Session: #487

Theme & Session Format

5. Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences
Session format:
Session with keynote presentation and discussion

Title & Content

A network for agent-based modelling of socio-ecological systems in Archaeology (NASA)
Agent-based modelling (ABM) has developed into an important methodological tool in archaeological research. ABM allows us to simulate the dynamics of complex systems, hypothesize individual and collective action, and investigate socio-ecological processes at various scales. It represents a veritable paradigm shift, not just for the study of the human past but also for the social sciences in general.
Formal modelling tools such as ABM have several advantages over more informal approaches to study complex dynamics in past human and environmental systems. They 1) enforce conceptual clarity, 2) define mechanisms of change, 3) help infer dynamics in the past from the static archaeological record, and 4) allow for rigorous hypothesis testing.
Applications in archaeology have been growing in number in recent years, but ABM is yet to fully mature as a conceptual and methodological tool for studying the past. To make this maturation possible, we need to encourage wider dissemination among researchers and the establishment of standardized practices. An important step forward was the recent foundation of the Network for Agent-based modelling of Socio-ecological systems in Archaeology (NASA). The main targets of this network are: 1) compile a curated model library for ABM in archaeology; 2) collect and develop best practices and modelling guidelines; 3) develop tools for interoperability following the FAIR principles; 4) create a network for international collaboration.
We invite researchers working on archaeological ABM to present their work and contribute to the goals of the network. Contributions can consist of, but may not be limited to:
individual case studies highlighting a specific issue, method or solution;
proposals including demos of ABM modules that can form part of the modelling library;
examples of integration of ABM with other (archaeological) methods;
standards and best practices in ABM, as well as directions for the current and future development.
Agent-based modelling, Complex systems, Socio-ecological dynamics, Collaborative network, Standards and best practices
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Main organiser:
Philip Verhagen (Netherlands) 1
Dries Daems (Belgium) 2
Iza Romanowska (Denmark) 3
1. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
2. KU Leuven
3. Aarhus University