Simulating the Roman economy

Project website


Project summary

MERCURY is a multidisciplinary project that will explore the most hotly debated questions about the Roman economy through innovative computational simulation methods: was the Roman Imperial trade market equally integrated as nowadays? How important were social networks for structuring this flow of information? It will address two methodological issues currently preventing scholars from answering these questions: limited use of archaeological big data and the lack of quantitative comparisons of complex hypotheses. MERCURY will combine recent advances in computational network science and simulation methods with increasingly available archaeological big datasets, enabling essential quantitative comparisons between the centuries-long Roman record and modern-day economies with similar logistical limitations.

The project is funded by The Leverhulme Trust as an Early Career Fellowship awarded to Tom Brughmans.

MERCURY will develop resources to make the practice of critiquing and creating computational models in Roman economy studies more common. Tutorials will be developed to give historians and archaeologists accessible hands-on experience with making computational models. A workshop will be organized in 2018 where these techniques will be taught and their contribution to Roman economy studies will be evaluated. A model library of common economic mechanisms and concepts will become freely available on OpenABM throughout 2018-2019. Large archaeological datasets used by the project to validate computational models will be made openly available by 2019.

All this will be announced and made available via the project website, so check in regularly for updates.


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