CFP Simulating The Past

October 31, 2013

simulpastA really interesting conference is coming up: Simulating the past in Barcelona, 1-5 September 2014. Organised by the Simulpast project with keynote speakers Tim Kohler and Joshua Epstein. The call for papers is open until February 28 2014. More info below and on the Simulpast website.

From September 1st to 5th, 2014, the European Social Simulation Association  ( will celebrate its annual meeting in Barcelona (Spain), at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona  (


On that occasion there will be the satellite conference, organized in collaboration with the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Society (


The conference is organized with the contribution of the SimulPast project (, a 5-year exploratory research project funded by the Spanish Government (MICINN CSD2010-00034) that aims at developing an innovative and interdisciplinary methodological framework to model and simulate ancient societies and their relationship with environmental transformations. To achieve these aims, SimulPast integrates knowledge from diverse fields covering humanities, social, computational and ecological sciences within a national and international network.

The conference intention is to showcase the result of the SimulPast project together with current international research on the methodological and theoretical aspects of computer simulation in archaeological and historical contexts. The conference will bring together scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds (history, ecology, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, computer science and complex systems) in order to promote deeper understanding and collaboration in the study of past human behavior and history.

The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Applications of computational modeling in archaeology and history
    • Social organization and change
    • Cultural transmission and evolution
    • Long term socio-ecology
    • Human adaptation and climate change
    • Cooperation and warfare
    • Trade and exchange


  • Tools and methods for development of simulation models
    • Calibration and validation
    • Realistic vs abstract modeling
    • Results analysis and verification
    • Simulation software & programming computational frameworks


Applications are welcomed on all subjects (from Anthropology, Archaeology, Geography and History) using different approaches to social simulation and presenting case studies from any region of the world and any prehistoric or historic period. Theoretical aspects of social and cultural evolution are also encouraged.

For more information do not hesitate to contact the local organizers ( Detailed information, EasyChair links for submissions and registration will be available at:

Given the coincidence with Union Internationale des Sciences Prehistoriques et  Protohistoriques Meeting in Burgos (Spain) (, every effort will be made in order to allow interested researchers to assist to both Conferences. Burgos is well connected with Barcelona by plane (from Valladolid) or by train.

A thousand worlds: sci-fi networks in archaeology

October 28, 2013

Rune Rattenborg presenting at 'A Thousand Worlds' in Durham

Rune Rattenborg presenting at ‘A Thousand Worlds’ in Durham

Here is a common plot in sci-fi literature and movies (based on a popular physics model): the world you know is but one in an endless range of parallel universes, where each one is slightly different. Who would ever have thought this would be a good starting point for archaeological discussions? Yet the meeting in Durham I recently attended showed that parallel universes might have more in common with archaeology than we think.

(this review was originally published as a guest post on Electric Archaeology, please join discussion there)

I was invited by Rune Rattenborg to join a workshop in Durham called ‘A Thousand Worlds: Network Models in Archaeology’. This concept of a thousand worlds can be interpreted in an archaeological research context in different ways. On the one hand, and most similar to the sci-fi parallel universes plot, you could think about the many different reconstructions of past realities that could all explain a single archaeological pattern. Literally thousands of hypotheses could be raised to explain a certain pattern, each of them suggesting different mechanisms driving human behaviour and ultimately its expression in the archaeological record. On the other hand, you could think about the many academic perspectives archaeologists find useful for understanding the past. Perspectives ranging from highly quantitative (you can place me in that camp) to very qualitative, from local to global, from scientific to philosophical, and from an explicitly present-day perspective to attempting to recreate past perspectives. Each one of these is a valid way of thinking about past human behaviour and behavioural change (or rather every configuration or combination of these perspectives).

Both of these interpretations motivated Rune to title his workshop ‘A Thousand Worlds’. He noticed that archaeologists interested in questions of past connectivity and those of us using network perspectives often address the challenges we are faced with in very different ways. The only common ground of most network perspectives seems to be that the relationships between entities are considered crucial to understanding the behaviour of these entities. For example, the romantic relationship between two individuals will affect the decision to stay in and watch a Hugh Grant romantic comedy or to go out for a beer with the guys. But Rune also noticed that each perspective allows for a wide variety of reconstructions of past realities. These two issues seem to confuse archaeologists who might be interested in using such a network perspective in their archaeological research. I totally agree with Rune’s motivation to create some order in this chaos. The main questions of this workshop therefore were: what different network perspectives are out there? What rules govern them? What do they allow us to do that we could not do before? And what are their limitations?

