2006 ‘Networks, Agent-Based Modeling, and the Antonine Itineraries’. In The Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology 19.1: 45-64.

It occurred to me that some of you might like to read this.


I’ve got some other papers kicking around that I would like to expose to a wider readership; I’ll post those too, once I find them on this machine again… my how cluttered things can get!

I’ve been thinking of doing this for some time, but the kick in the pants I needed was courtesy of http://publishingarchaeology.blogspot.com/2009/06/please-post-your-papers-on-internet.html


This paper presents a way of looking at Roman space from a Roman perspective, and suggests ways in which this point of view might open up new approaches in Roman archaeology. It turns on one conception of Roman space in particular, preserved for us in the Antonine Itineraries. Working from a position that considers the context of the itineraries as movement-through-space, this paper presents an investigation using social network analysis and agent-based simulation to re-animate the itineraries. The itineraries for Iberia, Gaul, Italy, and Britain are considered. The results of the social network analysis suggest structural differences in the way that the itineraries presented space to the reader/traveler. The results of the simulation of information diffusion through these regions following the routes in the itineraries suggest ways that this conception of space affected the cultural and material development of these regions. Suggestions for extending the basic model for more complicated archaeolgoical analyses are presented.

Let’s write a textbook

I’ve been talking with the folks at Flatworld Knowledge about the kinds of textbooks they’re looking for, and it was suggested that a world history textbook might be just the ticket. These things are typically in two volumes – before and after 1500. Who wants to write a textbook?

To my mind, writing another textbook that does the usual roundup of periods/cultures is not perhaps useful. As the Barenaked Ladies are wont to say, ‘It’s all been done before! ‘ A new medium of producing, distributing a textbook – a medium that allows for the content to be remixed by instructors at the coal-face, to suit their needs (read Flatworld’s material for more on that) it seems to me, needs a new approach. The folks at Grand Text Auto did a blog-based peer review for this book; perhaps a new world history textbook could be written via blog-based posts & peer review? Also, could it be written in such a way as to foreground networks & connections between times, places, and peoples: a 21st century textbook? Horden and Purcell’s volume from a few years back is apposite here; also is Urry’s Sociology beyond Societies

…I’m just thinking out loud. Your thoughts?

The Ancient History Encyclopedia

Jan van der Crabben is a name you might be familiar with if you’ve played any of the mods or other community-built content for Civilization IV. Jan has a new project under way, called ‘The Ancient History Encyclopedia‘, and he’s looking for content and editors. And, in a lovely twist not often seen, he’s willing to pay contributors. His note is below:

The goal is to become the number one source of information on ancient history — for students, academics, enthusiasts, and the general public alike.

I believe that this is achievable due to our unique way of presenting information: The website is centered around tags (which are essentially the entries in a printed encyclopedia), with each tag having a definition, articles, a timeline, illustrations, and external links / book references displayed. Like this, one finds several different kinds of information at the same time, in a modern format. When you visit the website, you will be able to see this organization best on the “Babylon” page, simply because it is the page with the most content at the moment.

The website address is http://www.ancientopedia.com and I would be happy if you could visit it and have a look. Please be aware that it’s far from complete! There isn’t very much content yet, we clearly need a lot more content to make this website a success. Also, you are among the first people to be using this website, so there might still be bugs. If something doesn’t work, or doesn’t work as you would expect, please email me what you were doing, what happened, and why it’s not what you expected.

Please register at the website (the “Register” link is at the top), and start adding content wherever you can! Content is submitted through the website, using the existing online forms. You can add/edit a definition, an article, or an illustration. You can also contribute timeline entries. Look for the “Add”, “Edit”, and “Upload” buttons in the relevant sections of the site (generally on the right of the section headline).

