Agent-based modelling and the Byzantine - understanding the construction of antiquity's largest infrastructure project

James Snyder, Lucy Stephenson, Jan Mackie, Simon Smith

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract / Description of output

Agent-Based Modelling (ABM) is an established method for simulating the actions, interactions and behaviours of autonomous agents. These agents can be individuals or collective organisations and the tool is able to assess the effects of these agents on the system as a whole. Based on theories of emergence and computational sociology, the ideas behind ABM were first developed many years ago but computational power of recent decades has allowed their utility to provide success in areas such as pollution, transmission of disease, culture, effective teams and cognition. Research is not yet widespread in the construction field, but successes have been seen in areas such as supply chain and network management. The aims of this paper are twofold. We ultimately intend to demonstrate the applicability of ABM in construction management and archaeological engineering; but intially we will outline its potential use via an overview of the Byzantine Water Supply system for the ancient city of Constantinople. Unlike similar counterparts in Classical Antiquity, the Eastern Roman Empire’s 4th- and 5th-century water supply megaprojects, whose channels and bridges spanned hundreds of kilometers to bring fresh water to the burgeoning capital of Constaninople and its complex system of reservoirs and cisterns, is relatively under-explored. The paper demonstrates that ABM is able to provide greater and richer understanding of the use of resources in these ancient constructions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 32nd Annual ARCOM Conference
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2016
Event32nd ARCOM Conference - Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Sept 20167 Sept 2016


Conference32nd ARCOM Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • agent-based modelling
  • archaeological engineering
  • Byzantine
  • heritage engineering
  • Project management


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