Our new publication in JAMT: over half a million pot sherds from Jerash and simulation

Really delighted to announce that our latest paper was recently published open access online in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. It’s the result of years of collaborating between excavators, ceramics specialists and simulation experts. We analysed over half a million ceramics sherds from Jerash (ancient Gerasa, in Jordan), and identified that over 99% of the stuff was locally produced. What really excited me in this collaboration was the discrepancy between this proportion and the tendency for classical archaeologists (including myself) to always focus on imports.

Read the open access paper here.

The proportion of locally produced, regional and imported pottery for (left: ‘total’) all excavated ceramics (n = 625,063; excludes 133,584 topsoil entries), (middle) three securely dated trenches closed by the earthquake event of AD 749 (K n = 10 006; P n = 2184; V n = 10 614) and (right) three trenches consisting of ancient olive oil press installations filled in with ceramics (B n = 58 751; J n = 144 390; N n = 71 555)

Caption feature image: The Jerash Northwest Quarter excavations with trench letters (© Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project)

Why are there so many locally produced ceramics in Jerash, and so few regional and imported ones? This new publication quantitatively analyses the more than half a million sherds that were recorded by the Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project, and discusses different answers to this question. I applies innovative simulation techniques to evaluate whether personal preference for local Jerash products might have played a role. The result? The authors show that three ways of conceptualising preference for the local product might explain the ceramic data pattern, but other theories of preference are less good explanations.

Abstract

The Danish-German Jerash Northwest Quarter Project revealed a robust and striking pattern of the extreme dominance (>99%) of locally produced ceramics over six centuries and across different depositional contexts (in total over half a million pottery sherds). The archaeology of Jerash points towards an exceptional degree of self-sufficiency in craft products: why? The project team implemented a full quantification approach during excavation, manually and digitally recording and counting all pottery and other classes of artefacts. This enabled a full analysis of trends in production and use of ceramics throughout the archaeologically documented history of Jerash and revealed the unexpected pattern of the extreme dominance of local pottery. Archaeologists formulated a set of hypotheses to explain this pattern, and we developed an agent-based model of simple customer preference driving product distribution to evaluate several explanatory factors and their potential interactions. Our simulation results reveal that preference for locally produced ceramics at Jerash might be a plausible theory, but only if its intrinsic value was considered rather high in comparison to other goods, or if it was preferred by a majority of the population, and there was a tendency to follow this majority preference (or a combination of these factors). Here, we present a complete research pipeline of a full quantification of ceramics, analysis and modelling applicable at any archaeological site. We argue that transparent methods are necessary at all stages of an archaeological project: not only for data collection, management and analysis but also in theory development and testing. By focusing on a common archaeological material and by leveraging a range of widely available computational tools, we are able to better understand local and intra-regional distribution patterns of craft products in Jerash and in the ancient eastern Mediterranean.

Results of different simulation experimental setups. Each boxplot represents how close the simulated proportions of local, regional and imported ceramics are to the archaeologically observed ceramics (100 repetitions; 500 time steps; 100 agents)

Submit your paper to CAA, deadline Monday

The CAA is my favourite conference 🙂 And it will be hosted online from Cyprus this year. The deadline to submit your papers is Monday the 1st of March. So go ahead and submit those excellent papers on computational archaeology. You can find the full list of 35 sessions here, covering all possible topics. And I want to point out the following two sessions in particular:

S28. Computational modelling in archaeology: methods, challenges and applications (Standard)

S18. Urban Complexity in Settlements and Settlement Systems of the Mediterranean (Standard)

S28. Computational modelling in archaeology: methods, challenges and applications (Standard)

Convenor(s):
Iza Romanowska, Aarhus University
Colin D. Wren, University of Colorado
Stefani A. Crabtree, Utah State University 

The steady stream of publications involving archaeological computational models is a clear sign of the discipline’s dedication to the epistemological turn towards formal theory building and testing. Where hypotheses used to be generated verbally in natural language as possible explanations, they are now increasingly often expressed as GIS, agent-based modelling (ABM) or statistical models and meticulously tested against data. The session will showcase the breadth of applications, the ingenuity of researchers deploying new or adapted methods and the depth of insight gained thanks to computational modelling.

