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Below is a draft of my syllabus for my upcoming class on ‘Cities and Countryside in the Ancient World’ class. I’m very Mediterranean-centric; 12 weeks won’t allow for much else, and stick with what you know, right? Comments, suggestions are welcome.
HIST3902-A Cities and Countryside in the Ancient World
Cities are creatures of the countryside. Understanding that relationship is key to understanding the ancient world. Discuss.
This course looks at the relationship between cities and countryside in the ancient world, as evidenced primarily through landscape archaeology. I will be arguing, amongst other things, that the form of that relationship is the key indicator for understanding the mindset, the nature of, that particular culture. It is no accident that ‘cities’ and ‘civilization’ are etymologically related: thus, looking at cities and countryside will give us an understanding of what being civilized meant in antiquity.
Hacking as a Way of Knowing
Every exercise in this course builds on every other, as we build tools and work with data to construct an understanding of what it meant to be civilized in the (Greco-Roman) ancient world. The course objectives then are to:
- Introduce and explore the study of ancient landscapes, society, and economy
- Develop facility with representing archaeological and historical data using GIS and/or Network Analysis
- Make a positive and public contribution to scholarly knowledge on some aspect of Greco-Roman antiquity as it played out across space.
You will be working with datasets that have been made available to you by scholars working in the field. I am enormously grateful to these partners. Some of this material is unpublished; all of it is rich. You have the opportunity to make real contributions to scholarly knowledge by mining and analyzing this data for new insights. Accordingly, you must maintain the highest standards of professionalism and academic ‘good citizenship’ as you work with this data.
I do not see the point of assigning you work that only I or the TA will read. In which case, we will be conducting certain portions of this course in public on the internet. (For more on my teaching philosophy, see http://bit.ly/LLq765).
Anything posted online may be posted under a pseudonym should you have privacy concerns. You need to discuss these with me during week 1. I strongly recommend you do use your own name, so that you can begin to build your online footprint as a serious scholar. I also suggest you begin to lurk on Twitter, to follow prominent archaeologists and historians there and on Academia.edu, so that you can connect to a world-wide community of practice.
The best student work will be posted and promoted on Electric Archaeology (electricarchaeology.ca) and on Twitter, with the ambition of having the Journal of Digital Humanities select it for formal publication. If your work is selected, you are under no obligation to have your work promoted in this fashion should you so choose.
We will discuss and explore a number of key concepts. Terms that you should watch out for in your readings: primitivist, modernist, consumer city, producer city, bazaar, space syntax, actor-network theory, social network analysis, landscape formation processes, the anthropological nature of time/space, networks, information systems, agent-based simulation, computational economics.
The following is on reserve in the library. Its philosophical and methodological approach will underpin much of what we will do.
Knappett, Carl. An Archaeology of Interaction: Network Perspectives on Material Culture and Society. Oxford University Press: Oxford, 2011.
Demonstrating Your Scholarly Growth
- ORBIS and the social experience of space – due in class Wednesday Week 2 (September 19). 10%
- GIS/Network Analysis – due in class Wednesday Week 9 (November 7). 30%
- Final Project – due in class Monday December 03. 40%
These three assignments dovetail into one another. The first exercise involves working with ORBIS The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World http://orbis.stanford.edu/ to experience, via networks, maps, and simulation, something of the social experience of space around the Mediterranean. In the second exercise, you will create maps and/or social network graphs from real data provided by our partners (exact details TBA). In the Final Project, you will combine your understanding of the spatial realities of the ancient world with your maps and graphs in a final project which may combine media and text to answer the question with which we began the class.
- Theory & Practise Exercises – due at end of Week 4 (October 5) and Week 6 (October 19). 20%.
These are a suite of exercises you may redo until you have achieved mastery. You may begin these exercises during Week 2, and submit at any point prior to the due date. The earlier you submit, the greater the chance that we can look at the work and help you. You have to allow at least 4 days for us to look the work over and return it to you. If you submit 4 days before the due date, you will not be allowed to redo the work. Please keep in mind that by offering you this chance, we are accepting a heavy grading load, and we ask for courtesy as we do so.
NB You will note that there is no final exam. DO NOT take that as a sign that this class is not as important as your other classes. By not having a final, I wish to signal to you that you must bring your best work to bear on your class work at all times.
