Can You Model That? Applications of Complex Systems Simulation to Explore the Past

Iza Romanowska, Stefani Crabtree, Benjamin Davies


The large scale patterns that we commonly detect in the archaeological record are often not a simple sum of individual human interactions. Instead, they are a complex interwoven network of dependencies among individuals, groups, and the environment in which individuals live. Tools such as Agent-based Modelling, System Dynamics Models, Network Analysis and Equation-based Models are instrumental in unravelling some of this network and shedding light on the dynamic processes that occurred in the past.

In this session we invite case studies using computational approaches to understand past societies. This session will showcase the innovative ways archaeologists have used simulation and other model building techniques to understand the interactions between individuals and their social and natural environments. The session will also provide a platform to discuss both the potential and the limitations of computational modelling in archaeology and to highlight the range of possible applications.