We made a board game!

FORVM: Trade Empires of Rome
Available Autumn 2018

Stay tuned for more!


PhD funding correspondence networks

A great opportunity for a funded PhD in historical network research. More info here and below.

As part of an innovative collaboration between Oxford and the Sorbonne, the Cultures of Knowledge’s Early Modern Letters Online project has announced that applications for a three-year fully funded fellowship are being accepted currently from students wishing to pursue doctoral studies in the history of science, in mathematical sciences, in digital humanities, or in computer science.

Call for applications:

The successful candidate’s PhD thesis will involve the scholarly study of correspondence networks from the perspective of both the history of sciences and the digital humanities. In particular, the student should consider how to structure a corpus made up of networks of interconnected correspondence data; the new research questions for the history of science that arise from such a corpus; the methodologies that can be put in place to answer these questions; and the extent to which the development of suitable digital analysis and research tools might contribute to the exploration of this type of corpus.

The doctoral fellowship is part of a scientific collaboration between the Faculty of Science and Engineering of Sorbonne University and the Faculty of History of the University of Oxford. The candidate will work in the Digital Humanities team at the Institut des sciences du calcul et des données (ISCD) of Sorbonne University (Paris, France) and will carry out a period of research at the University of Oxford (UK) within the framework of the Cultures of Knowledge research project/Early Modern Letters Online [EMLO]. An association either with Oxford’s Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology or with the Mathematical Instituteis possible during the stay.

The doctoral fellow will benefit from a three-year funding by the Faculty of Science and Engineering of Sorbonne University. The candidate must have a strong background in digital humanities, history of sciences, mathematics, or computer sciences. Competences in at least two of these fields will be particularly appreciated.

To apply, please send your c.v. and a description of your research project to: alexandre.guilbaud@sorbonne-universite.fr. You may also e-mail Alexandre at this address for further information regarding the fellowship.

La thèse proposée porte sur l’étude intellectuelle des réseaux de correspondances du double point de vue de l’histoire des sciences et des humanités numériques. Il s’agira en particulier de se demander comment structurer un corpus constitué de réseaux de données de correspondances interconnectées, quelles questions nouvelles un tel corpus permet de se poser en histoire des sciences, quelles méthodologies mettre en place pour y répondre, et dans quelle mesure le développement d’outils numériques d’analyse et de recherche adaptés peut permettre de contribuer à l’exploration de ce type de corpus.

Cette thèse fait l’objet d’une collaboration scientifique entre la Faculté des sciences et ingénierie de Sorbonne Université et l’équipe EMLO de l’Université d’Oxford. Le candidat travaillera dans l’équipe « Humanités numériques » de l’Institut des sciences du calcul et des données (ISCD) de Sorbonne Université (Paris, France) et effectuera un séjour de recherche à l’Université d’Oxford (UK) dans le cadre du projet de recherche Cultures of Knowledge/Early Modern Letters Online [EMLO]. Une collaboration avec le Center for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology ou avec le Mathematical Institute d’Oxford sera possible durant ce séjour.

La thèse est financée pour trois ans par la Faculté des sciences et ingénierie de Sorbonne Université. Le candidat devra disposer d’une solide formation en humanités numériques, en histoire des sciences, en mathématiques ou en informatique. Une double compétence sera particulièrement appréciée.

Pour candidater, envoyez votre cv et le descriptif de votre projet de recherche à l’adresse alexandre.guilbaud@sorbonne-universite.fr. Vous pouvez également écrire à cette adresse pour tout complément d’information sur la these.

Three PhD positions on Greek festival networks at Groningen

A great opportunity for those of you looking for PhD funding, or who know someone fit for this. The PhD projects will involve the application of network science and agent-based modelling to a fantastic dataset on Greek festivals of the connected contests project. And you’ll be working with great academics in an inspiring university environment.

More info below.

