Archaeology and Networks


The Minoa, now in Chania harbour.
A modern promotion or archaeological reconstruction?
See article by A.Simandiraki Minoan Archaeology in the Athens 2004 Olympic Games
[Eur.J.Arch. 8(2):157-181 (2005)]

Clay Model 1700-1650BC

My research in archaeology emerged out of an EU funded project known as ISCOM, see for the example the news note on Big cities need a fast-paced life to grow in Nature about this collaboration. The book of the ISCOM project edited by David Lane et al. listed below, has many detailed articles from the participants. This work continues and I am part of the Connected Past team which organises events focussing on the uses of network and complexity ideas in archaeology and history.

Through ISCOM I started collaborating with archaeologist Carl Knappett from Toronto University and Ray Rivers from Imperial. We have presented our work at several meetings so we have some papers available on this – see below or on my publication page. The work is on going. We are studying the Bronze Age Aegean through networks using a JAVA based programme, ariadne to implement our ideas. For instance we want to study the rise and fall of Minoan influence in this region. A mini profile in the Imperial College Reporter on Ray River’s work on archaeology (page 10) might be of interest.

The 39 Middle Bronze Age sites used in our current models,
(the 34 sites used originally).

Modelling Software: ariadne

Screen shot of all the windows produced by ariadne,
two-dimensional geographical networks modelling software, April 2011
(click on image for large file ariadne screen shot,
screen shot of old style ariadne network).

Our work is done ariadne, a java based package written by myself which produces networks based on one of a number of models, though the primary aim is to produce networks based on the cost/benefit optimisation models described in the talks and publications listed below. In principle  ariadne can be used to produce network models for any problem involving two dimensional spatial networks (not necessarily geographical) and currently includes other models such as PPA (proximal point analysis) and gravity models (see interactions paper for comparison). A core part of the package is to produce visualisations (with with eps and jpg output of networks, all based on the jung network visualisations) though it can also be run without visualisations to produce statistical analysis of models. Numerical output in various formats allows visualisation and further analysis using other packages

I am now keeping the ariadne programme including source code at figshare. There is some user documentation but it is not kept up to date, and the programme can be a bit delicate.  So it probably needs face to face help to get it working or a good working knowledge of java (the code itself is pretty well documented using javadoc). I develop it on a Windows PC, it should work fine on Linux, but I have got it running on a Mac too despite issues there with old versions of java.

To be honest the ariadne programme has grown out of all proportion from the initial version (intended as a simple command line network generator) and it is now a general purpose spatial network model analyser.  I think it would make more sense to write some new code with separate parts for model generation (so more are easily added), and another for analysis and visualisation.  In principle the latter part could be done by using a separate package so we might be talking about writing a plugin for another package which generates the networks from various spatial models generators.  On the other hand I found the simple sliders and the ability to have several networks visible on the screen at the same time very useful.

You can download a working ariadne programme and socurce code from figshare DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.97746 (this link takes you to an  older ariadne programme but the page also has some information on installation which may still be of use). 

The data on the sites and distances used in our work is available on figshare as Thirty Nine Minoan Sites
DOI: 10.6084/m9.figshare.97395

Talks and Publications

Many of the more recent talks are on the Tim Evans figshare account.

Useful Links