Networks in Archaeology: Phenomena, Abstraction, Representation

Anna Collar, Fiona Coward, Tom Brughmans, Barbara J. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


The application of method and theory from network science to archaeology has dramatically increased over the last decade. In this article, we document this growth over time, discuss several of the important concepts that are used in the application of network approaches to archaeology, and introduce the other articles in this special issue on networks in archaeology. We argue that the suitability and contribution of network science techniques within particular archaeological research contexts can be usefully explored by scrutinizing the past phenomena under study, how these are abstracted into concepts, and how these in turn are represented as network data. For this reason, each of the articles in this special issue is discussed in terms of the phenomena that they seek to address, the abstraction in terms of concepts that they use to study connectivity, and the representations of network data that they employ in their analyses. The approaches currently being used are diverse and interdisciplinary, which we think are evidence of a healthy exploratory stage in the application of network science in archaeology. To facilitate further innovation, application, and collaboration, we also provide a glossary of terms that are currently being used in network science and especially those in the applications to archaeological case studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2015


  • Archaeology
  • Network science
  • Relational archaeology
  • Social network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology


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