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.

Video: urban network analysis

This video is an impressive ad for the Urban Network Analysis toolkit, which I have never worked with by the way. Network analysis in urban environments is quite popular since it is relatively straightforward to identify the obvious nodes and links. A simple transport network can consist of streets as links connecting nodes at the crossing of these links. Urban Network Analysis seems to add buildings and a large variety of attributes (like jobs, residents, …). It uses this to create network maps of cities that can integrated with ArcGIS10 and analysed using network analysis measures. The measures illustrated in the video are quite simple and common, and by no means exclusive to urban network analysis. But they do become quite powerful when looking at large networks, like entire cities for example. The approach taken here has much in common with Space Syntax, although without the theoretical/interpretative baggage. The video is a pretty good introduction to how to see networks in an urban environment, so do have a look.

Urban Network Analysis Toolbox Introduction from Tolm on Vimeo.

Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks ebook now out!

Leonardo (the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology) and MIT Press produced a new ebook that confirms the Arts and Humanities finally form a valuable part of the growing group of disciplines often associated with complex network research. The ebook edited by Maximilian Schich, Roger Malina and Isabel Meirelles is a collection of 26 short articles based on presentations at the Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks Leonardo Days at the NetSci conferences, the High Throughput Humanities conference, and most were previously published in Leonardo journal. The works by specialists in fields as diverse as archaeology, history, music, visualisation and language studies illustrate that the Arts and Humanities can make original contributions to complex network research and provide fascinating new perspectives in a wide range of disciplines. A nice online companion was launched together with the ebook.

The volume includes two contributions by researchers from The University of Southampton: the Google Ancient Places project is discussed by Leif Isaksen and colleagues, and the Urban Connectivity in Iron Age and Roman Southern Spain project was introduced by Simon Keay, Graeme Earl and myself. You can find a draft of that last article on my bibliography page.

You can order the ebook on Amazon.

Do check it out!

Here is the full table of contents:

Preface by Roger Malina
Introduction by Isabel Meirelles and Maximilian Schich

I Networks in Culture

Networks of Photos, Landmarks, and People
David Crandall and Noah Snavely

GAP: A NeoGeo Approach to Classical Resources
Leif Isaksen et al.

Complex Networks in Archaeology: Urban Connectivity in Iron Age and Roman Southern Spain
Tom Brughmans, Simon Keay, and Graeme Earl

II Networks in Art

Sustaining a Global Community: Art and Religion in the Network of Baroque Hispanic-American Paintings
Juan Luis Suárez, Fernando Sancho, and Javier de la Rosa

Marek Claassen

When the Rich Don’t Get Richer: Equalizing Tendencies of Creative Networks
John Bell and Jon Ippolito

The Mnemosyne Atlas and The Meaning of Panel 79 in Aby Warburg’s Oeuvre as a Distributed Object
Sara Angel

Documenting Artistic Networks: Anna Oppermann’s Ensembles Are Complex Networks!
Martin Warnke and Carmen Wedemeyer

Net-Working with Maciunas
Astrit Schmidt-Burkhardt

Network Science: A New Method for Investigating the Complexity of Musical Experiences in the Brain
Robin W. Wilkins et al.

Networks of Contemporary Popular Musicians
Juyong Park

III Networks in the Humanities

The Making of Sixty-Nine Days of Close Encounters at the Science Gallery
Wouter Van den Broeck et al.

Social, Sexual and Economic Networks of Prostitution
Petter Holme

06.213: Attacks with Knives and Sharp Instruments: Quantitative Coding and the Witness To Atrocity
Ben Miller

The Social Network of Dante’s Inferno
Amedeo Cappelli et al.

A World Map of Knowledge in the Making: Wikipedia’s Inter-Language Linkage as a Dependency Explorer of Global Knowledge Accumulation
Thomas Petzold et al.

Evolution of Romance Language in Written Communication: Network Analysis of Late Latin and Early Romance Corpora
Alexander Mehler et al.

Need to Categorize: A Comparative Look at the Categories Of Universal Decimal Classification System and Wikipedia
Almila Akdag Salah et al.

The Development of the Journal Environment of Leonardo
Alkim Almila Akdag Salah and Loet Leydesdorff

IV Art about Networks

Tell Them Anything but the Truth: They Will Find Their Own. How We Visualized the Map of the Future with Respect to the Audience of Our Story
Michele Graffieti et al.

