CAA UK 2018 Edinburgh CFP

The UK chapter of CAA hosts a conference each year, a perfect opportunity for UK-based researchers to get in touch with their community of computational archaeology practitioners. It’s been a very good place to showcase archaeological network research in the past, so send in those abstracts.

CFP deadline 23 February 2018.

The organisers of CAA-UK 2018 would like to invite papers and posters for the 2018 meeting, to be held in Edinburgh, at Augustine, 41-43 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EL. On the 26th-27th October.

The use of quantitative methods and computer applications in heritage is an ever-changing discipline, with new software becoming available and new processes being created every day.

We would like to invite the submission of papers and posters related to the general topics of quantitative methods and computer applications in heritage. Topics that could be covered include:

  • Archaeogaming
  • Data management
  • Geophysics & Remote sensing
  • GIS & Geospatial Analysis
  • Integration of scientific and theoretical methods in computing
  • Photogrammetry & 3D Recording
  • Public Engagement
  • Semantic web
  • Social media
  • Simulations
  • Statistical methods
  • Visualisation & 3D modelling
  • Visualisation & Mixed Reality in Archaeology
  • Website development in the heritage sector

Please note that this list is not exhaustive and we will consider submissions on any relevant topics.

Speakers will be allocated a maximum of 20 minutes for presentations. Please send your
abstracts to the organisers at:

The deadline for abstract submission is Friday 23rd February 2018.


PhD funding Ancient Near Eastern networks

The below PhD funding opportunity will be of interest to archaeologists/historians with an interest in network analysis and the ancient near east.

ANEE is pleased to announce we are looking for doctoral candidates.
Application text below, link here:

The Centre of Excellence in “Ancient Near Eastern Empires” (ANEE) at the
University of Helsinki will run from 2018-2025 and is directed by Dr.
Saana Svärd. ANEE asks: How do changing imperial dynamics impact social
group identities and lifeways over a millennium? ANEE covers the
Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic, and early Roman /
Parthian Empires. ANEE engages with methodologically varied yet
integrated research on the long-term processes by which social group
identities and lifeways were negotiated. Taken together, the innovations
of ANEE are the integrated longue durée approach; and the methodological
innovativeness of each team (both separately and in collaboration).
There will be several recruitment calls for fixed term positions during
ANEE’s lifespan (doctoral students, postdoctoral researchers, and
university researchers).

ANEE is now recruiting members for three teams which investigate
identity-building processes. Each team has a methodologically specific
approach yet collaborates on four work packages.

Applications are invited for DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS (1-3) for a fixed term
of up to 4 years, starting on or before 1 September 2018 to work in the
University of Helsinki. The successful candidates’ research projects
will focus on the goals of a team or teams. The applicant should
indicate to which team she/he is applying. The selected doctoral
candidates will need to apply for acceptance in the graduate school for
either the Faculty of Arts or Faculty of Theology in March 2018. Their
main duties will consist of PhD studies and writing of a dissertation.
As ANEE is deeply multidisciplinary, competence in more than one field
and/or proof of successful scientific collaboration will be considered
an advantage.

Team 1 “Digital Humanities Approaches” develops digital humanities
approaches (especially social network analysis and language technology),
using these to supplement the more traditional Assyriological
approaches. Team 1 is looking for applicants with a solid background in
Assyriology or a related field (within the chronological scope of ANEE) and/or skills in Digital Humanities that
can be put to use in relation to ANEE’s goals. Team 1 is led by Saana
Svärd (

Team 2 “Social Scientific Theory & Applications” tests and refines
theoretical models from the social sciences for ancient evidence,
integrating anthropological approaches to archaeology with sociological
readings of textual and archaeological evidence. Team 2 seeks students
with backgrounds in history of the Levant and/or the social sciences,
and especially with an interest in migration, forced labor, and/or elite
identities, and/or ancient historians of the Persian Empire with similar
profiles. Willingness to collaborate with other teams and multiple work
packages is desirable. Team 2 is led by Dr. Jason Silverman

