A guide to good practice for archaeological network science

Tom Brughmans


The use of network science techniques for the study of the past shows great potential and has recently become more common practice. However, this increased use of network science techniques has also led to the identification of particular challenges posed by their archaeological application, which deserve more critical attention. In order to overcome all these challenges and uncover new and useful archaeological uses of network science it is important that archaeological network science should be considered more than just a hype: archaeological network scientists should be cautious to make grand claims about the novelty of their methods and instead enable a larger body of archaeologists to critique their approaches.

In this talk I will argue there is a need for best practice guidelines for archaeological network science. I consider this a task that should be performed in collaboration with more mathematically- and computer-literate archaeologists, who should work towards a ‘guide to good practice’ accessible to all archaeologists, and provide critical applied case studies as examples. By doing so, archaeologists will be provided with the means to evaluate how and whether network science is a tool that can lead to innovative insights in their own research contexts, as well as enable a larger group of archaeologists to critique the ever increasing number of archaeological network science studies.