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Bits in Digs - May 2017

Headshot of Alvaro Montenegro

Primary Investigator

Alvaro Montenegro, Ph.D, Assistant Professor

Department of Geography - College of Arts and Sciences


Headshot of Sam White

STEAM Collaborator

Sam White, Ph.D, Associate Professor

Department of History - College of Arts and Sciences



Recent years have seen a significant increase in our ability to develop and use sophisticated computer models representing several natural and human systems.Climate models, for example, have becomeimportant tools to help us better understand and prepare for anthropogenic warming. To take an examplerelated to human systems, traffic simulation models are routinely adopted by transit managers and city planners.While archaeologists and historians have a long tradition in relating the state of human groups to past environmental variability, this is usually done in the form of narratives, or else as simple correlations, where the actualimpact of environmental change on human systems is assumed but not necessarily tested or quantified. Here is where we think quantitative computer models can make a difference. These can offer both a more holistic description of environmental change and the ability to generate quantitative estimates ofhow these natural changes affected humans and their societies. We want to contribute to these types of initiative by hosting a workshop that brings together historians, archaeologists, climatologists and modelers to discuss the use of computer models in the context of historical and archaeological research, with a focus on numerical climate and ocean voyaging modeling.


  1. Acquaint history and archaeology researchers with state-of-the-art, data-heavy climate and human migrationcomputer models.
  2. Give modelers a better understanding of the needs faced by historical and archaeological research and how these can become better incorporated in model development and analysis.