Over the past decade ‘network’ has become a buzz-word in many disciplines, including archaeology and history. Scholars in both disciplines have begun to explore the idea of complex networks in their efforts to understand social relationships in the past as well as technical relationships in their data, using methodologies drawn from complex network models devised by sociologists and physicists such as Duncan Watts and Albert-László Barabási. These recent developments in network analysis are based on a long tradition of work in many disciplines, including sociology, mathematics and physics, but with the increasing ubiquity of powerful computing technology across the academic spectrum, ‘network’ perspectives and methodologies are now becoming understood and used more broadly throughout the sciences and humanities.

In the winter of 2010, I and my colleagues Tom Brughmans (Southampton) and Fiona Coward (Bournemouth) decided that the time was right for a conference explicitly addressing network analysis in archaeology and history. The Connected Past was born – and we have gone from strength to strength organising conferences, sessions, workshops and other events to bring together scholars from across the globe using or seeking to use the methodological frame of networks and network analysis to think about their data.



CONFERENCE & WORKSHOP 2014: Imperial College London. September 8 & 9, 2014.

one and a half day multi-disciplinary meeting aimed at discussing how archaeology faces complexity scientists with interesting challenges that could lead to innovative techniques. The idea is to bring together experts from archaeology or related fields together with physical scientists to explore ways to work together; to pose clear questions, highlight the challenges and to look at ways to tackle such issues. The meeting is organised as part of the Connected Past series of events.  Earlier meetings under that framework will give an idea of the type of content participants might expect in this meeting (for example see the Connected Past 2012 conference).The workshop is funded in part by an EPSRC NetworkPlus grant addressing one of Physics Grand Challenges: Emergence and Physics Far From Equilibrium so this meeting will explore ways that archaeological problems can be tackled from such a viewpoint. There is likely to be a small registration fee to cover local costs but some of the funding can and will be used to support travel by some UK based researchers.


Local Organiser: Tim Evans (Imperial)

Advisory Committee: The Connected Past committee


CONFERENCE 2014: The Connected Past – A satellite conference at CAA 2014, Paris, 26 April 2014 in Paris Sciences Po.

With the Support of Sciences Po, the DYREM research program, Médialab, the CAA committee, and the French network of historical network analysis.

Held Saturday April 26th 2014 in Sciences Po, rooms Albert Sorel and Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu, 27 rue Saint-Guillaume, 75007 Paris (metro Saint-Germain-des-Prés or Rue du Bac)

Organisers: Claire Lemercier (CNRS, Sciences Po, Paris), Tom Brughmans (University of Southampton), The Connected Past steering committee.

Saturday 26 April

9.15-10 Welcome coffee and introduction

10-11 First session: Mobility through networks
Eivind Heldaas Seland: Tracing trade routes as networks: From Palmyra to the Persian Gulf in the first three centuries CE
Henrik Gerding and Per Östborn: Network analyses of the diffusion of Hellenistic fired bricks

11-11.15 Coffee break

11.15-12.30 Second session: Dynamics and cross-period comparisons
Habiba, Jan C. Athenstädt and Ulrik Brandes: Inferring Social Dynamics from Spatio-Temporal Network Data in the US Southwest
Ana Sofia Ribeiro: Resilience in times of Early Modern financial crises: the case study of Simon Ruiz network, 1553-1606
Marion Beetschen: Scientists in Swiss Committees of Experts (1910-2010): Power and Academic Disciplines Through Networks

12.30-13.45 Lunch break

13.45-15 Third session: Cross-cultural networks
Angus A. A. Mol and Floris W. M. Keehnen: Tying up Columbus: A historical and material culture study of the networks that resulted from the first European voyages into the Caribbean (AD 1492-1504)
Francisco Apellaniz: Cooperating in Complex Environments: Cross-cultural Trade, Commercial Networks and Notarial Culture in Alexandria (Egypt) : 1350-1500
Florencia Del Castillo and Joan Anton Barceló: Inferring the intensity of Social Network from radiocarbon dated Bronze Age archaeological contexts

15-15.15 Coffee break

15-15.50 Fourth session: Political interactions
Stanley Théry: Social network analysis between Tours notables and Louis XI (1461-1483)
Laurent Beauguitte: Models of historical networks: A methodological proposal

15.50-16.45 Final session, including a very short (2 minutes) oral presentation for each poster, discussion of the posters and final general discussion
Posters by:
Thibault Clérice and Anthony Glaise: Network analysis and distant reading: The Cicero’s Network
Damian Koniarek, Renata Madziara and Piotr Szymański: Towards a study of the structure of the business & science social network of the 2nd Polish Republic
Stefania Merlo Perring: The ChartEx Project. Reconstructing spatial relationships from medieval charters: a collaboration between Data Mining and Historical Topography
Sébastien Plutniak: Archaeology as practical mereology: an attempt to analyze a set of ceramic refits using network analysis tools
Grégoire van Havre: Interactions and network analysis of a rock art site in Morro do Chapéu, Bahia, Brazil

16.45 Drinks and informal discussion

A “The Connected Past” practical workshop, “Introduction to network analysis for archaeologists” will also be organized during CAA2014 in Paris (see the CAA programme).


WORKSHOP, September 17-18 2013, University of Southampton


Networks offer one of the newest and most exciting approaches to archaeological and historical data analysis, and over the last two years, the The Connected Past team has brought together scholars from across the globe to discuss their research, with a session at Birmingham TAG 2011, the Southampton conference in March 2012, a session at the SAAs in Hawaii in April this year, and a collaboration with HESTIA this July.

