Research press release



Archaeology: The roots of inequality


今回、Timothy Kohlerたちの研究グループは、家屋の大きさ(面積)を富の代理指標として用いて、考古学上明らかになっている北米とヨーロッパ、アジアの63の社会とアフリカの2つの社会の数千軒の家屋を分析した。これらの社会によって、狩猟採集民の集落、古代都市など、過去1万1000年間にわたるさまざまな経済システムが網羅されている。富の不平等は時とともに拡大し、この点は予想どおりだったが、北米よりもユーラシアではるかに顕著に拡大したことは予想外だった。非常に都会的な新世界の社会でも家屋は同じような大きさだった。


In post-Neolithic times, Old World societies experienced more wealth inequality than those in the New World, a Nature paper reveals. The study, which ties this finding in with the rise of domestication of plants and animals, helps to shed light on the origins of inequality.

Using house size (area) as a proxy for wealth, Timothy Kohler and colleagues analysed thousands of houses from 63 archaeological societies across North America, Europe and Asia, and two from Africa. The sites encompass a range of economic systems, from the settlements of hunter-gatherers to ancient cities, and span the past 11,000 years. As expected, wealth inequality was found to increase over time, but unexpectedly it increased far more in Eurasia than it did in North America. Even in highly urban New World sites, house sizes were generally similar.

The reason for this disparity, the authors suggest, is the presence of large domesticated animals, such as horses, cattle and pigs, which were present in Eurasia but largely absent in North America. These animals could be used to plough fields, transport goods, and as mounts in warfare, leading to the development of a new mounted warrior elite that, in turn, enabled Eurasian societies to extend their territories and acquire more wealth.

doi: 10.1038/nature24646

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