Networks session at EAA, few slots left

maastrichtAn archaeological networks session at the European Archaeology Association conference has become an annual thing. That makes me happy! This year, a discussion session is organised focusing on archaeological networks and social interaction. Carl Knappett will be the keynote presenter, and there are still a few slots available to present, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with the organisers.

Where? Maastricht, Netherlands

Deadline CFP: March 1st 2017

Dear all,

For our upcoming session at the annual conference of the European Association of Archaeologists, August 30th- September, 3rd 2017 in Maastricht (NL) (see the conference website:, we have a few slots available in our session:

Archaeological networks and social interaction. Towards an application of network analysis and network concepts in social archaeology

The key note lecture for the session will be given by CARL KNAPPETT.

The session’s format is “discussion session”, which means that the participants read the key note paper, that will be made available ca. one month before the conference takes place, and the participants next engage in their own presentation with the issues outlined in the key note paper.

We are seeking contributions that present a case study which applies formal network analysis to study social interaction in the past (see the session’s full abstract below). We are especially interested in studies on the margins of the Classical World/late Antique/Medieval or early modern contexts in or outside Europe.

If you are interested in participating please send an abstract of ca. 500 words plus a short cv listing your most important recent publications to both and BEFORE MARCH 1st 2017 (late submissions will not be considered).

Please note that the session will be published afterwards and that we are seeking original and unpublished work.



Archaeological networks and social interaction. Towards an application of network analysis and network concepts in social archaeology.

Formal network analysis has been increasingly applied during the last decade in archaeology, and made important contributions to understanding a variety of regional phenomena and inter-site interaction. Archaeological sites or contexts form natural nodes and allow 1 for a relatively easy conceptualisation of a research question in network terms. However, as acknowledged in one of the latest major contributions to network analysis in archaeology,2 network studies that focus on interaction between individuals or groups of people, rather than sites or settlements are much more scarce. Most current archaeological network analysis is either spatial in nature, or has a major spatial component in its analysis. Archaeology is, of course, as much a social science as it is a discipline that studies past uses of space and landscape. We claim that, with regards the former , the potential of network analysis to contribute to the study of past societies, past social interaction and social change has not yet been fully explored. We aim to fill the gap by discussing how network analysis can contribute to understanding past human societies. The use of formal network approaches to study larger datasets, e.g necropoleis, settlements, or cultic contexts, allows a move away from the typochronological focus that has dominated archaeology.
However, interaction between humans and of humans with their material world is more complex and cannot be plotted as easily on a map as is normally done for artefact distributions. Assumptions about the meaning of material culture and its role in society need to be made, in order to study the meaning of changes behind their particular configurations.
This session explores the theoretical and practical aspects of using network analysis for studying past human societies, social interaction, power, and social change. Contributors discuss what social questions they are trying to address, what datasets they use, how they translate them into a network, and what conclusions they draw from the analysis of the network. The goal of the session is to pre-discuss contributions that, after revision based on the feedback during the session, will constitute a book – to be published with an international publishing house.

MANIFESTO! for the study of ancient Mediterranean maritime networks


MANIFESTO! Somehow I feel like this word should always be written in capitals and accompanied by an exclamation mark. I feel the same about the word REVOLUTION! I recently co-authored a manifesto for the first time, but the feeling was less revolutionary than I thought it would be. In November 2013 I attended a meeting at the University of Toronto, hosted by Justin Leidwanger and Carl Knappett. The meeting aimed to discuss network approaches to the study of maritime connectivity in the ancient Mediterranean. It brought together a group of archaeologists, historians and physicists working either in the Mediterranean or experienced with network approaches to the study of the past. An edited volume collecting all papers presented at this meeting is being prepared. But the key findings of our discussions were recently published in Antiquity+ as ‘A manifesto for the study of ancient Mediterranean maritime networks‘.