Informal announcement: Three PhD positions in the field of Greek Athletics and festivals

The Department of Ancient History at the University of Groningen will offer three PhD positions as of January 2019 in the field of Greek Athletics and festivals. These salaried positions will be full-time for a period of four-years, or 80% for a period of five years. The formal advertisement will become available in the course of the summer, but prospective candidates are invited to contact the project directors informally: Prof. Onno van Nijf (o.m.van.nijf@rug.nl) and dr. Christina Williamson (c.g.williamson@rug.nl).

1: Applications are invited for 2 PhD positions (AIO) in the research project ‘Connecting the Greeks: Multi-scalar festivals in the Hellenistic world’ funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).

The goal of this project is to investigate Hellenistic festival networks and their dynamics at different scales. Sport is commonly understood as an engine of global political and cultural change. This was also the case the Hellenistic and Roman periods. A strong increase in the number of festivals with athletic and other competitions promoted cultural and political communication and helped to raise awareness of an increased sense of common Greek identity. This growing web of agonistic festivals helped to create the Hellenistic world at different scales. This project aims to subject this multi-scalar festival culture to a rigorous analysis with innovative tools, theories and methods derived from social sciences and digital humanities, including network analysis and agent-based modelling.

A central feature of the project will be the further development of an on-line database of festivals and festival agents (athletes, performers, theoroi) that will make it easy to plot individual mobility and festival connectivities over time and place. A fully operative database is already available on http://www.connectedcontests.org, where also more information on the project may be found.

Two PhD projects will focus on festival networks at different scales. One PhD project addresses festivals in the representation of Hellenistic rulers and ruler cult. The second PhD project addresses festival network dynamics at a regional level. Both projects will use network analysis and agent-based modelling to interpret the role of festivals in creating Hellenistic connectivity.

2. A third PhD position will be offered in the framework of the Anchoring Innovation Research Initiative of the Dutch National Research School in Classical Studies, OIKOS http://www.ru.nl/oikos/anchoringinnovation .

Rome oriented cults and festivals in the Greek world: When Rome became the dominant power in the Eastern Mediterranean it anchored its power also in the cultural and religious traditions that connected the Hellenistic world. Agonistic festivals with athletic and musical competitions, continued to play an important role in this process of connectivity. The Roman conquerors found themselves entangled in this web of connections, starting with Titus Flamininus who famously used the Isthmian games to declare Greek freedom. This project will investigate the history and forms of this entanglement that would culminate in the Roman imperial cult. This project will be conducted in close connection with the NWO-funded project Connecting the Greeks: multi-scalar festivals in the Hellenistic world.

Candidates will be asked to develop a research proposal for one of these projects (1000-1500 words, excluding bibliography. Prospective candidates are invited to contact in advance Prof van Nijf (o.m.van.nijf@rug.nl ) or Dr Williamson (c.g.williamson@rug.nl).

Postdoc position network science Tarragona

I can strongly recommend qualifying candidates to apply for the below position. The team you’ll be working with is world-class and the research environment is inspiring.

Deadline: 31 August.

Postdoc position on Network analysis and modelling for ERC project PALEODEM

Application deadline: 31st August


This postdoc fellowship is part 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).

PALEODEM aims to investigate the interplay between 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 researcher will analyse spatio-temporal networks and perform computational experiments to study on and of network dynamics. He / she will work with Dr. Sergi Lozano and the rest of COMPATHEVOL (COMplex PATHs in Human EVOLution), a highly multidisciplinary research team devoted to the quantitative study of the Human Past.


We seek highly motivated candidates with a PhD thesis in Network Science, who:

*   have experience in the application of network methods to empirical case studies;
*   have knowledge about analysis of spatial and temporal networks

*   have affinity with, or willingness to learn about Prehistoric Archaeology and anthropological theories;

*   have strong programming skills;
*   are proficient in English;

For more details on the position and application process: https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/322697

Informal inquiries should be sent to slozano@iphes.cat

PhD position multilayer network models for Humanities

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

Dear friends and colleagues,

I would like to inform you that the University of Trento (Faculty of Mathematics) just published the call for one PhD position in the Program in Mathematics dedicated to the creation of multilayer network models for humanities.

