Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 288–305 | Cite as

Simulation as Narrative: Contingency, Dialogics, and the Modeling Conundrum

  • James McGlade


In this paper, we will cast a critical eye on the practice of simulation modeling in archaeology, focusing on some of the unwritten assumptions underpinning currently popular agent-based approaches. We shall suggest the need for (1) a better integration with the basic tenets of complexity theory, (2) a stronger focus on epistemological issues, rather than on technological/methodological preoccupations, and (3) a distributed ecology of models functioning as an exploratory research laboratory. In essence, we argue for a more discursive, dialogic approach that places modeling in the arena of narrative construction, rather than the pursuit of some representation of “reality.”


Simulation modeling Archaeology Agent-based models Complexity Contingency Epistemology Dialogics Hermeneutics 



I would like to thank Bernardo Rondelli and Xavi Rubio for some stimulating discussions on a number of issues that subsequently formed the basis of the present paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universitat Oberta de CatalunyaBarcelonaSpain

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