Dr. Charles Egeland (Anthropology) received new funding from the National Science Foundation for the project “Archaeology Program Full Proposal: A Network Approach to Magdalenian Social Landscapes.” Jing Deng and Minjeong Kim are co-principal investigators on the project.
The Magdalenian of western Europe (ca. 20,000 to 14,000 years ago) witnessed the creation and circulation of an unprecedented abundance and diversity of portable artwork. The chronological and geographic distribution of these items hints at extraordinarily rich intra-and inter-regional social interactions.
The researchers will develop a Social Network Analysis (SNA) approach to the reconstruction of these Magdalenian social landscapes. This project involves three components: (1) the collection of 200+ high-quality digital images of perforated disks, which is a widespread and vividly decorated type of Magdalenian portable art that we assume encoded socially significant information; (2) the construction of an image processing algorithm that extracts and identifies patterns in the decorative elements of perforated disk images; and (3) the use of an online, open-source platform that, once the researchers code plugins catered to their dataset, can use methods and concepts from SNA to visually and quantitatively describe the structure of Magdalenian social space. The data, image analysis algorithm, and SNA plugins generated by this project can be freely accessed online by all researchers, and the technique can eventually be applied to any engraved artifact that can be represented by a 2D digital image.