CFP archaeological and historical networks session at EUSN Mainz


The European social networks conference will host its third edition in Mainz. Historical and archaeological networks have been represented every time, and it’s a good venue to get technical feedback on your work. This year a session on historical and archaeological networks will be chaired by Aline Deicke, Martin Stark, and Marten Düring. I can definitely recommend presenting your work there.

Deadline CFP: 31 March 2017

CfP: EUSN 2017 in Mainz with session on historical and archaeological networks, deadline: March 31st
Organized session at the 3rd European Conference on Social Networks at Johannes
Gutenberg-University Mainz, 26.-29. September 2017
Call for Presentations
“Networks in Archaeology and History”
Over the last decades, network analysis has made its way from a fringe
theory to an established methodology in archaeological and historical
research that goes beyond a purely metaphorical use of the network term. A
substantial number of studies on different topics and periods have shown
that network theories and methods derived from other disciplines (e.g.
sociology, economics, physics) can be fruitfully applied to selected bodies
of historical and archaeological sources. Yet in many of these initial
studies, important methodological concerns regarding the underlying sources,
missing data, data standardization and representation of networks in space
and time have not been adequately acknowledged and sometimes even completely
In recent years, archeologists and historians – often in collaboration and
in exchange with scholars from other disciplines – have taken on the
challenge to address these methodological concerns and to adapt and refine
network methods and network theory for archaeological and historical
research. The aim of this session is to further develop such
transdisciplinary collaboration between historians, archaeologists and the
EUSN research community.
The session invites contributions from researchers applying methods of
formal network analysis in archaeological or historical research. A special
emphasis of the session will be on the unique challenges that arise in the
domain- specific application of these research methods. We welcome
submissions on any period, geographical area or topic. The authors may be
historians or archaeologists as well as scholars from other disciplines
working with historical or archeological data.
Abstract submission:
Please hand in your abstract via the conference website (http:// and indicate the name of the session: “Networks
in Archaeology and History”.
Abstract submission deadline is March 31st.
Session organizers:
Aline Deicke (Academy of Sciences and Literature | Mainz)
Martin Stark (ILS Research Institute, Aachen)
Marten Düring (University of Luxembourg)

Present your archaeological networks at CAA Oslo!


Do you have something to say about the way network methods are used in archaeology? Maybe you have some networky research lying around somewhere, begging to be presented. Or maybe you just need an excuse to come to Oslo and hang out with awesome academics! These are all good reasons to submit a paper to our networks session at CAA 2016 in Oslo (although I prefer the first two reasons to the third)! Together with Mereke van Garderen and Daniel Weidele, I will chair a session that aims to work towards best practice in archaeological network science. Since network methods are still very new in our discipline, there is a need to explore how they can be usefully and critically applied and developed to lead to insights that could not have been gained through any other approach. We believe there is a need to develop guidelines for best practice for archaeological network science that will help archaeologists explore the potential use of network science techniques for achieving their own research aims. Come join us and add your thoughts to the discussion!

Deadline call for papers: 25 October 2015
Session code: S16
Abstract below
Dates conference: 29 March – 2 April 2016
More CFP info: CAA website 

For those interested in getting their hands dirty and learning how to use the awesome network science software Visone: we will also host a workshop at CAA Oslo!

Networking the past: Towards best practice in archaeological network science

Mereke van Garderen, Tom Brughmans, Daniel Weidele

The full diversity of network perspectives has only been introduced in our discipline relatively recently. As a result we are still in the long-term process of evaluating which theories and methods are available, the ‘fit’ between particular network perspectives and particular research questions, and how to apply these critically. How can network science usefully contribute to archaeological research by enabling archaeologists to answer important questions they could not have answered through other approaches? In what circumstances is the use of network science techniques appropriate? There is a need to address these questions by working towards guidelines to best practice in archaeological network science. This is a goal that should be achieved by a community of scholars in collaboration, drawing on the lessons learned from applying network science critically and creatively in a diversity of archaeological research contexts.

This session aims to build on the growing interest in and maturity of archaeological networks science to lay the foundations of guidelines for best practice in archaeological network science. It invites papers debating best practice in archaeological network science, addressing methodological and theoretical challenges posed by the archaeological application of network science, or presenting archaeological case studies applying network science techniques. It particularly welcomes papers presenting work in which the use of network science techniques was necessary and well theoretically motivated, and papers applying network science to exploring ‘oceans of data’.