Team 3 “Material Culture & Community Heritage” investigates the impact
of each empire on ancient local communities inhabiting the imperial
fringes and provides a sustainable future for this heritage. This it
does through an archaeological field survey program in the ancient
imperial fringe zone of southern Jordan and by developing a local
community outreach program there. Our work in Finland revolves around
promoting an understanding of Ancient Near Eastern heritage and
culture by developing a touring museum exhibition on the ancient Near
East. The team also aims to collaborate with the Finnish authorities to
further develop the policies and legislation regarding the trade in
illicit antiquities. Team 3 seeks doctoral candidates in ANE
archaeology, preferably with experience in GIS, remote sensing, and/or
satellite analysis. Team 3 is led by Dr. Antti Lahelma
(, who is also the vice-director of ANEE.

For more information on the three teams and the work packages, please

An appointee to the position of doctoral researcher must hold a Master’s
degree in a relevant field, and must subsequently be accepted as a
doctoral candidate in the graduate school in the Faculty of Arts and/or
Theology. The appointee must have the ability to conduct independent
scientific research. Teaching or teaching-related tasks will form 5 % of
the position. The candidate should have excellent analytical and
methodological skills, and be able to work both independently and
collaboratively as part of a multidisciplinary scientific community. The
successful candidates are expected to have excellent skills in written
and oral English. Skills in Finnish or Swedish are not required.
Relocation costs can be negotiated and ANEE will offer help and
information for the practicalities, if needed.

ANEE is functioning in the Faculty of Arts (Teams 1 and 3) and in the
Faculty of Theology (Team 2), located in the City Centre Campus. The
city of Helsinki is the capital city of Finland, with a population of
ca. 600 000. It has been consistently ranked amongst the top cities in
the world for quality of living. Founded in 1640, the University of
Helsinki is an international academic community of 40,000 students and
staff members. It operates on four campuses in Helsinki and at 15
other locations.

The salary for the position will be based on level 2 of the demands
level chart for teaching and research personnel in the salary system of
Finnish universities. In addition, the appointee will be paid a salary
component based on personal performance. The salary is EUR 2,186-2,873
per month, depending on the appointee’s qualifications and experience.
The position will be filled with a 4 months trial period.

Applications should consist of the following English-language documents:
(1) CV including a possible list of publications (max. 3 pages)
(2) Contact information for two referees
(3) A research statement (max. 2000 words) consisting of
i) a brief description of previous experience, such as MA thesis
ii) a proposal for the PhD project that the applicant wants to conduct
in ANEE (including suggested dates for the project)
iii) a brief description of the plans for scientific cooperation
within ANEE, preferably specifying relevant team and work packages.

Further information on the position may be obtained from the team
leaders (see above) or the director Saana Svärd (

Please submit your application, together with the required attachments,
through the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link Apply
for job. Applicants who are employees of the University of Helsinki are
requested to send their application via the SAP HR portal. Deadline for
applications is 31 January 2018.

If you need assistance with the University’s electronic recruitment
system or SAP HR portal, please contact

Apply at latest 31.01.2018

Ap­ply link:

PhD position in Network Analysis for ERC project PALEODEM

The following PhD opportunity will be of interest to readers of this blog.

Deadline: 21 January 2018

More info:

The Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES), invites applications for a 3-year PhD student position in Network Analysis within the scope of the project PALEODEM, Late Glacial and Postglacial Population History and Cultural Transmission in Iberia (c.15,000-8000 cal BP) – ERC Consolidator Grant Grant 2015 Ref. 683018 (PI: Javier Fernández-López de Pablo).

The PALEODEM research project aims to investigate changes on human demography and cultural transmission processes from the Late Magdalenian to the Late Mesolithic in the Iberian Peninsula, using a novel multi-scale methodological approach.

The PhD student will collect relational data, construct and analyse networks from them and model cultural dynamics on such networks. We look for an enthusiastic PhD student with a Prehistoric archaeology background, experience in network analysis and computational modelling and knowledge about database management.

