The authors raise spatial analysis to a new level of sophistication – and insight – in proposing a mathematical model of ‘imperfect optimisation’ to describe maritime networks. This model encodes, metaphorically, the notion of gravitational attraction between objects in space. The space studied here is the southern Aegean in the Middle Bronze Age, and the objects are the 34 main sites we know about. The ‘gravitation’ in this case is a balance of social forces, expressed by networks with settlements of particular sizes and links of particular strengths. The model can be tweaked by giving different relative importance to the cultivation of local resources or to trade, and to show what happens when a member of the network suddenly disappears.