CFP Sunbelt SNA session challenges in archaeological network science

sunbeltI have attended the Sunbelt Social Network Analysis conference only once, in Hamburg two years ago. But it was a brilliant experience and so different from archaeological conferences (and not just because of the traditional two evenings of unlimited open bar). The conference is attended by mainly sociologists and statisticians with a good proportion of mathematicians, computer scientists and physicists. In the last few years there have been annual historical and archaeological network science sessions. So the number of historians and archaeologists attending the event are increasing. I can definitely recommend attending Sunbelt, and of course you should present in our session 🙂

I would like to bring the session ‘Challenges in Archaeological Network Science’ to your attention. The session will be held at the Sunbelt Social Network Analysis conference in Brighton on 23-28 June 2015. We welcome all abstracts that address the challenges mentioned in the session abstract below.

The deadline for submissions is 31 March 2015. Please visit the Sunbelt website for more information and to submit an abstract:

Please ensure to select the session ‘Challenges in Archaeological Network Science’ during the submission process. Feel free to notify us if you decide to submit an abstract.

We look forward to meeting you in Brighton,

Termeh Shafie and Tom Brughmans


Challenges in Archaeological Network Science

The application of network analysis in archaeology has only become more common in the last decade, despite a number of pioneering studies in the 1960s and 70s. The use of different techniques for the analysis and visualisation of network data has already led to new insights into past human behaviour. However, this renewed interest in network science is also accompanied by an increasing awareness of a number of methodological challenges that archaeological network scientists are faced with. These include, but are not limited to the following:

– How to deal with spurious data?

Sampling strategies in archaeology are often dominated by the geopolitical and financial constraints of excavation campaigns. Moreover, differences in the preservation of different materials provide a very fragmented picture of past human behaviour. As a result, networks constructed from archaeological data can be very sparse with apparent uncertainties.

– How to introduce more complex assumptions concerning tie dependency in the reconstruction of archaeological networks?

Network modelling is based on hypotheses from archaeological theory which in turn is based on archaeological evidence. A major challenge is how to infer the structure of an archaeological network given a set of assumptions regulating the occurrence of ties.

– How to deal with the poor chronological control of archaeological data?

The contemporaneity of observations and the exact sequence of events are often uncertain. This is problematic for network science techniques that assume node contemporaneity or require knowledge of the order of events.

– How to consider complex socio-spatial phenomena?

Archaeologists commonly study the spatial distribution of their data and evaluate to what extent spatial constraints influenced human behaviour. A limited number of spatial network techniques are currently available and many of these are not or hardly applicable in archaeology (e.g. network analysis of road networks).

This session invites papers that address these or other methodological challenges that network scientists in archaeology are faced with.

This session is organized by and will be chaired by:

Termeh Shafie,, Department of Computer & Information Science, University of Konstanz.

Tom Brughmans,, Department of Computer & Information Science, University of Konstanz.

Call for papers CAA2015 in Siena

caaThe call for papers for the 2015 edition of the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology conference is now open. There are some great sessions and workshops planned, check out the program here.

I want to draw your attention to a number of sessions and workshops I’m involved in or that are of interest if you bothered reading this blog post until here 🙂 I want to invite everyone to consider submitting a paper or attending these! Full abstracts below.

Session 5H: Geographical and temporal network science in archaeology

Session 5L: Modelling large-scale human dispersals: data, pattern and process

Workshop 5: Introduction to exploratory network analysis for archaeologists using Visone

Workshop 8: First steps in agent-based modelling with Netlogo

Roundtable 5: Simulating the Past: Complex Systems Simulation in Archaeology


Session 5H: Geographical and temporal network science in archaeology

Formal network techniques are becoming an increasingly common addition to the archaeologist’s methodological toolbox. Archaeologists have adopted these techniques mainly from the fields of social network analysis, physics and mathematics, where they have been developed and applied for decades. However, network science techniques for the analysis or visualisation of geographical and long-term temporal phenomena have seen far less development than those for social and technological phenomena. Conversely, archaeology has a long tradition of studying long-term change of socio-cultural systems and spatial phenomena, a research focus and tradition that is a direct consequence of the nature of archaeological data and our ambition to use it as proxy evidence for past human behaviour. We believe this spatial and temporal research focus so common in archaeology could inspire the development of innovative spatial and temporal network science techniques.