Required (free) Software
You should download and install the following free software packages on your computer – or team up with someone else who can download and install them, should you not have access to a suitable machine. Note that ‘Portable GIS’ is meant to be run from a USB stick, and thus could be run on University computers.
Some of the following simulations can be run in your browser (others you may only read about, as the code hasn’t been released). They (and their associated texts) should be explored. Why do they work the way they do? What are the assumptions behind them? How do they enhance or not your understanding?
Roman Itineraries http://graeworks.net/abm/itineraries.html
Procedural Modeling of Cities http://ccl.northwestern.edu/cities/
Artificial Anasazi (a key archaeological implementation of agent based modeling) http://www.openabm.org/model/2222/version/1/view
Timelines & Mapping resources
Introductory Lecture on Netlogo – Agents in Archaeology (video)
GIS and Agent-Based Modeling http://gisagents.blogspot.ca/
Archaeological Networks http://archaeologicalnetworks.wordpress.com/
The Scottbot Irregular http://www.scottbot.net/HIAL/
Maps, Data and Government Information Centre http://www.library.carleton.ca/contact/service-points/madgic
Digital Humanities Subject Guide http://www.library.carleton.ca/research/subject-guides/digital-humanities#welcome
Greek and Roman Studies Subject Guide http://www.library.carleton.ca/research/subject-guides/greek-and-roman-studies
The following weekly schedule of topics is tentative and subject to change.
Part 1 (September):
- Setting the scene: history & theory. Abandoning your 2-dimensional, top-down view of space: the emic vs. the etic.
- Minoans, Mycenaeans and the Aegean
- The Era of Colonization (Greeks, Etruscans, Phoenicians)
Part 2 (October):
- Maps and GIS
- Agent Based Simulation
- Network Analysis
- Landscape Archaeology & Survey
Part 3 (November):
- Greek Cities
- Greek Landscapes
- Roman Cities
- Roman Landscapes
The End (December 3)
- Answering the questions with which we began.
The following readings are indicative of the issues involved, and will deepen your understanding. This list is by no means exhaustive – consult the works’ bibliographies to pointers to further work! I provide them here to help you, to round out the ideas presented in our meetings. You will be able to make useful contributions to that discussion if you come prepared, having looked at some of these works. If you can’t find them on your own, you *must* ask the Historian/Classics Librarian for help to find other possible books/articles/online resources that can speak to the week’s topic. I expect you to read beyond the works listed here. Do you know how to use Google Scholar? Have you ever used L’Année philologique?
Agar, M. (2003). ‘My kingdom for a function: modelling misadventures of the innumerate’, Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 6.3. http://jasss.soc.surrey.ac.uk/6/3/8.html
Bang, P., Mamoru Ikeguchi and Harmut G. Ziche, eds. (2006). Ancient Economies, Modern Methodologies : Archaeology, Comparative History, Models and Institutions.
Brughmans, T. (2012). ‘Thinking through networks: a review of formal network methods in archaeology’, Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 19.2 Online version: DOI: 10.1007/s10816-012-9133-8 http://www.springerlink.com/index/10.1007/s10816-012-9133-8
Conolly, J., and M. Lake. (2006). Geographical Information Systems In Archaeology.
Coward, F. (2010). ‘Small worlds, material culture and Near Eastern social networks’, Proceedings of the British Academy 158, 449-479. http://www.fcoward.co.uk/Cowardsmallworlds.pdf
Frier, B. and D. Kehoe. (2007). ‘Law and economic institutions’, in W. Scheidel, I. Morris, R. Saller (eds.), The Cambridge Economic History of the Greco-Roman World. 113-143.
Graham, S. (2006). ‘Networks, Agent-Based Modeling, and the Antonine Itineraries’, The Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19.1: 45-64.
Graham, S. (2009) ‘The Space Between: The Geography of Social Networks in the Tiber Valley’ in Coarelli, F. and Patterson, H. (eds) Mercator Placidissimus: the TiberValley in Antiquity. New research in the upper and middle river valley.
Graham, S. and J. Steiner. (2008). ‘Travellersim: Growing Settlement Structures and Territories with Agent-Based Modelling’, in J. Clark and E. Hagemeister (eds.), Digital Discovery: Exploring New Frontiers in Human Heritage. CAA 2006. Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology. Proceedings of the 34th Conference, Fargo, United States, April 2006. 57-67.
