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.


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.

Complex Systems and Change, session at Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference

Calton-Hill-2-CAMWe invite papers for a session on complexity science/advanced data analysis/formal modelling at the Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference (TRAC, Edinburgh, 12-14 April 2018). Please find the abstract below. This is a double session, the first part ‘Exploring Complex Systems’ will focus on finding patters, defining relationships and exploring past complexity, while the second part ‘Understanding Change’ will showcase applications of formal methods to understand social and economic processes and change.

To submit an abstract (300 words), please complete the submission template available here:

and send it to .
Deadline: 6 October 2018.
If you would like to discuss your paper before submitting, please feel free to contact us (see cc).

Tom Brughmans, John W. Hanson, Matthew J. Mandich, Iza Romanowska, Xavier Rubio-Campillo

Call for papers, session at Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Edinburgh 12-14 April 2018:

Formal Approaches to Complexity in Roman Archaeology: Exploring Complex Systems and Understanding Change

Part 1: Exploring Complex Systems
Part 2: Understanding Change

Session Organisers: Tom Brughmans (University of Oxford) – John W. Hanson (University of Colorado) – Matthew J. Mandich (University of Leicester) – Iza Romanowska (Barcelona Supercomputing Center) – Xavier Rubio-Campillo (University of Edinburgh)

In recent years archaeologists have increasingly employed innovative approaches used for the study of complex systems to better interpret and model the social, political, and economic structures and interactions of past societies. However, for the majority of Roman archaeologists these approaches remain elusive as a comprehensive review and evaluation is lacking, especially regarding their application in Roman archaeology.

In brief, a complex system is made up of many interacting parts (‘components’ or ‘agents’) which form a whole that is more than the sum of its parts – i.e. the interactions of these parts lead to emergent behaviors or outcomes that cannot be (easily) predicted by examining the parts individually. While such systems are characterized by their unpredictable, adaptive, and/or non-linear nature, they are (often) self-organising and governed by observable rules that can be analysed via various methods. For example, many past phenomena, such as urbanism or the functioning of the Roman economy, are complex systems composed of multiple interacting elements and driven by the diverse processes acting upon individuals inhabiting the ancient world. Thus, they can be explored using the approaches and methods of complexity science.

The study of complex systems has primarily been undertaken in contemporary settings, in disciplines such as physics, ecology, medicine, and economics. Yet, as the complex nature of ancient civilizations and their similarity to present-day  systems is being steadily realized through ongoing analysis, survey, and excavation, archaeologists have now begun to use methods such as scaling studies (e.g. settlement scaling theory), agent-based modeling, and network analyses to approach this complexity. Since these methodologies are designed to examine the interactions and feedback between components within complex systems empirically, they can provide new ways of looking at old data and old problems to supply novel conclusions. However, such methods have only been applied sporadically in ancient settings, and even less so in a Roman context or using Roman archaeological data.
Thus, in this two part session we aim to bring these methods, and the Roman archaeologists using them, together by offering a critical review of the theoretical and empirical developments within the study of past complex systems and their interplay with existing ideas, before investigating how we might capitalize on the new opportunities afforded by them in the future. Part I of this session, ‘exploring complex systems’, is concerned with examining and unraveling the underlying structures present in the archaeological record using the formal tools provided by the complex systems framework. Part II, ‘understanding change’, will focus on applications exploring the dynamics of change that generated the patterns observed in existing evidence. In particular, we invite contributions using formal methods including computational modelling and simulation, GIS, and network analyses, as well as diverse theoretical approaches to better understand ancient complex systems.

CFP CFP Evolution of Cultural Complexity at Conference on Complex System, Cancun, September

I can recommend presenting at this event. I’ve been assured network talks are welcome!
Deadline CFP: 26 May
Where? Cancun, Mexico
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 Cancun, Mexico, from the 17th to the 22nd of September. Our session will take pace on the 21st of September.
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:
  1. Can we better define sociocultural complexity and confirm its general tendency to increase over the course of human history?
  2. What are the main factors enabling an increase of cultural complexity?
  3. Are there reliable way to measure the complexity in material culture and social organisation constructs, that is?
  4. How can we quantify and compare the impact of different factors?
  5. 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: . The deadline for abstract submission is on the 26th of May 2017. 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 by the 4th of June 2017.
Please find more details on the following website:
We strongly encourage you to participate  

Please help us to spread the word!
on behalf of the organisers,
Iza Romanowska

Announcing the complex systems simulation CAA special interest group

complexityThe last CAA meeting in Siena saw the creation of a new special interest group in complex systems simulation. This new group will be of interest to network fans as well. The chairs Iza Romanowska, Florencia del Castillo and Juan Antonio Barceló have plans to organise sessions, workshops and networking events around the CAA conferences and independently. They will use the Simulatingcomplexity blog as well as their mailing list to keep you informed on their activities and to offer help to those who wish to apply complex systems simulation techniques to their work. Subscribe!

