Network for Agent-based modelling of Socio-ecological Systems in Archaeology (NASSA)

Archaeologists today increasingly use digital tools to understand people and their behaviour in the past. Agent-based modelling (ABM) in particular has recently seen a rapid development in archaeology. ABM focuses on the dynamics and actions of individual agents that act autonomously and interact with each other and their environment. This technique allows us to develop formal simulations of behaviour in the past, and compare the results with data from the archaeological record. Despite immense potential, ABM is yet to fully mature as a methodological tool for studying the past, among others through wider dissemination among researchers and the establishment of standardized practices. All too often, researchers starting new projects need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and build their models completely from scratch. A collective effort to address these problems is key for consolidating ABM as a standard methodology in our field and for leading the way for other fields using ABM. This research network, funded by the FWO for the period 2020-2024 under the coordination of Dr. Dries Daems, brings together an international, interdisciplinary group of researchers to collect and compile ABM code elements and organise them as an openly accessible modelling library. These ABM elements will be curated, documented and formatted so that they can be used as base modules for more elaborate and case-driven models and research questions. Over the next five years, the network will be holding working meetings and organise international symposia to develop best practices and code modules, and make these available through the open model library.

Dries Daems
Dries Daems
Assistant Professor in Settlement Archaeology and Digital Archaeology

My research interests include distributed robotics, mobile computing and programmable matter.