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Networks in archaeology

Graduate School, Arts at Aarhus University


Network analysis is increasingly explored as a way to trace complex cultural flows and fluctuations in past societies. In the past decade, archaeological studies have shown how important knowledge on networks interactions can be acquired through analysis of quantitative data, or through assessment of qualitative evidence such as the formation or disruption of connectivity. This research-led course explores how to integrate formal network analysis with contextual archaeological and historical approaches in analysing relationships and interaction in the past. It introduces the students ‘hands-on’ to advanced modes of quantitative network analysis through practical workshops. It brings together approaches that point the way as to how contextual interpretations of network data may clarify the structure, dynamics and agency of past connectivity, and reflects on how this may inform an understanding of past practices and interactions.

Introduction and aims:

The course will offer research-led teaching on the concepts and methods of network analyses in archaeology and will focus on three main objectives:

  • To develop knowledge on network theory and concepts in archaeology. The course will equip students with basic conceptual and analytical tools to assess the nature, significance and application of network analysis in archaeology.  
  • To train students to assess how archaeological and historical questions may be productively framed as network problems, and how network data is identified and processed in archaeology.
  • To develop reflection as to how formal analysis methods, together with qualitative, contextual approaches, may contribute to elucidate and interpret network structure, dynamics and change in the archaeology and history of past societies?

The course aims to encourage students from archaeology, history and related disciplines from the humanities to consider and discuss the potential of network analysis to their research questions by building on the latest analytical advances.


The course will offer a set of specifically designed modules to provide conceptual and analytical background to the applications of network analyses to key research topic of contemporary archaeology and related disciplines.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the course, the participants should be able to:

  • describe key principles of archaeological network data and network analysis methods;
  • consider and assess the application of network analyses in their own work;
  • reflect on, analyse, and critically discuss interpretations of the past based on network analyses.


The course will offer a mixture of lectures, exercises and workshops where active participation will be expected. The language of the course is English.

Case studies

Each participant is required to submit a case study or abstract of 1-2 pages beforehand, which deals with questions relevant to the course. The cases can relate to an own project, previous experiences, or a case inspired by academic literature. These will be reviewed by the course organising team and discussed during the workshops.






ECTS credits and successful completion requirements

The course will count 3 ECTS credits. PhD students are required to submit a case study (1-2 pages) related to one or more of the subthemes addressed by the course, to discuss this at the course, and to engage actively in class discussions and activities. 

Organisation and contacts:

Prof. Rubina Raja (

Prof. Søren Sindbæk (



Dates and time:

6 – 7 December 2017,



UrbNet, AU Campus Moesgård, Moesgård Allé 20, 8270 Højbjerg, building 4230, room 232

Application / registration:

Please apply for a spot via no later than 26 November 2017.


This course is part of UrbNet:

UrbNet PhD courses

Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet) organises a series of four PhD courses designed to create an environment for discussions about the latest developments within well-known fields of archaeology such as cultural layers, dating methods and typology, as well as exploring new developments in isotope analysis on archaeological material and network theory. Each course stands alone, and can be signed up for individually.

With these courses UrbNet wishes to encourage a wider use and a more in depth understanding of these tools in order to further the process of refining the precision of dates, origin of materials and the interpretation of the archaeological record. They are all indispensable aspects of the “High Definition“ approach that UrbNet aspire to develop further in context. The approach aims to maximize the amount and quality of data extrapolated from even the smallest elements of an archaeological site, which in turn enables new and more precise arguments on big and decisive questions of “when, where and why?”. The courses are:

  • Contextual archaeology as a high definition tool – which aims at dissecting the complexity of contextual archaeology and suggest tools which enable us to make the most out of the stratigraphical records (23rd – 24th November 2016)

  • Isotopes in archaeology - aims to introduce the range of applications that isotopes can have in archaeological studies, as well as practical matters. The focus of the course will be the two main research areas: dietary studies and provenance studies (17th – 18th May 2017)
  • Constructing high definition chronologies – chronologies in context – an introduction to the newest research and methodology on dating archaeological material (23rd – 24th November 2017)
  • Networks in archaeology - The aim of the course is to teach the participants how to analyse networks and integrate theory and methodology in the analyses of networks. The course also aims to enable the student to handle the specific challenges related to network analyses (6th – 7th December 2017)

The courses aim to promote interdisciplinary collaboration, enable archaeologists working with all periods and geographic areas, as well as archaeoscientists and anyone who works with material related to archaeology to speak a common language and communicate in an effective manner. Furthermore we wish to equip researchers with ability to critically evaluate scientific methods and interpretations, as well as encourage archaeoscientists to translate the data in a manner that is meaningful to other disciplines.

The courses are aimed at PhD students from a range of disciplines, such as archaeology, geoscience, history and other related fields.

Each course will run over two consecutive days and primarily take place at UrbNet locations at Campus Moesgård, Aarhus University. The course will consist of lectures by leading researchers, student presentations, exercises, visits to relevant laboratories and workshops where it will be possible to work on issues related to the participants’ own research with input from lecturers and course participants.



Course dates
06 December 2017 - 07 December 2017
Campus Moesgaard
Moesgård Aalé 20
3 points

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