Computational Modelling Group

Seminar  18th March 2010 noon  Building 65a, Avenue Campus, Nick Bradford Room, University of Southampton

Towards archaeological network analysis: understanding ceramic distributions

Tom Broughmans
University of Southampton

Geographic Information Systems
Patricia Murrieta Flores

Network Analysis for Dummies

In recent years network analysis has been applied in archaeological research to examine the structure of archaeological relationships of whatever sort. However, these archaeological applications share a number of issues concerning 1) the role of archaeological data in networks; 2) the diversity of network structures, their consequences and their interpretation; and 3) the influence of other disciplines, especially sociology.

This paper concerns a deconstruction of past archaeological methods for examining networks. Through a case-study of Roman table wares in the Eastern Mediterranean, it will explore the potential of network analysis as a method for archaeology. It urges caution with the uncritical application of network analysis methods developed in other disciplines and applied to archaeology. However, it stresses the potential benefits of network analysis for the archaeological discipline and acknowledges the need for developing an archaeological network analysis.

This session will aim specifically at discussing the potential of network analysis as a method for understanding ceramic distributions. A number of networks will be presented that illustrate how network analysis can be used to explore large and complex ceramic databases, and how hypotheses based on ceramics can be tested as networks. Everyone present will be able to contribute to the discussion, and it is hoped that from this discussion session a number of ideas will emerge that pave the way for the future use of network analysis for understanding ceramic distributions.