Lightning Talk Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Connecting sunken actors: Social Network Analysis in maritime archaeology (56)

Enrique Aragon 1
  1. Flinders University, Adelaide , SA, Australia

Connections and networks play a pivotal role in our lives and society. This paper focuses on digital networks and will present a network computer model as a potential instrument for reinterpreting underwater sites by integrating spatial and non-spatial patterns of cultural contact. ‘Social Network’ has become a popular term thanks to online tools such as Facebook and Twitter, which allow us to connect with anyone in a virtual environment. This notion of ‘network’ has influenced not only our daily lives but also science (Prell 2013). Currently, the ‘Network approach’ covers a range of interdisciplinary fields as diverse as computer sciences, physics, social sciences and digital humanities. In maritime archaeology, Social Network Analysis (SNA) is well established as a method (Knappett 2011), but its theoretical application to create network models is an emerging initiative (Collar et al. 2015). My PhD project is researching maritime connectivity in the western Mediterranean during the Early Iron Age (8th to the 6th century BC). My research, uses as a case of study the so-called ‘Rochelongue shipwreck’ (South of France) and its cargo, an assortment of mostly metallic objects, of both local and foreign provenances (Garcia 2013). This study aims to trace cultural interactions by understanding socio-economic changes through the lens of culture contact. Social relations are channels of cultural contagion and persuasion, and as such are embedded in a diffusion process (Brughmans 2013). In this sense, a network is a set of actors (humans and archaeological artefacts) with connections between them. Actors can be defined as ‘nodes’ and the connections as ‘links’. The application of the SNA model permits us to expose additional information that nodes can show through their attributes (Borgatti et al. 2009). Using my case study, links between actors illustrate the flow of material goods, information, affect, power, influence, social support, and social control (figure 1). By focusing on exploring the relationships between the structural positions of actors in a network and the moment at which they adopt an innovation, this model reveals information about developing relationships in maritime trade during the past.



Figure 1. Network graph and visualisation applied to 'Rochelongue Shipwreck'. 




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