Since September, I am working at the Aarhus University in Denmark. I am here as a member of an interdisciplinary project entitled “Small data, big challenges: Synthetic study of complexity in the Balkans and Black Sea” (we still wonder about a better title/acronym for the project). The project is led by archaeologist Adéla Sobotková and I am here with two other postdocs (one data scientist and one archaeologist). The project is affiliated to the Department of History and Classical Studies at the School of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, and is also closely associated with the Center for Digital History Aarhus.
Here is a short description of the project:
The project proposes a data-science approach to the study of social complexity in SE Europe and wider Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, particularly the waxing and waning of societies, cities and civilisations. This approach is based on the aggregation and analysis of archaeological, historical, paleo-ecological and epigraphic proxies in large evidentiary datasets. Our ability to address fundamental questions such as the evolution of human culture depends on our capacity to acquire, manipulate, combine and analyse large evidentiary datasets. Current attempts to synthesise markers of complexity are either subjective (representing interpretations, not evidence), or they are created manually and scale poorly. This project seeks to parametrise and synthesise primary datasets, and to develop a suite of digital approaches and tools for humanities and social science researchers, inspired by large-scale ecological projects like the Ocean Health Index (Lowndes et al. 2017). The two mains outputs of this project will be (1) a comparative study of proxies for the evolution of social complexity in the Balkan peninsula and the Mediterranean or Black Sea, and (2) digital tools, workflows and processes that can be scaled which historians and archaeologists can use in their own research.
I am really happy to be here and to be part of this team. I perceive it as a big opportunity to learn a lot of new things, to use what I already know and to bring it with me to the fore and to pursue my own research interests. I am especially glad that Lenka and Matěj seem to be happy as well (follow Lenka’s diary here).