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Thomas Leppard


Current position: Assistant Professor, Florida State University, USA. 

During his AIAS-COFUND Fellowship Thomas Leppard worked on the project 'Interpersonal Violence and Early State Formation'.

Project at AIAS

What role did violence play in the global transition from small-scale egalitarian societies to large, centralized, inegalitarian societies? In particular, how did the dynamic relationship between violence and wealth inequality impact this process? Violence has the capacity to inhibit the emergence of exaggerated wealth inequality, but from a deep-time perspective this relationship is poorly understood. We especially don’t understand how the emergence of the first large-scale, institutionally inegalitarian societies—‘states’—was or was not dependent upon dynamic intersections between wealth inequality and violence.

My project involves comparative analysis of the role of violence in the transition from egalitarian to inegalitarian lifeways. Drawing on archaeological, anthropological, and biological datasets, I am undertaking quantitative assessment of patterning in bioarchaeological evidence for interpersonal violence in Holocene Afro-Eurasia, assessing the relationship between the structure and distribution of trauma in funerary populations over time and changing metrics of wealth distribution. The outcome—establishing whether there is a meaningful correspondence between fluctuating patterns of intra-group violence and the formalization of inegalitarian social organization—has potentially broad implications for how we theorize the emergence of the state. 

Project title:

Interpersonal Violence and Early State Formation

Area of research:


Fellowship period:

1 Sep 2020 - 31 Aug 2021

Fellowship type

AIAS-COFUND II Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow

This fellowship has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 754513 and The Aarhus University Research Foundation.