Online course Agent-based modelling for archaeologists

Want to learn agent-based modelling in depth, in a way that is tailored for archaeologists, but don’t have much time to live and study abroad? Then I can very much recommend this short course at the University of Leiden. It is a paid module but you do get actual credits at the end of it and great private supervision throughout by world-leading experts.

Starting September 2019, the Archaeology Faculty at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands will be offering an online course in Agent-based Modelling for Archaeologists. The course is open to Leiden students and for external participants and will be held entirely online.

The course format follows the SPOC (Small Private Online Course) principles. That is, while fully online the number of participants is limited to 30 and each of them gets personalised attention from the course instructors. The course consists of:

  • short prerecorded video lectures,
  • reading assignments coupled with short quizzes,
  • practical tutorials in programming and model development,
  • online collaborative tasks,
  • other activities, and
  • regular assignments and a large final assignment, which are graded by the instructors.

You can read more about the SPOC format and the previous edition of the course in this paper:

The objective of the course is to provide students with a deep understanding of the possibilities and limitations of modelling and simulation as a tool in archaeology and to teach them the basics of computer programming, enabling them to create new models and simulations for research purposes. At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • identify and translate implicit, conceptual models (scientific hypotheses formulated in natural language) into formal explicit models in a wide range of social and environmental research contexts;
  • build simulation systems to run, test and expand such models following best scientific practice;
  • develop intermediate programming skills with the ability to independently develop and test computer code;
  • interpret simulation results and assess their validity in archaeological and implementation terms;
  • understand the role of simulation techniques in modern scientific practice and appreciate both the potential and the challenges of the method

The course is targeted at archaeologists, historians, social scientists or similar disciplines at all levels, from graduate students, PhDs and postdocs to professional researchers, and from academic, public and commercial backgrounds. Participants who successfully complete the course and the final assignment will receive a certificate, a grade and credits (5 EC).

For more information and the registration procedure please see:

MANIFESTO: Romanists, let’s do complexity! (open access)

Our manifesto for complexity science in Roman studies is now published open access in the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Journal. It is the result of true collaboration between a big team of scholars passionate about this topic, with the generous support of the journal editors and the TRAC Edinburgh conference organisers. Thank you all!

Roman Studies is a fascinating and thriving field, but it could really do with a bit more formalisation of the many complex theories we produce. This manifesto aims to highlight this need and argues this can only be done through constructive and frequent collaboration between romanists with difference specialisms. Let’s do this together!

Read the full paper for free here.

Here an excerpt, our 10 point manifesto:

A Manifesto for Complexity Science in Roman Studies

Complexity science has proven a highly constructive addition to virtually every other discipline (Mitchell 2009; Downey 2012; Chattoe-Brown 2013; Castellani 2018). The authors of this paper are convinced there is no reason why complexity science and formal modelling methods could not make equally constructive contributions to Roman Studies. We present our arguments as a 10-point manifesto for the use of complexity science in Roman Studies and for making its associated computational tools part of our ‘tools of the trade’. The statements in our manifesto are purposefully short and to-the-point to ensure their clarity, but they should be understood as strongly rooted in and supported by the subsequent sections of this paper where we showcase their applicability to particular research topics.

  1. The study of complex systems is integral to Roman Studies.
  2. It is appropriate to conceptualise and study the Roman state, its territory and inhabitants, and their interactions with states and peoples within and across their borders at any time during its history as a complex system.
  3. It is also appropriate to conceptualise and study phenomena that are aspects of the Roman complex system as complex systems in their own right: society, politics, economy, religion, institutions, communities, military, micro-regions and others.
  4. Complexity science is a constructive and necessary contribution to existing research perspectives in Roman Studies, providing theoretical approaches and methods for studying key concepts in complex phenomena, such as emergence, self-organisation or self-organised criticality.
  5. Constructively applying complexity science requires breaking through disciplinary silos to look for similar patterns, processes and models across different scientific domains to gain a more holistic view of the system in question and to avoid reinventing the wheel.
  6. To understand the behaviour of complex systems and to propose falsifiable theories of Roman complex systems one needs to use the formal tools developed to represent and study such systems.
  7. A multiscalar approach is integral to studying complex Roman systems, to understand how local interactions of Roman individuals resulted in regional patterns and the dynamics of the whole system.
  8. The plausibility and internal coherence of any hypothesis explaining a data pattern or emergent phenomenon should be formally demonstrated.
  9. Formalism and transparency should be employed in hypothesis formation, testing and reporting as well as in data analysis and management. All research output should be reproducible.
  10. Traditional archaeological and historical methods, fieldwork, geochemical analysis, close reading, epigraphy, numismatics etc. are not in any way less crucial or informative than complexity science approaches. It is only by taking full advantage of all scientific techniques available to us – especially the confrontation of empirical data and modelling approaches – that we can make progress in understanding the Roman past.

CAA Netherlands/Flanders in Leuven. CFP

The CAA Dutch and Flemish chapter will take place in Leuven this year! My Alma Mater 🙂 The call for papers is out now and I can very much recommend attending this amazing conference and visiting beautiful Leuven.

CFP deadline: 2 september

Conference dates: 29-30 October

Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Netherlands/Flanders is pleased to inform you that the 2019 local chapter meeting will be held in Leuven, Belgium, October 29–30th, 2019( The event is organised by the Department of Archaeology at the KU Leuven in collaboration with the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities. The aim of the meeting is to bring together academic and commercial archaeologists, as well archaeology students. The conference will be preceded by a workshop-day (October 28th, 2019). Further details on the workshops will be announced shortly.
With ever increasing ubiquity of digital tools and practices, and applications related to data science in archaeology, the organising committee is expecting a prolific event that critically focuses on the theory and practice of digital and quantitative methods in archaeology. The topics that can be addressed by the participants include (but not limited to) the theoretical and methodological approaches on, and case studies in:

  • Big data and text mining
  • Data visualisation and 3D modelling
  • Use of programming languages
  • Data management (plans)
  • GIS applications and geospatial analysis
  • Open data and online publishing
  • Linked data and semantic web

within the domains of Archaeology and Cultural Heritage.

The meeting will take place in the Justus Lipsiuszaal of the Faculty of Arts of the KU Leuven.
Justus Lipsiuszaal (room: lett. 08.16)
Blijde Inkomststraat 21
3000 Leuven

October 28: Workshops
October 29: Conference
October 30: Conference

Abstract guidelines
We welcome proposals for 20-minute papers on any of the above topics. Abstract in Dutch or English should be sent to Abstracts will be considered by the organising committee. Abstract should include name and surname, university, institute or company (if applicable), e-mail, topic for which is applied, and abstract text (max. 300 words). Deadline for abstract submission is Monday, September 2, 2019.

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