Sensitivity analysis in archaeological simulation: An application to the MERCURY model

Hilde Kanters*, Tom Brughmans, Iza Romanowska

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Computational modelling is increasingly gaining attention in archaeology and related disciplines. With the number of new models growing it is often difficult to evaluate their significance and the generality of the results. This is partially due to the narrow reporting of the model's results, which are often limited to those directly relevant to the research question posed in the first place. Although this is not an issue per se, models, if explored exhaustively, can provide a much wider perspective on the studied system. Sensitivity analysis is a widely recognised model exploration method for assessing the importance of different parameters on the model's behaviour. Such systematic exploration helps in unravelling the dynamics that drive the model and enable researchers to establish how robust the presented results are. Here we present a sensitivity analysis of MERCURY, a previously published archaeological agent-based model. The results show that two out of three of the original conclusions drawn on the basis of selective experiment design stand up to scrutiny. By describing in detail and providing a reusable script with detailed description of all steps of the sensitivity analysis we hope to promote this important model exploration technique among modellers and the wider archaeological audience.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102974
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Volume38
ISSN2352-409X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Keywords

  • Agent-based modelling
  • Ceramics
  • Network science
  • Roman archaeology
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Simulation

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