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.

Update December 2015

The project is now getting on its way to completion, and preliminary results will be made available over the next few months. Two more papers submitted to the LAC2014 conference proceedings on modelling animal husbandry and demography are scheduled to be published in April 2016. For now, we want to draw your attention to an overview lecture given by Philip Verhagen on Nov 10, and to the presentation given by Mark Groenhuijzen at the CAA-NL/FL conference on Oct 22 in Amsterdam on simulating local transport networks. We will also present the first results of the project for a Dutch audience at the Romeinensymposium on Dec 18 in Amsterdam.

The archaeological database is now completed. All in all, we have identified and checked more than 1500  Roman sites, of which some 1300 will be retained for site location analysis. We intend to publish a paper on the issue of database uncertainty in the course of 2016, and are looking into options of making the data publicly available after completion of the project.

LAC2014 papers

At LAC2014 we have presented two papers: Mark Groenhuijzen spoke about “Exploring the dynamics of transport in the Dutch limes” in session 6, and Jamie Joyce presented the paper “Simulating the farm: a role for computational modeling of the agricultural economy of a landscape?” in session 12. The papers were received well, with Mark winning a third prize and Jamie an honourable mention for their talks!

We also presented a project poster, which can be viewed here.

Workshop 19-20 June 2014

On 19-20 June 2014, we organized a project workshop at VU University Amsterdam, with invited speakers and audience, to discuss the project’s research questions and methodological approach.The workshop was organized in five dedicated sessions, dealing with questions of archaeology, palaeo-ecology, palaeo-geography, spatial analysis and modelling. We would like to thank all participants for their active participation, and are looking forward to collaborating with them in the future. A list of presented papers can be found here.

Developing the archaeological database

A major task in the project is creating the archaeological site database of the study area. For this, we are collaborating with Dr. Matthias Lang at the eScience Centre of the University of Tübingen (Germany), who will provide us with the necessary database interface (ArchGate). The base information we are using is derived from various sources, and needs careful scrutiny in order to judge the quality of information. It is our aim to develop a database of Roman sites in the study area that is as complete and reliable as possible, while maintaining a full documentation of the original sources, like the site records found in the national archaeological database Archis and the relevant bibliography and data that is partly stored the national digital archaeological repository at DANS. Filling and checking the database is a priority for the project at the moment, and we expect to spend much of 2014 on it. Eventually, we aim to make the data publicly available.

We have presented a first paper on this issue at the CAA2014 conference (Paris, 22-25 April 2014).