With increasing numbers of archaeologists becoming proficient in computer programming it seems that some of the technical and training-related hurdles are being overcome. In general, while some methods in archaeological computational modelling are well established and widely deployed, others (e.g., ABM) are still an emerging subfield with many exciting and fresh applications. 

 We will structure the session upon the three major questions: :

  • The current landscape of computational modelling: what are the strong versus the weak areas? Are certain topics, time periods, types of questions more often modelled than others? If so, why is that?
  • Potential areas for growth: what are the obvious methodological and archaeological directions for computational modelling? Are technical skills still an impediment for a wider adoption?
  • Disciplinary best practice: the need for open science is well recognised among computational archaeologists, but are there other ways in which we can make it easier for members of other branches of archaeology to engage with the computational modelling?

We invite archaeological modellers to present their current case studies, discuss new methods and issues they have encountered as well as their thoughts on the role of computational modelling in general archaeological practice. Computational modelling is meant broadly here as any digital technologies that enable the researcher to represent a real-world system to test hypotheses regarding past human behaviour. 

S18. Urban Complexity in Settlements and Settlement Systems of the Mediterranean (Standard)

Convenor(s):
Katherine A. Crawford, Arizona State University
Georgios Artopoulos, The Cyprus Institute 
Eleftheria Paliou, University of Cologne 
Iza Romanowska, Aarhus University

The application of quantitative methods to the study of ancient cities and settlement networks has seen increased interest in recent years. Advances in data collection, the use of and integration of diverse big datasets, data analytics including network analysis, computation and the application of digital and quantitative methods have resulted in an increasingly diverse number of studies looking at past cities from new perspectives (e.g. Palmisano et al. 2017; Kaya and Bölen 2017; Fulminante 2019-21). This barrage of new methods, many grounded in population-level systemic thinking, but also some coming from the individual, agent-based perspective enabled researchers to investigate the structural properties and mechanisms driving complex socio-natural systems, such as past cities and towns (e.g. MISMAS; The CRANE Project; Carrignon et al. 2020). These advances have recently opened new possibilities for the study of cities and settlement systems of the Mediterranean, an area with some of the longest known records of urban occupation that could be key for studying a wide range of urban complexity topics (e.g. Lawrence et al. 2020) .

This session invites papers that deal with the applications of computational and digital methodologies, including agent-based modelling, network analysis, urban scaling, gravity and spatial interaction models, space syntax, GIS, and data mining. We look for a diverse range of studies on the interactions between cities, complex meshworks of information flow, simulations of social and socio-natural activities, as well as analyses of groups of cities and their environment (the ecosystem of resources) in the Mediterranean basin. We are especially interested in papers that use agent-based modelling to adopt a comparative and diachronic perspective to studying transformations and transitions of urban and settlement systems and works that focus on the area of Eastern Mediterranean, in particular. Potential topics of consideration include but are not limited to:

  • Settlement persistence,
  • Multi-scale spatial patterns within urban complexes and across settlements,
  • Inter and/or intra urban settlement dynamics & interactions,
  • Transitions and diachronic transformations of urban/settlement patterns,
  • Urban network interactions and modelling,
  • Urban-environmental processes; the impact of climate disturbances on cities and their resources,
  • Formal analysis of cities development of time,
  • Processes involved in urban centres formation and abandonment.

