Simulating the Past. Special issue of JAMT

Just a quick note for those who might have missed it. The most recent issue of the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory is dedicated to simulation techniques in archaeology. I haven’t yet dived in fully  but it looks like a great mix of papers looking at different aspects of simulation, complexity science and practical applications.

There are some theoretical papers dealing with the same old simulation problems other disciplines have been mulling over for years: emulation vs explanation, abstract vs realistic or verification vs validation etc. What makes it really valuable though, is the fact that the authors discuss them in the specific context of archaeological data, method and tradition. Although archaeology shares lots of characteristics with other disciplines, we are not the same as biology or social science. To point out the most obvious difference: all the subjects of our research are dead, ranging from quite long to very long to unimaginably long dead.

The theory section is followed by a number of papers describing applications of simulation techniques to archaeological case studies. It’s worth pointing out the sheer breath of techniques used by the authors. Although Agent-based Modelling is dominant, there are some good examples of mathematical modelling and GIS.

You can expect a flurry of post with more detailed description of  these paper the near future, but the simple conclusion for now is: archaeological simulation is not dead, it’s actually on the rise.


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