Workshop in Ottawa tomorrow

November 8, 2016

networks-simulation-workshop-imageIza Romanowska and I have spent the last few weeks at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, doing some awesome Roman networky boardgame “research” with Shawn Graham. You’ll hear more about this cool work soon. Tomorrow we will give a workshop on simulation and networks for the humanities. If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, swing by! If not, get in touch if you are interested and I will share the workshop tutorials with you.

Carleton University, Ottawa, Macodrum Library Discovery Centre RM 481, 11 – 2

networks-simulation-workshop-imageUnderstanding the complexity of past and present societies is a challenge across the humanities. Simulation and network science provide computational tools for confronting these problems. This workshop will provide a hands-on introduction to two popular techniques, agent based modeling and social network analysis. The workshop has been designed with humanities students in mind, so no prior computer experience required.

The workshop is led by Tom Brughmans and Iza Romanowska of University of Konstanz and the University of Southampton, two of the leading digital archaeologists. Brughmans is co-editor of the recent volume, ‘The Connected Past: Challenges to Network Studies in Archaeology and History‘ published by Oxford University Press. Romanowska edits the scholarly blog ‘Simulating Complexity‘ and is a Fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute where she promotes the use of computational methods in the humanities.

2-day ABM workshop

January 25, 2016


If you want to learn how to use networks in an ABM environment then join this free 2-day workshop. A lot of ABM related topics will be taught, including networks. So sign up! More info below and in this leaflet.

Agent-based modelling (ABM) has taken by storm disciplines from all corners of the scientific spectrum, from ecology to medical research and social sciences and it is becoming increasingly popular in archaeology.
Now it is your turn to give it go!
Learn how to use the simulation software and explore how this popular complexity science technique can complement your research. This two-day workshop will provide an introduction to ABM using NetLogo – an open-source platform for building agent-based models, which combines user-friendly interface, simple coding language and a vast library of model examples, making it an ideal starting point for entry-level agent-based modellers, as well as a useful prototyping tool for more experienced programmers.
For more details see the Workshop leaflet.
To secure a place please send an email to i.romanowska at<> expressing your interest and briefly describing your background and the reasons why you want to attend. The event is free of charge, but you need to register to the CAA conference. Please note that places are limited and early applications will be given preference.
If you are:
an undergraduate, master or PhD student in archaeology, anthropology, history or a similar subject, an early career researcher, a lecturer, a commercial archaeologists or a heritage specialist
and if
● you are interested in computational modelling and simulations, or
● you work on a complex problem which can only be solved by modelling, or
● your supervisor told you to ‘go an learn how to do simulations’, or
● your students seem to be doing some magic with computers and you want to
help them but don’t know the tools, or
● you have once heard of agent-based modelling so you want to check what is
the whole fuss about, then this workshop is for you!
What will you learn?
● the theory and practice of agent-based modelling;
● how to create an archaeological simulation;
● basic and intermediate programming skills in NetLogo;
● the modelling process, from finding the right research questions to publishing your groundbreaking results;
● how to make your code better, clearer and faster;
● NetLogo extensions incorporating GIS, network science, and stats.
Coding experience is NOT required.
You need to bring your own laptop.

Livestream Crabtree seminar Tuesday

January 17, 2014

crabtree_webNext Tuesday (21-01-2014) Stefani Crabtree will give a talk entitled ‘A Tale of Two Villages: How Food Exchange Led to Aggregation in the American Southwest’ in the Archaeological Computing Research Group here in Southampton. This talk will be livestreamed via this URL, so no reason not to watch this promising talk! Stef’s work will be of interest to all of us who love their networks, adore agent-based-modelling, have a passion for the archaeology of the US Southwest … or those who just enjoy a great talk by an inspiring researcher.

When? Tuesday 21 January 2014 5pm GMT
Where? Southampton and online!
Livestream URL
Stefani’s abstract is attached below, and have a look at the poster for her talk by clicking on the image above.

Want to know more about the research done at the Archaeological Computing Research Group? We’ve been pretty good in sharing our work on our group’s blog lately, so check it out there!

In this talk I use computer simulation to explore the extent to which food-sharing practices would have been instrumental for the survival of Ancestral Pueblo people across the patchy landscape of the Prehispanic American Southwest. Social networks would have created stable bonds among these exchanging individuals, further helping the survival of those individuals and their progeny. Specifically, I engage Sahlins’s notion of balanced reciprocal exchange networks (BRN; when unrelated individuals rely upon reputation building to inform exchange relationships) within the experimental test-bed of the Village Ecodynamics Project’s agent-based simulation.