You can choose what you want to write about… We need definitions, articles, and illustrations. Please be careful not to infringe on any copyright, so only submit your own work. Of course you are allowed to submit work that you’ve already written, as long as you hold the copyright to it (this might be a grey area if it’s published in an academic publication, for example). You can also submit work that falls under a Creative Commons or GFDL license (such as images from Wikipedia), as long as it is attributed and licensed correctly. Please do not copy & paste any text from Wikipedia or other websites, only images are fine to copy under a CC or GFDL license.

All content that you submit is reviewed and possibly edited. Before the review process is complete and your content has been approved it will not show up on the website. So if you don’t see something you’ve written, be patient. If it doesn’t show up within a few days, please contact me. There will be a more formal system that allows the contributors and editors to communicate through the website in the future.

The website makes money through book sales (via Amazon, we get a commission), as well as advertisements (which aren’t online yet). As I’ve mentioned before, the 100 first contributions will be paid at a rate of US $10 per article and US $5 per definition. For definitions, only new definitions are paid, edits do not count. You will be paid when the initial paid submission period is over and we’ve got 100 contributions. Payment will be conducted via PayPal. After the initial paid phase, you will be able to earn advertising revenue on your content using Google AdSense and possibly other revenue sources.

There are no deadlines: You can submit work at any time, on any subject you choose (subject to review). The more you submit, the more money will you receive. 🙂

I did ask him how he feels this will differ from Wikipedia, which is pretty solid on many things ancient. He responds that it is in the backend, and in how the information is served up with the ancillary materials. I’ve explored a bit, and I like that for any given article you can see who authored it; a little difference there with the big W; perhaps some sort of reputation-tracking mechanism would be useful. One thing I noticed is the feed from Amazon will serve up ‘pyramidiot’ and other nonsense they classify as ‘ancient history’ – 2012 anyone?  I don’t know how well those materials can be filtered before they’re displayed.

Check it out. I’m always ready to applaud new initiatives that make our subject better known to the wider world – good on you, Jan!

The Article of the Future

A blog new to me – Scholarship 2.0 – is keeping track of interesting developments in publishing, webmetrics, bibliography and related themes. They report on ‘The Article of the Future’:

Cell Press and Elsevier have launched a project called Article of the Future that is an ongoing collaboration with the scientific community to redefine how the scientific article is presented online. The project’s goal is to take full advantage of online capabilities, allowing readers individualized entry points and routes through the content, while using the latest advances in visualization techniques. We have developed prototypes for two articles from Cell to demonstrate initial concepts and get feedback from the scientific community.


  • A hierarchical presentation of text and figures so that readers can elect to drill down through the layers of content based on their level of expertise and interest. This organizational structure is a significant departure from the linear-based organization of a traditional print-based article in incorporating the core text and supplemental material within a single unified structure.
  • A graphical abstract allows readers to quickly gain an understanding of the main take-home message of the paper. The graphical abstract is intended to encourage browsing, promote interdisciplinary scholarship and help readers identify more quickly which papers are most relevant to their research interests.
  • Research highlights provide a bulleted list of the key results of the article.
  • Author-Affiliation highlighting makes it easy to see an author’s affiliations and all authors from the same affiliation.
  • A figure that contains clickable areas so that it can be used as a navigation mechanism to directly access specific sub-sections of the results and figures.
  • Integrated audio and video let authors present the context of their article via an interview or video presentation and allow animations to be displayed more effectively.
  • The Experimental Procedures section contains alternate views allowing readers to see a summary or the full details necessary to replicate the experiment.
  • A new approach to displaying figures allows the reader to identify quickly which figures they are interested in and then drill down through related supplemental figures. All supplemental figures are displayed individually and directly linked to the main figure to which they are related.
  • Real-time reference analyses provide a rich environment to explore the content of the article via the list of citations.

Article Prototype #1 / Article Prototype #2 Source


I haven’t explored all of these features yet, but I do like the ‘comments’ tab: it turns the article into a blogpost. We’ve been trying to make blogs more academic, and here we see an academic publication becoming more blog like. Something to keep an eye on… I haven’t been into Internet Archaeology in ages; last time I tried to access it they wanted a subscription fee I think. If I’m wrong about that, I apologise; but it would be interesting to compare how they manage their articles with this proposal.

