Update April 2016

The ‘Roman farming’ simulation model is now close to completion. Jamie Joyce has presented preliminary results of the model runs at the TRAC2016 conference in Rome, and at CAA2016 in Oslo. Mark Groenhuijzen has presented a further analysis of the robustness of network measures at CAA2016, and a paper on the subject is in preparation. We found the debate on modelling at CAA2016 particularly stimulating and encouraging, and we would like to thank the CAA Special Interest Group on Complex Systems Simulation for organizing the round table in which we participated.

Earlier this year, the palaeogeographic reconstruction of the Limes area for the Roman period was completed. We are now using this data to run site location analyses, which will provide input for the simulation models in order to better estimate the agricultural potential and carrying capacity of the region.

We have also started a collaboration with VU’s SpInLab (Maurice de Kleijn MA and Frank Beijaard MA), within the framework of the EU-funded HERCULES project. Within this project, a pilot study is run to see whether a modern land use forecasting tool, the Land Use Scanner, can be applied to ‘retrodict’ land allocation processes in the past. This tool has clear advantages over using agent-based modelling, since it is capable of dealing with larger spatial datasets in a very efficient way. However, it needs to be adapted to historical scenarios and confronted with archaeological datasets to see whether it also works for predicting the past. The Dutch Limes is one of the cases studied, and we expect the outcomes of this experiment to provide us with more insight in the spatio-temporal development of land use in the Roman period.