One great thing, among many, with studying in places like the UCL Institute of Archaeology is the sheer amount of research being undertaken, and the chance to meet up with people who are working on totally different area within the wider field of archaeology. Let’s face it, none of us will ever really manage to keep abreast with all that is happening and all that is possible in archaeology. We’ll be too busy with our own research/teaching/admin, you name it. So actually listening to people presenting projects on something totally different to yours is great, both as it broadens our horizons, and also provides some great ideas, and draws attention to possibilities that have been out there for a few years.

Connectivity model using Circuitscape and ARCGis, using some key sites as nodes, and percentage slope as the factor providing resistance.

At the last BANEA conference, one of the talks I went too was that by Alessio, who has since successfully defended his PhD at UCL (Congrats, Alessio, by the way – or should I say Dr Palmisano now?). His talk was on Old Assyrian trade networks. Interesting, yes, and way out of my current PhD research on late Iron Age figurines. His talk, however, rang a bell on the possible use of circuit theory, to study the potential networks in the late Iron Age southern Levant, and how that may actually help me explain the patterns I can find in my data.

Correspondence Analysis plot of figurine manufacture types for a sample from ten sites in the southern Levant.

Thankfully, he’s also in-house, and a good friend, having shared many cups of coffee after lunch (as you do with Italians!), so he sat down patiently going over the method with me, even in practice. Now, starting off with some maps on ARCGis, and having installed Circuitscape on my computer, I’ve produced my first circuit map. This one is a simple one, essentially calculating the circuit created between the various nodes (I chose a few key sites), just to see what comes out. I used the percentage slope as what cause resistance to this flow. Of course, such a model does not take into account political frontiers, which will have certainly impacted, but helps show how – perhaps – easy of communication over the terrain impacted on the commonalities we find in the figurine repertoire. It helps give further basis – in term of terrain and geography – to the kind of clustering that is emerging in the data, notably commonalities in the material in the Jezreel valley and Transjordan.

Plenty more work to do here, especially to account for many more factors. And a new pile of literature to read. Sure promises, however, to be an interest path to consider.