This session welcomes archaeological applications of formal network science techniques. It particularly encourages elaboration on the geographical and temporal aspects of applications. What are the implications of working on large time-scales for the use of network science techniques and the interpretation of their outputs? How can the study of long-term change of social systems inspire the development of innovative network science techniques? What advantages do geographical network approaches offer over other spatial analysis techniques in archaeology? How can the long tradition of studying spatial phenomena in archaeology inspire the development of innovative network science techniques?

Session 5L: Modelling large-scale human dispersals: data, pattern and process

Archaeology has largely moved forward from the simplistic ‘dots-on-the-map’ and ‘arrows-on-the-map’ approaches when it comes to studying large-scale human movements. Current models regarding spatio-temporal distribution and migration of humans often highlight the complex nature of such phenomena and the limitations that any particular data type impose on the reconstruction, be it environmental (paleoclimate, paleotopography, paleofauna and -flora), archaeological (site distribution, patterns in material culture) and other types of data (genetics, isotopes etc). Similarly the, often very coarse, resolution of the data coupled with the difficulty of integrating different types of information within one framework make the task of researching large-scale human dispersal challenging. Nevertheless, a number of recent applications employing different computational techniques show that this can be achieved. From the data acquisition, cataloguing and storing, to spatial analysis and identifying patterns and distributions in the data to building abstract and semi-realistic simulations of the processes behind the dispersals, computational techniques can aid the process of investigating human movement on various scales and allow researchers to tackle the underlying complexity of the studied systems moving the debate beyond simple intuitive models.

This session aims to summarise the recent progress in the topic, discuss major challenges and provide a base for establishing further directions of research. We invite contributions from researchers studying human movements on the meso- and macro-scale and employing any of the wide variety of techniques and theoretical frameworks within the following three themes:

DATA: spatio-temporal data acquisition and integration (for example, data types, quantifying uncertainty and biases of the data, large-scale databases, cross-platform integration);

PATTERN: spatio-temporal analysis and modelling (statistical modelling, GIS, C14 among others);

PROCESS: modelling of processes and mechanisms underpinning dispersal through simulation (agent-based and equation-based modelling, cellular automata, system-dynamics modelling, (social) network theory) and other techniques.

Workshop 5: Introduction to exploratory network analysis for archaeologists using Visone

Network science techniques offer archaeologists the ability to manage, visualise, and analyse network data. Within different archaeological research contexts, network data can be used to represent hypothesised past social networks, geographically embedded networks like roads and rivers, the similarity of site assemblages, and much more.

A large number of software programs is available to work with network data. Visone is one of them and offers a number of advantages:
• Free to use for research purposes
• A user-friendly interactive graphical user interface
• Innovative network visualisations
• Exporting publication-quality raster and vector files
• The incorporation of statistical modelling techniques

This workshop introduces the basics of network data management, visualisation and analysis with Visone through practical examples using archaeological research questions and datasets. The workshop is aimed at archaeologists with no required previous experience with network science.

Participants should bring a laptop with Visone installed (download Visone: )

Maximum 20 participants.

Workshop 8: First steps in agent-based modelling with Netlogo

Following on the success of the simulation workshops at CAA2012 in Perth and CAA2013 in Paris, we would like to continue the beginner course in NetLogo – an open-source platform for building agent-based models. NetLogo’s user-friendly interface, simple coding language and a vast library of model examples makes it an ideal starting point for entry-level modellers, as well as a useful prototyping tool for more experienced programmers. The first part of the workshop will be devoted to demonstrating the basics of modelling with NetLogo through a set of worked examples. This should give each participant enough skills and confidence to tackle the second exercise: building an archaeologically-inspired simulation in a small group. Finally, the last two hours will consist of a ‘drop-in’ clinic for anyone who would like to discuss their ideas for a simulation, needs help developing a model, or would like direction to further resources for modellers.