The manifesto has a very clear focus on the past phenomena that fall under the rather generic term ‘maritime connectivity’. A useful but simplifying definition of this term would be: ways in which people, places, and things separated by water were related. The manifesto makes methodological and theoretical suggestions that can be assembled into a research framework that will allow us to better understand past maritime connectivity. It is important to stress again that connectivity and past networks are referred to and treated in the manifesto as past phenomena, as things that actually happened or existed in the past. Although the authors see potential for approaches that conceptualise and formalise past connectivity as network concepts and data, it is not our main aim to understand these concepts and data. We hope to better understand the past social phenomena we are interested in, and we argue that network methods and theories offer some potential to help us do so. Two quotes from the manifesto (which raise discussion points I am particularly passionate about) should suffice to illustrate this focus: “formulating explicitly social questions should necessarily precede examination of spatial networks” and there is a “need to review critically our assumptions concerning the social function of maritime connectivity and the actors involved in these networks”.

The manifesto concludes by stressing the virtue of multi-vocality: there is no need for a single homogeneous maritime network studies approach. I believe this is a cautious and constructive attitude, in particular in light of the novelty of applying network methods and theories in our disciplines. We really have not yet discovered the full potential of these approaches for our disciplines. Until we have, we need to think and do creatively! And most importantly, evaluate critically and constructively! MANIFESTO!

The full manifesto is available for free on the Antiquity website.

In this oneoff, extended Project Gallery article, the participants of a recent workshop jointly present a manifesto for the study of ancient Mediterranean maritime connectivity. Reviewing the advantages and perils of network modelling, they advance conceptual and methodological frameworks for the productive study of seaborne connectivity. They show how progressive research methods can overcome some of the problems encountered when working with uneven datasets spanning large geographical regions and long periods of time. The manifesto suggests research directions that could better inform our interpretations of human connections, both within and beyond the Mediterranean. All references to the authors’ workshop papers in the text denote their oral presentations at the ‘Networks of Maritime Connectivity in the Ancient Mediterranean’ workshop held at the University of Toronto in November 2013.

How I almost missed a great conference: Two days of Tracing Networks at the British Academy

tracng networksSometimes conferences can be quite predictable: I know who I will meet, I know what I will hear, I know where I will get a drink at the end of the day. The Tracing Networks conference held at the British Academy two weeks ago was not one of those predictable events, for a number of reasons. First of all, because I forgot all about it. I woke up one day and noticed two days of Tracing Networks in my calendar. I arrived at the venue without having a clue who would be there, who would present, what they would be talking about and where I could get a drink. And I can definitely recommend forgetting about conferences to everyone, because the event turned out to be a very enjoyable experience.

Lin Foxhall giving the opening address, with Anthony Harding
Lin Foxhall giving the opening address, with Anthony Harding
Lin Foxhall gave the opening address in name of the Tracing Networks team. Her talk was an overview of the project, and their search for a suitable methodological framework. This self-reflective and honest discourse was really fascinating. Lin went through a range of arguments why actor-network theory and formal network methods were not suitable. She said that network perspectives are good to think with but meaningfully and rigorously applying them within an archaeological context is particularly difficult. In my opinion this is totally true and cannot be emphasized enough. The team found a method based on ontologies and semantic web most appropriate for dealing with the large and very diverse datasets the project is concerned with.

Another presentation that interested me was Borja Legarra Herrero’s talk on using SNA for studying social change in Late Bronze Age Southern Spain. Some of his slides and parts of his paper revealed a very useful side of networks: their ability to communicate simple but useful structural ideas as small graphs representing different extreme hypotheses (e.g. star graph vs line graph vs circle graph). The usefulness of networks as a tool for communication is often uncritically exaggerated. I learned from experience that showing people real networks representing real data results in awkward silences: people don’t get it. True, these graphs become extremely useful once you understand the layout algorithm and play around with alternative visualizations. But their ability to communicate simple ideas is trivial compared to simplifying graphs of just a few nodes and links.