Interactive Fiction – bibliography and other directions

Denis Jerz writes of IF,  “Interactive fiction requires the text-analysis skills of a literary scholar and the relentless puzzle-solving drive of a computer hacker. People tend to love it or hate it. Those who hate it sometimes say it makes them think too much”

I like IF. I’m crap at solving puzzles, but I like it all the same.

For the bibliophiles amongst us, some bibliography from the academic literature on Interactive Fiction – you’ll note that most of the academic interest in IF waxed and waned in the late 80s, early 90s. But, there has been a resurgence in interest lately, mostly due to the literary qualities of IF. If that’s the sort of thing that interests you, check out:

Douglass, J. (2007). Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media. Dissertation, U. California Santa Barbara. link

as well as the complete oeuvre of Nick Montfort, including his ‘Twisty Little Passages‘. Nick also has a ‘harcover‘ of an IF he created, for sale:

An annotated bibliography of academic IF, published in 2002, lives here.

Emily Short’s articles on the art of creating IF may be found here. If you’re at all interested in the possibilities of creating IF, you must start with Short’s work!

Finally, a blog worth following for the literary qualities of IF and other species of computer-mediated writing: Grand Text Auto ‘A group blog about computer narrative, games, poetry, and art’

Right. Here’s the bit o’ bibliography that I’ve scraped up this morning:

Baltra, A. (1990). Language Learning through Computer Adventure Games. Simulation & Gaming, 21(4), 445-452.

Blanchard, J. S., & Mason, G. E. (1985). Using Computers in Content Area Reading Instruction. Journal of Reading, 29(2), 112-117.

Bonnaud-Lamotte, D. (1986). Contemporary Literary Lexicology and Terminology: An Inventory. Computers and the Humanities, 20(3), 209-212.

Brackin, A. L. (2008). Tracking the emergent properties of the collaborative online story “deus city” for testing the standard model of Alternate Reality Game. (1)U Texas At Dallas, US.

Broadley, K. (1986). Past Practices and Possibilities with Computers. Australian Journal of Reading, 9(1), 41-50.

Clement, J. (1994). Fiction interactive et modernité [Interactive fiction and modernity]. Littérature (Paris. 1971), (96), 19-36.

De Souza E Silva, A., & Delacruz, G. C. (2006). Hybrid Reality Games Reframed: Potential Uses in Educational Contexts. Games And Culture, 1(3), 231-251.

Desilets, B. J. (1989). Reading, Thinking, and Interactive Fiction (Instructional Materials). English Journal, 78.

Douglass, J. (2008). Command lines: Aesthetics and technique in interactive fiction and new media. (1)U California, Santa Barbara, US.

Finnegan, R., & Sinatra, R. (1991). Interactive Computer-Assisted Instruction with Adults. Journal of Reading, 35(2), 108-119.

Howell, G., & Douglas, J. Y. (1990). The Evolution of Interactive Fiction. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 2, 93-109.

Lancy, D. F., & Hayes, B. L. (1986). Building an Anthology of “Interactive Fiction.”. Report: ED275991. 15pp. Apr 1986.

Lancy, D. F., & Hayes, B. L. (1988). Interactive Fiction and the Reluctant Reader. English Journal, 77.

Marcus, S. (1985). Computers in Thinking, Writing, and Literature. Report: ED266468. 20pp. Nov 1985.

McVicker, J. (1992). Several Approaches to Computer-Based Reading Study. CAELL Journal, 3(4), 2-11.

Newman, J. M. (1988). Online: Write Your Own Adventure. Language Arts, 65.

Niesz, A. J., & Holland, N. N. (1984). Interactive Fiction. Critical Inquiry Chicago, 11(1), 110-129.

Packard, E. B. (1987). Interactive Fiction for Children: Boon or Bane? School Library Journal, 34.