This position is financed by the Fondazione Bruno Kessler (https://www.fbk.eu/en/) in cooperation with the ‘Sphere Project’ at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (https://sphaera.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de). Primary workplace is Trento, Italy, and secondary (some months a year) is Berlin, Germany. The required language is English.

If you look for those positions founded by the Fondazione Bruno Kessler, the call is the one numbered D here:


The PhD is primarily supervised by Manlio de Domenico, Head of the “Complex Multilayer Network (CoMuNe)” research unit at the “Center for Information Technology” of the Fondazione Bruno Kessler


I would very much appreciate you spreading the news in the faculties of mathematics, computer science and similar and, please, do not hesitate to contact Manlio or me for further information.


Matteo Valleriani & Manlio de Domenico


Prof. Dr. Matteo Valleriani

– Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

– Technische Universität, Berlin

– University of Tel Aviv, Israel

The Connected Past Oxford 2018: registration open now

Registration for The Connected Past Oxford 2018 is open now.
A two-day international inter-disciplinary conference featuring 46 talks about network research on a wide variety of topics including Archaeology, Physics, History and Computer Science.
When? 6-7 December 2018
Where? University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Keynotes? Dr. Nathalie Riche (Microsoft Research) and Dr. Matthew Peeples (Arizona State University)
How do social networks evolve over huge time-scales? How did geography constrain or enhance the development of past social networks? These are fundamental questions in both the study of the human past and network research, yet our ability to answer them is severely hampered by the limited development of spatiotemporal network methods. PastNet is an inter-disciplinary network that aims to stimulate the development and application of such methods through networking meetings, a conference and a workshop.
Formal network methods are increasingly commonly applied in a wide range of disciplines to study phenomena as diverse as the connectivity of neurons in the human brain, terrorist networks, a billion interlinked Facebook profiles, and power grids. Despite this diversity and the decades-long tradition of using network methods in the social sciences, physics and computer science, the development of techniques for the study of spatial networks and long-term network change has so far been largely neglected. Network research is also becoming more common in disciplines concerned with the study of past human behaviour: archaeology, classics and history. These disciplines have a strong tradition in exploring long-term human behavioural change and spatial phenomena, despite being forced to use fragmentary textual and material sources as indirect evidence of such phenomena.
By bringing together network researchers from archaeology, classics, computer science, digital humanities, history, mathematics, network science, oriental studies, physics, psychology, and sociology, The Connected Past 2018 conference in Oxford aims to foster cross-disciplinary exchange to push network research further. The historical disciplines will contribute new spatiotemporal approaches and datasets to network research, whereas the traditional network research disciplines will further stimulate the critical application of network approaches to the study of the human past.
This event is made possible thanks to the generous support of The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) and is organised by the TORCH research network PastNet: https://www.torch.ox.ac.uk/themes/pastnet-network
Presentations will be delivered on the topic of spatial and temporal network approaches, addressing the challenges posed by the use of or apply network approaches in historical/archaeological research contexts, with case studies drawn from all periods and places. Topics might include, but are not limited to:
  • Spatial networks
  • Temporal networks
  • Archaeological network research
  • Historical network research
  • Missing and incomplete data in archaeological and historical networks
  • What kinds of data can archaeologists and historians use to reconstruct past networks and what kinds of issues ensue?
  • Formal network analysis vs qualitative network approaches: pros, cons, potential, limitations
Hope to see you all there!

Open science & the Humanities, Barcelona 21 June

Open scientific research is becoming more common in archaeology and the Humanities more broadly. For example, an SAA special interest group was recently launched and the need for open science in Archaeology is explained in readable detail by Marwick and colleagues in this paper. But there’s still a lot of work to be done! On 21 June there will be a free conference on the topic in Barcelona that promises to provoke some excellent discussion and could be a catalyst for change. Hope to see you there!

Register to this event for free here.

More info here.