Ingold, T. (1993). ‘The Temporality of the Landscape’. World Archaeology 25.2 152–174.
Johnson, M. (1999) Archaeological Theory.
Lansing, J. S., and J. N. Kremer. (1993). ‘Emergent Properties of Balinese Water Temple Networks: Coadaptation on a Rugged Fitness Landscape’. American Anthropologist 95.1: 97–114.
Laurence, R. (2001). ‘The Creation of Geography: An Interpretation of Roman Britain’ in C. Adams and R. Laurence (eds.). Travel and Geography in the Roman Empire.
Massey, D. J. Allen, S. Pile (eds.) City Worlds: Understanding Cities 1.
Neville, M. (1996) Metropolis and Hinterland : the City of Rome and the Italian Economy, 200 B.C.-A.D. 200.
Orejas, Almudena, and F. Javier Sánchez-Palencia. (2002). ‘Mines, Territorial Organization, and Social Structure in Roman Iberia: Carthago Noua and the Peninsular Northwest’. American Journal of Archaeology 106.44: 581–599.
Pettegrew, D. K. (2007). ‘The Busy Countryside of Late Roman Corinth: Interpreting Ceramic Data Produced by Regional Archaeological Surveys’. Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens 76.4: 743–784.
Schortman, E. and W. Ashmore. (2012). ‘History, networks, and the quest for power: ancient political competition in the Lower Motagua Valley, Guatemala’, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18.1: 1-21.
Smith, M. (2005) ‘Networks, Territories, and the Cartography of Ancient States’. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 95.4: 832–849.
These are the slides of the talk I gave at the Land and Natural Resources Conference last week at the Free University in Brussels. That talk was a bit more free form than the slides would suggest, so I’m not quite ready to share the written version (mostly because it’s still in a process of becoming…)
But, I think I’m fairly safe to share at least the opening bit….
Could the extractive economy of Rome (such as mining, logging and forestry) promote structural growth? What would be the archaeological signs of structural growth?
So much in the ancient world appears to rely on connectivity and mobility, either literally in terms of things like road-building (Laurence, 1999) or more abstractly, in terms of social connections, bonds of friendship, amicitia, and patronage. Horden and Purcell (2000) make the argument for multiple connectivities, both physical and social, that bound up the Mediterranean world. In my own work, I have argued for social connections becoming ‘real’ in the physical landscape, as a mechanism for the creation of notions of territory and landscape (Graham and Steiner 2008). Sometimes these social connections can be read from the archaeometry of material culture; other times from epigraphy; sometimes from history. In this paper, I want to explore how patronage intersects with natural resource extraction, and whether or not these intersections could promote structural growth. As Mokyer points out, “There is a qualitative difference between an economy in which GDP per capita grows at 1.5 percent and one in which it grows at 0.2 percent” (2005:286). Understanding which possible conditions could promote growth (and to what degree) therefore is a useful exercise.
I use an agent based modeling framework (ABM) for this exploration because I am interested not in simulating the past, but in understanding how different understandings about the past combine. ABM allows me to systematically test the ways these ideas combine and to generate a landscape of possibilities against which I may then lay archaeological or historical evidence.
Agent Based Modelling
Agent based modelling is an approach to simulation that focuses on the individual (indeed, it is sometimes known as individual based modeling). In an agent based model, the agents or individuals are autonomous computing objects – they are their own programme. They are allowed to interact within an environment (which frequently represents some real-world physical environment). Every agent has the same suite of variables (if it were a model of basketball, ever agent would have a ‘height’ variable, and an ‘ability’ variable), but each agent’s individual combination of variables is unique. Agents can be aware of each other and the state of the world (or their location within it), depending on the needs of the model. What is important to note, especially when we are interested in the past, is that we are not trying to simulate the past; rather, the model is a tool to simulate how we believe a particular phenomenon worked in the past (cf Gilbert and Troitzsch 2005:17 on the logic of simulation). When we simulate, we are interrogating our own understandings and beliefs. What is particularly valuable then is that we can build a model, and when the agents begin to interact along the patterns of behavior that we have specified (drawn from our understanding of how various processes worked), we have a way of exploring the non-linear, non-intuitive, emergent consequences of those beliefs. What’s more, in order to code a particular behavior, we have to be clear about how we think about that behavior. It forces us to make our assumptions explicit. A second investigator then can examine the code, critique these assumptions and biases (or indeed, errors) and modify the model towards a ‘better’ state. In this way, the model is both a laboratory and a crowdsourced argument about the past. In that spirit, I offer the code for this model at http://graeworks.net, and encourage the reader to download, adapt, critique and improve the argument. The model is built using the Netlogo modeling environment and language (Wilensky 1999). Simulations make their argument in computer processes, and like all forms of expression, they carry their own rhetoric which must be analysed (Bogost 2007).