CFP Simulating The Past

October 31, 2013

simulpastA really interesting conference is coming up: Simulating the past in Barcelona, 1-5 September 2014. Organised by the Simulpast project with keynote speakers Tim Kohler and Joshua Epstein. The call for papers is open until February 28 2014. More info below and on the Simulpast website.

From September 1st to 5th, 2014, the European Social Simulation Association  ( will celebrate its annual meeting in Barcelona (Spain), at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona  (


On that occasion there will be the satellite conference, organized in collaboration with the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Society (


The conference is organized with the contribution of the SimulPast project (, a 5-year exploratory research project funded by the Spanish Government (MICINN CSD2010-00034) that aims at developing an innovative and interdisciplinary methodological framework to model and simulate ancient societies and their relationship with environmental transformations. To achieve these aims, SimulPast integrates knowledge from diverse fields covering humanities, social, computational and ecological sciences within a national and international network.

The conference intention is to showcase the result of the SimulPast project together with current international research on the methodological and theoretical aspects of computer simulation in archaeological and historical contexts. The conference will bring together scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds (history, ecology, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, computer science and complex systems) in order to promote deeper understanding and collaboration in the study of past human behavior and history.

The topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Applications of computational modeling in archaeology and history
    • Social organization and change
    • Cultural transmission and evolution
    • Long term socio-ecology
    • Human adaptation and climate change
    • Cooperation and warfare
    • Trade and exchange


  • Tools and methods for development of simulation models
    • Calibration and validation
    • Realistic vs abstract modeling
    • Results analysis and verification
    • Simulation software & programming computational frameworks


Applications are welcomed on all subjects (from Anthropology, Archaeology, Geography and History) using different approaches to social simulation and presenting case studies from any region of the world and any prehistoric or historic period. Theoretical aspects of social and cultural evolution are also encouraged.

For more information do not hesitate to contact the local organizers ( Detailed information, EasyChair links for submissions and registration will be available at:

Given the coincidence with Union Internationale des Sciences Prehistoriques et  Protohistoriques Meeting in Burgos (Spain) (, every effort will be made in order to allow interested researchers to assist to both Conferences. Burgos is well connected with Barcelona by plane (from Valladolid) or by train.

CfP CAA2014 S25. “Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation”

October 8, 2013

CAA headerApologies for cross-posting!

Dear all,

We would like to draw your attention to a session on complex systems simulation in archaeology as part of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference in Paris, France, this April.

If you have created a computational model (Agent-based, mathematical, statistical, network analysis) within the broad topic of complex systems in archaeology, developed a new technique or particularly innovative solution to one of the recurrent issues in modelling, if you think you might have some new insights into the theoretical underpinnings of using simulations and complexity science in archaeology then we would like to hear more about it
We are organising a session on complex systems and computational models in archaeology: “S25. Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation”. We hope to bring together a wide variety of researchers working on a diverse case studies using techniques from all spectrum of complexity science. The goal of this session is to showcase the best applications, discuss the potential and challenges and sketch out the long-term outlook for applications of simulation techniques in archaeology. For further information see the abstract below.

The call for papers closes on the 31st of October 2013. To submit an abstract, please, go to this website, create your user account, click on ‘submissions’ under the heading ‘My Space’ in the left hand side menu and follow the instructions on screen. Please do not forget to choose “S25. Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation” from the dropdown menu “Topic”.

We will also be running a workshop on computational modelling in archaeology, which you are all welcome to join. More information about the workshop will follow in January when the workshop registration will open.

Hope to see you in Paris.
Best wishes,

Ben, Iza, Enrico, Tom

Ben Davies (Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland)
Iza Romanowska (Institute for Complex Systems Simulation, University of Southampton)
Enrico Crema (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
Tom Brughmans (Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton)


S25 Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation

Chairs : Benjamin Davies 1, Iza Romanowska 2, Enrico Crema 3, Tom Brughmans 2

1 : The University of Auckland – Website
2 : University of Southampton – Website
3 : University College London – Website

Simulation is not new in archaeology. However, the last decade knew an increased focus among archaeologists in the use of simple computational models used to evaluate processes which may have operated in the past. Rather than all-encompassing reconstructions of the prehistoric world, models have been used as ‘virtual labs’ or ‘tools to think with’, permitting archaeologists to explore hypothetical processes that give rise to archaeologically attested structures. Computational modelling techniques such as equation-based, statistical, agent-based and network-based modelling are becoming popular for quickly testing conceptual models, creating new research questions and better understand the workings of complex systems. Complexity science perspectives offer archaeology a wide set of modelling and analytical approaches which recognise the actions of individual agents on different scales who collectively and continually create new cultural properties.