To some extent the meeting was successful in addressing these questions. A number of very different perspectives were discussed by selected proponents: I introduced an extremely formal network science approach, which was discussed rather more pragmatically by Anna Collar; Michelle de Gruchy highlighted some interesting challenges in a geographical context; another group of presenters (Kristoffer Damgaard, Eivind Heldaas Seland, Sofie Laurine Albris, Rune Rattenborg) used the concept of connectivity and explored how it could be reflected in archaeological and literary sources. Finally Ronan O’Donnell introduced the actor-network theory (ANT) perspective through a fascinating case study on a post-Medieval landscape in Northumberland, UK, from which the strong difference between the aims of the ANT and network science research perspectives became particularly clear.

Nevertheless, by the end of the meeting it became clear that we were not entirely successful in addressing the many questions we set out to answer. Eivind Heldaas Seland skilfully summarised each paper and formulated three key questions that require more attention: how can these different perspectives and approaches usefully work together? What is the added value of some of these compared to a more traditional description of our sources? How can we better use these perspectives in the future? The fact that we were unsuccessful at addressing these questions shows how complex and non-trivial they are (and we also ran out of discussion time). But for what it’s worth, I take this opportunity to share some of my thoughts on these questions, combined with some of the points I picked up from others during the discussion.

First of all, I believe the first question presents the false impression that the different network perspectives can and need to work together. I would argue that, many network perspectives do not need to and most of them do not work well together at all. This is because some of them (like ANT and network science) are designed to address very different questions. But even those approaches that have more in common, like the quantitative vs. qualitative use of network science, don’t necessarily need to be combined into an almighty network approach. There is no need for a great unifying theory or method in archaeology, not even for one that just focuses on questions of connectivity. Rather, I consider the different network perspectives as tools that function according to certain rules, and once these rules are known the tools have a potential to make small but crucial contributions to our knowledge of the past. I believe that if we are to ever achieve the full potential of these exciting new approaches for archaeology we will need to first critically explore them in isolation.

Secondly, the added value of these perspectives is more obvious than how they should be applied. Many in the audience seemed to agree that the concept of the network itself is a powerful tool to think with. It forces us to consider the potentially important role played by relationships between entities (however defined: humans, molecules, parallel universes), which might allow us to ask and answer new questions. For me the added value lies in the recognition that all archaeologists make assumptions about the nature of such relationships when they formulate hypotheses about past phenomena. It can be useful to think about these assumptions in terms of network concepts and, most importantly, there is a real need to be critically aware of their existence and formulate them clearly. Network science can help archaeologists to think about their assumptions of past relationships, to formally express them (in words and/or in numbers), and to evaluate their implications for past behavioural change and its reflection in the archaeological record.

Finally, the “better use” of such approaches and perspectives is not optional, it is necessary if they are ever to become useful within an archaeological research context. However, a critical use and application is not just a critical awareness of the rules that govern them. Rather, an equal if not larger effort should be afforded to the archaeological interpretation of network science results, or the differences in the interpretative process that a networks perspective implies. I believe none of the scholars that attended the Durham meeting would disagree with that. The studies they presented could be roughly divided into two groups: those that THINK through network and those that DO networks. I believe the former is more important than the latter, because there can be no doing without thinking. Although this sounds like an obvious statement it is worth emphasising it because the use of quantitative network analysis is too often treated like a “black box” approach, which it is not. Every network science study in archaeology, no matter how quantitative, aims to better understand (aspects of) past phenomena. When doing so, the scholar formulates a hypothesis, expresses their assumptions about past relationships and their roles, or at least clearly defines what they mean by the network concepts they use. Only after this phase of network thinking can a scholar proceed to network doing, which involves representing hypotheses/assumptions/the archaeological record as network data (points and lines, and what they mean). The ability to use advanced quantitative tools should not be an excuse for the post-hoc imposition of a theoretical framework that fits the results nicely; nor should the appeal of using fashionable network concepts lead to reluctance to formally express what is meant by them and to evaluate their implications for understanding past phenomena.

