Hestia2 seminar: registration open

hestiaThe Hestia project is pleased to announce “HESTIA2: Exploring spatial networks through ancient sources”, a one-day seminar on spatial network analysis and linked data in Classical studies, archaeology and cultural heritage.

The seminar will be held at The University of Southampton on 18 July. Registration for this event is free, but we do recommend registering as early as possible since the number of available places is limited. More information, including abstracts and registration, can be found on The Connected Past website.

We are looking forward to welcoming you to Southampton!

Elton Barker, Stefan Bouzarovski, Leif Isaksen and Tom Brughmans

HESTIA2: Exploring spatial networks through ancient sources

University of Southampton 18th July 2013
Organisers: Elton Barker, Stefan Bouzarovski, Leif Isaksen and Tom Brughmans
In collaboration with The Connected Past

A free one-day seminar on spatial network analysis in archaeology, history, classics, teaching and commercial archaeology.

Spatial relationships appear throughout our sources about the past: from the ancient roads that connect cities, or ancient authors mentioning political alliances between places, to the stratigraphic contexts archaeologists deal with in their fieldwork. However, as datasets about the past become increasingly large, spatial relationships become ever more difficult to disentangle. Network visualization and analysis allow us to address such spatial relationships explicitly and directly. This seminar aims to explore the potential of these innovative techniques for research in the higher education, public and cultural heritage sectors.

The seminar is part of Hestia2, a public engagement project aimed at introducing a series of conceptual and practical innovations to the spatial reading and visualisation of texts. Following on from the AHRC-funded initiative ‘Network, Relation, Flow: Imaginations of Space in Herodotus’s Histories’ (Hestia), Hestia2 represents a deliberate shift from experimenting with geospatial analysis of a single text to making Hestia’s outcomes available to new audiences and widely applicable to other texts through a seminar series, online platform, blog and learning materials with the purpose of fostering knowledge exchange between researchers and non-academics, and generating public interest and engagement in this field.


Registration for this event is now open. Please follow the instructions on the HESTIA2 Eventbrite page to obtain your ticket (no payment card needed).

The HESTIA2 seminar is free to attend but registration is required. Since places are limited we suggest you register as soon as possible.


11:00 Registration and coffee

11:30 HESTIA-team

  • Welcome and introduction to HESTIA and HESTIA2

12:00 Maximilian Schich (The University of Texas at Dallas)

12:25 Alex Godden (Hampshire County Council)

12:50 John Goodwin (Ordnance Survey)

13:15 Discussion

13:35 Tea and coffee break

13:55 Terhi Nurmikko (University of Southampton)

14:20 Kate Byrne (University of Edinburgh)

14:45 Giorgio Uboldi (Politecnico di Milano)

15:10 Discussion

15:35 Tea and coffee break

16:00 Keith May (English Heritage)

16:25 Paul Cripps (University of South Wales)

Registration AHCN 2013 open

Screen shot 2013-02-19 at 10.16.18Three years ago I attended the Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks satellite at NetSci. It was a great event, really multi-disciplinary. Registration is now open for the 2013 edition. It is free but tends to fill up quickly, so reserve your seat soon. The line-up looks great.

Dear all,

http://ahcn2013.eventbrite.com/ for

Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks
– 4th Leonardo satellite symposium at NetSci2013

on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 at DTU Copenhagen, Denmark.

featuring keynotes by Denny Vrandečić (Wikimedia Foundation, Germany), Paolo Ciuccarelli (DensityDesign, Italy), Scot Gresham-Lancaster (The Hub, USA), and contributions by Doron Goldfarb et al. (Austria), Emoke-Agnes Horvat et al. (Germany), Marnix van Berchum (The Netherlands), Bruno Mesz (Argentina), Santiago Ortiz (Colombia), Ruth Ahnert (UK), Thomas Lombardi (USA), and François-Joseph Lapointe (Canada). We had a new record acceptance rate of 14.5%.

Attending the symposium is free of charge, but requires registration. Tickets are given out in a first come, first serve basis, to both NetSci2013 main conference attendees as well as external guests. Please be aware that registration MAY FILL UP FAST. Please also note that we partner with an associated evening event below.

