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Networking with the Romans: Examples of archaeological network research and where we should go from here

Inaugural lecture by Associate professor Tom Brughmans (School of Culture and Society & UrbNet, Aarhus University).

Info about event


Tuesday 27 October 2020,  at 15:15 - 16:15


Virtual (Zoom)


UrbNet, Centre for Urban Network Evolutions


If you wish to register, please contact Christina Levisen at levisen@cas.au.dk


Techniques from network science are increasingly commonly applied in archaeological research. But what is their potential for enhancing our understanding of the human past, and how can we more successfully leverage this potential in future work?

Archaeological network research often takes the form of exploratory data analysis, where archaeological datasets are represented as dots connected by lines and the resulting structures are analysed to identify historically meaningful patterns or gaps in our data. A minority of archaeological network research takes its starting point from a relational archaeological theory about a past phenomenon, and aims to understand the behaviour of this theory (often through network simulation) or test it against an archaeological dataset. These approaches have been usefully applied to study past transport systems and human mobility, the spread of information between past communities, island connectivity, communication through visual signalling, and material culture distribution.

In this talk I will give a few examples of archaeological network research from my own work, from visual signaling between hundreds of Medieval forts on mountaintops in the Himalayas, to citation and co-authorship practices among archaeologists. But most of my research has focused on networking with the Romans, and I will more elaborately discuss my network studies of the Roman economy focusing on Roman imperial economic integration, population distribution, and transport networks.