Even though none of the three key questions about the role of the networks perspective in archaeology can be conclusively answered at this time, I felt that its future is nevertheless bright. The diversity of possible approaches and perspectives is encouraging and will lead to critical research that promises to help archaeologists better evaluate what approach is useful for their studies of past connectivity, and what is not. Some of these approaches might require multi-disciplinary collaboration, especially the more scary and maths-heavy techniques in the network science toolbox. But archaeologists should never be tempted to outsource the network thinking part of the process. Critical knowledge of the archaeological literature and data leads to an awareness of the relevant research questions, and the same knowledge will lead to valuable interpretations of analytical results and research processes. There might be a thousand pasts out there, and there might be a thousand ways of reaching them, but this quest will always need to be undertaken by archaeologists.

Selected relevant publications:
Brandes, U., Robins, G., McCranie, A., & Wasserman, S. 2013. What is network science? Network Science 1(01): p.1–15.
Brughmans, T. 2013.Thinking through networks: A Review of Formal Network Methods in Archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory.
Knappett, C. 2011. An archaeology of interaction. Network perspectives on material culture and society. Oxford – New York: Oxford University Press.

Networks and regulation seminar programme Paris

October 25, 2013

Construction_tour_eiffel5A fascinating set of papers is announced for this year’s “Networks and regulation” seminar series held in Paris and organised by Claire Lemercier, Emmanuel Lazega and Julien Brailly. If you are in Paris during any one of these dates then do attend these talks, some great speakers in there:

Mercredi 20 Novembre : Johannes Glueckler, Universität Heidelberg (16h-18h)
“Organized Networks and the Creation of Network Goods”

Lundi 25 Novembre : Mark Mizruchi, University of Michigan (16h-18h)
“Political Economy and Network Analysis: Further Thoughts on Their Connections”

Lundi 9 Décembre : Ulrik Brandes, Universität Konstanz (16h-18h)
“Centrality in Networks: Measurement and Social Theory”

Lundi 20 janvier : Pierre Gervais, Université Paris-3, Guillaume Daudin, Université Paris-Dauphine (16h-18h)
“Est-ce que tout compte? Essai de mesure statistique de l’effort relatif d’enregistrement dans quelques comptabilités marchandes du 18e siècle”

Lundi 3 février : Gabriel Garrote,
Université Lumière-Lyon 2 (16h-18h)
“Une relation triangulaire : familles – territoire – institutions (sagas notabiliaires dans le Rhône du premier 19e siècle)”

Lundi 10 mars : Valery Yakubovitch, ESSEC (16h-18h)
“Formal Foci and Informal Ties in Organizations: the Problem of Disembeddedness”

Lundi 12 mai : Laura Prota et Maria P. Vitale
, Università degli Studi di Salerno (16h-18h)
“A network perspective to explore dynamic cooperative behaviors in Italian technological clusters”

Lundi 16 juin : Bernie Hogan, Oxford Internet Institute (16h-18h)
“The emergence of interactive social networks: Implications for users, designers and researchers”

Center for the Sociology of Organizations, 19 rue Amélie, 75007 Paris (metro La Tour-Maubourg – ring the bell in the street, then first room on the left)

Hestia2 in Stanford: visualising complex data

October 23, 2013

Hestia_logo_whtRemember the Hestia2 event we organised in Southampton in July with The Connected Past? Time for more of that! The Hestia project is pleased to announce its second community event, which will take place at Stanford University on 4-5 November 2013. The two-day workshop, hosted by Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, will tackle the issue of visualizing complex data, and will be of interest to anyone working on network theory and the digital analysis of literature and historical material.

It will include presentations from various local high-tech companies developing complex data analysis and hands-on work with the following humanities projects based in Stanford:
Orbis 2.0, the latest geospatial network model of the ancient world;
Arches, a new open-source geospatial software system for cultural heritage inventory and management;
– Palladio, a new platform for visualizing and analyzing networks of historical data;
– Topotime, a new data model and graphical layout designed specifically to handle the fuzzy temporal bounds and cyclical time of literary narratives.

This two-day event is free for all. We simply ask you to register in advance here.

For more information about the event and about Hestia, please visit our blog.

We look forward to welcoming you in Stanford!

Best wishes

The Hestia2 team

**Hestia2 is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council**

Leipzig e-Humanities autumn/winter schedule

October 22, 2013

Screen shot 2012-05-04 at 10.55.46Plenty of good academic messages being spread from Leipzig this season! Have a look at the Leipzig e-humanities website or see the schedule below.

