Session: #545

Theme & Session Format

Theories and methods in archaeological sciences
Session format:
Session, made up of a combination of papers, max. 15 minutes each

Title & Content

Challenging the models: Reflections of reality?
Currently modelling is a central part of archaeological behavioural research. Many papers focus on the ability to extract the reflections of past social interactions and structures from a variety of archaeological and environmental sources. Especially in the light of highly theoretic archaeological modelling in pre- and proto history this often leads to environmentally driven, Darwinian like models, devoid of cognitive human factors, fuzzy decision making, and the possibility of non-rational choice. Considering all implemented assumptions required for social interaction models we have to question whether a model might be too complex to operate on the basis of our data. Has it entered the vicious circle of self-affirmation? Are our models questioning our own lack of knowledge? Where are we on an epistemic-ontic scale?
In our session we wish to address and discuss current problems in archaeological behavioural modelling. Questions tackled might include
• whether we are creating Processualism 2.0?
• how narratives are encoded in models, as discussed from a theoretical, methodological or practical viewpoint?
• how the inclusion of social theory and the fuzziness of human decision making alters the results from a model?
• what is the impact of assumptions on modelling results?
• what is the impact of archaeological data on a model’s outcome?
• how we can use inherent capabilities and inabilities of models to better interpret and narrate our approximations of reality?
modelling, theory, narratives, Processualism 2.0
Session associated with MERC:
Session associated with CIfA:
Session associated with SAfA:


Main organiser:
Chiara Girotto (Germany) 1
Ray Rivers (United Kingdom) 2
1. Goethe University Frankfurt
2. Imperial College London