Grant Coffey, Scott Ortman

Paper #: 15-11-044

Emerging theory proposes that urban scaling phenomena emerge from individuals arranging themselves in space so as to balance the costs of movement with the benefits of the resulting interactions. The fact that the parameters and processes embedded in urban scaling models are not unique to modern systems leads to the hypothesis that these models actually capture universal properties of all human societies. If so, scaling phenomena should be observable throughout the archaeological record. In this chapter, we show that scaling phenomena observed in modern urban systems, and more recently observed for early civilizations, are also apparent in small scale societies containing settlements of no more than a few thousand people. Collectively, these findings suggest scaling is an essential ingredient of a general theory of human societies as complex systems.