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date: 18 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The static, fragmentary nature of the archaeological record requires us to construct models of past human dynamics. Traditionally, these have been in the form of narratives that can make compelling stories but are difficult to evaluate. Recent advances in numerical and computational modelling offer the potential to create quantitative representations of human systems and carry out experiments in social dynamics that would otherwise be impossible. These new approaches challenge us to learn to conceive of human societies in ways that can be expressed in algorithmic form. Besides making our own explanations more rigorous, integrating quantitative modelling into archaeological practice helps us produce more robust accounts of human systems and their long-term changes that can be more useful to other disciplines and policy-makers than compelling narratives.

Keywords: computational modelling, archaeology, archaeological practice, quantitative representation, human systems, social dynamics

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