FOR THE FULL PROGRAMM and more information on our symposium, including the Book of Abstracts and an introductory video, please go to http://artshumanities.netsci2013.net

Right after our symposium at 19:00, Leonardo/OLATS and the Copenhagen Medical Museion partner to present László Barabási, François-Joseph Lapointe, Annamaria Carusi, and Jamie Allen to discuss “The Data Body on the Dissection Table”. Refreshments will be provided. Please register separately at http://medm.us/databody

PLEASE ALSO CHECK OUT OUR COMPANION WEBSITE with a collection of past abstracts, videos, links to our ongoing Special Section in Leonardo Journal, and our evolving eBook at MIT-Press at http://ahcncompanion.info/


Enthusiastic and curious to see you in Copenhagen,

The Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks organizers,
Maximilian Schich, Roger Malina, Isabel Meirelles, and Annick Bureaud

The Connected Past special issue of Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory


The Connected Past steering committee is delighted to announce a special issue of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory titled ‘The Connected Past: critical and innovative approaches to networks in archaeology’. The call for submissions to this special issue is now open. So don’t hesitate any longer and send us that awesome networky paper you have been working on! As you can gather from the CFP below, we want to have a focused special issue with solid case studies that illustrate how network analysis can be useful in archaeology. However, we are really keen to publish really innovative approaches, things that have not been tried before by archaeological network analysts. We look forward to reading your abstracts!


The Connected Past: critical and innovative approaches to networks in archaeology

A special issue of Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

Edited by: Anna Collar, Tom Brughmans, Fiona Coward and Barbara Mills

Over the last decade the number of published archaeological applications of network methods and theories has increased significantly. A number of research themes deserve further exploration, however. How do particular archaeological research contexts drive the selection and adaptation of formal network methods from the wide range of existing approaches? What is the role archaeological data can play in network methods? What are the decisions we are faced with when defining nodes and ties, and what assumptions underlie these definitions? How can our theoretical approaches be expressed through formal methods incorporating empirical data? Are network theories and methods compatible?  How can materiality be incorporated within existing network approaches? How can we deal with long-term network evolution within archaeological research contexts?

This special issue aims to illustrate through innovative and critical archaeological case studies that these problems can be overcome, and that by doing so the role of archaeological network analysis within the archaeologist’s toolbox will become better defined.

This special issue invites well-developed archaeological case studies in which a network-based method is formulated as the best approach to an archaeological research question. A key conviction of this special issue is that theoretical and methodological concerns should be raised through practice. As such, papers are expected to either develop a critical and detailed archaeological analysis through commonly applied network-based approaches, or to illustrate how archaeological research contexts can require the development or adoption of innovative network techniques. Such a collection of case studies will illustrate that the network is not an end-product; it is a research perspective that allows one to ask and answer unique questions of archaeological relevance.

Please send extended abstracts (1000 words) to connectedpast@soton.ac.uk by 23 June 2013.

Notification of acceptance: July 2013.

Submission of full papers for peer-review to guest editors: 22 September 2013.

Submission of revised papers for peer-review to JAMT: 24 November 2013.

Please note that the acceptance of extended abstracts and peer-review by guest editors is not a guarantee that the paper will be published in the special issue. Individual papers will have to successfully go through the JAMT peer-review process before publication can be guaranteed.

How I almost missed a great conference: Two days of Tracing Networks at the British Academy

tracng networksSometimes conferences can be quite predictable: I know who I will meet, I know what I will hear, I know where I will get a drink at the end of the day. The Tracing Networks conference held at the British Academy two weeks ago was not one of those predictable events, for a number of reasons. First of all, because I forgot all about it. I woke up one day and noticed two days of Tracing Networks in my calendar. I arrived at the venue without having a clue who would be there, who would present, what they would be talking about and where I could get a drink. And I can definitely recommend forgetting about conferences to everyone, because the event turned out to be a very enjoyable experience.

Lin Foxhall giving the opening address, with Anthony Harding
Lin Foxhall giving the opening address, with Anthony Harding
Lin Foxhall gave the opening address in name of the Tracing Networks team. Her talk was an overview of the project, and their search for a suitable methodological framework. This self-reflective and honest discourse was really fascinating. Lin went through a range of arguments why actor-network theory and formal network methods were not suitable. She said that network perspectives are good to think with but meaningfully and rigorously applying them within an archaeological context is particularly difficult. In my opinion this is totally true and cannot be emphasized enough. The team found a method based on ontologies and semantic web most appropriate for dealing with the large and very diverse datasets the project is concerned with.

