Tom BrughmansConnecting the dotsTo be published as:BRUGHMANS, T. 2010: Connecting the dots : towards archaeological network analysis.
Oxford Journal of Archaeology
CONNECTING THE DOTS: TOWARDS ARCHAEOLOGICAL NETWORK ANALYSIS
In recent years network analysis has been applied in archaeological research toexamine the structure of archaeological relationships of whatever sort. However, thesearchaeological applications share a number of issues concerning 1) the role of archaeological datain networks; 2) the diversity of network structures, their consequences and their interpretation; 3)the critical use of quantitative tools; 4) the influence of other disciplines, especially sociology. Thisarticle concerns a deconstruction of past archaeological methods for examining networks. Througha case-study of Roman table wares in the Eastern Mediterranean, the article will highlight anumber of issues with network analysis as a method for archaeology. It urges caution with theuncritical application of network analysis methods developed in other disciplines and applied toarchaeology. However, it stresses the potential benefits of network analysis for the archaeological discipline and acknowledges the need for developing a specifically archaeological network analysis, which should be based on relational thinking and can be expanded with an archaeological toolset for quantitative analysis.
INTRODUCTIONThe main goal of network analysis is detecting and interpreting patterns of relationships betweensubjects of research interest. These can be anything from individuals and objects to countries or communities. Network analysis is rooted in a branch of mathematics called graph theory (Barnesand Harary 1983; Harary 1969; Harary and Norman 1953), from which it adopts techniques for 1