Is network science useful for Roman studies? What’s so great about it, and what’s not? In January I gave a keynote talk on the topic at ‘Finding the limits of the Limes’. The talk was caught on film, so you can judge my arguments for yourself. It starts a bit negative but ends on a hopeful note (spoiler alert: I LOVE networks). Talk abstract below the video.
A while ago we at The Connected Past co-organised an event in Southampton called ‘Hestia2: exploring spatial networks through ancient source’. I published a review of the event on this blog before, read it here. We managed to record quite a few talks presented during this event. But this was not the only Hestia2 conference: there were four in total and most talks were recorded. You can now access all videos of the Hestia2 events on our Youtube channel. The topics of the videos are very diverse, with something on every aspect of Digital Classics represented. If you like this blog, then you WILL find something of interest in the Hestia2 Youtube channel 🙂
Click here for the Hestia2 Youtube channel.
Southampton made the news last week with some of our scanning work. It turns out we have a massive room-sized scanner (misleadingly called a MICRO-CT scanner) at our imaging centre. It is capable of scanning stuff with a resolution of less than 0.1mm and given its size it can do this for quite big objects. Our Archaeological Computing Research Group could not wait to get their hands on this new toy, and collaborated with the British Museum to scan a large cauldron excavated at Chiseldon. The cauldron itself is actually not excavated since it is too fragile. Instead, the archaeologists lifted the big find encased in its soil matrix to preserve it until technologies come along that can tell us more about this fragile find. It seems that this time has now come! With this scanner the archaeologists were able to explore the cauldron by looking through the earth layers without excavating it.
Have a look at the video and read the article on the BBC website.
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.
Two months ago Anna Collar, Fiona Coward and myself organised a conference about networks in archaeology and history, called The Connected Past. The event was great (or at least that is how I experienced it). But if you were not able to be there you will be happy to know that the recorded talks are now available online. The recorded talks are illustrative of the wide range of topics by scholars from an equally diverse range of disciplines. There are videos with a methodological focus, some with a theoretical focus and a number of applied case studies. If these talks taught us anything it would be that ‘Thinking through networks’ might provide innovative and useful approaches to understand the past, but some methods are more promising than others and the theoretical implications deserve our attention. Networks are not everything but they might be useful and we hope that The Connected Past allowed for this idea to emerge and will continue to provide a multi-disciplinary discussion platform.
So you will hear more about The Connected Past in the future!
You can watch the videos below. Johannes gave an introduction after which I presented a 40 minute keynote talk. Next up was Mihailo Popović talking about the historical geography of Byzantium, followed by Johannes Preiser-Kapeller and Ekaterini Mitsiou presenting their recent work on social networks of Byzantium. The workshop was hosted at the Institute for Byzantine Studies (Austrian Academy of Sciences) in Vienna and was titled “Connecting the dots. The analysis of networks and the study of the past (Archaeology and History)”.
Here are the videos: