Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas (2019-2023)

Integrative Human Historical Science of "Out of Eurasia"
Exploring the Mechanisms of the Development of Civilization


A03 Growing complexity of social groups and warfare


Principal Investigator
Takehiko Matsugi (Archaeology Division, National Museum of
Japanese History)
Akira Ichikawa (Institute for Advanced Research, Nagoya University)
Naoto Teramae (Faculty of Letters, Komazawa University)
Tatsuya Hashimoto (The Kagoshima University Museum)
Natsuko Higa (School of Knowledge Science, Japan Advanced Institute
of Science and Technology)
Atsushi Fujisawa (The Center for Academic Resources and Archives)
Kenichi Sasaki (Faculty of Letters, Meiji University)
Shinya Watanabe (Faculty of Humanities, Nanzan University)
Takuya Nagaoka (NGO Pasifika Renaissance)
Mitsuhiko Okayasu (PLUSULTRA)
Masaaki Yamamoto (Okinawa Prefectural Museum and Art Museum)
Elizabeth Arkush (University of Pittsburgh)
Hugo Cesar Ikehara Tsukayama (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile)

Research outline

The aim of our project is to reconstruct the formation processes of a large-scale society (such as a state) composed of multiple groups which are stratified into nested shapes and elucidate its mechanisms with a special attention to warfare. This human-specific social complexity is very important as a fundamental phenomenon which occurs together with the development of civilization whose mechanisms are to be investigated by the whole research project. Warfare accompanies growing social complexity. In addition to the external/physical aspect, such as conquest by force, warfare also has an internal/cognitive aspect. The latter may accelerate social stratification by strengthening group identity when inter-group tension increases.

We aim to reconstruct the complementary processes of warfare and social change by analyzing the temporal sequence of the artifacts related to warfare and comparative analysis between the regions, with a special focus on the internal/cognitive aspects of warfare and how they relate to other aspects. We work in collaboration with other projects such as B02 to elucidate how warfare derives from human cognition and the body and clarify how it mediates the development of a human-specific large-scale society and through what cognitive and evolutionary mechanisms. In doing so, we contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms of the development of civilization, and ultimately aim to answer the question, “What is warfare to humans?”