Special issue ARCS welcomes paper proposals

A new publication opportunity: ARCS, a multi-disciplinary journal dedicated to network research in the social sciences. I am sure they welcome contributions from archaeologists and historians. Importantly: open access without processing fees!
More info on the journal website.


Since the 1960s, network analysis has been used in many disciplines in social science (sociology, geography, history, etc.) as well as in natural and formal science, with each discipline defining its own concepts and indicators. After the late 1990s, the circulation of concepts and indicators defined in physics, the development of new software and algorithms, and easier access to large relational datasets have changed practices and rearranged bridges and boundaries between disciplines.

Several papers have already assessed the influence of physicists on network analysis in sociology (Crossley, 2008), archaeology (Brughmans, 2013) and geography (Ducruet and Beauguitte, 2014), but there are still few studies of the circulation, or non-circulation, of network analysis methods and concepts between disciplines.

It would for example be interesting to understand why betweenness centrality has become a common indicator in the social sciences, whereas methods developed in ecology to analyze bipartite graphs are seldom used. Similarly, gravity models, which have been used in geography since the 1960s to study valued graphs, are largely ignored in sociology.

We welcome papers addressing (this is a non-limitative list):

  • the circulation, or non-circulation, of a specific concept or method between disciplines. What enabled or hindered this circulation (types of data, routine uses of software, publication formats, etc.), and which channels did it use? How did the concept or method change during its interdisciplinary journey? Reversely, can the reception of a concept or method in a different discipline have effects on the original one?
  • the genealogy of concepts and methods currently used in a specific discipline: where did they come from? How were they translated and adapted?
  • a classical text in network analysis, read from the perspective of a different discipline from that of its author.

Call for papers for a special issue of ARCSon Concepts and methods in network analysis: interdisciplinary circulation and boundaries, edited by Laurent Beauguitte (geographer, CNRS, Rouen) and Claire Lemercier (historian, CNRS, Paris)

Submission Guidelines

Authors must choose between two formats: “research paper” or “debates” (as defined here). Research papers must be based on clearly defined empirical data. Authors may use diverse types of data and methods: while this special issue explores practices in network analysis, these practices may be studied through network analysis (of citations or other types of links) as well as through other qualitative or quantitative methods. The editors have no a priori definition of “network analysis”: the aim of this special issue is precisely to emphasize the diversity of definitions across disciplines. Each author should therefore precisely state which exact methods or concepts he or she is considering.

Authors should send a one-page abstract to

before the end of 2017

The editors will confirm whether the intended contribution fits with the special issue and the journal. The complete papers will then be peer reviewed (the process is described here; the journal is committed to getting back to the authors within three months at most) and published between June 2018 and June 2019.


  • Brughmans, T. (2013). Thinking Through Networks: A Review of Formal Network Methods in Archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, 20, 623–662.
  • Crossley, N. (2008). Small-world networks, complex systems and sociology. Sociology, 42(2), 261–277.
  • Ducruet, C. & Beauguitte, L. (2014). Spatial science and network science: Review and outcomes of a complex relationship. Networks and Spatial Economics, 14(3-4), 297-316.

The Journal

ARCSis a multi-disciplinary journal dedicated to network analysis in social sciences. It publishes open access papers (without article processing charges) in English and French, under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. The authors are encouraged to publish their data along with their papers; the journal can provide advice in this regard. The authors must use a Word or Latex template (available here). The journal insists on the use of gender-inclusive language and can provide advice in this regard.

Scientific Committee

Editor in chief

  • Laurent Beauguitte  Géographie (CR, UMR IDEES)

Publishing board

  • Claire Lagesse, Géomatique (UMR THÉMA)
  • Serge Lhomme, Géographie (MCF, EA Lab’Urba)
  • Marion Maisonobe, Géographie (UMR LISST)
  • Silvia Marzagalli, Histoire (PU, EA CMMC)
  • Pierre Mercklé, Sociologie (MCF, UMR CMW)

New resource: ABM in archaeology bibliography

Agent-based modelling is no longer a niche pursuit in archaeology. It’s a thriving sub-discipline with an active community engaged in developing original methods and software to tackle a varied range of archaeological research topics. This is reflected in a new bibliography project by the SimulatingComplexity team, and in particular Iza Romanowska and Lennart Linde. They compiled all published cases they could find in a structured Github archive. Everyone is invited to add missing publications to the corpus!