Want to know what it’s all about? A word from the chairs:

The staggering complexity of past societies is well recognised in archaeology. Human groups often built intricate social systems, which consist of numerous individual elements interacting with each other and with the environment and producing phenomena that are not easy to anticipate or understand using non-quantitative methods. The standard scientific answer to the challenges of investigating such systems is the large family of simulation techniques and the theoretical paradigm known as Complexity Science. In the last few years these approaches (agent-based and equation-based modelling, systems dynamics, cellular automata, network analysis etc.), have become increasingly popular among the practitioners of archaeological computing, suggesting that the time is right to bring this growing community together.

Therefore, the aim of the new Special Interest Group in Complex Systems Simulation is to provide a strong communication platform for present and future researchers working in the complex systems simulation domain. In particular, we will strive to:

  • provide continuity to the sessions and workshops concerned with computational modelling at the annual CAA conference and beyond,
  • organise, coordinate and inform the members of other events related to complexity science and simulation,
  • organise events aimed at training future complex systems modellers and the general archaeological audience,
  • define and promote good practices in archaeological computational modelling,
  • and, in the long term, we hope to bring simulation and other complexity science methods into mainstream archaeological practice.

To join the SIG simply sign up to the mailing list and join us at the sessions and workshops dedicated to simulation and complexity science at CAA 2016 in Oslo!

— posted on behalf of SIG leaders Florencia del Castillo, Iza Romanowska and Juan Antonio Barceló

Student Conference Complexity Science

SCCSSouthampton has a great centre for Complexity Science, and this summer they will be hosting the ‘Student Conference on Complexity Science‘! This is the fourth edition of the conference (I think) but this is the very first time with an open call for papers and sessions! The conference is organised in turn by one of the UK Complexity Science Doctoral Training Centres, and it features an extremely eclectic mix of student papers and disciplines. Including archaeology of course. In fact, archaeologist Iza Romanowska is one of the co-ordinators of the event. The SCCS is all over the social-media channels, for more info you can check out their website, Facebook page, follow them on Twitter or Youtube channel. Keynotes include Nigel Gilbert (sociologist, editor of Journal of Social Systems Simulation) and Eörs Szathmáry (evolutionary biologist).

Dates for your calendar:
Call for Sessions: 12 p.m. (UTC) 27th Jan 2014
Call for Papers opens: 17th Feb 2014
Call for Papers: 12 p.m. (UTC) 26th May 2014
Papers announced: 16th Jun 2014

SCCS 2014: 19th-22nd Aug 2014

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

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.

CAA Paris workshops and session

CAA headerMy favourite conference of the year, the CAA, will take place in Paris on 22-25 April 2014! The call for papers has now opened and the organisers put up an impressive list of sessions. I want to advertise three in particular: the ones I am involved in 😉

We will organise a workshop on network analysis for archaeologists, using a cool dataset on the Eurasian Silk Road. Those who missed The Connected Past network analysis workshop might be interested in joining this one in stead!
W11: Introduction to network analysis for archaeologists
Tom Brughmans, Ursula Brosseder, Bryan Miller

Secondly, we will host a cool new concept for a workshop: one hour, one model! The idea is that people get together, discuss a common generic archaeological research topic and spend an hour or so designing multiple computational models representing this topic.
W12: One hour, one model: Agent-based Modelling on-the-fly
Iza Romanowska, Benjamin Davies, Enrico Crema, Tom Brughmans

Finally, we will also host a session on agents, networks, equations and complexity. Exciting!
S25: Agents, Networks, Equations and Complexity: the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation
Benjamin Davies, Iza Romanowska, Enrico Crema, Tom Brughmans

Please find the full abstracts on the CAA2014 website. The deadline for abstract submissions is 31 October 2013. Don’t miss out on this cool event!

