To be Published asBrughmans, T. (Forthcoming). Facebooking the past: a critical social network analysis approach for archaeology. In Chrysanthi, A., Flores, M. P.,
Thinking beyond the Tool: Archaeological Computing and the Interpretative Process
. Oxford, Archaeopress - BritishArchaeological Reports.
Facebooking the Past: a critical social network analysis approach for archaeology
Facebook currently has over 500 million active users, only six years after its launch in 2004. Thesocial networking website's viral spread and its direct influence on the everyday lives of its userstroubles some and intrigues others. It derives its strength in popularity and influence through itsability to provide a digital medium for social relationships.This paper is not about Facebook at all. Rather, through this analogy the strength of relationships between people becomes apparent most dramatically. Undoubtedly social relationships were ascrucial to stimulating human actions in the past as they are in the present. In fact, much of what wedo as archaeologists aims at understanding such relationships. But how are they reflected in thematerial record? And do social network analysis techniques aimed at understanding suchrelationships help archaeologists understand past social relationships?This paper explores the assumptions and issues involved in applying a social network perspective inarchaeology. It argues that the nature of archaeological data makes its application in archaeologyfundamentally different from that in social and behavioural sciences. As a first step to solving theidentified issues it will suggest an integrated approach using ego-networks, popular whole-network models, multiple networks and affiliation networks, in an analytical process that goes from methodto phenomena and back again.
social network analysis, complex systems, social relationships, archaeological datacritique, graph theory, archaeological networks