VisitorSim: agent modeling for site management

A few years ago I developed an agent based model prototype for exploring visitor impact on archaeological sites – the idea being to model where visitors would go on a site, and to explore the consequences of alternative routings and so on. I found the presentation I made about ‘VisitorSim’ this morning, as I was looking for something else, and thought that it might be interesting to share it here. I’m interested to know if other archaeologists have ventured down this route, thoughts, ideas, etc for improving the model. I note that Keith Still, the founder of has a professional consultancy built around a similar idea, see below.

First, the VisitorSim powerpoint:

And now a page from ‘Crowd Dynamics, about the ‘Myriad II software suite’. The Venn diagram provided neatly encapsulates my own approach to ABM, networks, and archaeology; I wish I’d come across his work during my thesis years! At any rate, Myriad II looks to be an excellent piece of software, to which my VisitorSim is like a tinker-toy…

They’ve also done some analysis on historical problems:

Battlefield Detectives Agincourt – how the battlefield geometry may have contributed to the French defeat
Battlefield Detectives – details about the series and the book.
Gettysburg – how the town geometry may have been a decisive factor in the battle outcome

Myriad II – Integrated Crowd Dynamics Modelling Suite

Over the last 15 years we have been using a range of modelling and analysis techniques for places of public assembly. The process of model building typically requires three different mathematical modelling disciplines. The table below shows how these methods overlap for various projects.

Agent Analysis Spatial Analysis Network Analysis
DWELL Analysis Station Analysis Event Management
Evacuation Stadia - Concourses


2 thoughts on “VisitorSim: agent modeling for site management

  1. Hi Shawn,
    Nice to see this published! Been thinking about ABMs recently for my agricultural modelling but no idea where to start. What software do you use and do you know of any good tutorials to get me started?!


  2. Hi Helen,

    Netlogo is probably the easiest place to start – and it’s pretty powerful too!

    It comes with a number of tutorials to get you started. If you’re familiar with object-oriented programming, that’ll make the concepts a little bit easier. I’ve got some materials too for designing ABM’s… I should maybe post these sometime. You might also look up: and Finally, the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at UCL has a wealth of resources:

    Nigel Gilbert and Klaus Troitzsch ‘Simulation for the Social Scientist’ is a foundational text, get your hands on that. Finally, also take a look at, the Journal of Artificial Societies and Simulation (reviews of software, books, articles, etc- fantastic journal!). My TravellerSim model was published in the CAA2006 volume, there’s some good stuff in that article about design/use etc (he said, tooting his own horn).

    And of course, you can always just contact me directly if ever you get stuck!

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