CAA Poland tomorrow

caapolandDear Polish and less-Polish friends! Tomorrow a new CAA chapter will have it’s inaugural meeting: CAA Poland is born! The line-up sounds great, although a few more vowels would be welcome 🙂 Philip Verhagen will give a keynote presentation and Iza Romanowska might make a guest appearance with a recorded remote presentation. Check out the CAA Poland Facebook group for more information. Let’s go to Poland all!

Program konferencji:

9.30 – 10.00 rejestracja uczestników
10.00 – 10.10 inauguracja konferencji
10.10 – 10.30 CAA International i CAA oddział Polska – wprowadzenie
10.30 – 11.15 wykład gościnny: dr J.W.H.P. (Philip) Verhagen, Faculteit der Letteren (oudheid), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

11.15 – 11.30 przerwa kawowa

PANEL I: Panel ekspercki

11.30 – 11.50 dr A. Prinke (Muzeum Archeologiczne w Poznaniu) OD OŚMIOBITOWCA DO PROJEKTÓW EUROPEJSKICH”: Dorobek Muzeum Archeologicznego w Poznaniu na polu komputeryzacji”
11.50 – 12.10 mgr inż. P. Kaczmarek (Esri Polska /Fundacja Centrum GeoHistorii) Mój poligon doświadczeń z historią i archeologią czyli świat oczami GISowca
12.10 – 12.30 mgr J. D. Mejor (Biblioteka Narodowa) Stan digitalizacji w sektorze Bibliotek
12.30 – 12.45 dyskusja
12.45 – 13.00 przerwa


13.00 – 13.20 mgr M. Legut – Pintal, mgr Ł. Pintal (Politechnika Wrocławska) Perspektywy wykorzystania danych pozyskanych w programie ISOK w prospekcji archeologicznej. Przykład założeń
obronnych dorzecza Nysy Kłodzkiej
13.20 – 13.40 K. Hanus (Uniwersytet Jagielloński/ University of Sydney) Optymalizacja przetwarzania danych LiDAR pozyskanych w trakcie badań nad cywilizacjami lasu tropikalnego
13.40 – 14.00 M. Jakubczak (Uniwersytet Kardynała Stefana Wyszyńskiego) LiDAR, GIS, GPS w badaniach nad prahistorycznym górnictwem krzemienia, na przykładzie pola górniczego „Skałecznica Duża”
14.00 – 14.15 dyskusja
14.15 – 15.15 przerwa obiadowa

PANEL III: Nowoczesne metody dokumentacji (I)

15.15 – 15.35 inż. arch. Karolina Majdzik (Politechnika Wrocławska), Anna Kubicka (Politechnika Wrocławska) Cyfrowe metody dokumentacji w pracach archeologiczno – architektonicznych na podstawie badań w Deir el – Bahari i Marina el – Alamein
15.35 – 15.55 mgr P. Rajski (Politechnika Wrocławska) Doświadczenia z inwentaryzacji zamków śląskiego pogranicza. Porównanie metod inwentaryzacji w badaniach architektonicznych i konserwacji
15.55 – 16.15 mgr W. Ejsmond (Uniwersytet Warszawski), mgr J.Chyla (Uniwersytet Jagielloński) Zastosowanie mobilnego systemu GIS w badaniach na zespole stanowisk archeologicznych
w Gebelein
16.15 – 16.30 dyskusja

PANEL IV: Nowoczesne metody dokumentacji (II)

16.30 – 16.50 mgr Ł. Miszk (Uniwersytet Jagielloński) Standardy prowadzenia dokumentacji na stanowisku Nea Pafos
16.50 – 17.10 mgr M. Bryk, mgr J. Chyla (Uniwersytet Jagielloński) Weryfikacja archeologicznych badań powierzchniowych przy pomocy GIS
17.10 – 17.25 dyskusja
17.25 – 17.40 przerwa kawowa

PANEL V: Prospekcja i analiza danych

17.40 – 18.00 mgr B. Pankowski (Uniwersytet Jagielloński), mgr Andrzej Święch Użycie nowych technologii w badaniach podwodnych na Wiśle
18.00 – 18.20 A. Rokoszewski (Uniwersytet Warszawski) Gdzie wzrok sięga – wykorzystanie analizy pola widzenia (viewshed analysis) do badań archeologicznych
18.20 – 18.40 M. Gilewski (Uniwersytet Warszawski) Wykorzystanie Erosion Productivity Impact Calculator (EPIC) w badaniach nad rolnictwem Majów
18.40 – 19.00 dyskusja

19.00 – 19.30 spotkanie CAA PL

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