• The Equifinality of Archaeological Networks: an Agent-Based Exploratory Lab Approach

    Author(s):
    Shawn Graham (see profile) , Scott Weingart
    Date:
    2014
    Group(s):
    Archaeology, Digital Humanists
    Subject(s):
    Digital humanities
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    agent-based modeling, archaeology, roman history, simulation, trade
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M60907
    Abstract:
    When we find an archaeological network, how can we explore the necessary versus contingent processes at play in the formation of that archaeological network? Given a set of circumstances or processes, what other possible network shapes could have emerged? This is the problem of equifinality, where many different means could potentially arrive at the same end result: the networks that we observe. This paper outlines how agent-based modelling can be used as a laboratory for exploring different processes of archaeological network formation. We begin by describing our best guess about how the (ancient) world worked, given our target materials (here, the networks of production and patronage surrounding the Roman brick industry in the hinterland of Rome). We then develop an agent-based model of the Roman extractive economy which generates different kinds of networks under various assumptions about how that economy works. The rules of the simulation are built upon the work of Bang (2006; 2008) who describes a model of the Roman economy which he calls the ‘imperial Bazaar’. The agents are allowed to interact, and the investigators compare the kinds of networks this description generates over an entire landscape of economic possibilities. By rigorously exploring this landscape, and comparing the resultant networks with those observed in the archaeological materials, the investigators will be able to employ the principle of equifinality to work out the representativeness of the archaeological network and thus the underlying processes.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal Article
    Pub. DOI:
    10.1007/s10816-014-9230-y
    Publisher:
    Springer Nature
    Journal:
    Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
    Volume:
    22
    Issue:
    1
    Start Page:
    248
    End Page:
    274
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    9 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

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