Model Ideas: From Stem Cell Simulation to Floating Art Work
Jane Prophet

Culture, Data and Algorithmic Organization
George Legrady

Cybernetic Bacteria 2.0
Anna Dumitriu

Narcotic of the Narrative
Ward Shelley

V Research in Network Visualization

Building Network Visualization Tools to Facilitate Metacognition Incomplex Analysis
Barbara Mirel

Pursuing the Work of Jacques Bertin
Nathalie Henry Riche

Interview at the Global Lab

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Martin Zaltz Austwick of University College London’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) for his podcast ‘The Global Lab’. It was good fun talking to Martin. Initially we thought the only thing an archaeologist and an modern-day urban specialist had in common was that we can both talk about bricks (and we did). But our conversation soon turned into something that other people might actually be interested in, or so I hope.

You can check out the interview on the Global Lab homepage (episode 2) or via my bibliography page.

Do have a look at the CASA website as well. It produces fascinating research by world-leading researchers (like Mike Batty) that is very relevant to archaeologists. Especially those of us of the Complexity Science persuasion.

Conference Newcastle ‘Networks and Scales’ 23 May

I would just like to remind you all that next Monday the School of Historical Studies at Newcastle University will host a Postgraduate conference titled ‘Networks and Scales: Relating the local and the global’. I will present a paper myself on issues surrounding the archaeological application of network analysis, the potential of a multi-scalar network method, and show examples from the ‘Urban connectivity in Iron Age and Roman Southern Spain’ project directed by Simon Keay and Graeme Earl.

I am very much looking forward to the event, the list of speakers looks very promising.

Have a look for yourself:

This interdisciplinary conference seeks to address the notion of networks across boundaries and disciplines. Are we aware of the networks within which our subjects exist? Do we address sufficiently issues of network and scale in the past? How do we make connections between the often narrow focus of doctoral research and the local and global scales within which we practice?

The variety of papers that we were offered has been thrilling and it has been a great pleasure to organise what looks set to be an interesting and stimulating day. The papers transcend the disciplines of archaeology, history, ancient history, classics and history of medicine bringing together diverse research interests and a range of researchers united by a common interest in connecting different people, places and things, building links between data and interpretation and locating the local or individual in broader networks. We hope that today will provide the opportunity for our speakers and audience to both explore and create new networks.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the people without whom today would not be possible. Firstly, our sincere thanks to Professor Keith Wrightson and Professor Norman McCord for offering their continued support for the poster and paper prizes respectively. Our thanks are also due to the judging panels for said prizes. In addition we would like to thank the School of Historical Studies for their financial support, and in particular Dr. Helen Berry, director of postgraduate studies. We are grateful to those who have submitted posters, and hope that you have found it a useful experience. We would like to thank our speakers for offering such varied and intriguing abstracts and, we are sure, thought-provoking and interesting papers.

Finally, it is a great pleasure to welcome Professor Richard Hingley of Durham University as our key note speaker. We are honoured to have him address the conference and can think of no better way to end the day than with his lecture on networking frontiers.

Schedule for the Day

9.30am – Registration in the Research Beehive

Exploring Network Theories

10.00am Tom Brughmans – Complex networks in archaeology: Urban connectivity in Roman southern Spain

10.30am Keith Scholes – Recovering past networks : An approach to Early Medieval trade and communications

11am Coffee

11.30am Piotr Jacobsson – Re-assembling Aceramic Cyprus

12.00pm Louise Tolson- Exclusive/Inclusive: Public involvement and collaboration in the archaeology of the recent past

12.30pm Lunch

Scaling Sickness and Health

1.30pm Michelle Gamble – Bones, people and populations: A palaeopathological case study from Chalcolithic Cyprus

2.00pm Graham Butler – “Elizabeth Ferney, having procured a foul distemper, ordered into the workhouse until cured”: The Parish, the parish workhouse and parochial medicine in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1770-1830

2.30pm Coffee

Networks of Power

3.00pm David Linden – One Nation Networking: Baroness Elles and European Toryism

3.30pm Fiona Noble – Sulla and Aphrodisias: Greek and Roman Interaction in the 1st century BC.

4.00pm Jonathan Dugdale – Pagodas, Patronage and Power: The Role of State Sponsored Buddhism in Liao Dynasty China

4.30pm Coffee and Judging of the Keith Wrightson Poster Prize

5.15pm Presentation of the Keith Wrightson Poster Prize and the Norman McCord Prize for the best paper

5.30pm Key Note Address

Professor Richard Hingley – ‘Networking the study of frontiers’

6.30pm Wine reception and dinner at Barkolo.

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