Find the bibliography here.

Check our SimulatingComplexity.

Archaeological networks: it’s a guy thing?

Gender balance has not been achieved yet in Academia. I knew that. But what genuinely surprised me is that the tiny young community I work in suffers from serious gender imbalance. My impression from attending archaeological network research events was that both women and men at all stages of their careers were more or less equally represented. In fact, I found the number of senior female academics active in this field as well as women making up the majority of virtually every workshop I taught on the topic extremely encouraging.

The numbers simply do not support this impression. In a paper published this week in the inaugural issue of the Journal of Historical Network Research, Matt Peeples and I collected all archaeological network research publications and submitted them to a thorough bibliometric study (a fancy word for squeezing all the numbers we can out of academic papers). One of the things we did was to count the number of male VS female authored and co-authored papers. The results were shocking. Overall, there are more than three times as many men than there are women who have published archaeological network research. And when we counted the number of papers authored by exclusively men and women, we noticed that there are almost five times as many papers that are authored by exclusively male authors than papers with only female authors. You could think this is caused by the strong practice in the Humanities of lone academics writing articles solo, so maybe because there are more men doing this kind of research we would expect male authorship to be higher. But if we remove the single-authored papers from the equation, co-authored papers are still almost twice as often exclusively male authored whilst exclusively female co-authored papers are extremely rare. Men and women in this field simply don’t seem to write papers together much. This was news to me because I always have in mind the publications of big projects like the Southwest Social Networks project, where big teams tend to include both female and male authors. Sadly the overall picture is not dominated by such teams.

(a) Number of female and male authors in the corpus. (b) number of female only authored, mixed authored and male only authored papers in all papers (grey) and in multi-author papers only (black).

Slightly more encouraging is the strong chronological trend towards increasing female authorship. Between 1965 and 2005, published archaeological network research was almost exclusively male-authored. From 2005 onwards the number of papers (co-)authored by female researchers increased slowly in both absolute numbers and as a proportion of all papers per year. In 2015 and 2016 the number of papers with at least one female author outnumber papers with exclusively male authors, although the latter still account for almost 50%.

Count of male only, mixed and female only publications per year (a) and as a proportion of all publications each year (b).

These numbers show that archaeological network research is no different than archaeology or academia as a whole. The patterns we identified generally reflect broader trends in archaeology in that the increasing gender parity among archaeological professionals is not yet mirrored by parity in publication patterns. For example, in a recent critical assessment of gendered publication patterns in American archaeology, Bardolph (2014) compiled information from over 4,500 articles in 11 journals spanning the period from 1990 to 2013 and found that women accounted for 29% of published work in her sample. In our corpus, women account for 22% of archaeological network publications in the complete sample going back to 1964 and 28% of publications since 1990 suggesting that gendered publication trends in archaeological networks closely mirror trends in at least American archaeology.

Maybe my impression stems from the current situation and trend towards increasing female authorship, and maybe the strong male majority in authorship is a thing of the past? Let’s hope so. But this study has made it very clear to me that this is not something that will just happen by itself. I am quite active in this community and frequently host conferences, workshops, publish and edit volumes on the topic. If my impression of gender balance in this field was so far off the mark, it suggests that (1) I would not have felt the need for positive discrimination in this community, and (2) the ways in which gender bias works in small communities like this can be very subtle and unconscious.

