Publication details

Re-Growing Transportation Network of the Roman Empire and the Spread of Christianity: An Agent-based Model


KAŠE Vojtěch

Year of publication 2016
Type Appeared in Conference without Proceedings
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Description Over the last few decades, the novel quantitative methods like spatial network analysis or computational modelling revealed to become increasingly popular inside archaeology. With an ambition to implement these methods in a field of study which is only rarely approached quantitatively, i.e. the study of ancient Graeco-Roman religions, there emerged an interdisciplinary research project GEHIR at Masaryk University. Being part of this project, this paper evaluates the relevance of methods of agent-based modelling and spatial network analysis for the study of Christianization of the Roman empire. It uses several datasets relevant for the study of travelling through the Roman world, which enable to study processes of diffusion of cultural innovations through this environment. With its origins in 1st century Palestine, Christianity can be approached as such an innovation, which reached some locations earlier than others and blossomed in some places better than others. The paper hypothesizes that despite of the fact that the evidence concerning the spread of Christianity at this early period is extremely scarce, it is possible to identify at least some temporal and spatial patterns, which can be validated by means of agent-based modelling techniques. In words of network theory and generative social science promulgated by Joshua Epstein, this paper assumes that the temporal and spatial distribution of Christianity over the Roman Empire can be re-grown in an artificial simulation environment as a diffusion of innovation process on a Roman transportation network. At this stage of research, our model considers only (1) the place of origins of the cult, (2) documented travel expenses through the Empire, (3) population sizes and economic importance of reachable destinations and (4) exponential grow of Christian number. For the sake of analysis, all the other cultural and environmental variables are omitted from the model at this point, but considered to be implemented later.
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