References:

S. Carrignon, T. Brughmans, I. Romanowska, (2020). Tableware trade in the Roman East: Exploring cultural and economic transmission with agent-based modelling and approximate Bayesian computation. PLoS ONE, 15, (11), e0240414. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0240414

F. Fulminante (ed), (2019-21). Research Topic: Where Do Cities Come From and Where Are They Going To? Modelling Past and Present Agglomerations to Understand Urban Ways of Life. Frontiers in Digital Humanities https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/7460/where-do-cities-come-from-and-where-are-they-going-to-modelling-past-and-present-agglomerations-to-u#overview

H. Serdar Kaya and Fulin Bölen, (2017). ‘Urban DNA: Morphogenetic Analysis of Urban Pattern’, International Journal of Architecture & Planning, (5), 1, 10-41. DOI: 10.15320/ICONARP.2017.15

D. Lawrence, M. Altaweel, and G. Philip, (2020). New Agendas in Remote Sensing and Landscape Archaeology in the Near East: Studies in Honour of Tony J. Wilkinson. Oxford: Archaeopress.

A Palmisano, A. Bevan, and S. Shennan, (2017). Comparing archaeological proxies for long-term population patterns: An example from central Italy. Journal of Archaeological Science, (87), 59-72. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2017.10.001

Saad Twaissi, (2017). ‘The Source Of Inspiration Of The Plan Of The Nabataean Mansion At Az-Zantur Iv In Petra: A Space Syntax Approach’, Mediterranean Archaeology and Archaeometry, (17), 3, 97-119. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.1005494

MISAMS (Modelling Inhabited Spaces of the Ancient Mediterranean Sea), https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/108224/en

The CRANE Project (Computational Research on the Ancient Near East) https://www.crane.utoronto.ca/

CFP: rooted cities, wandering gods

This conference will be of interest to readers of the blog. I do recommend submitting an abstract, it look like an exciting event with a great list of confirmed speakers already. Deadline March 20th.

Via the conference organisers:

Rooted Cities, Wandering Gods

Inter-Urban Religious Interactions

Planned dates: November 19th-20th, 2021 – Groningen

Organisers: Tom Britton & Adam Wiznura

(University of Groningen)

Cult, ritual and belief were crucial components of cohesive collective identities throughout the pre-modern world. Often religious practice is presented as unique, bound to the people and institutions of a single community, in service of such specific identities. Yet cities never existed in a vacuum – rather, urban societies underwent constant change brought on by movement and communication between and within their cities (Garbin & Strhan 2017). Forms and understandings of urbanity were transferred between sites through religious exchanges, often changing dramatically in the process, and their characteristics negotiated through dialogue, diplomacy, rivalry and warfare. How was religious practice bound to a single community, and when did it open up to foster regional cooperation? How could the gods of one city find resonance in another? Where could rituals and sacred sites become the focus of pilgrimage or competition? When were the institutions of a city dependent on recognition from its neighbours? Who set the boundaries of all this communication, and who contested them? This conference will explore religion as part of a web of interactions and a force for the refashioning of cities across the world, with a focus on the ancient Mediterranean and Middle East.

Looking at religion primarily as a social and ritual practice, the conference will examine the impact of religious interactions on urban memory, culture and identity across communities. It will encompass a wide range of religious activities, covering both the inter-urban networks of city-state societies and the connections between cities embedded in larger territorial states. Yet localised sub-communities within the urban frame were also key to establishing links between cities and at numerous scales. We will focus on the groups of worshippers themselves – how their structure and selfrepresentation defined engagement with the pilgrims, migrants, merchants, envoys and epistolaries who facilitated communication. Through these interactions, wider communities of practice were strung together across great distances, forming networks that both incorporated and transcended local identities.

Confirmed speakers for the conference so far include: Anna Collar (Southampton), Judy Barringer (Edinburgh), Matthias Haake (Münster), Sofia Kravaritou (Oxford), Rubina Raja (Aarhus), Ian Rutherford (Reading) and members of the project “Religion and Urbanity” (Erfurt).

