The diffusion of architectural innovations: Modelling social networks in the ancient building trade

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPaper in conference proceeding


Within the project LATERES COCTILES early fired bricks have been the object
of a multifaceted investigation. One aim has been to elucidate the mechanisms behind the diffusion of this innovation. An inventory of Hellenistic and early Roman fired bricks around the Mediterranean resulted in an archaeological database comprising 276 brick contexts. Network analysis was applied to these data using a two-fold strategy: First, general similarity networks were generated, representing likely causal relationships between the contexts. Exploratory and statistical analysis of these networks enabled a data-based characterisation of the diffusion process. Then a theoretical model of this process was developed with the aim of simulating the observed data. By comparing model simulations with observed data, the model could be improved step by step. The starting
point for constructing the model was the assumption that different categories of people contributed differently to the diffusion process. In this paper the underlying principles and main results of the modelling will be presented, together with a possible interpretation of these results. It is argued that a shift in decision-making within building industry and a greater reliance on technical expertise might have had a key role in promoting the diffusion of some architectural innovations.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Classical Archaeology and Ancient History
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSinews of empire
Subtitle of host publicationNetworks in the Roman Near East and beyond
EditorsH.F. Teigen, E. Heldaas Seland
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxbow Books
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)978-1-78570-596-0
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May
Publication categoryResearch

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