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CALL FOR PARTICIPANTS: Roundtable on Community-Driven Reproducible Research: The Community for Modeling Agropastoralism in Eurasia -- WAC9, Prague, July 2020

Dear Colleagues,

Francesco Carrer and Isaac Ullah are proposing a round table forum related to C-Maple to take place at the 9th World Archaeological Congress ( ), July 5th-10th, 2020, in Prague, Czech Republic. Our round table aims to focus on a growing issue in modern archaeology: How can we work together to support open research, collaboration, and data-sharing? More specifically, we are focusing on a new idea for a community-generated data and model-sharing portal,, created for and by researchers broadly focused on the origins, development, and spread of agro-pastoral subsistence systems across the Old World. Our proposed session abstract, below, contains more details about the specifics of the forum, but, in short, we would like to invite researchers interested in exploring this type of community-driven effort.

Briefly, our plan for the round table forum is to start with a short series of 5-minute “lightning talks” from each participant. These talks will allow participants to introduce themselves and their current project(s), and to briefly provide their initial views about the idea of community-driven projects such as The introductory talks will be followed by an open forum discussion on the merits of the approach, how it can best be designed, and where and how we may take this forward as a community. We will ask each participant to try to make use of before the session to facilitate the discussion and hopefully stimulate some useful ideas. We will submit the session under Theme 21 “World Archaeologies: the past, the present and the future,” and we believe that our forum is a good fit for this topic.

If you would like to take part in our forum (and we hope that you do!), please contact Isaac Ullah ( or Francesco Carrer ( ). We will need the following things from you: 1) You will need to join the WAC and confirm to us when you have done so ( 2) Please provide a very brief (<250 words) abstract of your introductory talk (again, it will be less than 5 minutes) to us. 3) You will need to register for the WAC9 after January 1st.

Session Title and Abstract:

Roundtable on Community-Driven Reproducible Research: The Community for Modeling Agropastoralism in Eurasia

There is a growing movement in archaeology to increase the reproducibility of our work using the concepts of open data, open-source methods, and open-access publishing (Marwick et al., 2017). “Openness” means to make data, methods, and publications freely available with few restrictions. There has been a proliferation of online platforms dedicated to reproducible research in recent years. Data files, scripted methodologies, and research products, are now spread across any number of locations, including archaeology-specific digital data archiving platforms such as Open Context, T-DAR, ADS, and Heritage UK, interdisciplinary repositories such as COMSES, OSF, ResearchGate, and, broader online platforms such as Github, Zenodo, and Figshare, and on a wide variety of preprint servers, open-access journals, “supplementary information” links, and institutional/library archives. We are now faced with “information overload” and the inability to efficiently find salient materials, which largely negates the understood benefits of openness and reproducibility. One way forward is to develop community-driven clearinghouses where links to open data, open-source methods, and open-access research products can be curated by and for a community according to the specific theme(s) of that community.

In this round-table forum, we will discuss both the general merits and opportunities of the community-driven approach, as well as the specifics of one such community endeavor: The Community for Modeling Agro-Pastoralism in Eurasia ( Topics for discussion include: 1) How to leverage the community (i.e., “crowdsourcing”) while maintaining manageability, integrity, and thematic direction. 2) How to incentivize participation. 3) How to organize and present different aspects of reproducible research (data, methods, publications). 4) How to increase utility and re-use. 5) How can this be used to push archaeology forward as a discipline (e.g., interdisciplinarity, methodological innovation, big data analysis)? Roundtable discussants will use their experiences with to facilitate this discussion.

Confirmed participants and individual abstracts:

    • Digital cooperation: moving from private to public goods perspective

Andreas Angourakis, Research Associate, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge.

My research focuses on the application of simulation modelling and other quantitative methods to archaeological questions. Through my work on modelling and my background in social sciences, I have developed a profound interest in the trade-offs between cooperation and competition and the emergence and demise of social organisation throughout human history. I have been invested in improving the reach, intelligibility, and reproducibility of my work by combining an ever-growing set of digital tools such as R and GitHub. In the last few years, I engaged in a few initiatives pursuing similar goals in a collective manner, including C-MAPLE. In light of my brief experience, these initiatives often encounter numerous obstacles, all somehow related to the challenge posed by any collective action problem. Sharing or co-developing datasets and computational models can be seen as a common-pool resource or even a private good situation, thus discouraging participation. Many digital tools available today bring us the opportunity to engage in such cooperative endeavors with significantly less cost or risk to the individual. However, they do come with a downside: a steep learning curve. Therefore, I highlight that any effort in this direction requires introducing students and non-computational archaeologists to a minimum digital toolkit.

    • Earth, trees and fire: connecting vegetation and socio-anthropology in French Mediterranean Neolithic modelling

Marianne Cahierre, Julien Azuara, Odile Peyron, Mehdi Saqalli,CNRS UMR 5602 GEODE Géographie de l'Environnement, Maison de la Recherche, Université Toulouse.

