CAA NL-FL Call for papers, for those speaking German with an English accent

August 24, 2015

caanlThe Computer Applications and Quantitative methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference has many national chapters who also organise annual meetings or other activities, usually in their own language. The Dutch-speaking low countries of the Netherlands and Flanders have teamed up for this purpose. Their annual meeting will take place on 22-23 October 2015 at the University of Amsterdam. The call for papers is open now until 30 August 2015, so hurry up to get your abstract in.

You might need to understand some Dutch, but according to my wife it’s just German spoken with an English accent … I totally disagree with this statement, Dutch is a proper language with its own vocabulary and grammar. But I always fail to get popular support for my case once people ask me to count to 10 in Dutch: een, twee, drie, vier, vijf, zes, zeven, acht, negen, tien… (nothing like German with an English accent if you ask me, but apparently that’s a minority opinion. Yet another reason why the Dutch-speakers teamed up to form their own CAA chapter).

What? CAA NL-FL chapter conference

When? 22-23 October 2015

Deadline CFP? 30 August 2015

Cost? 20 or 30 Euro

More info on the website.

CAA call for sessions open

August 5, 2015

caaThe countdown to CAA 2016 in Oslo has begun! Time to submit your awesome session and workshop proposals!

The annual Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference will be held in Oslo, Norway, from March 29th to April 2nd 2016. The Call for sessions and workshops is now open until 7 September 2015. More info about the conference can be found on the conference website.

To propose a session or workshop, go to the CAA Open Conference System and click on the ‘Submissions’ link on the right-hand side of the page.

Hope to see you all in Oslo for my favourite conference of the year!

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency or Network Science? Let’s get our networky jargon right!

July 29, 2015

gentlyWe’ve all heard it before, people saying stuff like “everything’s connected to everything else”. Most often this phrase is used in the way Dirk Gently would use it in Douglas Adams’ novels. Dirk runs a ‘Holistic Detective Agency’ which means that what sets him apart from other more traditional detective agencies is that he solves crimes by figuring out how all people, things and events are related to each other. In practice, it means he has very few customers since this method can never be consistently applied within an acceptable time limit. In the end Dirk is always reliant on dumb luck to solve his cases, although he backs his decisions up with pseudo-scientific jargony nonsense.

Network scientists including archaeologists and historians rarely talk like Dirk Gently-style detectives (I believe anything between Sherlock Holmes and Poirot best describes the range of fictitious detective analogies for us applying networks to figure out the past, I’m on the Poirot side if you’re wondering). They are more specific in their description of how things are interrelated, thanks to their use of network science concepts: arcs, edges, actors, nodes, centrality, cliques, path length, etc. This sadly does not mean that these academics make themselves any more understandable to their audiences than Dirk Gently does, just because they happen to use jargon usefully and consistently.

When talking to network scientists you really need a dictionary at hand. I often catch myself assuming that many terms like, closeness centrality or ego-network, which have very specific formal definitions are widely known or at least intuitively understandable. It turns out this is definitely not the case: assuming jargon is widely known leads to bad communication, assuming it is intuitively understandable leads to no communication at best and bad science at worst. This issue is particularly problematic for us network scientists who try to contribute to archaeology or history, disciplines where network jargon is entirely unknown.

I am delighted that we are finally starting to overcome this issue. Archaeologists and historians: your networky dictionary has arrived! A while ago we published a special issue of Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory on archaeological network science. Because so many network science concepts were used over and over again in each paper of this issue, we decided to write a network science glossary. You can find this  network science glossary on the Tutorials and Resources page of this blog as well as in the original paper. The glossary was written with an audience of archaeologists and historians in mind. It provides unambiguous non-technical explanations of key concepts as well as a number of examples. All of us who worked on it really hope this will help archaeologists and historians in particular to start critically engaging with all the amazing new work that’s appearing, and to produce some of it themselves.

Check out the network science glossary on the Tutorials and Resources page of this blog.

It was first published as part of the introduction to our special issue of Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory on archaeological network science.

