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Formal network analysis has been increasingly applied during the last decade in archaeology, and made important contributions to understanding a variety of regional phenomena and inter-site interaction. Archaeological sites or contexts form natural nodes and allow 1 for a relatively easy conceptualisation of a research question in network terms. However, as acknowledged in one of the latest major contributions to network analysis in archaeology,2 network studies that focus on interaction between individuals or groups of people, rather than sites or settlements are much more scarce. Most current archaeological network analysis is either spatial in nature, or has a major spatial component in its analysis. Archaeology is, of course, as much a social science as it is a discipline that studies past uses of space and landscape. We claim that, with regards the former , the potential of network analysis to contribute to the study of past societies, past social interaction and social change has not yet been fully explored. We aim to fill the gap by discussing how network analysis can contribute to understanding past human societies. The use of formal network approaches to study larger datasets, e.g necropoleis, settlements, or cultic contexts, allows a move away from the typochronological focus that has dominated archaeology.
However, interaction between humans and of humans with their material world is more complex and cannot be plotted as easily on a map as is normally done for artefact distributions. Assumptions about the meaning of material culture and its role in society need to be made, in order to study the meaning of changes behind their particular configurations.
This session explores the theoretical and practical aspects of using network analysis for studying past human societies, social interaction, power, and social change. Contributors discuss what social questions they are trying to address, what datasets they use, how they translate them into a network, and what conclusions they draw from the analysis of the network. The goal of the session is to pre-discuss contributions that, after revision based on the feedback during the session, will constitute a book - to be published with an international publishing house.
LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Maastricht (Maastricht, Netherlands)
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