Agent-based modelling and network science for the study of the human past

Speakers: Iza Romanowska, Barcelona Supercomputing Center & Tom Brughmans, University of Oxford
4 July 2019⎹  16.00⎹  C²DH Lounge, MSH 4th floor


Why did human ability to colonise diverse environment evolve? How did the transport system structure economic flows throughout the Roman Empire? These are the kinds of questions archaeologists tend to answer using methods derived from complexity science, such as agent-based modelling or network science. The archaeological applications of both approaches have become commonplace in the last decade with researchers using them to address long standing topics in a wide range of research themes. Archaeological network research is used in case studies as diverse as empirically evidenced social structure or material data exploration and testing of spatially explicit theories. Agent-based modelling has been applied to questions ranging form crowd behaviour of people moving through cities or armies at war to exploring cultural transmission and evolution.

We will give a brief overview of the history of research of complexity science approaches in archaeology while highlight the applicability of
these approaches for history, anthropology and other humanities disciplines. All will be elaborately illustrated through examples drawn
from our own research on early human dispersal out of Africa, the Roman economy and Medieval forts in the Himalayas.

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