Please cite the glossary as follows:

Collar, A., Coward, F., Brughmans, T., & Mills, B. J. (2015). Networks in Archaeology: Phenomena, Abstraction, Representation. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 22, 1–32. doi:10.1007/s10816-014-9235-6

Book: support networks for persecuted Jews in WWII

July 22, 2015

9783110368949I find support and assistance networks extremely interesting! Mainly because they pose so many interesting missing data problems, and as an archaeologist I like a good data problem from time to time. These kinds of networks are very much based on trust, since once a person or connection is compromised it will have disastrous, often murderous, consequences for many in the network. This topic is explored for the case of persecuted Jews in National Socialism during World War II in Marten Düring’s work. He traced a number of different groups of people, how they got in touch with each other, and how they provided assistance to persecuted Jews. Marten told me in most cases the support networks grow slowly and are built on strong trusted relationships. Often new individuals will be introduced to the network through a common contact who has received assistance before and vouches for the individual. However, there are a few cases when individuals gambled and got in touch without a pre-existing well-trusted connection. Such decisions could be disastrous, sometimes leading to the entire network being rounded up by the Gestapo, questioned and sentenced (which is often why these support networks are documented and why Marten was able to reconstruct them). The ‘data problems’ I mentioned are a consequence of the sheer secretive nature of the support network: hiding the fact you offered support to persecuted Jews was a question of life or death. It is particularly hard to reconstruct support networks that were not caught by the Gestapo, and one can only assume that those that were caught are not entirely documented, that there are a lot of missing nodes and links. Marten Düring offers us an in-depth look at a few cases which are particularly well-known, thanks to his rummaging around in archives for years.

I believe this study will prove invaluable for better understanding support networks and the missing data problems they pose. I see particular similarities with networks of the trade in licit antiquities, organized crime and really any type of so-called ‘dark network’. This work offers a reminder of how the study of the past can help us tackle challenges in the present.

Marten’s work was recently published by De Gruyter as a book, check it out here and find the abstract below.

Also keep an eye out for Marten’s chapter in the forthcoming ‘The Connected Past’ edited volume to be published by Oxford University Press early in 2016 :)

Why did people help Jews hide from the Nazis? This study examines interactions between helpers and aid recipients using the methods of social network research. Based on six Berlin case studies, the author looks at the social determinants for willingness to help, trust formation, network effects, and the daily practice of providing help from the perspectives of helpers and aid recipients.

Three more days to send in your Digital Classicist Berlin abstract

July 14, 2015

dcbThose trained in the ways of Classics and fearless of the computer beast: submit your abstracts now to the Digital Classicist Berlin seminar series. The deadline for the call for this year’s edition is in three days, at midnight 17 July. I had the pleasure of presenting my work at this venue once (see the video on my bibliography page). Aside from giving the talk in the lovely fancy hall of the German Archaeological Institute which makes you feel like a little Schliemann, it does attract a good audience of experts who are not afraid to ask you the difficult questions (which is exactly what you want by the way). There is plenty of time for discussion after your talk, and I definitely gained some unique insights and new contacts through the experience. Definitely consider applying.

Deadline 17 July

Digital Classicist Berlin website

We are pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the fourth series of the Digital Classicist Seminar Berlin [1]. This initiative, inspired by and connected to London’s Digital Classicist Work in Progress Seminar [2], is organised in association with the German Archaeological Institute and the Excellence Cluster TOPOI. It will run during the winter term of the academic year 2015/16.

We invite submissions on any kind of research which employs digital methods, resources or technologies in an innovative way in order to enable a better or new understanding of the ancient world. We encourage contributions not only from Classics but also from the entire field of “Altertumswissenschaften”, to include the ancient world at large, such as Egypt and the Near East.

Themes may include digital editions, natural language processing, image processing and visualisation, linked data and the semantic web, open access, spatial and network analysis, serious gaming and any other digital or quantitative methods. We welcome seminar proposals addressing the application of these methods to individual projects, and particularly contributions which show how the digital component can facilitate the crossing of disciplinary boundaries and answering new research questions. Seminar content should be of interest both to classicists, ancient historians or archaeologists, as well as to information scientists and digital humanists, with an academic research agenda relevant to at least one of these fields.

Anonymised abstracts [3] of **300-500 words max.** (bibliographic references excluded) should be uploaded by **midnight (CET) on 17 July 2015** using the special submission form [4]. Although we do accept abstracts written in English as well as in German, the presentations are expected to be delivered in English. When submitting the same proposal for consideration to multiple venues, please do let us know via the submission form. The acceptance rate for the first three seminar series was of 41% (2012/13), 31% (2013/14), and 40% (2014/15).