We invite those interested in participating to submit papers exploring networks, movement, connectivity, religion and identity in an urban context. These should ask how interactions between cities shaped religious practice, and how cult and worship in turn affected communication. Topics may include, but are certainly not limited to:

● Pilgrimage – travel between cities for religious purposes, both by private individuals and organised by civic authorities. Who felt the need to travel in order to worship? How did this change their standing within urban communities? How did citizens facilitate and profit from the journeys of pilgrims?

● Materiality – the physical environment in which interactions took place, and the ways in which it might be differently experienced. Where were religious institutions situated in the urban landscape? How was “foreign” cultic material mapped on to the city?

● Identity – the reimagining of civic identities through religious interactions, and the creation of supra-civic communities of shared religious practice. When did new cults and ideas impact people’s self-perception as citizens and as worshippers? Did engagement with cult abroad threaten communal cohesion, or strengthen it?

● Communication – the use of shared places and practices of worship to circulate information among cities. How were political, philosophical and technological ideas transmitted and transformed through urban religion? Which interactions rested on common understandings of worship, and which required radically new ways of thinking?

We ask all those interested in contributing a paper to submit abstracts (300 words) for papers suitable for 30 minute presentations. Please send abstracts to:

rootedcities2021@gmail.com

The deadline for abstracts will be March 20th and notification of acceptance will be sent by early April. We would like to receive written drafts of papers soon after the conference as a resulting publication is envisaged, to appear in late 2022 or early 2023.

This conference takes place within the framework of the NWO project Connecting the Greeks at the University of Groningen (see connectingthegreeks.com). It is also held in conjunction with the “Religion and Urbanity: reciprocal formations” project at the University of Erfurt (see urbrel.hypotheses.org ).

2 postdocs and 3 PhDs on Medieval Dissident Networks

If you have an interest in networks and Medieval or religious history, then follow this new ERC-funded Dissident Networks project! They just published a call for applications for two postdocs and three PhDs. Do consider applying. Brno is a fantastic city, and the team is world class!

Via David Zbíral:

The Dissident Networks Project (DISSINET, https://dissinet.cz/) – an ERC Consolidator Grant-funded research initiative based at Masaryk University (Brno, Czech Republic) – opens a call for five research positions in the computational study of medieval religious dissent and inquisition: (1) two postdoctoral or senior research fellowships, and (2) three Ph.D. studentships.

(1) Two full-time postdoctoral or senior research fellowships

Deadline: 15 March 2021

Duration: 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2026

More information: https://www.muni.cz/en/about-us/careers/vacancies/60734 

(2) Three Study of Religions Ph.D. studentships with a medieval focus

Deadline: 3 March 2021

Duration: 1 September 2021 to 31 August 2026

More information: https://www.muni.cz/en/about-us/careers/vacancies/60674 

Across both calls for applications, we are looking for candidates who have focused on any aspect of medieval or early modern European history or literature. They must have demonstrable competence in Latin and English language and in historical research, and a computer-friendly mindset (tables, digital tools).

Candidates with particular experience in heresy studies, notarial records, medieval religion, late medieval history (c. 1200-1500, especially of France, Germany, Italy and England), social and economic approaches to the Middle Ages, digital humanities, quantitative history or historical network research are particularly encouraged to apply. Nevertheless, we are very open to candidates whose previous research has focused on any aspect, period or region of pre-modern Europe, provided that they have a willingness to engage deeply in DISSINET’s computational approach to the study of medieval religious dissent and inquisition.

The successful candidates will develop their own research direction in consultation with the Principal Investigator (Dr. David Zbíral). They will receive hands-on training, building on their core skills as medievalists through the use of computational techniques (social network analysis, geographic information systems, computational text analysis).

NetSci/Sunbelt deadline January 24th

Submit your abstract to our session on archaeological and historical network research at NetSci/Sunbelt 2021 🙂

Deadline January 24th

Submission link: https://networks2021.net

Via the HNR newsletter:

The session “Networks and the Study of the Human Past” is part of Networks 2021: a joint Sunbelt and NetSci Conference. The conference takes place in Washington D.C. on July 6-11, 2021. The organisers are planning a hybrid in-person and remote (online) conference.

