Our goals:

This project aims to aggregate, parametrise, and synthesise primary datasets that inform the evolution of societies in the Ancient Mediterranean (ie. examine the links between social connectivity and complexity manifest in material and textual evidence). In the process, the team will develop a suite of digital approaches and tools, inspired by large-scale ecological projects like Ocean Health Index (Lowndes et al. 2017). The two mains outputs of this project will be

  • a comparative study of proxies for evolution of social complexity in the Ancient Mediterranean
  • digital tools, workflows and processes that scale and that historians and archaeologists can use in their own research.

In its digital aim, this project will deliver the next component of a digital ecosystem for ‘small-data’ domains like the humanities, namely research infrastructure for combining 'messy' and heterogeneous legacy data with 'clean' digitally born data, allowing for their streamlining and analysis in a collaborative environment.

In its empirical mission, this project will evaluate existing hypotheses of Ancient Mediterranean dynamics by aggregating and synthesising available digital datasets.


The Social Dynamics in the Ancient Mediterranean (SDAM) research group is supported by the the Aarhus University Research Foundation in 2019-2022.

  • sddk python package

    Introduction Soon after we started our SDAM project, we began to discuss what platform to choose as a data storage for our collaborative research projects. To begin with, we considered whether our needs could be fully met by a combination of Google Drive and GitHub. But it revealed that not, at least since Github is not suitable for working with large files and Google Drive is not always easily accessible programmatically and everything there tends to be too much fluid to consider it an appropriate data storage for research purposes. Therefore, as researchers based at a Danish research institution, we...

  • Testing our shared infrastructure

    Post-lockdown Lessons About Shared Collaboration Infrastructure The lockdown has put tremendous pressure on most collaborative projects by pushing them to go remote. In our case too, it tested our ability to use shared collaboration infrastructures, communication channels and management skills under conditions for which these were in fact intended: to facilitate uninterrupted remote and asynchronous work. Some projects struggled more because the infrastructure they were locked into was not designed for collaboration - as Mine Cetinkaya-Rundel says on 25 March 2020 on twitter: “If this pandemic doesn’t make people completely give up on Microsoft’s collaboration tools, I don’t know what...

  • First peak at multigraph

    Climbing the Mountain Some while ago, I saw this comic about the never-ending story of learning programming. The never-ending story applies to any collaborative discovery endeavour. At SDAM, we have been agonizing over what can we actually do with all the large data, once we aggregated it. It’s a question that’s been giving us anxiety, because until you harvest, streamline and wrangle your data, you cannot even start answering it. Just like a potter who collects clay from an unknown source without knowing whether it will be good for anything. You knead and levigate the cold, hard mass and only...

  • Lemmatization and POStagging of Ancient Greek Texts

    Introduction In the second half of January, while I was working with Vojtěch Linka on a quantitative text analysis of the concept of pain in Corpus Aristotelicum and Corpus Hippocraticum, we realized that the data which I regularly use for this type of tasks (i.e. Lemmatized Ancient Greek dataset, LAG) are substantially incomplete. We noticed this fact once we were working with Aristotelian texts (tlg0086), as we realized that the dataset completely misses such works as Ethica Nicomachea and Ethica Eudemia - works really crucial for our task at hands! This was quite surprising finding, since from the LAG documentation...

  • Epigraphic Database Heidelberg using R

    This post is about accessing the “Epigraphic Database Heidelberg” (EDH), which is one of the longest running database projects in digital Latin epigraphy. The [EDH] database started as early as year 1986, and in 1997 the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg website was launched at https:/edh-www.adw.uni-heidelberg.de where inscriptions, images, bibliographic and geographic records can be searched and browsed online. Despite the possibility of accessing the [EDH] database through a Web browser, it is many times convenient to get the Open Data Repository by the [EDH] through its public Application Programming Interface (API). For inscriptions, the generic search pattern Uniform Resource Identifier (URI)...