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.

New grant establishes international network: complexity science for the study of the human past

Really delighted to let you know Dr. Stefani Crabtree and I just won an international networking grant from the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education. First things first: time to celebrate!!!!!!!!!!!

Now that’s out of the way, here’s what the project is actually about. Over the coming two years we will host events at Aarhus University and the Santa Fe Institute to explore the application of complexity science in archaeology to study past complex systems. The scope is purposefully broad: we want to bring together archaeologists, physicists, computer scientists, sociologists, … anyone really who shares our passion for understanding past complex systems. Complexity science has been used for a while now in archaeology, but are there approaches that have great potential for studying past complex systems that have not yet been applied in archaeology? And what archaeological datasets can be studied in new ways thanks to complexity science approaches? What’s on our wishlist to unlock the potential of complexity science for archaeology?

Here’s a formal announcement from the UrbNet website:

Tom Brughmans has been awarded an International Network Programme grant by The Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education to establish new links between Aarhus University and the Santa Fe Institute. The project ‘Complexity science for the study of the human past’ is directed by Dr. Tom Brughmans and co-PI Dr. Stefani Crabtree (Santa Fe Institute, Utah State University). The project will run for 24 months in 2021 and 2022 and will host a number of workshops in Aarhus and Santa Fe, inviting national and international experts in archaeology and complexity science.

Improving our understanding of past complex systems is recognised as one of the grand challenges in archaeology. How and why do market systems and social inequalities emerge, persist and decline? How do small-scale human societies develop into large and politically complex entities? How do phenomena like cultural practices and viruses alike spread through these changing human social networks, get consolidated, and evolve? These are all complex phenomena that cannot be understood by scrutinizing their components in isolation, because these components behave entirely differently as a collective. These kinds of questions need to be addressed using the approaches and computational methods developed in complexity science. However, the use and critical evaluation of these approaches by archaeologists and historians are in their infancy.

This new international network aims to rise to this grand challenge, by exploring the issues and potential of the application of complexity science for the study of the human past. It will bring together Denmark- and US-based experts in archaeology, ecology, human health, history, physics, and computer science to set out key research lines, and to identify and develop missing methodological resources to enhance the use of simulation and network science methods in archaeology and history. It will establish strong ties between the global leader in complexity science (The Santa Fe Institute) and Aarhus University’s internationally-recognised strengths in archaeology and history, and most specifically in the relational perspective to past urban societies pioneered by Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet).

6 year Postdoc Classical Archaeology University of Vienna

Read more and apply here.

Deadline 10/12/2020

From the University of Vienna website:

An der Universität Wien (mit 20 Fakultäten und Zentren, 178 Studienrichtungen, ca. 9.900 Mitarbeiter*innen und rund 89.000 Studierenden) ist ab 01.03.2021 die Position eines/einer 

Universitätsassistent*in (“post doc”) 
am Institut für Klassische Archäologie 

bis 28.02.2027 zu besetzen. 

Kennzahl der Ausschreibung: 11501
Das Institut für Klassische Archäologie der Universität Wien ist eine der größten Einrichtungen dieses Fachs im deutschen Sprachraum und besitzt eine lange Tradition exzellenter Forschung. Wir verstehen die klassische Archäologie als das Studium der materiellen Hinterlassenschaften der antiken Mittelmeerkulturen und der benachbarten Kulturen. 

Die ausgeschriebene Stelle ist im Bereich der Griechischen Archäologie beheimatet und bietet einzigartige Möglichkeiten zur Durchführung interdisziplinärer Forschung und zur weiteren akademischen Qualifikation. Sie sollten während der Assistenz an Ihrem eigenen, unabhängigen Forschungsprojekt arbeiten mit dem Ziel der Habilitation. Sie werden auch zur akademischen Lehre beitragen und den Betrieb der Archäologischen Sammlung unterstützen. 

Ihre Bewerbung sollte auf Englisch oder Deutsch verfasst sein und folgende Dokumente enthalten: 

· Motivationsschreiben 

· Akademischer Lebenslauf (inkl. Publikationsliste, Verzeichnis Lehrveranstaltungen, Liste Vortragstätigkeiten) 

· Beschreibung der Forschungspläne oder des Habilitationsvorhabens (max. 2-3 Seiten) 

· Kontaktadressen möglicher Referenzgeber*innen (diese werden nur kontaktiert, wenn die Bewerbung in der engeren Auswahl ist). 