Seminar Schedule

Oct 23 Eric Champion Interacting With History Using Virtual Environments pdfAbstract
Oct 30 Gabriel Bodard Standards for Networking Ancient Prosopographies: Digital Classics, Linked Open Data, and community building pdfAbstract
Nov 6 Matthew Munson “You will know a word by its changes in company!”: Using Collocation Analysis to Track Semantic Drift in Biblical Greek pdfAbstract
Nov 13 Francesco Mambrini Topic-Focus articulation à la praguienne: Annotating information structure in the Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank pdfAbstract
Nov 27 Michael Hendry Every Reader an Editor:Putting Editable and Formattable Critical Texts On-Line with SQL pdfAbstract
Dec 4 Matt Coler Correlating Human Sensory Experience with Physical Phenomena Using Dependency Structures, Cognitive Semantics, and (Semi-)Automatic Linguistic Analysis: Bridging the gap between the objective world and subjective reality pdfAbstract
Dec 11 Giovanni Colavizza Functional Categorization for Historical Place Types pdfAbstract
Dec 18 Amir Zeldes Corpus Linguistics Tools for Sahidic Coptic pdfAbstract
Paul Arthur Online Environments for Biographical Research
Jan 8 Frank Binder From Collaborative Data Editing to Library Catalogues: Towards a ‘Sharable Data Strategy’ for the GeoBib Project pdfAbstract
Jan 15 Mike Kestemont A Distant Reading of a Distant Past: Computational Text Analysis and Medieval Literature pdfAbstract
Jan 22 Toma Tasovac Historic Dictionaries as a Challenge for Digital Humanities pdfAbstract
Jan 29 Sarah Savant Al-Thaʿālibī’s Memorable Thimār al-qulūb fī almuḍāf wa-l-mansūb: A Portrait of an Eleventh-Century Cultural Broker pdfAbstract

Second Connected Past conference in Paris!

October 16, 2013

TCPI’ve got some very exciting news! On 26 April 2014 we will organise the second ‘The Connected Past’ conference! As we did in 2012 it will be a satellite event to the CAA conference, which will be held in Paris in April 2014. The Connected Past conference will be held in Paris Sciences Po and the organisation is led by Prof. Claire Lemercier. Our call for papers is now open and we welcome short abstracts by the 12 November.

We thank the CAA for supporting this initiative!
See the full call for papers below or on the Connected Past website.

Looking forward to seeing many of you there!

(French version below)


The Connected Past
A satellite conference at CAA 2014, Paris
26 April 2014 in Paris Sciences Po. Deadline abstract submission: 12 November 2013.

With the Support of Sciences Po, the DYREM research program, Médialab, and the French network of historical network analysis.

Held Saturday April 26th 2014 in Sciences Po, rooms Albert Sorel and Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris (metro Saint-Germain-des-Prés or Rue du Bac)

Organisers: Claire Lemercier (CNRS, Sciences Po, Paris), Tom Brughmans (University of Southampton), The Connected Past steering committee.

The Connected Past is a community led by a multi-disciplinary international steering committee. It aims to provide discussion platforms for the development of original and critical applications of network and complexity approaches to archaeology and history. To this purpose The Connected Past organises international conferences, focused seminars and practical didactic workshops.

Over the past decade ‘network’ has become a buzz-word in many disciplines across the humanities and sciences. Researchers in archaeology and history in particular are increasingly exploring network-based theory and methodologies drawn from complex network models or social network analysis as a means of understanding dynamic social relationships in the past, as well as technical relationships in their data. This series of conferences aims to provide a platform for pioneering, multidisciplinary, collaborative work by researchers working to develop network approaches and their application to the past.

The conference will be held immediately after the CAA conference (Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology), also happening in Paris, allowing participants to easily attend both – but participants from other disciplines, especially history, are also most welcome.

