Networks and the Resilience and Fall of Empires: a Macro-Comparison of the Imperium Romanum and Imperial China

Por • 2 oct, 2018 • Sección: Opinion

Johannes Preiser-Kapeller

This paper proposes to proceed from a rather metaphorical application of network terminology on polities and imperial formations of the past to an actual use of tools and concepts of network science. For this purpose, a well established network model of the route system in the Roman Empire and a newly created network model of the infrastructural web of Imperial China are visualised and analysed with regard to their structural properties. Findings indicate that these systems could be understood as large scale complex networks with pronounced differences in centrality and connectivity among places and a hierarchical sequence of clusters across spatial scales from the overregional to the local level. Such properties in turn would influence the cohesion and robustness of imperial networks, as is demonstrated with two tests on vulnerability to node failure and to the collapse of longdistance connectivity. Tentatively, results can be connected with actual historical dynamics and thus hint at underlying network mechanisms of large scale integration and disintegration of political formations.

arXiv:1809.08937v1 [physics.soc-ph] 

Physics and Society (physics.soc-ph); Adaptation and Self-Organizing Systems (nlin.AO)

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