9.00 – 9.30: Welcome and presentation of the day

F. Xavier Roigé Ventura – Vicerector de Doctorat i Promoció de la Recerca (University of Barcelona)

Domènech Espriu Climent – Vicerector de Recerca (University of Barcelona)

Àlex Aguilar Vila – Vicerector de Projecció i Internacionalizació (University of Barcelona)

José Remesal – (CEIPAC, University of Barcelona, Principal Investigator EPNET ERC project)

Session 1

9.30 – 10.00: Paul Ayris (University College London) – From Open Access to Open Scholarship: UCL Press as a model for the Future of Scholarly Publishing

10.00 – 10.30: Monica Barni (Toscana Regional Goverment, Foreigners University of Siena)- Language use and open, linked data

10.30 – 11.00: Coffee Break

11.00 – 11.30: Alessandro Mosca (SIRIS Academic) – Ontology-mediated data management in EPNet

11:30 – 12.00: Diana Roig Sanz (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya/ Oxford Internet Institute)Social Networks of the Past: Mapping Hispanic and Lusophone Literary Modernity, 1898-1959

12.00 – 12.30: Luciana Ayciriex y Elena González – Blanco (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia) – POSTDATA: Open poetry, open science and linked open data

12:30 -13:00 Julian D. Richard (University of York) – Open Science and Open Data: Twenty years of preserving the bits at the Archaeology Data Service

Moderator: Bernardo Rondelli (SIRIS Academic)

13.00 – 13.30 – Poster session

13.30 – 15.00 Lunch Break

Session 2

15.00 – 15.30: Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra (DARIAH-EU) Loners, pathfinders or explorers? Emerging community practices and communities of practice in Open Humanities.

15.30 – 16.00: Alba Irollo (Europeana) – Europeana: how open cultural data supports discovery, reuse and innovation in digital humanities

16.00 – 16.30: Franco Niccolucci (University of Florence) – ARIADNE, the European e-infrastructure for FAIR digital archaeology

16.30 – 17.00: Valeria Quochi (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Istituto di Linguistica Computazionale) – TBA

Moderator: Ignasi Labastida (University of Barcelona)

17.00 – 17.30: Coffee Break

Session 3

17.30 – 18.30: Xavier Rubio Campillo (University of Edinburgh) and Christoph Schäfer (University of Trier) – Open debate

Dreaming of total viewsheds on Caribbean beaches (new open access publication)

Today our new open access paper was published in Journal of Archaeological Science, introducing the concept of Visual Neighbourhood Configurations for total viewsheds. The method was conceived during a walk along the beach on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe (I know what you’re thinking, my work is hard). From the beach it was really hard to spot boats at any great distance, let alone other islands. The beach I was walking on was very narrow and a plateau with steep edges rose up close-by. As I climbed higher and higher up the steep slopes I was offered great views of the surrounding sea and islands, “a great spot for the island’s former inhabitants to keep an eye on approaching enemies or on people using the beach” I thought. But it was also a very exposed spot, not many places to hide from approaching enemies. As I reached the plateau top the views changed dramatically. Walk just a few meters away from the plateau’s edges and you’re hidden from view to the people below and at sea. This place offered quite specific visual properties: past inhabitants had great vantage points nearby to see canoes and people approaching, whilst having their settlement hidden from view just meters away from the plateau edge. Could this explain the location of the few prehistoric settlements sitting right by the edge of the plateau?

Views from the plateau edge of La Désirade in Guadeloupe.

This is a phenomenon that concerns the visual properties of a small area rather than the properties of specific locations. When we explored the literature we could not find any methods for formally expressing such theories: all visibility studies in archaeology concern formal treatments of the visual properties of locations, with the properties of small areas being evaluated qualitatively. So there was some work for us to do: invent a new formal GIS method to test these archaeological theories. The first step was easy: create total viewsheds of landscapes.

Total viewsheds are awesome! They are representations of how visible each location in a landscape is from all other places. Archaeologists use them for exploring a wide range of theories about how the things past people could see affected how they behaved. But in the past it was basically impossible for me to play with total viewsheds because they involve many calculations that take a really long time. Until recently that is: present-day personal computers are so powerful that computation time is basically not prohibitive anymore. But there’s another problem: because of the limited use of total viewsheds in archaeology there are very few formal methods for me to play with. Developing new methods to work with total viewsheds is now more than ever worth our while.