Leif Isaksen at Tracing Networks
Leif Isaksen at Tracing Networks
This issue came up again during Steve Conway’s reflections on graph visualizations. His paper took my own article in Oxford Journal of Archaeology as a starting point, and tried to find similar trends to the ones I described in his review of the use of formal network methods in the managerial literature. He identified some really familiar sounding issues: there is a tendency to conflate time; a tendency to ossify, to make static; an over-emphasis on the overall network and ignoring individual nodes; a tendency to let the network visualization speak for itself; and an under-emphasis on context. These are all common issues with the use of network visualizations, which are never neutral and are as laden with decisions and assumptions as any other communication medium (Steve wrote an interesting article about this in the british journal of management). This does not mean network visualizations are useless, or even bad at what they do. One just needs to approach and use them with as informed an understanding as possible of the decisions and assumptions that went into their creation.

Another paper that interested me was delivered by Peter Van Dommelen. He opened his talk on a sobering note, stating that “networks are not everything, we need to understand what is going on inside the nodes themselves”. Peter was mainly concerned with developing a critical archaeological approach to the study of migrations, stressing that the context of migrations need to be understood. He argued that there was a reluctance to discuss migration in archaeology since two decades because earlier migration studies were overly simplistic. That’s why we need to look beyond and below networks, we need to contextualize migrations, because the arrows on a map approach is just not good enough. We don’t just want to trace the large-scale, possibly state-enforced networks, but also the personal small-scale networks. We need a focus on communities on the ground if we want to understand what is going on inside the nodes. It is in the end the people who matter, they did not just trace but created the networks we are talking about. Peter discussed his ideas in the context of Nurraghic culture in Sardinia. He is of course right, but I have the impression that up til now the people that are “doing networks” have tended to go for the big datasets evidencing large-scale patterns, because there is just such a good fit with the network methods. However, this means that the challenge of local-scale, more contextualized archaeological network analysis remained under-explored.

Carl Knappett at Tracing Networks
Carl Knappett at Tracing Networks
… Until now? Carl Knappett clearly did not shy away from more small-scale and contextualized network approaches. His paper provided a balanced overview of network methods and theories, of the issues involved and the potential gains of a networks perspective for archaeology. He argued that network analysis in archaeology works best if node selection is unproblematic. It imposes some sort of order over a messy dataset. Although this is undeniably the case, it has to be said that some archaeologists are making real progress in confronting this issue. Ethan Cochrane and Carl Lipo explore how different artefact classifications emerge when different network approaches are used. In his PhD thesis Matt Peoples compares networks of ceramics classified by traditional ware typologies with networks of ceramic technical features. Carl continues by stating the importance of node definition and that this is a theoretical decision, i.e. it is wrong to think that SNA is untheoretical (Carl referred to Butts’ 2009 paper in Science). I could not agree more. The decisions an archaeological network analyst makes when defining nodes and edges, when selecting or modifying analytical techniques and when interpreting the outcomes are fundamentally influenced by their theoretical preconceptions. When I was recently tackling this issue for one of my case-studies I challenged myself to come up with at least two different ways of creating a network from the same dataset; in the end I found ten! Other issues raised by Carl involved temporal and geographical scales. He claimed that although archaeological network methods are often static, this is not a problem of the network perspective per se. In fact, the meaning of nodes or categories of analysis can emerge through the process of thinking through networks (Carl referred to Astrid Van Oyen’s work on comparing ANT and SNA). Carl challenged many of these issues head-on through his case studies from Bronze Age Crete, which revealed exactly how challenging they really are.

The Tracing Networks conference was a great experience, not in the least because I was genuinely surprised to see so many scholars there with shared interests doing fascinating work. I am looking forward to the proceedings and to forgetting about some of the upcoming conferences in my calendar.

Review of ‘An Archaeology of Interaction’ in Antiquity

My review of Carl Knappett’s recently published book ‘An Archaeology of Interaction: network perspectives on material culture and society’ has appeared in the June issue of Antiquity. For the official published version, please access the Antiquity website. I have written a much more extensive and unreviewed earlier version as well, which I would like to share with you here:

CARL KNAPPETT. An archaeology of interaction: network perspectives on material culture and society. x+251 pages, 50 illustrations. 2011. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 978-0-19-921545-4 hardback £60.

