On 2 July I gave a presentation at the HESTIA colloquium in Oxford. Project HESTIA aims to explore the perception of space as it is reflected in Herodotus’ Histories, through novel digital approaches including network analysis. Read more on the project here.
You can find my presentation slides on the bibliography page. Here is the abstract:
Understanding Roman table ware distributions in the Mediterranean: an exploratory and confirmatory network analysis of the ICRATES database
Roman table ware distributions are traditionally explored through their presence in specific places and visualised as dots on a map. As such they seem to represent distinct entities that do not relate, other than in their relative proximity. This paper challenges an exclusively geographical perspective by proposing a networks approach for exploring ceramic distributions. It states that it is equally informing to explore the dynamics between physical and relational space. There can be no doubt that places and people in the past were connected to each other, and this paper will explore to what extent this connectivity is reflected in the relationships between ceramic data. In order to understand the nature of this connectivity it is necessary to explore the structure of pottery distributions.
This paper aims at addressing the following issues:
To what extent can the relationships between table ware sherds inform us of processes that led to their distribution as we know it?
How can topological and geographical networks complement each other in understanding such processes?
The ICRATES database of table wares from the Roman East (Prof. Jeroen Poblome, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), containing exhaustive information on over 20,000 published sherds, will allow for these issues to be tested. Firstly, this paper will illustrate how analysing ceramic distributions as networks of interactions can help to identify the general structure and local patterns in a complex dataset. Secondly, the potential of network analysis for testing a geographical hypothesis will be evaluated. The results of both types of analyses will be confronted to validate the geographical hypothesis with ceramic data and to explain some of the patterns that emerged from the topological approach. As such, this paper aims to start discussions on comparing archaeological and historical networks generated from different data types.