Pea, R. D., & Kurland, D. M. (1987). Chapter 7: Cognitive Technologies for Writing. Review Of Research In Education, 14(1), 277-326.

Sampson, F. (1987). Interactive Fiction: An Experience of the “Writers in Education” Scheme. Children’s Literature in Education, 18.

Simic, M., & Smith, C. (1990). The Computer as an Aid to Reading Instruction. Learning Package No. 27. Report: ED333393. 50pp. 1990.

Tavinor, G. (2005). Videogames and Interactive Fiction. Philosophy and Literature, 29(1), 24-40.

Thomas, S. (2006). Pervasive learning games: Explorations of hybrid educational gamescapes. Simulation & Gaming, 37(1), 41-55.

Excavating Second Life

When I was a grad student, I remember coming to the common room to find a friend of mine, tearing out his hair. Apparently, someone in his native Norway had just published a substantial article on the exact subject of his MA thesis, meaning he had to change his direction.

I was reminded of him when I opened my in-box this morning to discover that somebody has beaten me to the punch re the archaeology of second life. This is, actually, a good thing. For one, it shows that I’m not out to lunch with this project, and two, that archaeological journals (or at least, the Journal of Material Culture) will publish such work.

So congratulations to Rodney Harrison of the Open University, for his paper:

Excavating Second Life

Cyber-Archaeologies, Heritage and Virtual Communities

Rodney Harrison The Open University, UK, r.harrison@open.ac.uk

While the anthropology of online communities has emerged as a significant area of research, there has been little discussion of the possibilities of the archaeology of virtual settlements, defined here as interactive synthetic environments in which users are sensually immersed and which respond to user input. Bartle (in Designing Virtual Worlds, 2003: 1) has described such virtual settlements as `places where the imaginary meets the real’. In this sense, an examination of the role of heritage in virtual settlements has the potential to shed light on the role of heritage in both `real’ and `imagined’ communities more generally. This article develops the concept of `cyberarchaeology’ (originally devised by Jones in his 1997 article, `Virtual Communities’) to study the virtual material culture of the settlement Second Life, and in particular, its explicit programme of heritage conservation. A survey of heritage places in Second Life suggests that the functions of heritage in virtual settlements may be far more limited than in the actual world, functioning primarily as a structure of governance and control through the establishment of the rationale for (virtual) land ownership and the production of a sense of community through memorials which produce a sense of `rootedness’ and materialize social memory. Such functions of heritage are consistent with recent discussion of the role of heritage in western societies. Nonetheless, this study of heritage and cyber-archaeology provides insights into the ways in which the notions of heritage are transforming in the early 21st century in connection with the proliferation of virtual environments, and the challenge this provides to contemporary society.

Key Words: community • cyber-archaeology • heritage • Second Life • virtual settlements

I look forward to reading this!

Horizon 2009 Report

If you’re not familiar with the Horizon Reports from NMC, then you should take a moment to page through it. The Horizon Reports

describe the continuing work of the New Media Consortium (NMC)’s Horizon Project, a long-running qualitative research project that seeks to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, research, or creative expression within learning-focused organizations.

The report includes numerous links and examples of emerging projects that really push the boundaries.  Two items that caught my eye – my thinking being these would be immediately applicable to archaeology – were the sections on ‘mobiles’ and ‘geo-coded everything’. Some examples already in the pipeline:

Mobile MaaP
Columbia University’s Mapping the African American Past (MAAP) website now includes a mobile version designed to be viewed using the iPhone or iPod Touch. The tool includes text and audio information about historically significant locations in New York City and is designed as a tool for mobile learning.

One could imagine using this kind of application to pre-load all sorts of archaeological landscape information, historic sites, and so on – an augmented reality.

