Connecting the Dots: Towards Archaeological Network Analysis

Tom Brughmans’ excellent paper on Network Analysis in Archaeology is available  Oxford Journal of Archaeology Volume 29, Issue 3, pages 277–303, August 2010.

Figure 1 from Brughmans 2010 article

It is well worth a read. He provides a corrective to my own focus on networks as social networks, pointing out quite rightly that there’s more to it than that:

[…] A social network approach can provide an innovative view on old data, and allows archaeologists to study the relationships, of whatever nature, between individuals in the past directly. The danger exists, however, that the insistence on humanizing networks will lead to the misconception that all archaeological network analysis is social network analysis. In fact, only when the interactions between people are analysed directly, can social network analysis with its specific quantitative tools and interpretations be applied. As will be illustrated through the case study below, it is much easier and equally informative to identify and analyse non-social relationships in archaeological datasets, like the relationships between pots with the same motifs for example. That most archaeological relationships have social implications is obvious, as archaeologists are concerned with studying past human behaviour through an archaeological record that is itself created by people. But archaeologists should not assume that the structure of such social implications is examined directly through any type of network analysis. Focusing exclusively on the social application of network analysis restricts its use for the archaeological discipline, and limits the potential diversity of future archaeological applications of network analysis.

Tom’s article has given me much food for thought…


2 thoughts on “Connecting the Dots: Towards Archaeological Network Analysis

  1. I’m sure we’ll find plenty of opportunities to share thoughts on this in the future!

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