My motivation to implement positive discrimination in the past in this community has been knowledge of the gender imbalance in academia in general, and this was more a “just in case” decision than a reaction to an actual problem in my community. So to keep this encouraging trend up and work towards gender balance, I found it worth my while to stop seeing gender balance merely as a generic problem in academia but to explore it’s particular shape in my own community. Exercises like this bibliometric study might well reveal aspects of gender imbalance that are particular to your own community, allowing you to tailor positive discrimination in particular ways. For example, I find it important to discourage solo authorship and encourage gender balanced co-authorship in archaeological network research. In my experience, this has always led to richer research and often (for me) surprising new perspectives. I also believe the decisions that lead to publication should be scrutinised a bit more in this community: active encouragement of young female scholars to present and publish, highlight solid research performed by female colleagues by inviting them as keynotes to improve gender balance in role-models, avoid all-male keynote line-ups at all cost, have a gender balanced editorial team that considers gender explicitly in editorial decision-making, encourage new gender balanced collaborations and grant applications.

None of this will be news to anyone, and I’m sure you can all think of a few cases of gender imbalance in your own academic communities. But I encourage you to scrutinise this aspect of your community a bit by using your skills as a researcher. You might sniff out some highly surprising and worrying results, I know I did. If you care about your community, no matter how small it is, you should follow-up your findings with action. The community and the research will benefit.

Reference cited:

Dana Bardolph, “A Critical Evaluation of Recent Gendered Publishing Trends in American Archaeology,” American Antiquity 79, no. 3 (2014): 522–40.


Agents, networks and models: CFP for our CAA2018 session

We welcome abstracts from those studying the human past using tools from network science, agent-based modelling and other complexity science approaches.
What? A session at the Computer Applications and Quantitative Techniques in Archaeology (CAA) conference
CFP deadline: 22 October
When? 19-23 March 2018

Agents, networks and models: formal approaches to systems, relationships and change in archaeology

Iza Romanowska
Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Spain

Tom Brughmans
University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Benjamin Davies
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Even if much ink has already been spilled on the need to use formal, computational methods to represent theories, compare alternative hypotheses and develop more complex narratives, the idea is still far from being firmly established in archaeology.

Complexity Science, the study of systems consisting of a collection of interconnected relationships and parts, provides a useful framework for formalising social and socio-natural models and it is often under this umbrella term that formal models are presented in archaeology. It has a particular appeal for researchers concerned with humans, as it stresses the importance of individual actions and interactions, as well as relations between individuals and wider system elements. Archaeology is a discipline that studies long-term, large-scale shifts in social change, human evolution, and relationships with the environment; how these phenomena emerge through the actions and interactions of individuals are questions that lie at the heart of our interests. Complexity Science offers an arsenal of methods that were developed specifically to tackle these kind of mulitscalar, multifaceted research questions.

This session will provide a forum for archaeological case studies developed using Complexity Science toolkits as well as for more methodological papers. We invite submissions of models at any stage of development from the first formalisation of the conceptual model to presenting final results.

Possible topics include but are not limited to applications or discussions of the following approaches:

  • Complexity science,
  • Network science,
  • Agent-based and equation-based modelling,
  • System dynamics,
  • Long-term change in social systems,
  • Social simulation in geographical space,
  • Complex urban systems, space syntax, gravity models.

Open Science in Archaeology: publication and special interest group

Work for two years, write a paper about it in two months, lose all rights to it in a second, hide it behind a pay-wall… Sound familiar? This is the traditional academic process in archaeology. Our very diverse work ranging from excavation, over lab tests, to interpretations is often only made available through a summarising publication that is rarely accessible to anyone other than institutions paying huge amounts of money. This is just not the way science works anymore. In such a system, how can we find out all the details of excavation results? How can we reproduce lab tests? How can we evaluate the empirical and historical background to a published interpretation in exhaustive detail? The answer is: we can’t.

It’s time for this traditional practice to change. Archaeology should follow the trend in academia towards more open science. The argument for open science in archaeology is made elaborately by Ben Marwick in a recently published paper in the SAA archaeological record, and the statements are supported by a large group of archaeologists (including myself). The paper announces the start of the SAA open science in archaeology special interest group. Check out the group’s wiki and get involved!

