alone do not overcome barriers to energy efficiency
A pioneering law may be insufficient to incentivize significant energy use reductions in residential and office buildings, a new study finds.
A smart way to predict building energy consumption
In a time of aging infrastructure and increasingly smart control of buildings, the ability to predict how buildings use energy -- and how much energy they use -- has remained elusive, until now.
Mapping the energy transport mechanism of chalcogenide perovskite for solar energy use
Researchers from Lehigh University have, for the first time, revealed first-hand knowledge about the fundamental energy carrier properties of chalcogenide perovskite CaZrSe3, important for potential solar energy use.
Space dragons: Researchers observe energy consumption in quasars
Researchers, for the first time, have observed the accelerated rate at which eight quasars consume interstellar fuel to feed their black holes.
New discipline proposed: Macro-energy systems -- the science of the energy transition
In a perspective published in Joule on Aug. 14, a group of researchers led by Stanford University propose a new academic discipline, 'macro-energy systems,' as the science of the energy transition.
How much energy storage costs must fall to reach renewable energy's full potential
The cost of energy storage will be critical in determining how much renewable energy can contribute to the decarbonization of electricity.
More Energy Consumption News and Energy Consumption Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Sound And Silence
Sound surrounds us, from cacophony even to silence. But depending on how we hear, the world can be a different auditory experience for each of us. This hour, TED speakers explore the science of sound. Guests on the show include NPR All Things Considered host Mary Louise Kelly, neuroscientist Jim Hudspeth, writer Rebecca Knill, and sound designer Dallas Taylor.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Kittens Kick The Giggly Blue Robot All Summer
With the recent passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, there's been a lot of debate about how much power the Supreme Court should really have. We think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful beings, issuing momentous rulings from on high. But they haven't always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, started it all.  Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.