Simulating archeological models: Perspectives in protohistory

Balázs Komoróczy, Marek Vlach


10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M210-7781-2015-37

KOMORÓCZY, Balázs and VLACH, Marek. Simulating archeological models: Perspectives in protohistory. In: Sandra SÁZELOVÁ, Martin NOVÁK and Alena MIZEROVÁ (eds.). Forgotten times and spaces: New perspectives in paleoanthropological, paleoetnological and archeological studies. 1st Edition. Brno: Institute of Archeology of the Czech Academy of Sciences; Masaryk University, 2015, pp. 494-506. ISBN 978-80-7524-000-2; 978-80-210-7781-2. DOI: 10.5817/CZ.MUNI.M210-7781-2015-37.


Abstract

The process of model building is one of the fundamental means of scientific reasoning and assessment of theoretical constructs. Most of the theoretical models in social sciences (specifically in archeology) are formulated through the basic descriptive means of common language. Developments in IT during the last decades and its accessibility have made available various computing methods in archeological research. The paper aims to outline basic features of the method called agent-based modeling (ABM), which allows the building of digital models to simulate artificial societies or other studied complex phenomena of archeological interest. Such models may reveal the behavior of featured systemic components and their influence on system dynamics (e.g. population dynamics or emergence of system properties of social structure). Generally the aim of the described method is the study of systemic micro-level properties and their output in macro-scale pattern generation (structural behavior). Finally, the paper outlines the most recent applications of this method to study society and its trajectories of development within the Roman Period in the Middle Danube region.

Keywords

Methodology, agent based modelling, complex systems, non-linear dynamics, Protohistory

Résumé

La création de modèles est un des moyens fondamentaux du raisonnement scientifique et de l’évaluation des constructions théoriques. La plupart des modèles théoriques en sciences humaines (ou directement en archéologie) sont formulés à travers les moyens descriptifs de base du langage commun. Le développement et l’accessibilité des technologies de l’information et de la communication (IT) durant ces dernières décennies ont permis d’appliquer les méthodes de calcul informatiques aux recherches archéologiques. L’objectif de cet article est d’exposer les grandes lignes de la méthode dite de modélisation à base d’agents (ABM) qui permet de construire et tester des modèles numériques de sociétés artificielles ou encore d’étudier des phénomènes complexes intéressant l’archéologie. De tels modèles peuvent éclairer le comportement des composantes caractéristiques d’un système et leur influence sur les dynamiques du système (par exemple la dynamique de population ou l’émergence des propriétés de système des structures sociales).En général, le but de la méthode décrite est d’étudier les propriétés systémiques de micro-niveau et leur résultat sur la génération de modèle à l’échelle macro (comportement structurel). L’application la plus récente de cette méthode prend ses racines dans l’archéologie domestique.

Zusammenfassung

ABM repräsentiert eine Applikation der Computertechnik in der Archäologie mit unbestreitbar großem Potential. Die Perspektiven der Anwendung der Komplexitätstheorie und methodologischer Ansätze bei der Modellerstellung (agentenbasierte Modellierung) unterstreichen die Möglichkeiten ihrer Anwendung beim Studium einiger theoretischer Fragen der archäologischen Forschung. Der auf theoretischen Prinzipen beruhende Prozess der Modellerstellung bringt Lücken in unseren Daten zum Vorschein. Im archäologischen Fundgut fehlen genaue Daten über einige Prozesse, die mit Einschätzungen ersetzt werden müssen. Einige einfach umrissene Beispiele von angewandten ABM-Methoden zeigen eine breite Skala von möglichen Vorteilen für die Überprüfung und Bewertung archäologischer theoretischer Modelle der Frühgeschichte im Mitteldonaugebiet.

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