Tag Archives: SimulPast

How useful is my model? Barcelona, 24-26 May

Our colleagues from Barcelona are organising a two-day workshop on the challenges of relating formal models (not only ABMs but other types of simulation and computational models as well) to the archaeological data. See below for an extended summary. The deadline for abstract submission has been extended to 25th April. For more information, check out their website.




The last decade saw a rapid growth of quantitative and computational methods apt to analyse long-term cultural and biological processes. In particular, the wide diffusion of agent-based simulation platforms and the enhanced accessibility of computer-intensive statistical analyses are offering the possibility to replace explanations based on natural language with formal models.

While these advances are providing powerful tools that are enabling us to tackle old and new research questions, their use is rarely coupled with appropriate epistemological discussions on how to ultimately relate the model to the data. Problems such as the choice of an appropriate statistic describing the empirical record, the balance between parsimony, complexity, and goodness-of-fit, the integration of taphonomic and sampling biases, or the inferential framework for selecting or rejecting alternative hypotheses rarely occupy the spotlight. In the case of simulation models, discussions are often limited to the model-building stage, and comparisons between prediction and observation are too often qualitative and not supported by sufficient statistical rigour. Yet this is the fundamental step that enables us to evaluate our models. In historical sciences, where the challenges imposed by the nature and the quality of our samples is at its greatest, this issue deserves more discussions and solutions. We believe that this is a critical issue that transcends the specific used in each discipline and cannot be dismissed as a challenge for statisticians.

We invite experts at different stage of this endeavour, sharing the same challenge of evaluating archaeological, historical, and anthropological model to the empirical evidence. We welcome the widest range of expertise (e.g. agent-based simulation, phylogenetics, network analysis, Bayesian inference, etc.) in order to promote the cross-fertilisation of techniques, as well as to engage into deeper theoretical and methodological discussions that transcends the specific of a given geographical and historical context. Participants will present examples showcasing problems (and solutions) on a variety of topics, including: uncertainty in the observed data, parameter search and estimation, model reusability and reproducibility, and more broadly applications of hypothesis testing and model-comparison frameworks in archaeology, anthropology, and history.

Call For Papers
Abstract Deadline: 25th April 2016 
Abstract Length : max 300 words
Please submit via email to the address simulpast@gmail.com with the subject: “WK-Empirical Challenge”

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palau_de_la_Música_Catalana#/media/File:Palau_-_Vitrall_platea.jpg

This Year we all Go to Barcelona

In the tough world of Academia there is nothing better than a conference in a city boasting with vibrant research community and a beach. For archaeologists working with computational modelling Barcelona fits the bill nicely and this year no excuses are needed to visit this absolutely fantastic city. After the success of the ECCS2013 last September Barcelona seems to become the world capital for modelling social complexity with at least three major conferences scheduled for 2014.

European Social Simulation Association Meeting

The European Social Simulation Association  will hold its annual meeting  at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona between 1-5 September, 2014.  You can find more information about the conference here.

But more importantly, our colleagues from the SimulPast project are organising a satellite event Simulating the past to understand human history. Although the conference is aimed at showcasing the achievements of the SimulPast project, the wide range of topics indicated by the organisers shows that we can expect a good set of interesting papers dealing with different aspects of modelling and complexity science applications in archaeology.

Finally, the conference is worth a trip even if only for the keynote speakers.  Timothy A. Kohler (Washington State University) is known from his Village Ecodynamics Project and, probably by all students thanks to his classic paper “Complex Systems and Archaeology” in Ian Hodder’s Archaeological Theory Today.  And we can only hope that someone will ask  Joshua M. Epstein (Johns Hopkins University) – the second keynote speaker  – his trademark question ‘Why model?

The Call for Papers closes this Thursday ( 28th, February, 2014).  According to the CfP the organisers look for a wide range of papers diverse in both archaeological but also methodological scope: Applications are welcomed on all subjects (from Anthropology, Archaeology, Geography and History) using different approaches to social simulation and presenting case studies from any region of the world and any prehistoric or historic period. Theoretical aspects of social and cultural evolution are also encouraged.

Coincidentally, at the same time (1-7 September) Burgos will be hosting the XVII Congress of the International Union of the Prehistoric and Protohistoric Sciences (UISPP). You can find the list of session here.

European Conference on Social Networks

The second complexity science conference held this year in Barcelona is the 1st European Conference on Social Networks between 1-4, July, 2014. They haven’t opened their CfP yet so only preliminary information are available on their website but it looks as if it was going to have a strong archaeological twist.

SocInfo 2014

Finally, the 6th International Conference on Social Informatics, although focused more on present rather than past human societies, may also be of interest to many, especially in light of the conference mission statement: This year’s special purpose of the conference is to to bridge the gap between the social sciences and computer science. We see the challenges of this as at least twofold. (..)  emphasis on the methodology needed in the field of computational social science to reach long-term research objectives. We envision SocInfo as a venue that attracts open minded researchers who relax the methodological boundaries between informatics and social sciences so to identify common tools, research questions, and goals. SocInfo will be  held in Barcelona between 10-13 November 2014.