A formal network approach to ancient Mediterranean urbanisation process
Lieve Donnellan | VU University Amsterdam | Netherlands
Recent approaches to formal network analysis in archaeology tend to be critical towards the importance paid to absolute space as analytical unit for studying past interaction. Even though space is an important factor in analysis, nodes in an archaeological network are too often equalled with a physical place. Thus, this paper proposes an alternative approach for studying interaction in past populations, based on funerary contexts. Ties between nodes (tombs) are based on similarities in materialities between individual funerary contexts.
Similarities between the physical appearance of tombs used to be seen by scholars as expression of social class and social status, but the subtleties of interaction, as expressed through the use of material culture as proxy for interaction and ideology, could not be analysed. However, a systematic and quantitive approach is needed to gain a full understanding of the importance of network structure, clustering, the role of bridges etc.
By converting a funerary dataset into a two mode network model, a detailed understanding of the structure of the population as well as the role of individual objects and materialities can be made. This type of analysis revolutionizes the archaeological study of burial rites in the past.
The application of this model to a case study, Pontecagnano in Campania, Southern Italy, allows to gain a more subtle and complex understanding of the social make-up of this society, as expressed in burial. Traditionally, the society in Pontecagnano is seen as moving in a linearly fashion from simple to complex, in a process of state formation and urbanisation. In this process, different groups were gradually united into one larger early urban society. A formal network analysis allows to understand the trajectory of social change, the important actors, as well as their main strategies in the process.
Agent Based Modeling and Archeological Networks - Refining the Material Based Approach
Lennart Linde | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main | Germany
Archaeological Networks constitute themselves from broken links and defunct nodes. Therefore they are not characterized as proper social networks but rather as material networks. Synthesized solely from the material remains of a distant past. But these material proxy's in itself are only a fragmentary sample of historic reality. They are bound to depict mainly the presence and absence of a chosen proxy at archaeological sites. While distribution patterns of artifacts emerge from past interactions between actors they hardly shine any light on the nature and directions of these interactions. A way to explorate this very interactions are Agent Based Models (ABM). Virtual agents take the roles of actors and act accordingly to a given rule set. This ruleset mirrors our assumptions on the nature of interactions that lead to the observed network. These computational simulations allow us therefore to verify if the underlying hypotheses of how a network had constituted itself. The presentation will showcase an experimental ABM centered approach to generate archaeological networks. The network graphs and measures generated through the ABM will than be compared to the patterns synthesized from the material based approach. This puts ABMs in the place of a "computational laboratory", a virtual space to put those social rules and norms to test that we suppose to be the driving factors of network genesis. While the possibilities seem endless the talk will shed some light on what constitutes a good model and which boundaries are limiting to the current approach.
Modeling innovation spread in archaeological networks
Natasa Conrad | Zuse Institute Berlin | Germany
Real-world systems are often modeled as networks. Analysis of such networks has led to valuable insights about the underlying systems coming from many different areas: sociology, biology, technical sciences etc. In particular, archaeological network analysis has gained a lot of attention in recent years, as using graph structure enriches historical data with additional relational information. However, many of the existing approaches rely on directly applying established network perspectives, without adopting it specifically to archaeological data.
We develop new mathematical methods for archeological network analysis using not only relational data, but also incorporating spatio-temporal information, geophysical knowledge and existing material traces. We apply these methods for modeling innovation spread in large, time-evolving networks. In this talk, I will present our new method and demonstrate its applicability to studying how the use of wool-sheep has started and spread in Near East and Europe. We are interested in possible scenarios on where and when wool production first emerged and determining most probable paths of its spread. Our approach is based on dynamical exploration of network structure via a Markov process and using its spectral properties to reveal metastable regions, i.e. regions where innovation stays for a long period of time, before it quickly jumps and spreads in another metastable region. We focus on more detailed, mathematical understanding of this process. Such analysis could provide new perspectives for changes this innovation has made in particular regions and in textile production development in general.