But we’re also aware that starting to do network analysis isn’t always easy. It can be difficult to know which software to use, how to present data, what questions to ask, and what results really show. Because it’s hard for researchers at all levels who are starting to think about network analysis, we are delighted to announce that we have put together a programme for a two-day practical workshop at the University of Southampton on 17-18 September 2013.


Tuesday 17th September

• Introduction to networks in archaeology and history
• Preparing data for network analysis
• network creation and visualisation
• Archaeological and historical case studies
• Round table discussion
Reception at the Institute for Complex Systems Simulation

Wednesday 18th September

• Network analysis software
• Analysing network structure
• What method to use?
• Geographical network techniques
• Issues in archaeological and historical network analysis

Andy Bevan (UCL)
Tom Brughmans (Southampton)
Anna Collar (McDonald Institute, Cambridge)
Fiona Coward (Bournemouth)
Marten Düring (Nijmegen)
Claire Lemercier (Sciences-Po, Paris)
Angus Mol (Leiden)


HESTIA 2: Exploring spatial networks through ancient sources – 18 July 2013, University of Southampton

Organisers: Elton Barker, Stefan Bouzarovski, Leif Isaksen and Tom Brughmans

A one-day seminar on spatial network analysis in classical studies, archaeology and cultural heritage.

Spatial relationships appear throughout our sources about the past: from the ancient roads that connect cities, or ancient authors mentioning political alliances between places, to the stratigraphic contexts archaeologists deal with in their fieldwork. However, as datasets about the past become increasingly large, spatial relationships become ever more difficult to disentangle. Network visualization and analysis allow us to address such spatial relationships explicitly and directly. This seminar aims to explore the potential of these innovative techniques for research in the higher education, public and cultural heritage sectors.

The seminar is part of Hestia2, a public engagement project aimed at introducing a series of conceptual and practical innovations to the spatial reading and visualisation of texts. Following on from the AHRC-funded initiative ‘Network, Relation, Flow: Imaginations of Space in Herodotus’s Histories’ (Hestia), Hestia2 represents a deliberate shift from experimenting with geospatial analysis of a single text to making Hestia’s outcomes available to new audiences and widely applicable to other texts through a seminar series, online platform, blog and learning materials with the purpose of fostering knowledge exchange between researchers and non-academics, and generating public interest and engagement in this field.


Hawaii SAA 2013 – Thursday April 4 2013

Chaired by Tom Brughmans (University of Southampton) and Barbara Mills (University of Arizona)

Discussant: Ian Hodder (Stanford University)

Mark Golitko and Gary Feinman, Herb Maschner, Jennifer Dunne and Spencer Wood, Ethan Cochrane, Shawn Graham, Barbara Mills, Matthew Peeples, Wm. R. Haas, Jr., Lewis Borck, and Jeffery Clark, Tom Brughmans, Simon Keay and Graeme Earl, Tim Kohler, Stefani Crabtree and Michael Berry, Angus Mol, Corinne Hofman and Menno Hoogland, Fiona Coward, Koji Mizoguchi

Over the last decade the number of published archaeological applications of network methods and theories has increased significantly. This session will build on this increasing interest in networks among archaeologists by highlighting a number of research themes that deserve further exploration. Firstly, it aims to illustrate how particular archaeological research contexts can drive the selection and adaptation of formal network methods from the wide range of existing approaches, where possible through interdisciplinary collaboration. Secondly, papers in this session will address the role archaeological data can play in network methods, the decisions we are faced with when defining nodes and ties, and how our theoretical approaches can be expressed through formal methods incorporating empirical data. Thirdly, the session will address the compatibility of network theories and methods. Lastly, the potential of incorporating materiality within existing network approaches and the study of long-term network evolution will be discussed.


Conference 2012: The Connected Past: people, networks and complexity in archaeology and history

A two-day collaborative, multi-disciplinary symposium at The University of Southampton
24-25 March 2012

Conference objectives:

  • To provide a forum for the presentation and debate of multidisciplinary network-based research and debate the ramifications of applying network-based perspectives and methodologies to archaeological and historical data
  • To establish a group of academics using network-based approaches to archaeology, history and allied disciplines
  • To foster cross-disciplinary dialogue and collaborative work aimed at integrating analytical frameworks for understanding complex networks and their application to historical and archaeological problems.
  • To stimulate debate about the theory and application of network analysis within archaeology and history and the relevance of this work for the continued development of network theory in other disciplines.

Keynotes: Professor Alex Bentley (Bristol), Professor Carl Knappett (Toronto), Professor Irad Malkin (Tel Aviv).

The conference provided a platform for pioneering, multidisciplinary collaborative work in the field of network science. It brought together the disparate international community of scholars working to develop network-based approaches and their application to the past and to provide a forum for the discussion of the most recent applications of the techniques, to ask what has been successful or unsuccessful, foster cross-disciplinary collaborations and cooperation, and stimulate debate about the application of network science within the disciplines of archaeology and history in particular, but also more broadly across the entire field.

Sponsored by Archaeopress, The Classical Association, the Archaeological Computing Research Group, Oxford University Press, the University of Southampton USRG Complexity in Real-world Contexts, the University of Southampton Web Science DTC and the University of Southampton Faculty of Humanities


Birmingham TAG 2011 – Friday 16th December from 9 to 12:45

Contributors included:
Tom Brughmans, Kimberley van den Berg, Doug Rocks-Macqueen, Amy J. Maitland Gardner, Agata Czeszewska, Amara Thornton, Erik van Rossenberg, Heather Giddens

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