A robust budding model of Balinese water temple networks

J. Stephen Lansing, Murray P. Cox, Sean Samuel Downey, Marcus Janssen, John Schoenfelder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Ethnohistory, genetics and simulation are used to propose a new 'budding model' to describe the historical processes by which complex irrigation communities may come into existence. We review two alternative theories, Wittfogel's top-down state-formation theory and common-pool resource management, and suggest that a budding model would better account for existing archaeological and ethnographic descriptions of a well-studied network of irrigation communities on the island of Bali. The budding model is supported by inscriptions and ethnohistorical documents describing irrigation works in and around the drainage of the Petanu River, an area with some of the oldest evidence for wet-rice agriculture in Bali. Genetic analysis of Y-STR and mtDNA shows correlated demographic histories and decreased diversity in daughter villages, consistent with the budding model. Simulation results show that the network of irrigation communities can effectively adjust to repeated budding events that could potentially shock the system outside the parameter space where good harvests can be maintained. Based on this evidence we argue that the budding model is a robust explanation of the historical processes that led to the emergence and operation of Petanu irrigation communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-133
Number of pages22
JournalWorld Archaeology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 10 2009


  • Bali
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Genetics
  • Inscriptions
  • Irrigation
  • Pre-colonial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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