Dauer der Befristung: 6 Jahr/e 

Beschäftigungsausmaß: 40.0 Stunden/Woche. 
Einstufung gemäß Kollektivvertrag: §48 VwGr. B1 lit. b (postdoc) 
Darüber hinaus können anrechenbare Berufserfahrungen die Einstufung und damit das Entgelt bestimmen.
Ihre Aufgaben: 
Die Stelle erfordert die aktive Teilnahme an Forschung, Lehre und Administration. Dazu gehören: 
• Auf- und Ausbau eines eigenständigen Forschungsprofils; 
• Durchführung eines Habilitations- oder Buchprojektes (‚second book‘); 
• Beteiligung an Forschungsprojekten im Bereich der Griechischen Archäologie; 
• Arbeit in der archäologischen Sammlung des Instituts (z.B. Mitwirkung an der Organisation von Schulworkshops etc.; Mithilfe bei der Betreuung der Sammlung) 
• Projektbeantragung und Drittmittelakquise; 
• Selbständige Abhaltung von Lehrveranstaltungen im Ausmaß der kollektivvertraglichen Bestimmungen; 
• Aktive Teilnahme an Feldforschung und Betreuung von Studierenden im Feld 
• Mitwirkung in der Forschungs-, Lehr- und Institutsadministration. 

Ihr Profil: 
• Abgeschlossene Dissertation in Klassischer Archäologie; 
• Eine starke Forschungsbilanz, die sich aus Veröffentlichungen und Erfahrungen mit internationalen Präsentationen auf einem Niveau ergibt, das Ihrem Karrierelevel entspricht; 
• Erfahrungen in der Feldforschung; 
• Exzellente Deutsch- und Englischkenntnisse; 
• Teamfähigkeit 

• Lehrerfahrung 
• Kenntnis universitärer Abläufe und Strukturen 
• Auslandserfahrungen 
• Grundkenntnisse der altgriechischen Sprache (mit Nachweis) 


Hauptforschungsfach Spezielle Forschungsfächer Wichtigkeit 
Geschichte, Archäologie Klassische Archäologie Musskriterium 


Bildungseinrichtung Ausbildungsrichtung Spezielle Ausbildungsrichtung Wichtigkeit 
Universität Geisteswissenschaften Musskriterium 


Sprache Sprachniveau Wichtigkeit 
Deutsch Gute Kenntnisse Musskriterium 
Englisch Gute Kenntnisse Musskriterium 

Ihre Bewerbung: 
Wir freuen uns auf Ihre aussagekräftige Bewerbung mit Motivationsschreiben unter der Kennzahl 11501, welche Sie bis zum 10.12.2020 bevorzugt über unser Job Center (  an uns übermitteln. 

Für nähere Auskünfte über die ausgeschriebene Position wenden Sie sich bitte an Mac Sweeney, Naoise . 

Die Universität Wien betreibt eine antidiskriminatorische Anstellungspolitik und legt Wert auf Chancengleichheit und Diversität ( Insbesondere wird eine Erhöhung des Frauenanteils in Leitungspositionen und beim wissenschaftlichen Personal angestrebt. Frauen werden bei gleicher Qualifikation vorrangig aufgenommen.DLE Personalwesen und Frauenförderung der Universität Wien 
Kennzahl der Ausschreibung: 11501

My inaugural lecture on zoom

(First published on 9/11/2020 on the UrbNet blog)

Academia was different in February 2020: scholars travelled, people met face-to-face, conferences were held, plans were made. I had no reason to doubt this academic reality when I started my associate professorship at UrbNet on 1 February 2020. This was the first embedded tenured position at UrbNet and an inaugural lecture for the post was scheduled for 12 March. This was the day all in-person meetings at Aarhus University were cancelled and Denmark went into lockdown. Academic reality changed from one day to the next, and my inaugural lecture was postponed, what a shock! But surely we would just be in lockdown for a month or so, and then we could give talks again in April or May, right?

As it turned out, it would be slightly longer than that. In-person meetings remained impossible until the summer, and a spike in COVID cases in Aarhus resulted in a short second lockdown in August. But at the end of summer we had every reason to believe we could hold some events again if we followed all necessary restrictions. We rescheduled the event for 27 October in the large and beautiful auditorium of Moesgaard Museum, where social distancing would be easy. Unfortunately, it was not to be. A second wave of infections in Denmark really gathered speed in October, and all in-person events were again impossible from 26 October – a day before my inaugural lecture. Caught on the day of both waves and lockdowns in Denmark: what are the odds?

Luckily, we decided to go ahead with the lecture on Zoom instead. It was a bit disappointing I could not share this moment with all my colleagues in person, and it was rather odd to communicate big ideas and make strong statements to a computer screen full of tiled names. However, there was a really lovely advantage to this new format though: way more of my colleagues in Aarhus, Denmark and abroad could follow the lecture than would have otherwise been possible. In essence, I was able to share this moment with a much larger and diverse group of colleagues. A surprise gift I am really happy about. Thanks to all of you who attended the lecture!