Within the MISTRALS Framework, the PALEOMEX Program tends to reconstitute past environments. We tend to reconstitute on the specific site of Languedoc-Roussillon on the Mediterranean shores of France the vegetation o these times through climate and soil habitats of Plant Functional Types, to be validated with the European Pollen Database. We then plan to formalize the socio-anthropological constraints of Neolithic societies having lived there, from which family organizations are amongst the most prominent both in terms of complexity and on the family expansion and robustness.

    • Modeling Agropastoralism in Anatolia and the Role of C-MAPLE

Bülent Arikan, Istanbul Technical University, Eurasia Institute of Earth Sciences, Department of Ecology and Evolution.

Anatolia offers a unique environmental context that sums up the climatic and biological diversity in Eurasia. The long archaeological record that presents the emergence and evolution of diverse patterns of agropastoralism in Anatolia, there is great potential to model such lifeways. This paper will focus on crowdsourcing for gathering wide variety of data towards modeling agropastoralism in addition to the ways in which archaeology may lead current policy-making for environmental preservation and economic development. For both crowdsourcing and situating archaeology at a pivotal role in policy-making, C-MAPLE emerges as an invaluable platform to store and share diverse sets of data for simulating agropastoral lifeways.

    • C-MAPLE and Neolithic Niche Construction

Michael J. O’Brien, Texas A&M University–San Antonio and University of Missouri

One approach that has seen increased usage in archaeology over the last decade or so is niche construction theory (NCT). In the most basic of terms, niche construction is the process whereby organisms modify natural selection in their environment and thereby act as co-directors of their own evolution as well as that of other species. Despite the rather enthusiastic reception NCT has found in archaeology, there are serious issues that still need to be addressed. One issue involves the use of (in)appropriate methods for testing for niche construction, and the other involves steep data requirements, especially in situations where there is a large number of confounding factors such as missing data and measurement error—not uncommon occurrences in archaeology. As an apparent example of niche construction, Neolithic dairy farming and cereal cultivation led to significant changes in the digestive system of a number of populations. In Europe, Neolithic populations evolved a single nucleotide polymorphism that allowed them and their descendants to digest dairy products. Once milk drinking became a tradition that was learned consistently enough from one generation to the next, a significant fitness advantage to lactose-tolerant individuals fixed the lactase persistence allele within a few hundred generations. It is, however, one thing to posit NCT as a driver of evolution among Neolithic dairy farmers, but it is another thing to actually test for it in an appropriate manner. At its core, niche construction involves time series and feedback mechanisms, and the trick is to place phenomena in proper order and to hypothesize the direction of cause and effect. Because niche construction involves bi-directionality, path diagrams developed specifically for non-recursive, time-series analysis are appropriate. Beyond that, analysis requires an inordinate amount of data from such sources as animal bones, pottery, radiocarbon assays, human burials, and so on. Portals such as C-MAPLE offer hope for archaeologists requiring massive amounts of data that exist in far-flung (and often underreported) locales.

    • Kurgans, settlements, passageways, and landscapes of the Tian Shan Mountains

Claudia Chang and Perry A. Tourtellotte, Independent Scholars (Sweet Briar College, emeriti), Syracuse, NY, USA

Recent survey data on Iron Age kurgans and settlements across landscapes in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan on alluvial fans, upland valleys, and natural mountain passes inform us about ancient agropastoral and pastoral use of diverse ecological niches of the Tian Shan mountains.

These data can be organized as large datasets that incorporate digitized map information, geomorphological and environmental analyses, and site inventories to test a recent model about how ancient agropastoralists used Inner Asian mountain corridors for social, economic, and political exchanges, alliances, and connections.

Older News and Past Events

2019 SAA sessions:

Agro-pastoral Adaptations to Holocene Climate Change in the Greater Near East.

Thursday, April 11, 6-8pm

Room: 27 Picuris

“Agro-pastoralism,” a mixture of agricultural and pastoral subsistence, has been a major aspect of social evolution especially in the Near East including Eurasia. This lightning round forum aims to bring together researchers from diverse fields that focus on agro-pastoral adaptations to changes in the Holocene, including but not limited to major episodes of climate change. By organizing this session, we intend to discuss how Old World agro-pastoralist societies might have perceived and reacted to climate change, what types of responses were successful or unsuccessful at weathering climate change, and how agropastoralist land-use patterns impacted the environment and fed back into the challenges of climate change. We aim to integrate both methodological and theoretical perspectives in order to disentangle the complex and dynamic nature of human-environment interactions in the region. We will take advantage of the lightning round format to stimulate a broad discussion of these topics by scholars from diverse fields. We hope to make headway towards a holistic understanding of the unique requirements of an agropastoralist lifeway under different conditions. The presentations and following discussion in this session will allow us to explore the adaptive capacity and resilience of the agro-pastoralist lifeway at times of climatic and environmental instability.