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IBS Speaker Series: Agglomeration and Human Networks in History

November 8, 2018 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Scott Ortman (Anthropology, UCB)

Presenter: Scott Ortman

Title: Agglomeration and Human Networks in History

Abstract: Recent work in complex systems suggests aggregate properties of human settlements are network effects; specifically, they are outcomes of an equilibrium that develops as people arrange themselves in space so as to balance the benefits of interaction with the costs of movement. This balancing act leads to open-ended and predictable allometries between settlement population and a variety of aggregate quantities, from settled areas to infrastructure needs to socioeconomic rates to the division of labor. Importantly, these allometries are observable in societies organized at all scales, across the world, and throughout history. In this talk, I introduce the ideas and models of settlement scaling theory, review its supporting evidence from urban geography, archaeology and history, and highlight its potential for building a predictive theory of human society.

Bio: Scott Ortman is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at CU Boulder and an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute. His research focuses on the long-term development of non-Western societies using methods and data from many fields, including archaeology, linguistics, ethnohistory, biology, economics and complex systems. He has been involved with the Village Ecodynamics Project since 2003, and he is currently a PI of the Social Reactors Project and the CyberSW Project. Prior to coming to CU he was Director of Research at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, CO and an Omidyar Postdoctoral Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute. He is also author of Winds from the North: Tewa Origins and Historical Anthropology (University of Utah Press, 2012).


November 8, 2018
12:30 pm - 1:30 pm


CU Population Center
Population Program


IBS 155B
Institute of Behavioral Science 1440 15th Street
Boulder, CO 80302
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