This session aims to bring together complex systems simulation applications in archaeology. We invite innovative and critical applications in analytical and statistical modelling, ABM, network analysis and other methods performed under the broad umbrella of complexity science. We hope this session will spark creative and insightful discussion on the potentials and limitations of complexity science, its many simulation techniques and the future of modelling in archaeology.

ABM workshop at CAA 2013

January 25, 2013

CAAworkshop_complexity_leafletI will be involved in an awesome workshop on agent-based modelling in Archaeology at CAA 2013 in Perth. Sound interesting? Hell yeah! Read the outline below and feel free to register you interest. Click here or on the image to the left to check out our awesome flyer (courtesy of Iza Romanowska).

Dear all,

We would like to draw your attention to a workshop on agent-based modelling in archaeology as part of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference

Ever wondered what all this complex systems talk in archaeology is about, or how to design your own sophisticated simulation model? Then this might be for you:

We will organise a workshop on complex systems and agent-based simulations models in archaeology at the CAA Conference in Perth, Australia, this March. Places are still available but Early Bird Registration to the conference ends on Thursday February 7th, so hurry up to get a discount! The workshop itself is free of charge.

The workshop will take place on Monday March 25th and will consist of a morning and an afternoon session. At the end of the day you will be able to design and program your own simulation model to help you answer your research questions in archaeology or related social sciences – guaranteed …

Registration for the conference at:

Registration to the workshop will be announced on the CAA website soon, but you can already reserve a seat by contacting Carolin at

For further information see the abstract below. A flyer with a detailed programme is attached.

Hope to see you there.

Best wishes,

Carolin, Iza, Tom and Eugene

Carolin Vegvari (Department of Biological Anthropology, University of Cambridge)
Iza Romanowska (Institute for Complex Systems Simulation, University of Southampton)
Tom Brughmans (Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton)
Eugene Ch’ng (IBM Visual and Spatial Technology Centre, University of Birmingham)


W1: Complex Systems and Agent-Based Modelling in Archaeology
Chairs: E. Ch’ng, C. Vegvari
Discussants: I. Romanowska, T. Brughmans

Modelling in various forms has always been an integral part of archaeology. In the broadest sense, archaeology is the study of human activities in the past, and a model is a simplified representation of reality. As a map is a useful abstract of the physical world that allows us to see aspects of the world we chose to, so a computational model distils reality into a few key features, leaving out unnecessary details so as to let us see connections. Human societies in their environmental context can be considered as complex systems. Complex systems are systems with many interacting parts, they are found in every hierarchy of the universe, from the molecular level to large planetary systems within which life and humanity with its cultural developments occur. Formal modelling can help archaeologists to identify the relationships between elements within a complex socio-environmental system in that particular hierarchy. Simulating large populations and non-linear interactions are computationally expensive. In recent years, however, the introduction of new mathematical techniques, rapid advances in computation, and modelling tools has greatly enhanced the potential of complex systems analysis in archaeology. Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) is one of these new methods and has become highly popular with archaeologists. In Agent-Based Modelling, human individuals in ancient societies are modelled as individual agents. The interaction of agents with each other and with their environment can give rise to emergent properties and self-organisation at the macro level – the distribution of wealth within a society, the forming of cohesive groups, population movements in climate change, the development of culture, and the evolution of landscape use are among the examples. Thus, the application of Agent-Based Models to hypothesis testing in archaeology becomes part of the question. The ability to construct various models and run hundreds of simulation in order to see the general developmental trend can provide us with new knowledge impossible in traditional approaches. Another advantage of agent-based models over other mathematical methods is that they can easily model, or capture heterogeneity within these systems, such as the different characteristics (personalities, gender, age, size, etc), preferences (coastal, in-land, food, fashion), and dynamics (microstates of position and orientation).

We would like to invite archaeologists new to complex systems and Agent-Based Modelling for an introductory workshop on Complex Systems and Agent-Based Modelling in archaeology. The workshop introduces the concept of Complexity in archaeology, drawing relationships between Information, Computation and Complexity. The practicality of the workshop leads beginners in building simple agent- based models and provides a means to build more complex simulations after. Participants knowledgeable in Complexity wishing to gain insights on real-world applications of Complexity will benefit from this workshop. Participants will get the opportunity to experiment with simple models and draw conclusions from analysis of simulations of those models. Programming experience is not required as the workshop leads beginners from the ground up in modelling tools.