How do social networks evolve over huge time-scales? How did geography constrain or enhance the development of past social networks? These are fundamental questions in both the study of the human past and network research, yet our ability to answer them is severely hampered by the limited development of spatio-temporal network methods. PastNet is an inter-disciplinary network that aims to stimulate the development and application of such methods through networking meetings, a conference and a workshop.
Formal network methods are increasingly commonly applied in a wide range of disciplines to study phenomena as diverse as the connectivity of neurons in the human brain, terrorist networks, a billion interlinked Facebook profiles, and power grids. Despite this diversity and the decades-long tradition of using network methods in the social sciences, physics and computer science, the development of techniques for the study of spatial networks and long-term network change has so far been largely neglected. Network research is also becoming more common in disciplines concerned with the study of past human behaviour: archaeology, classics and history. These disciplines have a strong tradition in exploring long-term human behavioural change and spatial phenomena, despite being forced to use fragmentary textual and material sources as indirect evidence of such phenomena.
By bringing together network researchers from archaeology, classics, computer science, digital humanities, history, mathematics, network science, oriental studies, physics, psychology, and sociology, PastNet aims to foster cross-disciplinary exchange to push network research further. The historical disciplines can contribute new spatio-temporal approaches and datasets to network research, whereas the traditional network research disciplines will further stimulate the critical application of network approaches to the study of the human past.
We are always looking for researchers – at all levels, and from all disciplinary backgrounds – to participate in our network.
To get involved please contact Tom Brughmans or any PastNet member.