Sherlock Holmes, Samuel Vimes, and Archaeological Equifinality

Sherlock: How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? Sam Vimes: … he distrusted the kind of person who’d take one look at another man and say in a lordly voice to his companion, ‘Ah, my dear sir, I can tell you nothing except that he is a left-handed stonemason who has spent some years in the merchant navy and has recently fallen on hard times,’ and then unroll a lot of supercilious commentary about calluses and stance and the state of a man’s boots, when exactly … Continue reading Sherlock Holmes, Samuel Vimes, and Archaeological Equifinality

Reanimating Networks with Agent Modeling

I’m presenting next week at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting. I’m giving two papers. One argues for parsimonious models when we do agent based modeling.  The other reverses the flow of archaeological network analysis and instead of finding nets in the archaeology, I use agent based models to generate networks that help me understand the archaeology. (The session is ‘Connected Past’.) Here is the draft of my talk, with all the usual caveats that that entails. Parts of it have been drawn from an unpublished piece that discusses this methodology and the results in much greater detail. It … Continue reading Reanimating Networks with Agent Modeling

Simulation as Deformation, or, the Role of Agent Based Modeling in Historical Archaeology

I’ll be at the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting next week, presenting in a session on  ‘modeling dynamics in coupled social-natural systems’, and in another on network methods for archaeology. For me, these two approaches are hard to tease apart. Below you’ll find my draft for the modeling session. Simulation as deformation from DoctorG Over ten years ago, J.P. Marney and Heather Tarbert published a paper in the journal of artificial societies and social simulation called, ‘Why do simulation? Towards a working epistemology for practitioners of the dark arts’. Today, we’re discussing the potential of modeling for exploring human-environmental … Continue reading Simulation as Deformation, or, the Role of Agent Based Modeling in Historical Archaeology

Practical Necromancy talk @Scholarslab – part I

Below is a draft of the first part of my talk for Scholarslab this week, at the University of Virginia. It needs to be whittled down, but I thought that those of you who can’t drop by on Thursday might enjoy this sneak peak. Thursday, March 21 at 2:00pm in Scholars’ Lab, 4th floor Alderman Library. When I go to parties, people will ask me, ‘what do you do?’. I’ll say, I’m in the history department at Carleton. If they don’t walk away, sometimes they’ll follow that up with, ‘I love history! I always wanted to be an archaeologist!’, to … Continue reading Practical Necromancy talk @Scholarslab – part I

Towards the computational study of the Roman economy: draft

I’m contributing to a volume on  ‘Land and Natural Resources in the Roman World’. Below is my draft, on which I welcome comments and questions. Towards the computational study of the Roman economy Shawn Graham, Carleton University, Ottawa Canada “Economies are complicated systems encompassing micro behaviours, interaction patterns, and global regularities. Whether partial or general in scope, studies of economic systems must consider how to handle difficult real-world aspects such as asymmetric information, imperfect competition, strategic interaction, collective learning, and the possibility of multiple equilibria. Recent advances in analytical and computational tools are permitting new approaches to the quantitative study … Continue reading Towards the computational study of the Roman economy: draft

Simulating Patronage & Resource Extraction: An Agent Based Roman Economic Model

International conference Land and natural resources in the Roman World Brussels, 2011, Thu. 26th – Sat. 28th May My contribution bears the provisional title – ‘Simulating Patronage & Resource Extraction: an agent-based Roman economic model’ “Starting with the idea that the Roman economy was socially and politically embedded in networks of patronage, this paper explores the ramifications of that understanding for natural resource extraction, using an agent-based model. Agent models employ hundreds of autonomous, individual software agents, interacting in a digital environment, according to the rules we specify. In this case, the rules are drawn from our understanding of how patronage worked in Roman society. … Continue reading Simulating Patronage & Resource Extraction: An Agent Based Roman Economic Model

Practical Necromancy* Begins With Latin

In my previous ‘Practical Necromancy’ post, I made the argument why we should toy with history, using the Netlogo agent based modeling environment. Let me tell you today what happened when I introduced the idea of simulating the past to my first year students. The phrase ‘digital history’ does indeed appear in the title of the course, yet a significant proportion of the class told me during the first week that they were technophobes, that they could post an update to Facebook, but don’t ask them to do anything more complex! You can see how this is a wee bit … Continue reading Practical Necromancy* Begins With Latin

Practical Necromancy* For Beginners

[Originally posted at Play the Past; reposted here for an archaeological readership] My students – especially my first year students – sometimes wish for direct, first person testimony. Wouldn’t it make life easier if we could just interrogate them, read what they thought, directly? Seeing as how most of the people in question (in my classes) are Romans, this would require a wee bit of necromancy, which is illegal in many states. There are other ways to achieve a similar effect however. We’ll do it in silico. Jeremiah McCall makes an argument in ‘The Unexamined Game‘ that, Simulation games are … Continue reading Practical Necromancy* For Beginners

Building a new agent model, regarding Roman Logging

Here’s what I want to do; I use Netlogo. I’d like to build a model that focusses attention on the ways resource extraction in peripheral areas could drive development (however we define that) in those areas. I’m looking at timber exploitation in the Roman world, for which there is very little archaeological or literary evidence. So the problem is one of building a model that bridges that whole lack-of-evidence gap. I’ve got my network models of brick exploitation, which could provide a starting point. Instead of one all-encompassing model for all of this, I’m thinking of using small models that … Continue reading Building a new agent model, regarding Roman Logging