The conference aims to:

  • Provide a forum for the presentation of network-based research applied to archaeological or historical questions
  • Discuss the practicalities and implications of applying network perspectives and methodologies to archaeological and historical data in particular
  • Strengthen the group of researchers interested in the potential of network approaches for archaeology and history
  • Foster cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaborative work towards integrated analytical frameworks for understanding complex networks
  • Stimulate debate about the application of network theory and analysis within archaeology and history in particular, but also more widely, and highlight the relevance of this work for the continued development of network theory in other disciplines

We welcome contributions addressing any of (but not restricted to) the following themes:

  • The diffusion of innovations, people and objects in the past
  • Social network analysis in archaeology and history
  • The dynamics between physical and relational space
  • Evolving, multilevel and multiplex networks
  • Emergent properties in complex networks
  • Agency, structuration and complexity in network approaches
  • Future directions for network approaches in archaeology and history

Please email proposed titles and abstracts (max. 250 words) by November 12th 2013 to:

Complete papers will not be required. Oral presentations will be limited to 15 minutes so as to leave room for discussion. The abstracts should be written in English, but French talks accompanied by an English presentation, or vice versa, will be admitted, and French questions or answers will be welcome during the debates. Lunch will be offered to presenters and hopefully to all participants, but the organizers cannot fund travel or lodging.

There are no attendance fees. Although this event is free of charge, registration is required and the number of places is limited. Registration to the event will open once the final programme is advertised in late November, and places will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis.

A “The Connected Past” practical workshop, “Introduction to network analysis for archaeologists” will also be organized during CAA2014 in Paris (see the CAA programme).

—- French version —–

The Connected Past
Dans le cadre du congrès CAA 2014 (informatique et méthodes quantitatives en archéologie) à Paris

Un événement organisé par le réseau “The Connected Past”

Avec le soutien de Sciences Po Paris, du programme de recherche DYREM, du Médialab et du groupe Res-Hist, Réseaux et Histoire

Samedi 26 avril 2014 à Sciences Po, amphithéâtres Albert Sorel et Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris (métro Saint-Germain-des-Prés ou Rue du Bac)

Organisation : Claire Lemercier (CNRS, Sciences Po, Paris), Tom Brughmans (University of Southampton), The Connected Past comité scientifique

“The Connected Past” est un groupe de chercheurs doté d’un comité scientifique international et interdisciplinaire. Son objectif est d’offrir des lieux de discussion autour du développement d’applications originales des approches en termes de réseaux et de complexité en archéologie et en histoire. Pour cela, il organise depuis 2011 des colloques, séminaires et ateliers de formation.

Le mot “réseau” est de plus en plus à la mode depuis maintenant plusieurs décennies, dans la plupart des disciplines, y compris de sciences humaines et sociales. En histoire et en archéologie notamment, les théories et méthodes centrées sur les réseaux, souvent inspirées de l’analyse de réseaux sociaux ou des sciences de la complexité, sont de plus en plus souvent mobilisées, que ce soit pour parler des liens sociaux du passé ou pour traiter des données empiriques portant sur d’autres types de relations (impliquant des lieux, objets, etc.). La série de journées “The Connected Past” propose un lieu commun pour discuter de travaux de ce type, appliquant des approches des réseaux au passé, quelle que soit leur discipline d’origine.

La journée de Paris se tiendra dans la foulée du congrès d’archéologie CAA, afin de permettre à ses participants d’être présents s’ils le souhaitent ; mais les propositions pour la journée émanant d’autres disciplines et notamment de l’histoire sont tout à fait bienvenues, indépendamment de toute participation au congrès CAA.

Les objectifs de la journée sont de :

  • Proposer un lieu commun de présentation pour des recherches appliquant des approches des réseaux à des questions archéologiques ou historiques
  • Discuter les spécificités et les implications de ces approches pour ces questions et types de données particuliers
  • Contribuer à la constitution d’un groupe de intéressé.e.s par le potentiel de ces approches en archéologie et en histoire
  • Encourager le dialogue interdisciplinaire et la recherche collective dans le domaine des réseaux complexes
  • Faire vivre les débats sur l’application des théories et méthodes sur les réseaux, en histoire, archéologie, et en retour dans d’autres disciplines.

Les propositions pour la journée de Paris peuvent notamment se rattacher aux thèmes suivants (liste non limitative) :

  • La diffusion ou la migration d’innovations, de personnes, d’objets dans le passé
  • L’analyse de réseaux sociaux en archéologie ou en histoire
  • Les dynamiques liées d’espaces physiques et relationnels
  • Les réseaux multiplexes, multiniveaux, longitudinaux
  • Les propriétés émergentes des réseaux complexes
  • Agency, structure et complexité dans les approches des réseaux
  • L’avenir possible des approches des réseaux en histoire et en archéologie

Merci d’envoyer vos propositions (titre et résumé de 250 mots maximum, en anglais) à pour le 12 novembre 2013.
L’envoi d’articles complets ne sera pas demandé. Les présentations orales seront limitées à 15 minutes, de manière à laisser un temps important aux discussions. Les propositions doivent être envoyées en anglais pour permettre un examen incluant l’équipe non francophone de “The Connected Past”. En revanche, il sera possible de donner une communication orale en français accompagnée d’une présentation projetée en anglais, ou l’inverse, et d’intervenir en français dans les discussions.

