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What is ArchBiMod?

ArchBiMod is a research project funded by the European Commission under the Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions - Individual Fellowship - Horizon 2020 programme. It is based at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research within the Department of Archaeology from the University of Cambridge.

Who is involved?

The project's main researcher (ER in the European Commission's terminology) is Alfredo Cortell-Nicolau. During his PhD (2020) and post-doc stages he has followed a path specialising in Quantitative and Computational Archaeology, including research stays at the UCL and the University of Cambridge. At the same time, the ER has not lost contact with field archaeology and material culture, participating in different archaeological campaigns in Spain (Cocina, Cendres, Mas d'Is, etc.) and France (Roquemissou) and studying thoroughly +3000 geometric microliths. His research interest has focused so far in the microlithization process during the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition in the Western Mediterranean, while this project opens new fields of study to complement with previous work. You can have a quick glance to some of his work here.

However, the ER is not alone, as he will count on the supervision of Enrico R. Crema, under the MSCA-IF research scheme. Besides, ArchBiMod integrates into the Computational and Digital Archaeology Laboratory (CDAL-UCAM) and, as such, it will use and provide expert consultancy both within the laboratory and the Department of Archaeology. Finally, the active advice of scholars such as John Robb, Nikhil Chaudary or Emma Pomeroy, among others, will prove an invaluable asset for the project when addressing specific research subjects.

And what exactly is it about?

In short

Its acronym stands for ARCHaeological BIas MODelling (also for Agent-Based Modelling) and it resumes the project's idea. Basically, ArchBiMod will use tactical simulation through Agent-Based Modelling in order to find out how does the quality of the archaeological record conditions archaeological interpretation and hypothesis-building. 

A bit more detail (not too much, just enough...)

But what is tactical simulation? Basically, we will perform a series of computational simulations where we will try to reproduce different possible outcomes of archaeological record given diverse hypothesis. Once this is done, we will be able to test the robustness of current archaeological inferential techniques to understand the past within a controlled environment. 

More in particular, ArchBiMod will focus on the Neolithization process of the Western Mediterranean as a case study, with the aim of generalising its results to other possible contexts. It will study, on one side, the general processes that affect the archaeological record (taphonomy, research bias, how specific proxies are generated, etc.), while on the other it will concentrate on specific demography-related archaeological subfields, so that it can test how biases affect putative processes in detail.

The final aim is to understand how much (and how well) can we make archaeological inference given the quality of our record and, when possible, to propose solutions to increase and maximise the quality of that record.

The project is just starting, so quite a bit of content is still empty, but we'll remedy that soon enough...