Skip to main content

Agents and commodities: a response to Brughmans and Poblome (2016) on modelling the Roman economy

  • Astrid Van Oyen (a1)

This article responds directly to Brughmans and Poblome's (2016a) recent application of agent-based modelling to explore the relative integration of the Roman economy. The response will not only be of relevance to debates about the Roman economy, for it also asks critical questions about the use of formal modelling to interpret archaeological data. In posing open-ended questions rather than presenting definitive answers, it seeks to broaden and fuel discussion in a spirit of constructive critique.

Hide All
Appadurai A. 1986. Introduction: commodities and the politics of value, in Appadurai A. (ed.) The social life of things: commodities in cultural perspective: 163. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Baert P. & Carreira da Silva F.. 2010. Social theory in the twentieth century and beyond. Cambridge: Polity.
Bang P. 2008. The Roman bazaar: a comparative study of trade and markets in a tributary empire. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bes P. 2015. Once upon a time in the East: the chronological and geographical distribution of terra sigillata and red slip ware in the Roman East (Roman and Late Antique Mediterranean Pottery 6). Oxford: Archaeopress.
Bonabeau E. 2002. Agent-based modelling: methods and techniques for simulating human systems. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 99: 7280–87.
Bowman A. & Wilson A. (ed.). 2009. Quantifying the Roman economy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Brughmans T. 2010. Connecting the dots: towards archaeological network analysis. Oxford Journal of Archaeology 29: 277303. 10.1111/j.1468-0092.2010.00349.x
Brughmans T. 2013. Thinking through networks: a review of formal network methods in archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 20: 623–62.
Brughmans T. & Poblome J.. 2016a. Roman bazaar or market economy? Explaining tableware distributions through computational modelling. Antiquity 90: 393408.
Brughmans T. & Poblome J.. 2016b. MERCURY: an agent-based model of tableware trade in the Roman East. Journal of Artificial Societies and Social Simulation 19.
de Callataÿ F. 2005. The Graeco-Roman economy in the super-long run: lead, copper and shipwrecks. Journal of Roman Archaeology 18: 361–72.
Duncan-Jones R. 1990. Structure and scale in the Roman economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Emirbayer M. & Goodwin J.. 1994. Network analysis, culture, and the problem of agency. American Journal of Sociology 99: 1411–54.
Graham S. & Weingart S.. 2015. The equifinality of archaeological networks: an agent-based exploratory lab approach. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 22: 248–74.
Latour B. 1993. We have never been modern. Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press.
Law J. 2004. After method: mess in social science research. Oxford: Routledge.
Malafouris L. 2013. How things shape the mind: a theory of material engagement. Cambridge (MA): MIT Press.
Miller D. 2000. Introduction: the birth of value, in Jackson P., Lowe M., Miller D. & Mort F. (ed.) Commercial cultures: economies, practices, spaces: 7783. Oxford: Berg.
Morley N. 2004. Theories, models and concepts in ancient history. London: Routledge.
Morris I. 1999. Foreword, in M.I. Finley, The ancient economy: ix–xxxvi . Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press.
Poblome J., Bes P. & Willet R.. 2012. Thoughts on the archaeological residue of networks: a view from the East, in Keay S. (ed.) Rome, Portus and the Mediterranean (Archaeological Monographs of the British School at Rome 21): 393401. London: British School at Rome.
Rauch J.E. & Hamilton G.G.. 2001. Networks and markets: concepts for bridging disciplines, in Rauch J.E. & Casella A. (ed.) Networks and markets: 129. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Scheidel W. 2009. In search of economic growth. Journal of Roman Archaeology 22: 4670.
Scheidel W. 2012. Approaching the Roman economy, in Scheidel W. (ed.) The Cambridge companion to the Roman economy: 124. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scheidel W. 2014. The shape of the Roman world: modelling imperial connectivity. Journal of Roman Archaeology 27: 732.
Silver M. 2009. Historical otherness, the Roman bazaar and primitivism. Journal of Roman Archaeology 22: 421–40.
Temin P. 2013. The Roman market economy. Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press.
Van Oyen A. 2015a. The moral architecture of villa storage in Italy in the 1st c. B.C. Journal of Roman Archaeology 28: 97124.
Van Oyen A. 2015b. The Roman city as articulated through terra sigillata . Oxford Journal of Archaeology 34: 279–99.
Van Oyen A. 2016a. How things make history: the Roman Empire and its terra sigillata pottery. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
Van Oyen A. 2016b. Historicising material agency: from relations to relational constellations. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 23: 354–78.
Van Oyen A. & Pitts M. (ed.). 2017. Materialising Roman histories. Oxford: Oxbow.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 14
Total number of PDF views: 98 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 353 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 20th September 2017 - 24th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.