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NERDS Seminar: Tom Brughmans

March 2 @ 12:30 - 13:30

Tom Brughmans, Aarhus University: Archaeological Network Research, illustrated through a study on visual signalling networks of Medieval strongholds in Garhwal Himalaya, India. 

This presentation provides a brief overview of network research in archaeology. What are the past phenomena typically studied using network methods in archaeology, and what empirical datasets tend to be represented as network data? When were these approaches adopted and how did the popularity in their application change over time?

It will illustrate some aspects if this field through a recent study of network Medieval strongholds in the Himalayas (co-authored with Nagendra Singh Rawat and Vinod Nautiyal; Rawat et al. 2021). Hundreds of strongholds are dotted throughout Garhwal Himalaya, Uttarakhand, India, occupying elevated positions on ridges and mountain tops in the Central Himalayan region. We show that new survey data allows for more complex theories about the fortification phenomenon in Garhwal Himalaya to be addressed for the first time, and we focus in particular on theories concerning visual signalling: the use of fire, smoke or light for communicating between Medieval strongholds in this Himalayan region. Do sets of strongholds form communities of small local-scale communication networks and can these be identified as small administrative units or independent chiefdoms? Can an integrated visual signalling network have existed to allow for efficient communication throughout the entirety of Garhwal Himalaya?

Relevant references

Rawat, N. S., Brughmans, T., Nautiyal, V., & Chauniyal, D. D. (2021). Networked medieval strongholds in Garhwal Himalaya, India. Antiquity, 95(381), 753–772. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2021.4

Brughmans, T., & Brandes, U. (2017). Visibility network patterns and methods for studying visual relational phenomena in archaeology. Frontiers in Digital Humanities: Digital Archaeology, 4(17). doi:10.3389/fdigh.2017.00017 



Tom Brughmans is an associate professor at Aarhus University’s Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) and Classical Archaeology. His research interests include the study of Roman economic and urban phenomena, past social networks, and visual signalling systems. He performs much of his work by applying computational methods such as network science, agent-based simulation and geographical information systems. His research projects MERCURY and SIMREC developed educational resources and case studies to make simulation studies of the Roman economy more common (Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship and Marie-Curie Individual Fellowship). His ongoing project MINERVA aims to develop a highly detailed network model of the Roman road system, and perform simulation experiments to explore the centuries-long distribution patterns revealed by Roman tableware and amphora data. Tom’s research blog houses resources for archaeological network research.


March 2
12:30 - 13:30