So what were those big ideas and strong statements? None other than a definition of archaeological network research, an insistence to make it one of our tools of the trade, and a call to arms for making archaeological network research more ambitious and letting it contribute to our understanding of long-term change in interpersonal relationships.

Archaeological network research can make unique and powerful contributions to archaeology in cases where we formulate theories about how and why relationships mattered in the past. Did the import and export opportunities of three urban settlements change because of the roads that connected them? This is a relational theory! Did new roads get created as a direct desire to change these opportunities? This is also a relational theory!

As archaeologists, we formulate these kinds of relational theories all the time. But rarely do we apply the set of techniques designed to study them: network science. This should not only become common practice, but I would also argue that the potential of archaeological network research can only be achieved if we let our theories drive our network methods. Think through your relational theories, explore what network concepts and techniques are the best representations of these theories, and make archaeological arguments why this theory might be reflected in archaeological data or can be supported/refuted by it. Going through this research process will significantly diversify archaeological network research, and will lead to more interesting contributions to human knowledge.

But how can archaeological network research contribute to a better understanding of our species? That would be through what archaeological data allows us to do that no other network scientists can do: material data allows us to explore how interpersonal relationships between members of our species changed over extremely long time periods. We know social networks were not always the same as they are now. But in what ways were they different, and can this teach us something about our species and its future?

Archaeological network research is a really exciting and thriving subdiscipline, and I cannot think of a more appropriate place to explore its potential than UrbNet. I would like to thank UrbNet’s director Rubina Raja and deputy director Søren M. Sindbæk for encouraging big relational thinking in archaeology, and my colleagues in research and administration for the lovely collaborations. And for organising and listening to my inaugural lecture. If you listened in, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

CFP Historical Networks – Réseaux Historiques

Via the HNR mailing list:

Call for Papers Historical Networks – Réseaux Historiques – Historische Netzwerke 2021

The Historical Network Research community and the group Réseaux et Histoire (ResHist) are very pleased to announce the call for papers for the Historical Networks – Réseaux Historiques – Historische Netzwerke conference which will take place at the University of Luxembourg, from Wednesday 30 June until Friday 2 July, 2021. The conference will run over three days opening with a workshop day and two conference days. We hope that the participants will be able to meet in person. Depending on the course of the Covid19 pandemic, the conference will be either realised as a hybrid (on-site + remote attendance and presentation) or a full online event. The decision about the format will be announced on 15 March, 2021.

Note that if your proposal has already been accepted for HNR2020, it is still accepted for the 2021 conference. You may however, if you like, submit an updated version of your abstract which will not have to undergo review a second time.

Social network analysis theories and methods have emerged as a persuasive extension of purely metaphorical uses of network concepts in historical research. The HNR and the ResHist conference series explore the challenges and possibilities of network research in historical scholarship and serve as a platform for researchers from various disciplines to meet, present and discuss their latest research findings and to demonstrate tools and projects. 

The Historical Networks – Réseaux Historiques – Historische Netzwerke conference will be the first trilingual event in the field. The presenters will either speak English or offer extended abstract or slides in English, but those who wish to will be able to use French or German in presentations and discussions. The organizers and chairs will facilitate trilingual discussions.

The Historical Network Research community has its roots in the year 2009 when the first in a series of workshops on the application of network analysis in the historical disciplines took place. In 2019, the thirteenth workshop on „Networks Across Time and Space: Methodological Challenges and Theoretical Concerns of Network Research in the Humanities“ was hosted by the Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz, Germany. For 2019, the originally planned conference had to be postponed due to Covid-19; instead, Marieke van Erp, Ruth Ahnert, and Petter Holme held their already confirmed keynotes in the form of a virtual keynote event. The presentations can still be viewed on the HNR youtube channel. The year 2017 saw the publication of the inaugural issue of the Open Access Journal of Historical Network Research ( JHNR is devoted to the study of networks (social or otherwise) from a specifically historical perspective and encourages the exchange between different areas of historical research (in the broadest sense), the (digital) humanities at large as well as the social, information and computer sciences. These events and activities are supplemented by the website Historical Network Research (, which provides a bibliography, a calendar of events and an email newsletter.

The French-speaking group ResHist ( has similarly organized five conferences. In Nice in 2013, historians studying all periods and topics, seasoned practitioners of network analysis as well as (mostly) beginners met for the first time. In Toulouse in 2014, invited speakers came from countries other than France; in Paris in 2015, they came from disciplines other than history. In each case, the general idea was to have them meet historians based in France who considered using or had only begun to use network analysis, be they doctoral students or more experienced researchers. Back in Nice, in 2016, the fourth conference focused on the question of sources – where to find information on past networks, and how to take into account the peculiarities of sources in network research. In Rennes, in 2018, presentations and discussions focused on entities – persons, and others ones (names of Gods, for example). We study networks, yes, but between whom/what exactly? It was also the first ResHist conference accompanied by a two-day workshop for beginners. In Aix-en-Provence in 2021, the main topic will be two-mode networks and a second beginners workshop will be organized.

