CANCELED: Online: HelRAW: Tom Brughmans 3.2.2022

The Helsinki Research on the Ancient World (HelRAW) is a monthly research seminar. HelRAW is organized by the SpaceLaw project together with the Digital Grammar of Greek Documentary Papyri (PapyGreek) project.



3.2.2022 at 17.15 (UTC+2)…

Meeting ID: 691 3070 0271

Passcode: 645095


Tom Brughmans (Aarhus University): Why simulate Roman Economies?


Computational modelling and especially agent-based modelling (ABM) has been applied in Roman Studies to explore phenomena as diverse as the structure of Roman social networks, the supply of troops on the Limes, flows on the Roman transport system, and the agricultural productivity of regions. This paper will argue that Roman Studies should add modelling approaches as tools of the trade, and will reflect on the potential and challenges of doing so.


The arguments will be illustrated through examples from studies of the Roman economy and my personal experiences as a romanist modeler. I will focus in particular on attempts at explaining the changing distribution patterns of tableware in the eastern Mediterranean. What explanatory factors might be key drivers of this change: the structuring effect of social networks on the flow of information, transport costs, differences in urban population size, the economic strategies of tableware salespeople? A set of increasingly elaborate computational models will be presented to explore the explanatory potential of these factors.


Tom Brughmans is an associate professor in Classical Archaeology at the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet). His research interests include the study of Roman economic and urban phenomena, past social networks, and visual signaling systems. He performs much of his work by applying computational methods such as network science, agent-based simulation and geographical information systems. He holds a PhD and MSc in Roman archaeology, and an MA and BA in Archaeology.