What was history’s biggest empire? Or the tallest building of the ancient world? What was the plumbing like in medieval Byzantium? The average wage in the Mughal Empire? Where did scientific writing first emerge? What was the bloodiest ever ritual human sacrifice?
We are used to thinking about history in terms of stories. Yet we understand our own world through data: cast arrays of statistics that reveal the workings of our societies.
In Figuring Out the Past, radical historians Peter Turchin and Dan Hoyer dive into the numbers that reveal the true shape of the past, drawing on their own Seshat project, a staggeringly ambitious attempt to log every data point that can be gathered for every society that has ever existed. This book does more than tell the story of humanity: it shows you the big picture, by the numbers.
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