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Recent Analysis Of One Of The World’s First And Largest Prehistoric Settlements On The Pontic Steppe Suggests That It Was Free Of Social Inequality

Lindasky76 - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

The concept of creating a utopia, or a society with perfect political, social, and economic conditions, has intrigued experts for centuries. While achieving a true utopia is an elusive and complex goal, prehistoric humans may have come close to creating one.

Around 6,200 years ago, the Trypillia culture established settlements on the Pontic Steppe in the areas that are now known as Ukraine, Moldova, and Russia.

These ancient communities spanned across 790 acres, and each one housed up to 15,000 people at its peak. They are considered to be one of the world’s first and largest prehistoric settlements.

According to a new analysis, the first human megasites may have been free of social inequality, which helped trigger a rapid boom in the population, but it was also what led to their eventual downfall.

The Trypillia sites were largely uninhabited about 5,600 years ago. Researchers wanted to figure out how and why the cities thrived in the years before their collapse. So, they used Gini coefficients to measure household inequalities within the ancient societies. They examined variations in the floor sizes of 7,000 houses from 38 different Trypillia sites.

The researchers found a lack of difference in the structure of people’s homes and were able to determine that social inequality was in decline until 3800 B.C.E. The size and architecture of the houses “shows a high degree of standardization, as do the furnishing of the houses and the economic activities detectable within.”

The round or oval configuration of the settlements ensured that everyone’s homes had similar elements and infrastructure. In addition, there were buildings in public spaces, indicating that the whole community may have gathered to participate in activities like political decision-making.

“The development outlined here suggests that both an egalitarian ideology and effective mechanisms for avoiding social inequality must have existed within Trypillia communities,” wrote the authors of the study. “It implies intra-settlement mechanisms for reconciling interests and redistributing surpluses that might have been established collectively.”

The researchers concluded that social equality was what drew large numbers of people to the cities. However, starting from 3800 B.C.E., there was a noticeable shift in the layout of Trypillia settlements, which pointed to signs that inequality was rising and that social hierarchies were developing within the communities.

Lindasky76 – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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