Together with Mereke van Garderen and Mark Gillings, I developed the Visual Neighbourhood Configurations method to address the very limited practice of archaeologists formally expressing and testing their theories about how visibility patterns are structured. The concept recognises that such theories commonly concern not just the visibility of point locations but rather the structure of visibility in an area around focal locations. Visual Neighbourhood Configurations allow you to formally express your theory about how visibility is structured in a small area and compare it against the actual visibility as represented by total viewsheds to test the theory.

The below graphical abstract produced by Mereke van Garderen explains the method a bit better: a total viewshed is created, a visual neighbourhood configuration is formulated representing a visibility hypothesis, the fit between this configuration and each cell in the total viewshed is evaluated and represented as a new raster.

Want to know more? Read the full open access paper here.

Screen Shot 2018-05-29 at 12.51.52
Graphical representation of the VNC method. Figure by Mereke van Garderen.

Highlights of the paper

    A new approach is presented for the formal representation and evaluation of complex visibility theories.
    Visual Neighbourhood Configurations (VNC) represent a theorized distribution of visual properties in a small area.
    Total viewsheds are input to the approach and are formally compared against the VNC representing the archaeological theory.
    A software tool has been developed to implement VNCs with a wide range of analytical techniques.
    VNCs represent a step towards more complex theoretical formal visibility studies.

Evolution of cultural complexity CFP

I can strongly recommend submitting a proposal to this satellite session as well as attending the conference on complex systems. I went to the previous iteration and it was an inspiring event. Submit you abstract by 1 June 2018! Archaeological papers and network research will be very welcome.

We are pleased to announce a call for abstracts for our session on “Evolution of Cultural Complexity” at the annual “Conference on Complex System”. The Conference on Complex System will takes place this year in Thessaloniki, Greece, from the 23rd to the 27th of September. The satellites will take place between the 26th and 27th of September 2018.

Human sociocultural evolution has been documented throughout the history of humans and earlier hominins. This evolution manifests itself through development from tools as simple as a rock used to break nuts, to something as complex as a spaceship able to land man on other planets. Equally, we have witnessed evolution of human population towards complex multilevel social organisation.
Although cases of decrease and loss of this type of complexity have been reported, in global terms it tends to increase with time. Despite its significance, the conditions and the factors driving this increase are still poorly understood and subject to debate. Different hypothesis trying to explain the rise of sociocultural complexity in human societies have been proposed (demographic factor, cognitive component, historical contingency…) but so far no consensus has been reached.
Here we raise a number of questions:

Can we better define sociocultural complexity and confirm its general tendency to increase over the course of human history?
What are the main factors enabling an increase of cultural complexity?
Are there reliable way to measure the complexity in material culture and social organisation constructs, that is?
How can we quantify and compare the impact of different factors?
What causes a loss of cultural complexity in a society? And how often these losses occurred in the past?

In this satellite meeting we want to bring together a community of researchers coming from different scientific domains and interested in different aspect of the evolution of social and cultural complexity. From archaeologists, to linguists, social scientists, historians and artificial intelligence specialists – the topic of sociocultural complexity transgresses traditional discipline boundaries. We want to establish and promote a constructive dialogue incorporating different perspectives: theoretical as well as empirical approaches, research based on historical and archaeological sources, as well as actual evidences and contemporary theories.

Submissions will be made by sending an abstract in PDF (maximum 250 words) via Easychair here: https://ccs18.bsc.es/call/ . The deadline for abstract submission is on the 1st of June 2018. The contributions to this satellite will be evaluated by the scientific committee through a peer review process that will evaluate the scientific quality and the relevance to the goal of this session. Notification of accepted abstracts will be communicated as soon as possible.

Please find more details on the following website: https://ccs18.bsc.es/
We strongly encourage you to participate

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Simon Carrignon and Sergi Valverde

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