Another presentation that interested me was Borja Legarra Herrero’s talk on using SNA for studying social change in Late Bronze Age Southern Spain. Some of his slides and parts of his paper revealed a very useful side of networks: their ability to communicate simple but useful structural ideas as small graphs representing different extreme hypotheses (e.g. star graph vs line graph vs circle graph). The usefulness of networks as a tool for communication is often uncritically exaggerated. I learned from experience that showing people real networks representing real data results in awkward silences: people don’t get it. True, these graphs become extremely useful once you understand the layout algorithm and play around with alternative visualizations. But their ability to communicate simple ideas is trivial compared to simplifying graphs of just a few nodes and links.

Leif Isaksen at Tracing Networks
Leif Isaksen at Tracing Networks
This issue came up again during Steve Conway’s reflections on graph visualizations. His paper took my own article in Oxford Journal of Archaeology as a starting point, and tried to find similar trends to the ones I described in his review of the use of formal network methods in the managerial literature. He identified some really familiar sounding issues: there is a tendency to conflate time; a tendency to ossify, to make static; an over-emphasis on the overall network and ignoring individual nodes; a tendency to let the network visualization speak for itself; and an under-emphasis on context. These are all common issues with the use of network visualizations, which are never neutral and are as laden with decisions and assumptions as any other communication medium (Steve wrote an interesting article about this in the british journal of management). This does not mean network visualizations are useless, or even bad at what they do. One just needs to approach and use them with as informed an understanding as possible of the decisions and assumptions that went into their creation.

Another paper that interested me was delivered by Peter Van Dommelen. He opened his talk on a sobering note, stating that “networks are not everything, we need to understand what is going on inside the nodes themselves”. Peter was mainly concerned with developing a critical archaeological approach to the study of migrations, stressing that the context of migrations need to be understood. He argued that there was a reluctance to discuss migration in archaeology since two decades because earlier migration studies were overly simplistic. That’s why we need to look beyond and below networks, we need to contextualize migrations, because the arrows on a map approach is just not good enough. We don’t just want to trace the large-scale, possibly state-enforced networks, but also the personal small-scale networks. We need a focus on communities on the ground if we want to understand what is going on inside the nodes. It is in the end the people who matter, they did not just trace but created the networks we are talking about. Peter discussed his ideas in the context of Nurraghic culture in Sardinia. He is of course right, but I have the impression that up til now the people that are “doing networks” have tended to go for the big datasets evidencing large-scale patterns, because there is just such a good fit with the network methods. However, this means that the challenge of local-scale, more contextualized archaeological network analysis remained under-explored.

Carl Knappett at Tracing Networks
Carl Knappett at Tracing Networks
… Until now? Carl Knappett clearly did not shy away from more small-scale and contextualized network approaches. His paper provided a balanced overview of network methods and theories, of the issues involved and the potential gains of a networks perspective for archaeology. He argued that network analysis in archaeology works best if node selection is unproblematic. It imposes some sort of order over a messy dataset. Although this is undeniably the case, it has to be said that some archaeologists are making real progress in confronting this issue. Ethan Cochrane and Carl Lipo explore how different artefact classifications emerge when different network approaches are used. In his PhD thesis Matt Peoples compares networks of ceramics classified by traditional ware typologies with networks of ceramic technical features. Carl continues by stating the importance of node definition and that this is a theoretical decision, i.e. it is wrong to think that SNA is untheoretical (Carl referred to Butts’ 2009 paper in Science). I could not agree more. The decisions an archaeological network analyst makes when defining nodes and edges, when selecting or modifying analytical techniques and when interpreting the outcomes are fundamentally influenced by their theoretical preconceptions. When I was recently tackling this issue for one of my case-studies I challenged myself to come up with at least two different ways of creating a network from the same dataset; in the end I found ten! Other issues raised by Carl involved temporal and geographical scales. He claimed that although archaeological network methods are often static, this is not a problem of the network perspective per se. In fact, the meaning of nodes or categories of analysis can emerge through the process of thinking through networks (Carl referred to Astrid Van Oyen’s work on comparing ANT and SNA). Carl challenged many of these issues head-on through his case studies from Bronze Age Crete, which revealed exactly how challenging they really are.

The Tracing Networks conference was a great experience, not in the least because I was genuinely surprised to see so many scholars there with shared interests doing fascinating work. I am looking forward to the proceedings and to forgetting about some of the upcoming conferences in my calendar.

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