Here’s the paper’s abstract:

In archaeology, we are accustomed to investing great effort into collecting data from fieldwork, museum collections, and other sources, followed by detailed description, rigorous analysis, and in many cases ending with publication of our findings in short, highly concentrated reports or journal articles. Very often, these publications are all that is visible of this lengthy process, and even then, most of our journal articles are only accessible to scholars at institutions paying subscription fees to the journal publishers. While this traditional model of the archaeological research process has long been effective at generating new knowledge about our past, it is increasingly at odds with current norms of practice in other sciences. Often described as ‘open science’, these new norms include data stewardship instead of data ownership, transparency in the analysis process instead of secrecy, and public involvement instead of exclusion. While the concept of open science is not new in archaeology (e.g., see Lake 2012 and other papers in that volume), a less transparent model often prevails, unfortunately. We believe that there is much to be gained, both for individual researchers and for the discipline, from broader application of open science practices. In this article, we very briefly describe these practices and their benefits to researchers. We introduce the Society for American Archaeology’s Open Science Interest Group (OSIG) as a community to help archaeologists engage in and benefit from open science practices, and describe how it will facilitate the adoption of open science in archaeology.

The Romans and calculators: discuss! (debate published in Antiquity)

What are the limits of using computational modelling for understanding the Roman past? Where do such formal approaches fit in the existing theoretical context of Roman studies? These are the questions we debate in a discussion piece published today in Antiquity; a reply to Astrid Van Oyen’s critical and constructive discussion of our previous computational modelling work also published in Antiquity.

In our original work we argued that computational modelling should become more commonly used in the study of the Roman economy, because it holds the potential of overcoming the current deadlock in Roman macroeconomic debates by formally expressing and comparing the many interesting conflicting descriptive models, simulating their predicted behaviour (in terms of distributions of goods and prices) and comparing these simulations with archaeological data such as distributions of ceramics.

Astrid Van Oyen wrote an elaborate discussion piece, reviewing the beneficial and challenging aspects of this kind of work. She usefully and correctly places the potential of this method within current Roman economic debates, arguing for the timeliness of the approach. However, most of Van Oyen’s piece is concerned with problematising three aspects of the approach, asking whether these pose problems, and constructively thinking through possible alternatives:

  1. Can formalist modelling yield primitivist results?
  2. Do the big archaeological datasets of ceramics necessarily have to be interpreted in light of the flow of commodities?
  3. Is it possible to consider heterogeneity in agent behaviour?

In our reply, we answer the first question with a firm “yes”. We find the link commonly drawn between primitivist theories and substantivist methods on the one hand, and modernist theories and formalist methods on the other, an unhelpful and unnecessary byproduct of common practice in Roman economy studies. We argue we have shown in our own work that primitivist ideas can be formally explored (agents with limited information, the effects of social network structures), and that much more of this kind of work is necessary.

We find this debate hugely important and constructive, because we have argued that Roman economy studies is stuck in a deadlock due to a number of issues:

  1. Many models use different and sometimes ill-defined concepts to describe the complexities of the Roman economy, making them difficult to compare.
  2. The concepts used often lack specifications as to how they may be explored using data, i.e. what sort of patterns would be expected as the outcome of hypothetical processes.
  3. Consequently, the development of these conceptual models has not gone hand in hand with the development of approaches to represent, compare and (where possible) validate them formally.
  4. The role of archaeological data in testing conceptual models, although increasingly recognised, deserves greater attention, as it is the only source of information on the functioning and performance of the Roman economy that can be used for quantitative validation of complex computational and conceptual models.

Brughmans and Poblome 2016. Antiquity.

We sincerely hope that together we can position computational modelling in its rightful place in Roman studies to constructively contribute to ongoing substantive debates. We have argued that in order for this to happen, a few things are necessary:

authors of conceptual models should:

(a) clearly define the concepts used and discuss exactly how these differ from the concepts used by others,

(b) make explicit how these concepts can be represented as data,

(c) describe the expected behaviour of the system using the defined concepts,

(d) describe the expected data patterns resulting from this behaviour, and

(e) define how (if at all) archaeological and historical sources can be used as reflections or proxies of these expected data patterns.

Brughmans and Poblome 2016 5.6

Want to know more? Have a look at discussion through the links below:

Our original paper in Antiquity
Van Oyen’s discussion
Our reply

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