Barcelona summer school in digital archaeology (after EAA)

Want to get expert training on computational methods for archaeological research, by specialists, in sunny Barcelona? Come to the…

Summer school in digital archaeology

10-14 September 2018, Barcelona (immediately following EAA)

The Summer School in Digital Archaeology will provide comprehensive training in agent-based modelling, network science, semantic technology, and research software development for archaeological research. It will take place in Barcelona between 10-14 September 2018 immediately after the Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists (EAA2018). Pre-register online now! A large number of bursaries to support registration costs are available.

More information and a preliminary programme can be found on our website:

Information about how to pre-register can be found here:

All pre-registrations received before 1 April 2018 will be considered for bursaries!

Hope to see you in Barcelona!

Event sponsored by: Complex Systems Society, Barcelona Supercomputing Centre, Complexity Lab Barcelona, Roman EPNet, Siris Academic, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Universitat de Barcelona


Computers at EAA: submit your papers!

Submit a paper to the CAA @ EAA session, bring your data to our data clinic, or attend our computational archaeology summer school immediately after EAA!

This year the EAA (European Association of Archaeologists) Annual Meeting is taking place between 5-8 September 2018 in the lovely city of Barcelona. We have prepared an exciting set of simulation-complexity-data related events.

During the conference we will be running a standard paper session: CAA@EAA: Computational Models in Archaeology (abstract below) focusing on formal, computational models in archaeology (not exclusively simulation, but we do like our ABMs ;). The abstract deadline is 15 February. You can submit your abstract via the EAA system.

On top of that throughout the conference we will offer Data Clinic – a personalised one-to-one consultation with data and modelling specialists (summary below). In order to give us a head-start with matching archaeologists to data experts we ask participants to submit a short summary outlining their data, research questions and the ideas they may already have via the standard route of the EAA system (please note, that as an alternative format it will not count towards the paper limit imposed by the EAA).

Finally, we are very excited to announce the Summer School in Digital Archaeology which will take place immediately after the EAA, between 10-14 September 2018. A week of hands-on tutorials, seminars, team challenges and intensive learning, the Summer School will provide an in depth training in formal computational models focusing on data modelling, network science, semantic web and agent-based modelling. Thanks to the generous support of the Complex Systems Society we are able to offer a number of bursaries for the participants. For more details please see the School website; we recommend to pre-register as soon as possible (pre-registration form).

Session: #672

CAA @ EAA: Computational Models in Archaeology

Theories and methods in archaeological sciences
Session format:
Session, made up of a combination of papers, max. 15 minutes each

Models are pervasive in archaeology. In addition to the high volume of empirical archaeological research, there is a strong and constant interest among archaeologists and historians in questions regarding the nature, mechanisms and particularities of social and socio-natural processes and interactions in the past. However, for the most part these models are constructed using non-formal verbal arguments and conceptual hypothesis building, which makes it difficult to test them against available data or to understand the behaviour of more complex models of past phenomena.

The aim of this session is to discuss the role of formal computational modelling in archaeological theory-building and to showcase applications of the approach. This session will showcase the slowly changing trend in our discipline towards more common use of formal methods.

We invite contributions applying computational and quantitative methods such as GIS, data analysis and management, simulation, network science, ontologies, and others to study past phenomena concerned with societal change, human-environment interactions and various aspects of past systems such as economy, cultural evolution or migration. Methodological and theoretical papers on the benefits and challenges of quantification, the epistemology of formal methods and the use of archaeological material as a proxy for social processes are also welcome.

Main organiser:

dr Iza Romanowska (Spain), dr Luce Prignano (Spain), María Coto-Sarmiento (Spain), dr Tom Brughmans (United Kingdom), Ignacio Morer (Spain)

Session: #663

Archaeological Data Clinic. Personalised consulting to get the best of your data

Theories and methods in archaeological sciences
Session format:
Discussion session: Personalised consulting to get the best of archaeologial data. We will set up meetings with an expert in data analysis / network science / agent-based modelling.
In the ideal world we would all have enough time to learn statistics, data analysis, R, several foreign and ancient languages and to read the complete works by Foucault. In reality, most researchers artfully walk the thin line between knowing enough and bluffing. The aim of this workshop is to streamline the process by pairing archaeologists with data and computer science specialists.

  • If you have a dataset and no idea what to do with it…
  • if you think PCA/least cost paths / network analysis / agent-based modelling is the way forward for your project but you don’t know how to get started…
  • If you need a second opinion to ensure that what you’ve already done makes sense…

…then this drop-in clinic is for you.

Let us know about your case by submitting an abstract with the following information:

  • A few sentences project outline;
  • Type and amount of data;
  • Research question(s);
  • What type of analysis you’d like to perform? (if known).

We will set up a meeting with an expert in data analysis / network science / agent-based modelling. They will help you to query and wrangle your data, to analyse and visualise it and to guide you on the next steps. They may help you choose the right software or point you towards a study where similar problems have been solved. In a nutshell, they will save you a lot of time and frustration and make your research go further!

Computational Modelling, Statistics, Network Analysis

Dr Luce Prignano (Spain), Dr Iza Romanowska (Spain), Dr Sergi Lozano (Spain), Dr Francesca Fulminante (United Kingdom), Dr Rob Witcher (United Kingdom), Dr Tom Brughmans (United Kingdom)

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.

Blog at

Up ↑