TinyEye Music, Snap-Tell

TinEye Music (http:// http://www.ideeinc.com/products/tineyemobile/) and Snap-Tell (http://snaptell.com/) use the camera to record a photograph of a CD, video, or book, then identify the artist or author and display that along with reviews of the piece and information on where to buy it

When I was in the business of identifying Roman brick stamp types, I had a reverse-lookup dictionary on my lap and an equipoise lamp, trying to read the letters, trying to figure out what the **** I was looking at. These two apps could serve as models for us, to tie our catalogues of stamps, forms, fabrics and so on, to our phones. Snap! ‘Vernice Nera ware’… Snap! ‘CIL XV.1 861a’

On the Geocoding front:

Collage (http://tapulous.com/collage/), a photo application for the iPhone, lets the viewer upload geotagged photos, browse photos taken nearby, and see photos as they are taken all over the world. Mobile Fotos (http://xk72.com/mobilefotos/) is another iPhone application that automatically geotags photos taken on the device before uploading them to Flickr.

Obvious usefulness when you have the right device! But if you don’t:

The Photo Finder by ATP Electronics and the Nikon GP-1 are examples; they capture GPS data and synchronize it to a camera’s data card to geotag the photos automatically. Another approach is to use a specialized device like the GPS Trackstick (http://www.gpstrackstick.com) that can be carried in a pocket or glove box. It records the path it travels, and the data can be uploaded to create custom maps of walking or driving routes, hiking trails, or points of interest. Geotagging of media of all kinds is increasingly easy to do (or is automatic), and as a result, the amount and variety of geotagged information available online is growing by the day.

And something I’d never heard of, but looks promising:

Virtual geocaching — the practice of placing media (images, video, audio, text, or any kind of digital files) in an online “drop box” and tagging it with a specific geographic location — is emerging as a way to “annotate” real-world places for travelers or tourists; enhance scavenger hunts, alternate reality games, and other forms of urban outdoor recreation; and augment social events such as concerts and other performances. Drop.io Location (http://drop.io/dropiolocation) is one such service. Mobile users can detect the location of nearby drops and retrieve any files they have permission to access.

Some other items:

Geocoding with Google Spreadsheets (and Gadgets)
(Pamela Fox, …And Other Fancy Stuff, 27 November 2008.) This blog post includes step- by-step instructions for embedding a gadget, created by the author, that plots addresses from a Google spreadsheet on a map, providing latitude and longitude data that can be used in other mashups.

The Mapas Project
The fledgling Mapas Project at the University of Oregon is dedicated to the study of Colonial Mexican pictorial manuscripts. Geolocation is being used to link real-world locations to those represented on the maps.

This next one I’ve written about before, but it’s worth keeping your eye on as it develops:

Mediascape is a tool for creating interactive stories that unfold as the viewer moves through physical space and time. By tapping into the GPS on a viewer’s mobile device and incorporating multimedia as well as interactive controls, every mediascape offers a unique experience for each viewer.

I find it very interesting that so many of these emerging approaches focus on merging historical data with geographical data. Public History and Public Archaeology: the next big things!

Next Exit History
Next Exit History is a project by the University of West Florida and the University of South Florida designed to provide geotagged information (podcasts and other media) to assist tourists in finding and learning about historical sites in Florida that are near major interstate highways but often overlooked by visitors.

How Your Location-Aware iPhone will Change Your Life
(Adam Pash, Lifehacker, 5 June 2008.) The iPhone’s location-aware features enhance a host of applications from social networking tools to geotagging photos taken by the phone to nearby restaurant recommendations.

Delicious: Geo-Everything
(Tagged by Horizon Advisory Board and friends, 2008.) Follow this link to find resources tagged for this topic and this edition of the Horizon Report, including the ones listed here. To add to this list, simply tag resources with “hz09” and “geolocation” when you save them to Delicious.