You can find the session “Networks and the Study of the Human” under number 19 in the list of organized sessions for Networks 2021. Deadline for submissions is January 24, 2021.

Networks and the study of the human past 

A growing number of studies in history and archaeology have shown that network research can constructively enhance our understanding of the human past. Moreover, it is becoming clear that archaeological and historical data sources pose interesting challenges and opportunities to social network analysis and network science. How did human social networks change over huge timescales? How can old texts and material artefacts help in answering this question? The aim of this session is to present new findings and approaches within historical and archaeological network research, and promote contacts between the various disciplines that approach past phenomena using methods derived from network analysis and network science.

This session explores the challenges and potential posed by such network studies of past phenomena, including: network modelling of past phenomena; data collection from archival evidence; incomplete and missing data; computer-assisted network extraction from texts; big data analytics and semantic network analysis based on fragmented sources; material sources as proxy evidence for social phenomena; exploration of long-term changes in past systems vs. mid-term or short-term processes; etc.

The session invites contributions from various disciplines applying the methods of formal network analysis and network science to the study of the human past. We welcome submissions concerning any period, geographical area and topic, which might include but are not limited to: migration; interpersonal relations; economy; past revolutions; covert networks of the past; industrialization; transport systems; diffusion processes; kinship; conflict and conflict solving; religion and science.

Session organizers:

Julie M. Birkholz (Ghent University & Royal Library of Belgium), Tom Brughmans (Aarhus University), Marten Düring (University of Luxembourg), Ingeborg van Vugt (University of Utrecht), Martin Stark (ILS Dortmund), David Zbíral (Masaryk University)

CFP EAA 2021 session on ancient cultural routes

I can recommend submitting an abstract to my colleagues’ session on Ancient Cultural Routes, to be held at the EAA in Kiel (Germany) on 8-11 September 2021.

Abstract submission deadline: 11th of February.

Via Francesca Mazzilli:

EAA 2021 Session #202 

Ancient Cultural Routes: 

Past Transportation as a Two-Way Interaction between Society and Environment 

Ancient regional routes were vital for interactions between settlements and deeply influenced the development of past societies and their “complexification” (e.g. “urbanization”, Roman expansion). For example, terrestrial routes required resources and inter-settlement cooperation to be established and maintained, and can be regarded as an epiphenomenon of social interactions. Similarly, navigable rivers provided a complementary inter-settlement connectivity, which conditioned the development of roads and pathways. In this sense, fluvial and terrestrial connections can be seen as the two layers of an integrated regional transportation system, which was the product of social relations and of the interplay between past societies and environment. Sea transportation is also relevant as it expands the scale of these relations and interplays. 

When we consider past societies, we implicitly or explicitly take into account interlinked aspects, such as their culture, traditions, politics, economy and religion. Under the umbrella of environment, we include topography, terrain, visibility, water management and sustainability. In view of numerous conference sessions and publications on transport networks in past societies, this session specifically focuses on how the transportation networks and their modes, from terrestrial to riverine, sea routes or a combination of them, were a crucial part of the dialogue between past societies and the environment and how the dynamic processes related to human culture were developed by this dialogue. Following this rationale, we welcome methodological papers and case studies that focus on: – How the constraints of the physical environment impacted on dynamic processes of human societies in the past, such as cultural transmission, trade, migration, and war, or in the opposite direction; 

– How the activities and motivations of human agents shaped and structured the environment with respect to mobility. 

Organizers of the session:
Francesca Mazzilli, University of Bergen
Tomáš Glomb, University of Bergen
Francesca Fulminante, University of Bristol, University Roma Tre
Franziska Faupel, University of Kiel 

If you need more details, please get in touch with the organisers. 