Seminars will run **fortnightly on Tuesday evenings (17:15-19:00)** from October 2015 until February 2016 and will be hosted by the Excellence Cluster TOPOI and the German Archaeological Institute, both located in Berlin-Dahlem. The full programme, including the venue of each seminar, will be finalised and announced in September. As with the previous series, the video recordings of the presentations will be published online and we endeavour to provide accommodation for the speakers and contribute towards their travel expenses.

[3] The anonymised abstract should have all author names, institutions and references to the authors work removed. This may lead to some references having to be replaced by “Reference to authors’ work”. The abstract title and author names with affiliations are entered into the submission system in separate fields.

Historical Network Research vol. 3 in Lisbon

June 25, 2015

hnr2It’s been three years since the first edition of the international Historical Network Research conference, in Hamburg. The success of the first edition sparked an awesome second edition in Ghent, set in an amazing restored abbey complex. Now it’s time for episode III in Lisbon. The call for papers is open, please note the submission deadline of 30 June, details below. The Historical Network Research community is going strong and growing, along these conferences they promised to keep on organizing the smaller workshops they’ve been hosting in Germany for years now, so keep an eye out for that. I can definitely recommend attending the conference, I found the Ghent edition I attended a great experience.

CFP deadline: June 30 2015


Call for papers

The Historical Network Research is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual conference. Having been held in Hamburg in 2013 and Ghent in 2014, this year it will be held in Lisbon, on 15-18 September 2015.
This will be an opportunity to present historical research embedded in the field of social network analysis, as well as a chance to benefit from workshops designed to acquire analytic and visual tools.
Naturally, the Conference will be open not only to arts and humanities researchers, but also to social, formal, applied and natural scientists, who are interested in historical research and processes.
We welcome proposals for individual papers discussing any historical period and geographical area. Some of the topics include but are not limited to: Economic and business history; Scientific networks and collaborations; Technological and research networks; Social movements and political mobilization; Social network theory and historical research; Policy networks; Social network analysis, war and conflict; Kinship and community; Social networks and health; The geographical scope of networks; Cultural and intellectual networks; Methodological explorations


Papers for presentation will be selected, after peer review, on the basis of abstracts (up to 500 words). To apply please also include the title, 3 keywords, institutional affiliation, contact details and a brief CV or bio.
Each presentation will last no more than 15 minutes. The default language is English.

Announcing the complex systems simulation CAA special interest group

May 12, 2015

complexityThe last CAA meeting in Siena saw the creation of a new special interest group in complex systems simulation. This new group will be of interest to network fans as well. The chairs Iza Romanowska, Florencia del Castillo and Juan Antonio Barceló have plans to organise sessions, workshops and networking events around the CAA conferences and independently. They will use the Simulatingcomplexity blog as well as their mailing list to keep you informed on their activities and to offer help to those who wish to apply complex systems simulation techniques to their work. Subscribe!

Want to know what it’s all about? A word from the chairs:

The staggering complexity of past societies is well recognised in archaeology. Human groups often built intricate social systems, which consist of numerous individual elements interacting with each other and with the environment and producing phenomena that are not easy to anticipate or understand using non-quantitative methods. The standard scientific answer to the challenges of investigating such systems is the large family of simulation techniques and the theoretical paradigm known as Complexity Science. In the last few years these approaches (agent-based and equation-based modelling, systems dynamics, cellular automata, network analysis etc.), have become increasingly popular among the practitioners of archaeological computing, suggesting that the time is right to bring this growing community together.

Therefore, the aim of the new Special Interest Group in Complex Systems Simulation is to provide a strong communication platform for present and future researchers working in the complex systems simulation domain. In particular, we will strive to:

  • provide continuity to the sessions and workshops concerned with computational modelling at the annual CAA conference and beyond,
  • organise, coordinate and inform the members of other events related to complexity science and simulation,
  • organise events aimed at training future complex systems modellers and the general archaeological audience,
  • define and promote good practices in archaeological computational modelling,
  • and, in the long term, we hope to bring simulation and other complexity science methods into mainstream archaeological practice.

To join the SIG simply sign up to the mailing list and join us at the sessions and workshops dedicated to simulation and complexity science at CAA 2016 in Oslo!

— posted on behalf of SIG leaders Florencia del Castillo, Iza Romanowska and Juan Antonio Barceló


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