And to close, I’ll admit a degree of ignorance about the semantic side of weblife, but that section should also be of interest –

Tools for making connections between concepts or people are also entering the market. Calais (http://www.opencalais.com) is a toolkit of applications to make it easier to integrate semantic functionality in blogs, websites, and other web content; for instance, Calais’ Tagaroo is a plugin for WordPress that suggests tags and Flickr images related to a post as the author composes it. Zemanta (http://www.zemanta.com) is a similar tool, also for bloggers. SemanticProxy, another Calais tool, automatically generates semantic metadata tags for a given website that are readable by semantic-aware applications, without the content creator’s needing to do it by hand. Calais includes an open API, so developers can create custom semantic-aware applications.


WorldMapper (http://www.worldmapper.org/) produces maps that change visually based on the data they represent; a world map showing total population enlarges more populous countries (China, India) and shrinks those that have a smaller fraction of the world’s population.

Cultural Heritage

The Fundación Marcelino Botín in Santander, Spain is seeking to create a research portal to cultural heritage information about the Cantabria region, using semantic-aware applications to draw connections and combine data from a wide variety of sources, including bibliographies, prehistoric excavations, industrial heritage, and others.

SemantiFind is a web browser plug in that works with Google’s search bar. When a user types a word into the search bar, a drop down menu prompts the user to select the exact sense of the word that is desired, in order to improve the relevance of the results that Google displays. The results are based on user labels on the pages being searched.

Delicious: Semantic-Aware Applications
(Tagged by Horizon Advisory Board and friends, 2008.) Follow this link to find resources tagged for this topic and this edition of the Horizon Report, including the ones listed here. To add to this list, simply tag resources with “hz09” and “semanticweb” when you save them to Delicious.

The entire report is fascinating; hope this snapshot of its contents shoots you off in new directions!

To market, to market we go!

Markets, and their place in the Roman world, has been a subject of considerable interest, academically. Contributions by people like Paul Erdkamp and Peter Temin (a paper of his is here, another here) I find particularly interesting, and there is quite a developing bibliography moving ‘beyond the consumer city‘. My point here is not to deluge you with the bibliography of markets and Roman economics (though there are two by Erdkamp, below, that I’d like to get my hands on). No, for the first time ever, I went to a market not as a consumer, but as a trader.

Wow. It’s a lot of work, to make a buck. We took apples, sweet apple cider, and pies to the Chelsea Farmer’s Market (Chelsea Quebec, that is) on two Saturdays before Canadian Thanksgiving.  I think perhaps anyone who studies markets, ancient or otherwise, academically ought to at least participate as a trader once in a while. For instance, Forum Novum was an ancient market centre, with no housing to speak of. Much like the Chelsea market, it is just an open space, with some permanent market structures hither and yon. We blithely say, ‘the people would come here to trade’, but we don’t really imagine what that involves. Getting to Chelsea, I spent two days pressing and pasteurizing (UV light system; doesn’t affect taste!); my sister-in-law and mother baked solid for three days; and we were up before dawn to drive the 45 minutes to get to the market. Once we were set up, it was interesting, too, to observe how people interact. One of my interests as a boffin is how built space makes for particular kinds of interaction. The market space gets built up and taken down every week; every week, depending on the kinds of goods available, the configuration changes.

I haven’t really had time to digest all that I saw, from the other side of the table. We also opened our cider mill to the public this past weekend, and had over 500 people visit in a single afternoon. I spent two days pressing to get enough cider, and still we sold out!

Perhaps I should file all this under experimental archaeology. After all, if you make pots to better understand ancient ceramics technology, then maybe to understand markets, participating in the oldest form of marketing there is should be part of the study…?

At any rate, I’m knackered.

Paul Erdkamp. The grain market in the Roman Empire. A social, political and economic study, Cambridge 2005

Paul Erdkamp. ‘A starving mob has no respect. Urban markets and food riots in the Roman world, 100 BC-400 AD’, in: J. Rich and L. de Blois (eds.), Transformation of economic life under the Roman Empire, Amsterdam 2002, 93-115

Paul Erdkamp. ‘Beyond the limits of the consumer city. A model of the urban and rural economy in the Roman world’, Historia 50 (2001) 332-356