Abstract of no more than 300 words should be send via the https://www.e-a-a.org/eaa2021 website by the deadline 11th February 2021. Please note conference early bird registration fees until 6th April 2021. 

Full-time tenured post Egyptian Archaeology, KU Leuven

Via KU Leuven website. Find the full vacancy here.

VACANCY ARCHAEOLOGY, SPECIALIZATION IN THE DOMAIN OF EGYPTIAN ARCHAEOLOGY
(ref. ZAP-2020-292)
Last modification : Wednesday, December 16, 2020

KU Leuven’s Faculty of Arts has a vacancy for a full-time tenured academic position in the discipline of Archaeology, with specialization in the domain of Egyptian Archaeology. We are looking for internationally oriented candidates with excellent teaching skills, an eminent research record and a sense of societal responsibility, in line with KU Leuven’s mission statement.
Duties
Research
Fundamental research, academic teaching and wider knowledge sharing in the discipline of archaeology, more particularly related to the archaeology of Egypt.


You have achieved important, internationally acknowledged research results in the domain of Egyptian archaeology. In developing your research, you have built up demonstrable methodological expertise of crucial importance for the archaeological discipline, you master strategic themes in computational archaeology and have experience in elaborating multi- and interdisciplinary research trajectories. Based on comparative archaeological research on the trajectories of past societies and/or regional research traditions in archaeology, you are actively involved in the critical contextualization of the intellectual traditions in the domain of Egyptian archaeology.


You can demonstrate leadership qualities in organizing archaeological fieldwork and you value teamwork. You will join the research unit of Archaeology. In close collaboration you support and develop your unit’s (inter)faculty, national and international collaborations and networks. You initiate grant applications to support academic research, actively develop research projects and supervise collaborators at pre- and postdoctoral level.


Education
You provide high-quality education in the bachelor and master programme in Archaeology, with a clear engagement for the quality of the programme as a whole. Your teaching is in accordance to the appropriate academic standards.


Initially, your teaching assignment includes:


– Inleiding in de Archeologie van Egypte (Introduction to Egyptian archaeology), 3 ECTS (1 Ba)
– Archeologie van Egypte (The archaeology of Egypt), 6 ECTS (2-3 Ba; bi-annual)
– Werkcollege Archeologie van Egypte (Tutorial on Egyptian archaeology), 6 ECTS (Ma) 
– A contribution to the Theorie, methode en praktijk van de archeologie (Theory, methods and practices in archaeology) package, to a minimum of 8 ECTS (Ba).


From the third year of your appointment onwards, your teaching assignment will be increased with one to two additional courses, to the amount of 4 to 8 ECTS, preferably in support of the Archaeology programme or possibly of other Faculty of Arts programmes.


You develop your education in line with KU Leuven’s vision on activating, research-based and practice-based education and make use of the opportunities for educational professionalisation offered by the Faculty and the university. You will contribute to the educational project of the faculty by supervising bachelor- and master-papers in Archaeology or related programmes.


Service
You are prepared to shoulder internal administrative and managerial tasks and invest in supporting the network between the programme, various types of authorities and the professional field. When relevant, you participate in societal debates and in the development of the knowledge society. You play an active role in profiling the research unit of Archaeology and the Faculty of Arts with (prospective) students and the wider (professional) field.
Profile
You hold a Ph.D. degree in Archaeology (or an equivalent relevant degree).


You have demonstrable didactic qualities at the level of academic teaching, and you can evince an excellent research trajectory on comparative and computational archaeology applied to the domain of Egyptian archaeology. Your research potential is apparent from your international, scholarly publications of high quality. You have organisational qualities, a collegial attitude and are a team player.


You add a research proposal (max. 2 pages) for the next years and a vision document (max. 2 pages) on the educational approach in the Archaeology programme to your application. Both documents illustrate your critical vision on the position of KU Leuven in the archaeology of Egypt.