For our joint 2021 conference, we welcome submissions for individual contributions discussing any historical period and geographical area. Authors may be historians, linguists, librarians, archaeologists, art historians, computer scientists, social scientists as well as scholars from other disciplines working with historical or archaeological data. Topics may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Cultural and intellectual networks
  • Geospatial networks                   
  • Citizen science, crowdsourcing and other forms of public engagement
  • Networks extracted from texts
  • Networks and prosopography
  • Methodological contributions with immediate relevance for Historical Network Research such as missing data, temporality, multilayer networks, ontologies, linked data 
  • Pedagogy, teaching, and digital literacy in Historical Network Research


Two confirmed keynotes will be delivered by Marion Maisonobe (CNRS, Paris) and Matteo Valeriani (MPIWG, Berlin). The third keynote will be confirmed shortly. 


Participants are invited to take part in one or two of four half-day-workshops. Two of the workshops will be aimed at beginners, two at advanced practitioners of network analysis.  Workshop titles will be announced shortly.


For this event we welcome three types of proposals: (1) individual papers; (2) software/tool demonstrations and (3) posters. Abstracts should clearly state the title, name and affiliation of the authors and the presenters; if you have one please include your Twitter username, too. 

1) Individual papers:

abstract (500-1000 words maximum, plus 3 citations) will be required for 30-minute papers (presentation 20 mins + 10 minutes for questions). The content of your abstract should be appropriate for the nature of the paper you intend to present. Your abstract should include:

  • Background – an overview of the topic and the research questions that will be addressed by your paper
  • Methods and data – an overview of the data used and the methods employed in your research
  • Findings – a description of the results of your research

You may also include a single figure that shows the key results or main argument of your paper. Figures should be submitted in a format that can be displayed in a standard web browser and should have a minimum resolution of 300 DPI. Citations should use the Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition Author Date style. 

2) Software/tool demonstrations:

HNR provides an opportunity for demonstrations of software and tools for historical network analysis. Accepted demonstrations and tools will be presented within a main conference session (presentations 20 minutes + 10 minutes for questions) and at demo booths during the poster presentations. Abstracts (200-500 words maximum) will be required and should include information on the novel contribution it makes, its state of development and licensing.

3) Posters:

Abstracts (200-500 words, plus 3 citations) will be required for posters. Your abstract should include:

  • Background – a brief overview of the topic or research questions addressed by the poster
  • Methods and data – a description of the data used and the methods employed
  • Discussion/findings – a discussion of the wider implications of your research for network analysis in history. 


Please submit your abstract by Friday 15 January, 2021 (23:59 CET) via EasyChair ( Papers for presentation will be selected following a double-blind peer review procedure. Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be announced by 15 March 2021. Submissions written in French or German are welcome, but please note that, if your proposal is accepted, you will have to provide a talk, an extended abstract or slides in English.

Selected papers and posters will be invited to prepare a submission  for a peer-reviewed publication in the Journal of Historical Network Research (

Please do not hesitate to contact the organising team for any questions you may have at Additional information on workshops, keynotes, and programme together with further practical information will be available shortly on the conference website.

Key dates

  • 15.01.2021: deadline for submissions via Easychair
  • 15.03.2021: notification of acceptance
  • 01.04.2021: registration opening
  • 25.06.2021: latest possible registration for participants
  • 30.06-02.07.2021: conference (1 day workshops, 2 days sessions)
  • 15.07.2020: invitation of selected articles to JHNR

Further information on the workshops will be provided shortly on the conference website and in the HNR slack channel (invite link:

Travel bursaries

If a hybrid conference format is possible, the organisers strive to secure funding for travel bursaries. Scholars without access to sufficient travel funds may apply for a travel bursary in parallel to submitting a paper or poster. A bursary will cover travel and accommodation costs for the duration of the conference. Please email a motivation letter together with a CV to before January 15, 2021 . Only authors of accepted papers are eligible for bursaries.

We look forward to receiving your submissions!

With best wishes,

The Historical Networks – Réseaux Historiques – Historische Netzwerke 2021 Organisers:

Laurent Beauguitte (CNRS | Paris)
Aline Deicke (Academy of Sciences and Literature | Mainz)
Marten Düring (University of Luxembourg)
Antonio Fiscarelli (University of Luxembourg)
Claire Lemercier (CNRS | Paris)
Ingeborg van Vugt (University of Utrecht)

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