Did Rome experience growth? If so, in what ways did that growth occur? What was ‘modern’ about the Roman economy? Why did not Rome make the leap that Europe did? If it is any consolation, historians of the Industrial Revolution are as puzzled by how it happened, as we are by why Rome’s didn’t. An important consideration though comes from Mokyr’s analysis of the intellectual foundations of the Industrial Revolution (2005). For Mokyer, it comes down to the idea not just that ‘useful’ knowledge available had increased, but that the social setting for this knowledge had expanded (2005: 287). For Mokyer, useful knowledge relates directly to the physical world, and how it works.
This is not a view that would’ve been foreign to the bien-pensants of antiquity. Columella, Varo, Pliny all set about to catalogue and categorize the world around them. The difference though is one of quality; an Enlightment description of a phenomenon attempted a degree of accuracy and thoroughness that was alien to the Roman mind.
For Mokyer, the easier it becomes for individuals to access that knowledge, the more likely technological change was to happen, thus resulting in sustained economic growth (Mokyer 2005: 295-6). Though Mokyer doesn’t say it explicitly, he is talking about how information passes through social networks. As Mokyer points out, this useful knowledge did not have to percolate down to the many (301). It simply had to reach those in a position to act on it (a figure he reckons to be at most a few tens of thousands in all of Europe, 301). In Roman terms, to talk about social networks of influence is to talk about patronage.
Once we have created a model that encodes our understanding of the phenomena under question, it remains to interpret the results. A framework for understanding our model of resource extraction in the Roman world is provided by the Canadian economic historian and media theorist Harold Innis (Innis was the mentor of Marshall McLuhan).
A presentation I gave to the Hispanic Baroque Project folks at UWO has been made available on their website. The links to each part are below.
(there are few things more excruciating than watching yourself present. I always remember everything being far more pithier, wittier, louder, than what gets recorded. Ah perception…)
seeks to study the evolution of prehistoric humter-gatherer settlement pattern in Jomon Japan, to do this I’m exploring a pretty wide range of fields and topics…To list, I’m interested in Spatial Analysis, Agent Based Modelling, Human Behavioral Ecology and Dual Inheritance Theory, and more in general everything about Evolution, Space and Human Behaviour (which basically anything you can think about…)
(Enrico, my TravellerSim might be useful for you; feel free to tear it apart and use whatever’s useful!)
I look forward to seeing what he comes up with! Already on his blog I learned about a plug-in for Netlogo that pushes data into the R stats package, which has *got* to be much more effective that those bloody spreadsheets I’ve been fighting with.
Anyway, one to watch!
I just realized. I’ve been intermittently blogging now for three years, as of this December past. In that time, I think I’ve remained more or less true to the ‘mission’ of Electric Archaeology – to try out new techs, recount experiments, disseminate my research, in new media for archaeology and history. There have been times when I could post thoughtful, in-depth pieces; and times when I’ve merely passed on the interesting things that have turned up in my inbox. As of this morning according to WordPress, Electric Archaeology has had over 85,000 views, spread across 394 posts. There have been 329 comments made. I have 62 categories – clearly I need some rationalization there.
I sometimes toy with the idea of moving Electric Archaeology to my own space, so I can put some better analytics on it, but for whatever reason, that just doesn’t happen…
The all time most viewed posts on Electric Archaeology (the most recent posts of course are at the bottom, having had less chance to be viewed):
“Everything They Ever Wanted”: A NetLogo Case Study of a Model of Rebellion in the Tobacco Dark Patch ofTennessee and Kentucky
Agent based modelling appears to be gaining traction as a methodology in historical investigation. Good!