No prior knowledge of coding is required but we will ask the participants to bring their own laptop and install NetLogo beforehand:

Roundtable 5: Simulating the Past: Complex Systems Simulation in Archaeology

In the last few years approaches commonly classified as computational modelling (agent-based and equation-based modelling, and other types of simulation etc.) are becoming increasingly common and popular among the archaeological computing community. Almost all research activity could be termed ‘modelling’ in some sense, for example, in archaeology we create conceptual models (hypotheses, typologies), spatial models (GIS), virtual models (3D reconstructions) or statistical models to name but a few. Most of them, however, investigate either the elements of the system (individual pots, skeletons, buildings etc.) or the pattern produced by the system elements (cultural similarities, settlement distribution, urban development etc.) and only theorize about the possible processes that led from the aggregated actions of individual actors to population-level patterns. In contrast, simulation allows us to approach such processes in a formal way and tackle some of the past complexities. It helps us to create ‘virtual labs’ in which we can test and contrast different hypotheses, find irregularities in the data or identify new factors which we would not suspect of having a significant impact on the system. In short, complexity science techniques have great potential for diverse applications in archaeology and may become a driving force for formalisation of descriptive models for the whole discipline.

The aim of this roundtable is to discuss the potential and challenges of complex systems simulation, including but not restricted to:
the epistemology of computational modelling (what it can and cannot do);
data integration and its use for model validation;
system formalisation and the role of domain specialists;
replicability and reuse of code;
lessons learnt from other disciplines commonly using simulation (ecology, social science, economics etc.)
communication between modellers and the wider archaeological public;
further directions of research.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to propose the creation of a new Special Interest Group (SIG) under the auspices of CAA (named: ‘CAA Complex Systems Simulation SIG’), and to discuss a preliminary plan of the proposed activities of the SIG and an outline of how the SIG is to be organised.

Archaeology session at Sunbelt SNA conference

sunbeltThe Sunbelt series of conferences is the traditional venue for the Social Network Analysis community to showcase their new work. Last year it featured an archaeological session for the very first time, organised by Angus Mol and Ulrik Brandes. At this year’s Sunbelt there will again be an archaeological session, this time organised by Viviana Amati and Termeh Shafie. Let’s hope this will become a tradition! If you happen to be in Florida and have the time, drop by the sunbelt conference: 18-23 February in St. Pete Beach, Florida.

The line-up for this session sounds great. You can download the full schedule on the Sunbelt website. Here is the schedule for the archaeology session:

Friday 21 February, 8:40 – 10:20 AM, Blue Heron room

Emma Blake: Networks and ethnicities in early Italy

Jessica Munson: Sociopolitical networks and the transmission of ritual practices in Classic Maya society

John Roberts, Jr., Ronald Breiger, Matthew Peeples, Barbara Mills: Sampling Variability in Archaeological Network Measures

Jonathan Scholnick: Investigating cultural transmission among historic New England gravestone carvers with social network analysis

Mark Golitko: Procurement and distribution of obsidian in prehispanic Mesoamerica, 900 BC – AD 1520: an economic network analysis

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!

Connected Past @ SAA 2013

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 12.06.10I have some big news! You might remember that last year we organised The Connected Past conference here in Southampton. The event was very well received and it seemed very timely given the increased interest in network approaches in archaeology and history. Some suggested we should build on this momentum to foster a wider community of scholars that could share and discuss network-related ideas at future events. Since then we have been busy setting up an international steering committee and planning future events and publications. I am now delighted to announce the second Connected Past event: a session at the Society for American Archaeologists conference (SAA) 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii. I will chair this session together with Prof. Barbara Mills (University of Arizona), a member of The Connected Past international steering committee who also gave a great presentation about her research group’s network analysis work at last years Connected Past conference. Prof. Ian Hodder (Stanford University) will act as a discussant for the session. His recent book ‘Entangled’ discusses many approaches to relationships between people and material culture, and I am sure he will stimulate a critical discussion at the session.

The abstract of the SAA session can be found below, along with a full list of presenters. More information including all abstract of the presentations can be found on The Connected Past website and on the SAA2013 page of this blog. We are delighted that this list of presenters includes many scholars that were not able to attend last year’s event. The presentations range from practical archaeological case studies, to critical discussions of theoretical and methodological issues.

Session 57: Evening Thursday April 4 at SAA 2013 in Honolulu, Hawaii
Download the full SAA programme here.

