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Friday, April 1 • 16:45 - 17:10
S14-16 Content or context? Model selection of settlement growth models using entropy maximization

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Content or context? Model selection of settlement growth models using entropy maximization

Xavier Rubio-Campillo, Rinse Willet

Entropy maximization is one of the most popular computer models used in archaeology. This family of simulations was designed to explore transport flows in urban and regional geography. The original model was transformed into a high-level methodology designed to explore any scenario where the size of a set of entities is related to spatial interaction. Several archaeological studies applied the methodology to settlement dynamics, thus exploring how geography and interaction could expain the observed size of sites. Recent developments have adapted the framework to the particularities of the field introducing concepts such as uncertainty, decision-making and the study of evolutionary trajectories.

These models characterize settlement growth as a combination of two factors: the intrinsic interest of the location and its relation within the network of settlements. The system is then iterated while updating the importance of each settlement until an equilibrium is reached. The main challenge of the model is to define parameter values for a) the hypothetical intrinsic interest of each site, b) the interaction decay over distance and c) the relative weight of the two components. Beyond the entropy-maximising approach, parameter estimation and comparison between competing hypotheses are two common challenges while evaluating how formal models match evidence under uncertainty.

This work evaluates the plausibility of different entropy-maximising models in the case study of Roman Asia Minor. A hierarchical model integrated the alternate hypotheses and data uncertainty within the same framework. Parameter estimates and model comparison were then calculated applying Approximate Bayesian Computation. The application of this framework was used to infer new interaction dynamics between the settlements located in this region and improve our understanding of the underlying archaeological record.

Friday April 1, 2016 16:45 - 17:10 CEST
Domus Bibliotheca

Attendees (5)