The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. If you do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take part in administrative meetings. Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch respectively English to the required standard.


Offer
We offer full-time, tenured employment. When, after 5 years, the conditions of the tenure track contract are met, you will be promoted to the rank of associate professor (hoofddocent).
Interested?
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Jeroen Poblome, tel.: +32 16 32 47 49, mail: jeroen.poblome@kuleuven.be. For problems with online applying, please contact solliciteren@kuleuven.be.
You can apply for this job no later than February 22, 2021 via the  online application tool 
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Networks in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM): CfP Networks 2021

I can very much recommend this session at networks2021.net

Via the session organizers:

Session 4. Analysing Networks in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM)

Organizers: John R. Hott (University of Virginia), Francesca Odella (University of Trento)

Primary Organizer: John R. Hott

Abstract: This session aims at discussing approaches in analysing networks in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) and to provide a view of current projects and results in promoting a network analysis perspective in cross-disciplinary studies.

As artefacts are becoming increasingly digital and/or digitized, there has been an increase in organizing, describing, and storing them in archival and library contexts, as illustrated by many digitalized historical archives. The increasing availability of information about artefacts opens the possibilities to analyse the connections between them in terms of references, creators and actors, as well as in terms of cross-referenced information such as shared themes, location and visitors.

At first, most of the initiatives to establish networked data by organizations and institutions focused on disciplinary perspectives and implemented specialized information classification, such as in the case of historical archival and libraries. In order to progress research, however, it is important that networks from archives, museums, and library sources interconnect and allow multiple standards and cross-classification of their artefacts. Recent undertakings, such as the Social Networks and Archival Context (SNAC) cooperative, have worked to connect repositories to share descriptions and benefit from the conceptualization of the documents, artefacts, and creators as social-documentary networks. In the European context, similarly, international institutions and organizations (Europeana, Wikidata among them) and historical archives (such as Kalliope), already provide researchers access to common classification sets and relational data sources and are promoting projects to interconnect GLAM contexts.

These initiatives reveal that a shared methodological framework, such as social network perspective in particular, is becoming central for setting guidelines, organizing repertories, and linking data from multiple institutions. Specifically, the possibility to design and perform cross-disciplinary research and to establish new connections across cultures, historical traditions, and forms of knowledge (material and digitized) will be triggered by aligning viewpoints in data organization and data access. Network researchers, in this sense, will have more opportunities to experiment new methodological approaches in their studies, as well as to understand the social contexts of artefacts and their information processing.

Taking inspiration from such reflections and examples we solicit submissions of research works dealing with

– projects aimed at developing a network perspective of galleries, archive, museums and library collections (GLAM)

– results of analysis over networks consisting of GLAM data

– methods and strategies for extracting networked data from GLAM contexts

CfP history/archaeology session at Sunbelt NetSci

Sunbelt is the main Social Network Analysis community, and NetSci is the main complex networks conference. I’ve attended these conferences since 2013 and love them both. Next year they will be held jointly, how great is that 😀 Come present in our session and let’s make it clear archaeology and history are part of network science and here to stay!

Via the HNR newsletter:

The session “Networks and the Study of the Human Past” is part of Networks 2021: a joint Sunbelt and NetSci Conference. The conference takes place in Washington D.C. on July 6-11, 2021. The organisers are planning a hybrid in-person and remote (online) conference.

You can find the session “Networks and the Study of the Human” under number 19 in the list of organized sessions for Networks 2021. Deadline for submissions is January 24, 2021.

Networks and the study of the human past 

A growing number of studies in history and archaeology have shown that network research can constructively enhance our understanding of the human past. Moreover, it is becoming clear that archaeological and historical data sources pose interesting challenges and opportunities to social network analysis and network science. How did human social networks change over huge timescales? How can old texts and material artefacts help in answering this question? The aim of this session is to present new findings and approaches within historical and archaeological network research, and promote contacts between the various disciplines that approach past phenomena using methods derived from network analysis and network science.