Le repas de midi sera offert aux auteurs de communications et, nous l’espérons, à l’ensemble des participants. En revanche, les éventuels trajets et nuits d’hôtel resteront à la charge des auteurs de communications.
Il n’y a pas de frais d’inscription, mais, du fait de la taille des amphithéâtres, il sera demandé de s’inscrire auprès des organisateurs (en cas d’inscriptions trop nombreuses, seuls les premiers pourront entrer !). Fin novembre, la liste des communications acceptées sera annoncée et l’adresse d’inscription sera indiquée dans le même temps.

Notez enfin deux autres événements connexes auxquels nous vous encourageons également à participer

  • Un atelier pratique “The Connected Past” dans le cadre de la CAA : introduction aux réseaux sociaux pour archéologues (en anglais), voir CAA.
  • Les 9-11 avril 2014 à Toulouse, les secondes rencontres Res-Hist sur l’analyse de réseaux en histoire, avec des invités étrangers, des présentations de recherches en cours et des ateliers pratiques de formation.


CfP CAA2014 S25. “Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation”

October 8, 2013

CAA headerApologies for cross-posting!

Dear all,

We would like to draw your attention to a session on complex systems simulation in archaeology as part of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference in Paris, France, this April.

If you have created a computational model (Agent-based, mathematical, statistical, network analysis) within the broad topic of complex systems in archaeology, developed a new technique or particularly innovative solution to one of the recurrent issues in modelling, if you think you might have some new insights into the theoretical underpinnings of using simulations and complexity science in archaeology then we would like to hear more about it
We are organising a session on complex systems and computational models in archaeology: “S25. Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation”. We hope to bring together a wide variety of researchers working on a diverse case studies using techniques from all spectrum of complexity science. The goal of this session is to showcase the best applications, discuss the potential and challenges and sketch out the long-term outlook for applications of simulation techniques in archaeology. For further information see the abstract below.

The call for papers closes on the 31st of October 2013. To submit an abstract, please, go to this website, create your user account, click on ‘submissions’ under the heading ‘My Space’ in the left hand side menu and follow the instructions on screen. Please do not forget to choose “S25. Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation” from the dropdown menu “Topic”.

We will also be running a workshop on computational modelling in archaeology, which you are all welcome to join. More information about the workshop will follow in January when the workshop registration will open.

Hope to see you in Paris.
Best wishes,

Ben, Iza, Enrico, Tom

Ben Davies (Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland)
Iza Romanowska (Institute for Complex Systems Simulation, University of Southampton)
Enrico Crema (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
Tom Brughmans (Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton)


S25 Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation

Chairs : Benjamin Davies 1, Iza Romanowska 2, Enrico Crema 3, Tom Brughmans 2

1 : The University of Auckland – Website
2 : University of Southampton – Website
3 : University College London – Website

Simulation is not new in archaeology. However, the last decade knew an increased focus among archaeologists in the use of simple computational models used to evaluate processes which may have operated in the past. Rather than all-encompassing reconstructions of the prehistoric world, models have been used as ‘virtual labs’ or ‘tools to think with’, permitting archaeologists to explore hypothetical processes that give rise to archaeologically attested structures. Computational modelling techniques such as equation-based, statistical, agent-based and network-based modelling are becoming popular for quickly testing conceptual models, creating new research questions and better understand the workings of complex systems. Complexity science perspectives offer archaeology a wide set of modelling and analytical approaches which recognise the actions of individual agents on different scales who collectively and continually create new cultural properties.

This session aims to bring together complex systems simulation applications in archaeology. We invite innovative and critical applications in analytical and statistical modelling, ABM, network analysis and other methods performed under the broad umbrella of complexity science. We hope this session will spark creative and insightful discussion on the potentials and limitations of complexity science, its many simulation techniques and the future of modelling in archaeology.