Visit Homepage
Skip to content

Category: Network Projects

Three-mode networks for Elephantine letters

Last summer, the Almighty Trismegistos Overlord dumped a collection of demotic letters from Elephantine on my desk.   The above sentence is most likely highly confusing in a myriad of ways. a) Demotic letters? I guess everyone knows hieroglyphs, those funny birds and squatting figures found on every possible piece of rock and stone in Egypt. Since not everyone was a gifted smokey-eyed, linnen-wrapped Michelangelo though, a more fluently-written variant of this script soon emerged, called hieratic. Demotic is supposedly an even more cursively evolved, Late and Graeco-Roman variant. I don’t buy it. Those people simply had horrible handwriting. My Auto-correct keeps on insisting that this should be ‘demonic’ by the way. I nod vigorously in agreement each time.  b) Elephantine? A town in Upper Egypt, just downstream of the first Nile cataract. No, there are no elephants there. c) Upper Egypt – first Nile cataract? Those of you with no / a limited / a normal amount of geographical sense probably have no clue what the catch is here. So let me elaborate: the first cataract is in Nubia, a charming little region located in the Republic of Sudan, ergo: south of Egypt. But then, shouldn’t Upper be, like, up north? No! Why make things simple, if they can also be confusing and disorientating? Actually, there’s a logic behind this: since the Nile flows from south to north, Upper Egypt is the upstream part, and Lower Egypt the downstream part. I’d have voted for Downer Egypt to make more sense, but…

Continue reading Three-mode networks for Elephantine letters

Leave a Comment

What’s in a name?*

*As someone who’s been working on onomastics – That’s a fancy word that means that I study names. Sometimes we have to use fancy words such as onomastics in writing, or they just won’t take us seriously. It’s kind of sad actually: academia would be so much more fun (not that it isn’t fun now, whoa! The times I’ve wet myself laughing… You’d think I’d have learnt my lesson by now and be running around with Tena’s, but I can be stubborn sometimes. But so there’s no limit to fun, in my opinion, and I can also be greedy, so yeah, academia could be so much more fun) if they’d let you pop in a joke or two or add some drama. What’s wrong with putting a smile on a person’s face while sharing groundbreaking, earth-core-shaking, life-as-we-know-it-transforming results? (see, that’s the drama I’m talking about. Yes, of course, what we do here in our cold and drab whitewashed office won’t change the world, but wasn’t that much more exciting to read than ‘while sharing our results’ period? *snore*) Once you finally get tenure, probably somewhere around your fifties, with almost translucent skin since you haven’t seen actual daylight for the past 15 years, and those odd tufts of grey hair sticking out at strange angles, you can do and say whatever the hell you want. But what are the odds? I mean, that we get tenure. The hair will probably take just another couple of months judging by my end-of-the-year…

Continue reading What’s in a name?*

Leave a Comment

The long-anticipated (who am I kidding, no one knew we were preparing one) (SNA)P interview

(SNA)P THE UNCENSORED VERSION Being a conversation between dragonmaster Gabriel Bodard, and your beloved DataNinjas, about the SNAP:DRGN project and Social Network Analysis Cross-posted to SNAP:DRGN Gabriel Bodard: So, damsels, given my newbie SNA state, tell me: what is Social Network Analysis, and how is it useful for prosopography projects? Silke Vanbeselaere: Social Network Analysis (SNA) is basically the study of relationships between people through network theory. First used in sociology, it’s now become popular in many other disciplines, with a budding group of enthusiasts (*exuberant roar*) in (ancient) history. What it does, is focus on relations (of whatever kind) instead of on the actors individually. Through visualisation of the network graph and the network statistics, information can be obtained about the structure of the network and the roles of the individuals in it. The visualisation of these network graphs can be especially interesting for prosopography projects as it can help disambiguate people. Individuals are represented by nodes and their relationships are represented by ties or links between those nodes. Instead of dealing with one source at a time, the network allows you to see the whole of the relationships. GB: Can you perhaps illustrate that with an example and how it could help us? Yanne Broux: Off the top of my head: one of the things the extremely nifty disambiguation methods we developed could help you out with is the identification of high-ranked Roman officials across the different datasets. Consuls were often mentioned in dating formulas, and procurators, proconsuls,…

Continue reading The long-anticipated (who am I kidding, no one knew we were preparing one) (SNA)P interview

Leave a Comment

A network framework of cultural history

Have we got another great network for you guys! We can only dream of creating such sophisticated maps and diagrams one day…     One of my super secret network informants tipped me off about this article in Science magazine: basically, what a group of researchers did was map out where a bunch of (historical) celebrities let out their first cry (blue) and where they snuffed it (red). This resulted in this amazing video: It runs from 600 BC till, well, right about now actually, using the dates and locations of the births and deaths of some 120,000 individuals (but keep in mind that it’s biased towards the US and Europe).    To quote Nature:  ‘Historians tend to focus in highly specialized areas, says Schich. “But our data allow them to see unexpected correlations between obscure events never considered historically important and shifts in migration.’ Yup, that’s what we’re here for, folks. You’re welcome. 

Continue reading A network framework of cultural history

Leave a Comment

Historical Network Projects: 7 excellent sites to get you started

Hey y’all! While we’re working on some new stuff, check out these other great sites about historical network projects (more links can be found under the menu item ‘Links’. Duh): Networks in the Roman Near East “The research project Mechanisms of cross-cultural interaction: Networks in the Roman Near East (2013-2016) investigates the resilient everyday ties, such as trade, religion and power, connecting people within and across fluctuating imperial borders in the Near East in the Roman Period. The project is funded under the Research Council of Norway’s SAMKUL initiative, and hosted by the Department of archaeology, history, cultural studies and religion, University of Bergen, Norway.” Project manager / blog editor: Elvind Heldaas Seland   Historical Network Research “This <historical network research> website is a platform for scholars to present their work, enable collaboration and provide those new to network analysis with some helpful first information.” Be sure to check out the Bibliography section! They also organize a yearly conference in September, in 2014 this will take place in Gent. We’ll keep you posted, obviously.   The Connected Past “The Connected Past is a community led by a multi-disciplinary international steering committee. It aims to provide discussion platforms for the development of original and critical applications of network and complexity approaches to archaeology and history. To this purpose The Connected Past organises international conferences, focused seminars and practical didactic workshops.” Next one up is in Paris in a couple of months (April 26).   Archaeological Networks Tom Brughmans’ blog on network theory in…

Continue reading Historical Network Projects: 7 excellent sites to get you started

Leave a Comment