With An Archaeology of Interaction Carl Knappett wrote a much-needed book that provides both an overview of existing approaches to human interaction as well as a new networks perspective. The key issue addressed in the book is that theories of human interaction generally do not incorporate materiality. The author suggests network thinking as a perspective that succeeds in combining theoretical and methodological approaches to interaction in a single framework and ‘foregrounds the relations between objects and people more effectively’ (p. 7). Much of the book is concerned with exploring approaches from a range of disciplines in the social and physical sciences, and their potential to contribute to this framework. Indeed, Knappett argues that the relevance of An Archaeology of Interaction is by no means restricted to the archaeological discipline, but aims to illustrate the potential archaeological contributions to understanding social interactions in general. A number of issues considered crucial for this new approach to interaction are stressed again and again throughout the volume: the incorporation of materiality, the need to consider assemblages of objects rather than objects in isolation, and the crossing of scales of analysis. Carl Knappett’s search for compatible theoretical ideas and methodological techniques takes him on an explicitly multi-disciplinary journey guided by a clear research question based on a few critical issues and illustrated throughout with archaeological examples (largely from the Bronze Age Aegean). All of this results in a highly readable volume that is both close to exhaustive in its description of issues and approaches, as well as focused on providing an innovative, but above all useful, framework for understanding social interactions.

The book has three parts and each of these consists of three chapters. The first part provides a strong and convincing argument for the need of new methods and theories for understanding human interactions, by stressing the absence of objects in existing theories, highlighting issues in existing relational approaches in archaeology and suggesting network analysis as a formal method for network thinking. In the first chapter the general context of archaeological as well as non-archaeological thought within which this book was written and to which it tries to contribute is laid out. It states that humans have a drive to interact with each other as well as with objects. Knappett suggests network thinking as a research perspective to understand these interactions and argues that ‘By combining SNA [Social Network Analysis] with ANT [Actor-Network Theory] we can bring together people and things both methodologically and theoretically’ (p. 8). The second chapter highlights some broad trends in the dynamics between relational and non-relational approaches to interaction in archaeology and the social sciences. Relational approaches are generally restricted to a single analytical scale and are performed either from the bottom-up or from the top-down. The author argues that concepts and methods are needed to traverse multiple scales. In the third chapter it is suggested that a networks perspective might provide such concepts and methods. An overview of some formal network analysis techniques is given, with a particular focus on affiliation networks, and some existing archaeological applications are briefly discussed. Knappett concludes that, on the one hand, network analysis has a number of advantages: (1) it forces one to think through relationships, (2) it is explicitly multi-scalar, (3) it can integrate social and physical space (topology and geometry), and (4) both people and things can be included. The author does not forget to mention some of the potential issues with the archaeological use of formal network techniques, however: firstly that network analysis is itself by no means a unified social theory, exemplified by the academic divide between SNA and social physics; secondly that the advanced level of mathematics might surpass the abilities of many archaeologists; and thirdly, there is a clear tendency to be overly structuralist and descriptive.

