Call for Contributions to Special Issue
A special issue of the Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology is looking for authors and reviewers! The deadline for abstracts is 20 May 2023.

Please check out this open call and get in touch if you are available to review or would like to submit a paper to our special collection entitled ‘A Bridge too Far – Historical, Archaeological and Criminal Network Research’!

In April 2023, Lena and Marta (ANEE, Teams 1 and 3) organised a session at the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference in Amsterdam together with Arianna Traviglia and Michela De Bernardin (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia). We are now turning this session into a special collection to be published with the Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology (JCAA).

Call for Papers:

‘A Bridge too Far – Historical, Archaeological and Criminal Network Research’

Over the last decades, archaeologists and ancient historians have slowly realised the potential that network science, especially Social Network Analysis (SNA), holds for studying past phenomena and better understanding the relationships that connect entities under study. By applying diverse network perspectives to a variety of sources and datasets, we have inquired about social and interpersonal networks, trade routes, production and consumption patterns, group behaviour, diffusion of ideas and technologies, social mobility, and other complex phenomena (e.g. Brughmans 2021; Collar et al. 2015; Cline and Cline 2015; Crabtree & Borck 2019; Knappett 2013; Knappett 2020; Peeples 2019; Rollinger 2020; Verhagen 2018). While not yet fully explored in the areas of art-related crimes and illicit trafficking in cultural heritage (Tsirogiannis and Tsirogiannis 2016), network analysis has also been successfully used to study relations among criminal individuals and groups, as well as to investigate other forms of criminal organised trades, like human (Vivrette 2022), drug (Tsai et al. 2019) and wildlife trafficking (Costa 2021).

As archaeologists and historians tend to work with different source materials and research questions, they are likely to utilise different aspects of network science and apply different software or tools available. The sub-fields of historical network research and archaeological network analysis have thus developed in different directions – with historians more commonly exploring social networks and the central figures within them, and archaeologists e.g. placing more emphasis on spatial data and compatibility with Geographical Information Systems, Least-Cost Path analysis and other types of modelling (Carreras et al. 2019; Groenhuijzen and Verhagen 2016; Lewis 2021; Verhagen 2018; Verhagen et al. 2019). To encourage increased dialogue between the named communities we aim to help raise awareness of particularly fruitful (combinations of) tools for studying past phenomena. We started this debate in a session organised at the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology conference held in Amsterdam (CAA2023), which aimed to bridge historical, archaeological, and cultural heritage-oriented network research. In this special collection, we hope to continue the debate by inviting scholars who work in network science applied to historical and archaeological dataset. Papers on illegal trade networks are particularly welcome.

To create an interdisciplinary, inclusive and diverse special collection on the topic, we encourage scholars working on all periods and geographical regions – regardless of background, identity, field and affiliation – to send us a preliminary title and abstract (max. 500 words) by 20 May 2023.

Research topics could include (but are not limited to):

- illicit trafficking of cultural heritage;

- modern use of archaeological data in the political discourse;

- past and contemporary trade networks;

- interpersonal relations of individuals and groups;

- linguistic and semantic networks;

- dynamic network models;

- skills transfer in archaeology;

- software and methods for studying historical and archaeological data.

Please send your abstract to Lena Tambs ( by 20 May 2023, if you would like to contribute to the special collection as an author. The deadline for submitting papers is 25 June 2023, with revisions expected in August. The aim is to publish the special collection by the end of the year.

If you have questions, or are available to act as a reviewer, please contact Lena Tambs (

Guest editors:

Lena Tambs (University of Helsinki), Marta Lorenzon (University of Helsinki), Arianna Traviglia (Centre for Cultural Heritage Technology-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia), Michela De Bernardin (Centre for Cultural Heritage Technology-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)


Brughmans, T. 2021. Evaluating the potential of computational modelling for informing debates on Roman economic integration. In: Koenraad Verboven (ed.), Complexity Economics: Building a New Approach to Ancient Economic History: 105–123. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Collar, A., Coward, F., Brughmans, T., and Mills, B.J. 2015. Networks in Archaeology: Phenomena, Abstraction, Representation. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22: 1–32.

Costa, J. 2021. Working Paper 35: Social Network Analysis Applied to Illegal Wildlife Trade between East Africa and Southeast Asia. [last accessed 2022-08-26].

Carreras, C., De Soto, P., and Munoz, A. 2019. Land Transport in Mountainous Regions in the Roman Empire: Network Analysis in the Case of the Alps and Pyrenees. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 25: 280–293.

Cline, D., and Cline, E. 2015. Text Messages, Tablets, and Social Networks: The “Small World” of the Amarna Letters. In: Mynářová, J., Onderka, P., and Pavúk, P. (eds.), There and Back Again—The Crossroads II: 17–44. Prague: Charles University.

Crabtree, S.A., and Borck, L. 2019. Social Networks for Archaeological Research. In: Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology: 1–12. Cham: Springer.

Groenhuijzen, M.R., and Verhagen, P. 2016. Testing the Robustness of Local Network Metrics in Research on Archaeological Local Transport Networks. Frontiers in Digital Humanities 3:6.

Holland-Lulewicz, J., and Thompson, A.D.R. 2021. Incomplete Histories and Hidden Lives: The Case for Social Network Analysis in Historical Archaeology. International Journal of Historical Archaeology.

Knappett, C. (ed.). 2013. Network Analysis in Archaeology: New Approaches to Regional Interaction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Knappett, C. 2020. Relational Concepts and Challenges to Network Analysis in Social Archaeology. In: Donnellan, L. (ed.), Archaeological Networks and Social Interaction: 20–37. Routledge.

Lewis, J. 2021. Probabilistic Modelling for Incorporating Uncertainty in Least Cost Path Results: A Postdictive Roman Road Case Study. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 28 (3): 911–924.

Peeples, M.A. 2019. Finding a Place for Networks in Archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Research 27 (4): 451–499.

Rollinger, C. 2020. Prolegomena. Problems and Perspectives of Historical Network Research and Ancient History. Journal of Historical Network Research 4: 1–35.

Tsai, F.C., Hsu, M.C, Chen, C.T., and Kao, D.Y. 2019. Exploring Drug-related Crimes with Social Network Analysis. Procedia Computer Science 159: 1907-1917.

Tsirogiannis, C., and Tsirogiannis, C. 2016. Uncovering the Hidden Routes: Algorithms for Identifying Paths and Missing Links in Trade Networks. In: Brughmans, T., Collar, A., and Coward, F. (eds.), The Connected Past: Challenges to Network Studies in Archaeology and History: 103-120. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Verhagen, P. 2018. Spatial Analysis in Archaeology: Moving into New Territories. In: Siart, C., Forbriger, M., and Bubenzer, O. (eds.), Digital Geoarchaeology. Natural Science in Archaeology: 11–25. Cham: Springer.

Verhagen, P., Nuninger, L., and Groenhuijzen, M.R., 2019. Modelling of Pathways and Movement Networks in Archaeology: An Overview of Current Approaches. In: Verhagen, P., Joyce, J., and Groenhuijzen, M. (eds.), Finding the Limits of the Limes. Computational Social Sciences: 217–249. Computational Social Sciences.

Vivrette, A.T. 2022. Approach to the Global Human Trafficking Crisis: Analyzing Applications of Social Network Analysis. PhD Dissertation. [last accessed 2022-08-26].