Archaeological networks, community detection, and critical scales of interaction in the U.S. Southwest/Mexican Northwest

Matthew A. Peeples, Robert J. Bischoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Archaeologists have long recognized that spatial relationships are an important influence on and driver of all manner of social processes at scales from the local to the continental. Recent research in the realm of complex networks focused on community detection in human and animal networks suggests that there may be certain critical scales at which spatial interactions can be partitioned, allowing researchers to draw potential boundaries for interaction that provide insights into a variety of social phenomena. Thus far, this research has been focused on short time scales and has not explored the legacies of historic relationships on the evolution of network communities and boundaries over the long-term. In this study, we examine networks based on material cultural similarity drawing on a large settlement and material culture database from the U.S. Southwest/Mexican Northwest (ca. 1000–1450 CE) divided into a series of short temporal intervals. With these temporally sequenced networks we: 1) demonstrate the utility of network community detection for partitioning interactions in geographic space, 2) identify key transitions in the geographic scales of network communities, and 3) illustrate the role of previous network configurations in the evolution of network communities and their spatial boundaries through time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101511
JournalJournal of Anthropological Archaeology
StatePublished - Jun 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Archaeological networks
  • Natural geographic scales
  • Network boundaries
  • Northwest Mexican archaeology
  • Social boundaries
  • Social networks
  • Southwestern archaeology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Archaeology
  • History
  • Archaeology


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