Next Seminar: Theoretical & Methodological Perspectives on Networks & Connectivity in Mediterranean Archaeology

Albeit within the archaeological discourse interaction has always played a critical role, it can be safely asserted that for many years its functioning has been one of the most under-theorized themes in archaeology in general and in Mediterranean archaeology in particular. This is because inter-societal interaction has been often taken for granted and considered more a prerequisite than a topic per se.
In the last two decades or so, however, this situation has considerably changed. Indeed, a relatively well-defined branch of studies has gradually emerged which sees its main object of analysis not in the individual entities forming the archaeological record but rather in connections between them. Albeit often starting from quite different standpoints (from “island archaeology” to more science-oriented applications), these studies appear to have a common denominator constituted by the adoption of methodologies based on/loosely inspired by a specific branch of mathematics called graph theory.
In archaeological applications of graph theory, archaeological objects are connected by various means to other nodes, and forming a network. What is of interest of networks (whatever their form) is primarily their overall properties and the roles that nodes acquire by virtue of their position in that whole. As a result of this position nodes might have different degrees of “centrality”, “between-ness” or “remoteness”, features that, in turn, can be linked to aspects that it is possible to recognize in the archaeological record (prominence of a particular site in a region, abundance or lack of archaeological remains at some particular locales etc.). Finally the limiting/empowering capabilities of physical space are another aspect that network applications examining case studies from the Mediterranean past are starting to deal with (i.e. Knappett et al. 2008).
In this TASA session, led by Francesco Iacono (University College London), we will discuss and highlight the potential and the limitations of the use networks both as a rigorous methodology and as a broader metaphor of past human activity, addressing in particular issues related with:
● Why archaeology should be interested in networks & how networks in the past can help us to gain a better understanding of the current world
● Relationship between various notions of centrality & the emergence of prominent sites in a region
● The role of environment in shaping continuity or discontinuity of interaction (i.e. the role of the sea, a connecting element rather than a dividing one Horden and Purcell 2000, Broodbank 2000),
● Limitations entailed by the use of networks approaches with the often incomplete data offered by the archaeological record
● Social implications of networks. Are networks neutral? What is the influence of networks on societal differentiation?
Seminar will take place at 7pm on Monday March 14th 2011 at the Irish Institute of Hellenic Studies (IIHSA) at 51a Odos Notara.
Numbers are limited to 15, please RSVP by email (iihsa@hol.gr) to book a place and request the reading

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