This session explores the challenges and potential posed by such network studies of past phenomena, including: network modelling of past phenomena; data collection from archival evidence; incomplete and missing data; computer-assisted network extraction from texts; big data analytics and semantic network analysis based on fragmented sources; material sources as proxy evidence for social phenomena; exploration of long-term changes in past systems vs. mid-term or short-term processes; etc.

The session invites contributions from various disciplines applying the methods of formal network analysis and network science to the study of the human past. We welcome submissions concerning any period, geographical area and topic, which might include but are not limited to: migration; interpersonal relations; economy; past revolutions; covert networks of the past; industrialization; transport systems; diffusion processes; kinship; conflict and conflict solving; religion and science.

Session organizers:

Julie M. Birkholz (Ghent University & Royal Library of Belgium), Tom Brughmans (Aarhus University), Marten Düring (University of Luxembourg), Ingeborg van Vugt (University of Utrecht), Martin Stark (ILS Dortmund), David Zbíral (Masaryk University)

New grant to study the centuries-long functioning of the Roman economy through ceramics, road networks and computational modelling

Soooooo happy I got awarded a Sapere Aude research leader grant by the Independent Research Fund Denmark. This is like a Danish starting grant, allowing early career researchers to pursue their research interests for four years under great conditions (roughly 6.2 million DKK: 800.000EUR). This will allow me to do what I think the study of the Roman economy really needs: quantitative identification and description of centuries-long patterns in ceramics data, creation of a high-detail Roman transport network, and formal evaluation of theories that could explain these data patterns. I simply can’t wait to get my teeth into this work! Especially because it’s a collaboration with the amazing Pau de Soto for Roman roads, Vinnie Nørskov for museology and outreach, Andrew Wilson for Roman economy studies, and Adéla Sobotkova for archaeological data analysis. More news about this project will follow (and read our announcement on the UrbNet and DFF websites), but here’s a short description of the project:

MINERVA will explore how a massive integrated economy like the Roman Empire evolved over centuries, by combining archaeological ceramics and the Roman transport network in computational simulation experiments. The project will run for four years from 2021, and will apply UrbNet’s relational perspecitve to the study of the Roman economy.


At its peak the Roman Empire covered an area similar in size to the European Union, uniting almost 100 million inhabitants. But similarities do not end here: the different peoples, languages and religions within the Empire were united under a single political system with the Roman Emperor at its head, they used the same money, followed the same trade regulations, and were subject to the same legal system. Archaeologists uncover evidence that show the ups and downs of this bustling economy. Amphora containers, for example, were used for centuries to move vast quantities of necessities such as grain from Egypt or olive oil from Spain to the capital of Rome and everywhere else in the Empire. For centuries, the flow of goods and traders along the first European transport network went virtually uninterrupted, despite limited means of communication, and transport technology and infrastructure making sea and road voyages slow and dangerous.


The material remains they left behind offer us a unique glimpse at how huge integrated economies can change and evolve over centuries. But understanding how these complex economic processes emerge from everyday behaviour of individual Romans is not a mean feat. To make this possible, this project combines state-of-the-art computer simulations, archaeological ceramics evidence, and a detailed model of the Roman road network for the first time.

MINERVA addresses three challenges related to ceramics data, Roman roads and centuries-long simulations. First, what changes are visible over periods of centuries in the distribution and consumption of Roman plates, cups, bowls and containers? And what do they reveal about the long-term functioning of the Roman economy? MINERVA aims to quantitatively identify such patterns. Second, what was the structure of the Roman transport network through which such goods were distributed? We currently do not have a highly detained model of this network, and MINERVA aims to create this. And third, How does one simulate aspects of a large economy over a period of centuries? This has never been done before because for other large economies, like the integrated markets of the EU or the US, we simply do not have data for such long timespans. This will be an exciting challenge to explore that will benefit from collaboration with economic historians.

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