Throughout the second part of the volume the potential of a multi-scalar networks perspective to interactions between people and objects is explored, with chapters focusing in turn on micro-, meso-, and macro-scales of analysis. The case studies used to illustrate Knappett’s approaches are mainly drawn from the Cretan Bronze Age, the author’s area of expertise. In chapter four Knappett argues that existing approaches to interaction at the micro-scale (including interactionism and praxeology) need to be elaborated by reconciling two aspects of micro-scale interactions: ‘the face-to-face social interactions in which objects seem to be in the background; and the individual-object interactions in which sociality seems to fall into the background’ (p. 68). He goes on to suggest an approach aimed at mapping out hypothetical relations between objects (e.g. pottery types) and people (e.g. potters) as affiliation networks. The author explores this approach in a case study aimed at understanding the changes in micro-scale practice that occurred with the shift from ‘Prepalatial’ to palatial society, focusing in turn on practices of production, distribution and consumption. The author does not use the network as an analytical tool for the study of meso-networks, however, to which he turns his attention in chapter five. Network thinking at this scale is applied through a combination of Peircean semiotics with ‘communities of practice’, an idea which is considered to have useful links with the affiliation networks approach of chapter four. Examples from the archaeology of Bronze Age Crete are used to trace such ‘communities of practice’ by describing trends in the similarities and differences between the distributions of spaces, features and artefacts that might be indicative of production, distribution and consumption practices. Knappett then goes on to argue in chapter six that it is on the macro-scale that ‘network thinking comes into its own’ (p. 124). By giving the example of the popular strength of weak ties and small-world network models he argues that at this scale it becomes particularly clear that the relationship between the structure of a network and its function is not trivial. At this level of analysis we can begin to see how macro-scale structure emerges from micro-scale interactions and why, i.e. what function gives rise to a specific structure. Knappett mentions that dynamic network models are particularly useful for exploring hypothetical processes that give rise to certain network structures. He illustrates this through a discussion of his collaboration with the theoretical physicists Tim Evans and Ray Rivers, which resulted in a network model for maritime interaction in the Middle Bronze Age Aegean. He subsequently extrapolates the object-people networks approach introduced in the previous two chapters to a wider spatiotemporal scale, by looking at the evolution of patterns of production, distribution and consumption from the Prepalatial to the Palatial periods in the southern Aegean.

The first two parts of the book set out a framework for exploring how humans interact based on network thinking. The third part moves away from discussions of how to create and explain hypothetical network structures of objects and people to ask why it is that humans interact in the first place. Three alternative approaches are suggested. In chapter seven Knappett discusses the benefits of object networks. A number of concepts are introduced that place the relationship between object and agent central, and the author sees particular potential for cognitive archaeology approaches combined with ‘exaptive bootstrapping’ applied to typological data (pp. 155-158). Through a number of archaeological examples Knappett then explains trends of change in types of artefacts through these concepts. A second approach is suggested by the author in chapter eight as finding ways to attend to the tension between the type of ‘networks of objects’ described in chapter seven and ‘meshworks of things’, a more fluid understanding of the topology of relationships as suggested by Tim Ingold. In the last chapter Knappett argues that one particular way of thinking about this tension is through the care invested by human groups in human and non-human biographies. The author stresses the need to consider biographies of assemblages rather than just individual objects.

The aim and scope of the book are ambitious to say the least and it is therefore not surprising that as a result in places the arguments are not as convincing as they could be. The underrepresentation of method and how theory could inform method, although a major theme in the book, are particularly vulnerable to this mild criticism (especially in the third part). Indeed, archaeologists might not always find the suggested network methods and their archaeological examples very persuasive (as Knappett himself admits, p. 215). They are largely limited to visualising archaeological hypotheses as networks or describing general trends in the archaeological record by using a relational vocabulary. I believe this is a necessary evil, however, in light of the sheer number of approaches covered, and it certainly does not impede the methodological examples from illustrating their most important contribution to Knappett’s network perspective: they do successfully show their obvious potential for expressing and analysing relational hypotheses by thinking explicitly through networks. Carl Knappett’s An Archaeology of Interaction provides a critical and much-needed framework, offering a range of methods and theories to any scholar ready to explore human interaction through network goggles.

An overview of The Connected Past

Over the weekend of 24-25 March 2012 a group of 150 archaeologists, historians, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists and others from 19 different countries met at The University of Southampton. Their objective: to discuss the critical application of network and complexity perspectives to archaeology and history. The result: a stimulating and friendly gathering of academics from very diverse backgrounds who collectively created the exciting discussion platform the organisers believe is crucial to the development of future critical applications in our disciplines.

The last few weeks were hectic for Anna Collar, Fiona Coward and myself. There were many last-minute decisions to be made and problems to be solved. But in the end everything and everyone arrived on time to kick-start the symposium. Most delegates arrived from all over Europe and North America, and some joined us from as far as Australia and Japan. We were happy to welcome delegates from over 60 different universities. The most important work during the symposium took place behind the scenes by Lucie Bolton and her great team of volunteers who were there to welcome all delegates at 8am and make sure they were fuelled with lunch, coffee and cakes throughout the day. The Connected Past would not have been possible without them.

