Collaborative Research: Methodological Challenges and Archaeological Interpretati

Project: Research project


The field of archaeology has experienced a recent surge of interest in social network analysis. In this rush to incorporate new techniques developed in other disciplines, a number of significant methodological challenges have emerged in the analysis and interpretation of archaeological networks that involve network ties among archaeological sites or settlements. The proposed project will conduct methodological and substantive investigations aimed at understanding and addressing these methodological challenges, focusing primarily on networks in which ties reflect measured similarity of sites artifact assemblages. An interdisciplinary research team consisting of sociologists and archaeologists will tackle these issues using the massive Southwest Social Networks database that includes assemblages of ceramics and sourced obsidian reported from over 700 archaeological sites in the U.S. Southwest as well as a variety of other publicly available artifact assemblage databases from diverse times and regions. Under the broad umbrella of archaeological network analysis, the proposed project will have six focal research areas: (1) sampling variability and, more generally, uncertainty in network analytic measures; (2) "filtering" and binarization for network visualization; (3) special properties of network analysis of social distance (artifact similarity) data; (4) untangling spatial and social propinquity; (5) chronological methods and dynamic networks; and (6) network analysis vs. categorical data analysis (and related scaling) of artifact assemblage data. In each area, the proposed projects goal will be to improve the practice of archaeological network analysis and the resulting substantive interpretations from such analysis, thereby maximizing the scientific value of archaeological research results.
Effective start/end date8/15/187/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $6,751.00


network analysis
social network
archaeological site