Ancient Rome

Social Reactors Project researcher joins the Classics Department at Oxford

Oct. 30, 2023

John W. (Jack) Hanson was employed by the Social Reactors Project as a postdoc from 2015 to 2018, during which he worked with other project researchers to complete four project publications and initiate many more. In 2018 he joined the University of Reading as a fellow of the British Academy,...


A major transition in human sociality

April 5, 2022

Research in a variety of fields, from archaeology and anthropology to economic history, urban geography, economic geography, and urban economics, has typically found that, after controlling for the effects of technology, larger human settlements are also typically denser. The widespread nature of this pattern across time, space, and scale raises...


Eight years of research

Feb. 4, 2022

The social reactors project team has been at it for eight years now, and we've generated a lot of results and published more than two dozen studies in peer-reviewed archaeology, anthropology, urban studies, and general science journals. In an effort to summarize our results, Social Reactors Project PI Scott Ortman...

Temple community

Is agriculture really different?

Sept. 23, 2021

In many fields of study there is a tradition of treating the agricultural sector of the economy as something that follows different rules from the non-agricultural sector. In a recently published paper in Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Sarah Klassen and other Social Reactors Project researchers examine the agricultural...


Podcast: Scaling and synthesis

Nov. 19, 2020

There is a growing movement to bring archaeological evidence to bear in discussions of contemporary issues. To do this, archaeologists must commit to a uniformitarian approach that seeks to identify fundamental processes and dynamics that occur in any society. In a recent podcast in the Santa Fe Institute Complexity series,...

New and old

Social Reactors Project researcher to direct a new synthesis center

Oct. 2, 2020

On October 1, Social Reactors Project researcher Scott Ortman was appointed the inaugural director of the Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology at the University of Colorado Boulder. The center will be housed within the Institute of Behavioral Science , an interdisciplinary social science institute committed to advancing knowledge of...


Urban theory, past and present

Aug. 21, 2020

Two recent publications by Social Reactors Project researchers extend the settlement scaling framework to the study of growth and change in urban systems. The first is a contribution to the inaugural issue of Journal of Urban Archaeology in which Scott Ortman, Mike Smith, Jose Lobo and Luis Bettencourt illustrate several...


Model systems for the present

June 22, 2020

A common perception is that societies of the past are not very useful for understanding the present because they were so much smaller and simpler. In a paper published this week in Science Advances, Social Reactors Project researchers Scott Ortman and Jose Lobo argue that this is precisely why they...


Ancient broadcasting

June 22, 2020

Most people today get their news through the internet. How did people get it in the past? Gossip worked well enough for small, face-to-face communities, but what about ancient cities? In a recent paper, Social Reactors Project researchers Jack Hanson and Scott Ortman argue that mass spectator events were an...

Cities, Scaling and COVID-19

March 28, 2020

Many news stories about the COVID-19 pandemic we are experiencing this spring have pointed out that the infection rates tend to be higher in larger US cities than in more rural areas. What has not been as fully appreciated is the fact that the influence of city size for the...