Jon Adams, head of the Department of Archaeology here in Southampton, opened the symposium and introduced our first keynote speaker Alex Bentley. Alex discussed in what cases certain types of network approaches are useful when exploring complex social systems. His paper provided a great start of the conference by setting out a framework for complex systems simulation and identifying the role networks could play within this. A first session of the symposium followed with a very diverse group of papers discussing a range of theoretical and methodological issues. Tom Brughmans explored the evolution of formal archaeological network analysis through a citation network analysis. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller argued for the incorporation of Luhmann’s systems theory in historical network approaches. Andy Bevan explored the issues involved in tracing ancient networks in geographical space. After a coffee break Astrid Van Oyen presented us with the Actor-Network-Theory perspective and how this might be usefully applied in an archaeological context. Søren Sindbæk made some very critical remarks concerning a direct mapping of exchange networks from distributions of archaeological data. Finally, Marten Düring presented a particularly fascinating approach of support networks for persecuted Jews in World War II and compared the usefulness of different centrality measures on it.

After lunch we reconvened for a session called ‘Big data and archaeology’, which included presentations of big datasets that showed particular potential to explore using networks on the one hand and archaeological applications of network analysis on the other. The session was opened by Barbara Mills who presented the work of her team on exploring distribution networks of a large archaeological dataset from the US southwest. Caroline Waerzeggers presented a dataset of tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets which hold a large variety of past relationships that can be usefully explore with network techniques. Mark Depauw and Bart Van Beek similarly presented an impressive dataset which includes references to almost half a million people living in Graeco-Roman Egypt. After tea Eivind Heldaas Seland introduced us to a highly qualified view of networks of travel and religion in late antiquity. Alessandro Quercia and Lin Foxhall presented their networks of loom weights, which is part of the wider Tracing Networks project. Angus Mol took us to the Caribbean with his network approach of a rather small but fascinating lithic assemblage. Finally, Craig Alexander discussed his study of visibility networks in Iron Age Valcamonica.

At the end of the day we had the pleasure of listening to Carl Knappett live from Toronto via a Skype call. We decided to go for this low-tech option because sadly we could not guarantee tech-support during the weekend and wanted to avoid complications. I am sure this is the first time Carl had a Skype meeting with 150 people at the same time. Carl Knappett suggested that in order for network approaches to be usefully applied in archaeology we need be aware of the diversity of available approaches and preferably work in collaboration with network specialists. In some cases, however, networks are not the best perspective to approach our archaeological questions. In his recently published ‘An archaeology of interaction’ Carl points to a wide range of theories and methods that may or may not work within the same framework, but knowledge of this diversity might lead to their more critical and useful applications. This second keynote presentation was followed by a wine reception and a visit to our local pub The Crown.

After a long night out and a nights-sleep further shortened by daylight savings time we were surprised to see almost all delegates appear at 9am to listen to our third keynote Irad Malkin. Irad recently published ‘A small Greek world’ in which he sees the emergence of Greek identity through network goggles by using a vocabulary adopted from complex network analysis to describe the processes he identified in ancient sources. Irad’s keynote address stressed how a networks approach allows us to revisit old questions and how it allows for spatial structure to be compared with other types of relationships. The subsequent session titled ‘Dynamic networks and modelling’ began with a great presentation by Ray Rivers stressing that archaeologists need to be aware of the implications of decisions made when modelling the past and selecting ‘Goldilocks’ networks that seem just right. Next, Anne Kandler presented her network model for exploring the transmission of ideas, which shows how the structure of complex networks influences cultural change. Caitlin Buck presented the work by her team on a new (and very robust looking) model for the spread of agriculture in Britain and Europe at large. After the break Tim Evans presented a much needed paper comparing different network models and their potential uses. The discussions after this paper revealed that such a comparison along with archaeological case studies would be a very welcome resource to archaeologists interested in networks. Juan Barceló presented a Bayesian network approach to explore causal factors determining the emergence and the effects of restricted cooperation among hunter-gatherer societies. Marco Büchler presented his fascinating work on text re-use graphs he and his team in of the eTraces project in the Leipzig centre for eHumanities are working on.

