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Production and distribution of food during the Roman Empire: Economics and political dynamics (EPNET)
Start date: Mar 1, 2014, End date: Feb 28, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project aims at detecting and defining the political and economic dynamics of the Roman Empire trade system by designing and implementing an experimental laboratory to explore different historical hypoteses through computer simulations. Empirical data will be used to correct and validate the results of the simulations and define rigourous and falsifiable models of ancient trade sytems.The Roman Empire trade system is generally considered to be the first complex European trade network. Many theories and hypotheses about its organization have been proposed but no formal model has been put forward so far. We propose to study this system using complex network analysis, formal modelling and computer simulation. The different existing research hypotheses will be modelled in a formal framework that will be used for running computer simulations and create possible scenarios of the development of the trade network. The archaeological and historical datasets will offer the means for validation processes in order to verify the explanatory power of the different models and to choose the best-fitting representation of the investigated phenomena.The project counts with one of the richest database for amphorae and epigraphy, one of the most precise archaeological and historical semantic markers available for the Roman Empire market. They provide information on geographical origin, the products transported and traded, economic transactions, as well as the social position and relationships between the traders.The project will provide the research community with a powerful tool for the study and interpretation of past political and economic systems, which will benefit our understanding of long-term social trajectories. This will be achieved through an innovative methodology based on transdisciplinarity and therefore will constitute a groundbreaking in the field of historical studies.
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