Chaired by Tom Brughmans (University of Southampton) and Barbara Mills (University of Arizona)

Discussant: Ian Hodder (Stanford University)

Mark Golitko and Gary Feinman
Herb Maschner, Jennifer Dunne and Spencer Wood
Ethan Cochrane
Shawn Graham
Barbara Mills, Matthew Peeples, Wm. R. Haas, Jr., Lewis Borck, and Jeffery Clark
Tom Brughmans, Simon Keay and Graeme Earl
Tim Kohler, Stefani Crabtree and Michael Berry
Angus Mol, Corinne Hofman and Menno Hoogland
Fiona Coward
Koji Mizoguchi

Session Abstract

Over the last decade the number of published archaeological applications of network methods and theories has increased significantly. This session will build on this increasing interest in networks among archaeologists by highlighting a number of research themes that deserve further exploration. Firstly, it aims to illustrate how particular archaeological research contexts can drive the selection and adaptation of formal network methods from the wide range of existing approaches, where possible through interdisciplinary collaboration. Secondly, papers in this session will address the role archaeological data can play in network methods, the decisions we are faced with when defining nodes and ties, and how our theoretical approaches can be expressed through formal methods incorporating empirical data. Thirdly, the session will address the compatibility of network theories and methods. Lastly, the potential of incorporating materiality within existing network approaches and the study of long-term network evolution will be discussed.

This session will address these themes through methodological or theoretical papers, and will further illustrate the potential of a networks perspective for archaeology in a number of innovative case-studies. It hopes to illustrate that approaches with an interdisciplinary scope but dominated by archaeological research contexts yield the most critical and useful archaeological network studies.

Call for papers Spatial Networks CAA 2012

The CAA 2012 call for papers has just opened! I will be chairing a session with John Pouncett on spatial network approaches in archaeology. Have a look at the abstract below. Please send abstracts of up to 500 words before 30 November to the conference’s submission system.

This session aims to disprove the apparent divide between geographical and network-based methods by providing a discussion platform for archaeological research at the intersection of physical and relational space. This session will welcome contributions addressing the following or related topics: network analysis in GIS, past spatial networks, spatial network evolution, complex networks and spatial models, exploratory network analysis, network-based definitions of spatial structure, agent-based modelling and networks, and space syntax.


Geography and-or-not topology: spatial network approaches in archaeology

Archaeologists’ attempts to explore geographical structure through spatial networks date back to at least the late 1960s. Pioneering studies introduced some of the core principles of graph theory which underpin network analysis, principles which are fundamental but yet seldom acknowledged in many recent applications. The introduction of GIS-based network techniques has allowed for easier analysis of the characteristics of spatial structure, particularly with regard to large or complex network datasets, but at the same time has severely limited the diversity and scope of archaeological applications of network analysis. Commercially available GIS-based network software is often limited to a few applications with clear modern-day relevance like the calculation of least-cost pathways and the analysis of hydrological networks. Archaeologists have been forced to adapt these popular tools and have been successful in doing so, but have left a wealth of alternative applications largely unexplored.

It has been argued that the interpretative potential of GIS-based network techniques can be realised by incorporating new views of networks developed in physics and by drawing upon complexity. By doing so it is possible to both move beyond the confines of traditional definitions of space structure and explore the realm of network growth and evolution. A number of archaeologists have taken their work on spatial networks along this route, exploring the dynamics between physical and relational space. Complex network models and methods are ever more frequently used for exploring the complexity of past spatial networks. Dynamic network models, for example, have been developed to explore the hypothetical processes underlying the interactions between past regional communities. Agent-based techniques have been coupled with complex network models or applied to archaeologically attested spatial networks.

These developments do not seem to have influenced GIS technologies, at least not in the discipline of archaeology. In fact, the archaeological use of GIS seems to suggest that formal methods for exploring past topological and geographical spaces are mutually exclusive.

This session aims to disprove the apparent divide between geographical and network-based methods by providing a discussion platform for archaeological research at the intersection of physical and relational space. This session will welcome contributions addressing the following or related topics: network analysis in GIS, past spatial networks, spatial network evolution, complex networks and spatial models, exploratory network analysis, network-based definitions of spatial structure, agent-based modelling and networks, and space syntax.

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