After lunch we had the pleasure of listening to papers in our last session ‘Personal, political and migration networks’. Wilko Schroeter presented on marriage networks of Europe’s ruling families from 1600-1900. Ekaterini Mitsiou moved our attention to the Eastern Mediterranean in her discussion of aristocratic networks in the 13th century. Evi Gorogianni made us look at dowry in a new way by stressing the relationships they establish and express. After tea Elena Isayev made us explore the early 3rd century BC networks of Italy outside the Italian peninsula. Claire Lemercier provided us with some critical comments on the historical use of formal network techniques and illustrated this through a case study on migration in northern France. Amara Thornton traced networks of individuals linked to the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem. Finally, Katherine Larson showed us a particularly creative way of seeing networks in the archaeological record by linking sculptors’ signatures on ancient statues.

In our eyes The Connected Past was a great success. We enjoyed the experience of organising the event and were delighted with the overwhelming response to our call for papers and registration. We received some great reviews from Tim Evans and Matteo Romanello. In the end, however, it was the delegates themselves who seized the opportunity to engage in multi-disciplinary discussions and to consider future collaborations in innovative research directions.

The Connected Past does not end here! In some time we will make some of the recorded talks available online, we will publish the proceedings and we have plans for future meetings. All to be revealed in time. For now all we want to say is: thank you for a fascinating weekend and keep up the multi-disciplinary discussions!

Call for papers: the connected past

Finally after months of planning Anna, Fiona and I can reveal to you the most amazing conference of 2012 🙂

We would like to announce ‘The connected past: people, networks and complexity in archaeology and history’, a two-day symposium at the University of Southampton 24-25 March 2012 (the two days before CAA2012 in Southampton). Confirmed keynote speakers include Professor Carl Knappett and Professor Alex Bentley.

The call for papers is now open and we would like to invite you to send in abstracts of up to 250 words by November 20th 2011. Feel free to circulate the call for papers and the attached poster, which you can download here. More information on the event is available on the website.

Tom Brughmans, Anna Collar and Fiona Coward


The Connected Past: people, networks and complexity in archaeology and history

University of Southampton 24-25 March 2012
Organisers: Tom Brughmans, Anna Collar, Fiona Coward

Confirmed keynote speakers: Professor Carl Knappett and Professor Alex Bentley

Over the past decade ‘network’ has become a buzz-word in many disciplines across the humanities and sciences. Researchers in archaeology and history in particular are increasingly exploring network-based theory and methodologies drawn from complex network models as a means of understanding dynamic social relationships in the past, as well as technical relationships in their data. This conference aims to provide a platform for pioneering, multidisciplinary, collaborative work by researchers working to develop network approaches and their application to the past.

The conference will be held over two days immediately preceding the CAA conference (Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology), also hosted by the University of Southampton (, allowing participants to easily attend both.

The conference aims to:
· provide a forum for the presentation of multidisciplinary network-based research
· discuss the practicalities and implications of applying network perspectives and methodologies to archaeological and historical data in particular
· establish a group of researchers interested in the potential of network approaches for archaeology and history
· foster cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaborative work towards integrated analytical frameworks for understanding complex networks
· stimulate debate about the application of network theory and analysis within archaeology and history in particular, but also more widely, highlight the relevance of this work for the continued development of network theory in other disciplines

We welcome contributions addressing any of (but not restricted to) the following themes:
· The diffusion of innovations, people and objects in the past
· Social network analysis in archaeology and history
· The dynamics between physical and relational space
· Evolving and multiplex networks
· Quantitative network techniques and the use of computers to aid analysis
· Emergent properties in complex networks
· Agency, structuration and complexity in network approaches
· Agent-based modelling and complex networks
· Future directions for network approaches in archaeology and history

Please email proposed titles and abstracts (max. 250 words) to: by November 20th 2011.
Visit the conference website for more information:

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