Department of Computational Social Science Seminar Abstract

Friday, March 19, 3.00pm

Trade as a Premise for Social Complexity

Anamaria Berea
Department of Computational Social Science

The argument of this research is that trade is an important causal factor for the origins of social complexity and not just a co-evolutionary process as the current literature suggests. Ancient trade has played a crucial role for the origins of the first state level society (Early Uruk) and was a premise for its social complexity between 9000 and 3000 BC. Due to a comparative advantage for clay and water transportation and to a series of technological innovations (the pottery wheel and the tokens system) that enabled traders to travel even 800-1000 miles away, in the first state level society there emerged a series of endogenous institutions that increased the organizational complexity and the economic development of the polity to that of the first political economy. The research is layered in 3 steps: the theoretical framework of Adam Smith, Friedrich von Hayek and Vincent Ostrom, the historical and anthropological evidence of Algaze, Schmandt-Basserat, Owen and Niessen and the agent based model of a proto-political economy. The agent-based model explores the institutional analysis behind this argument in order to understand if the necessary and sufficiency conditions for trade at the origins for social complexity are being fulfilled.