The Night Rider Tobacco War during the period 1904-1909
in Kentucky and Tennessee provides a model case study of rebellion/revolution/ social banditry. The use of platoon- and company-size unit operations, guerilla warfare, boycotts and sabotage by the Dark TobaccoGrowers Association against the Duke Tobacco Trust followed the trajectory of a revolution, from inception through success in overturning the power relations in the traditional small tobacco farm country. Success in gaining the aims of the movement was followed by a
melting away of the footsoldiers despite strenuous attempts by the leadership of the Association to continue activities after victory in the original aims of the group—destruction of the economic and political stranglehold the Duke interests had achieved. As the factual background of the events in the Dark Patch are known and—in most instances—well documented, it is possible to use NetLogo programming to test the validity of causational theories of revolution. NetLogo is a computer modeling environment in which agents are programmed to carry out specific, simple rules of behavior and allowed to interact—a “virtual laboratory” in which the behavioral rules can be altered to test different hypotheses and the result permitted to emerge based solely upon the operation of those rules. For each posited causative factor (Goldstone’s triad of inflation, heightened elite competition and strain on governmental finances, for example) the original position
and dominant motivation(s) can be set up and the situation allowed to play itself out to see how closely the predictions of the theory mirror the historic record. The further a theory’s predictions deviate from reality, the greater the doubt cast upon its validity.
One long term project is finally nearing publication – my artificial society of Romans who pay respects one to another (the morning ‘salutatio’: the process of visibily re-affirming patronage links). In the model, a theory of civil violence in the Roman world is articulated, as an outcome of patronage or its failure (I use to have a ‘smite!’ button and could kill the digital Romans at will, but that was obviously unsatisfactory).
The model lives here. Below the model on that page are excerpts from the paper describing what the model does, and an ever so brief rationale for why it does these things – you’ll have to wait for the formal publication for why any of this matters!
It’s currently under review, so I made the model public in order for the reviewer to be able to delve into the code if he or she so desires. Simulations are arguments-in-code, as Ian Bogost tells us, so the rhetoric of my code needs to be evaluated as much as the rhetoric of my article.
Came across a post today on the ‘GIS and Agent-Based Modelling‘ blog (from the good people at CASA at UCL in the UK) that should encourage more archaeologists to get into agent modelling. Archaeologists are very familiar with GIS, and to a much lesser degree, agent based modelling. Getting the two to work together – importing GIS data into an agent-modelling environment – has usually been difficult. Apparently, there is now a plugin for Netlogo to import esri shapefiles into the Netlogo environment:
“Whilst browsing the OpenABM website I came across a post by Eric Russell about a beta version GIS Extension for NetLogo and could not resist trying it out. The extension provides primitives for importing vector GIS data (in the form of ESRI shapefiles) and raster GIS data (in the form of ESRI ascii grid files) into NetLogo.The extension and instillation instructions can be downloaded from:
There are two example models, one which loads a raster file of surface elevation for a small area near Cincinnati, Ohio (above). To quote from the documentation “It uses a combination of the gis:convolve primitive and simple NetLogo code to compute the slope (vertical angle) and aspect (horizontal angle) of the earth surface using the surface elevation data. Then it simulates raindrops flowing downhill over that surface by having turtles constantly reorient themselves in the direction of the aspect while moving forward at a constant rate”.
This should make it easier for archaeologists with an interest in how humans interact with the landscape to get their GIS (for managing landscape data) & ABM’s (for modelling how we think humans work) to work together! I’m going to, when I have a moment, install this plugin and see what it can do.
….ah christmas morn. Opening the new toys… and a copy of Caesar IV! Can’t wait to get into it… it has a ‘sandbox’ mode, allowing you to disregard all the preset scenarios and to build your own. I’m going to build me an Ostia, and a Pompeii, and see what emerges out of the simulation. I’ve done some city simulations with Netlogo (see the agent based modeling page) where I’ve built the interactions from scratch. William Urrichio argues that games embody different epistemologies, so I’ll be interested to see how the game designers envision ancient life… and to compare against my own simulations. Theirs of course is much more aesthetically pleasing than my wee netlogo creations, but all of them have value…