Call for papers CAA2024! S9: Computational methods to study ancient societies, landscapes and riverine systems straddling Asia and Africa

We are pleased to invite you to contribute to our session in the 51st CAA International conference (CAA2024), which will take place in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland (New Zealand) from 8 – 12 April 2024.

The deadline for papers is 19th of October 2023. EXTENDED DEADLINE to 26th October 2023!
Submit your paper here:

S9: Between the Nile and the Brahmaputra: Computational methods to study ancient societies, landscapes and riverine systems straddling Asia and Africa

Alessia Brucato, University of Bari – Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche, Instituto di Scienze del Patrimonio Culturale
Maria Elena Castiello, Institute of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bern and Institute of Heritage Sciences (INCIPIT-CSIC)
Navjot Kour, Landscape Archaeology Research Group (GIAP), Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology
Nazarij Buławka, Landscape Archaeology Research Group (GIAP), Catalan Institute of Classical Archaeology

Standard session

Abstract: The vast areas stretching from Egypt through Western Asia, Central Asia and South Asia are considered home to some of the earliest civilisations (Van De Mieroop 2016; Steadman and McMahon 2011; Magee 2014; Lyonnet and Dubova 2021, Possehl 1993). Notably, during the Middle and Late Bronze Age, there was extensive evidence of deep trade ties between those areas, which intensified since antiquity (Arnott 2022; Cobb 2018; Mattingly 2017). The landscape of the mentioned areas is diverse and transitional, dramatically shifting between the arid and hyper-arid regions of Northern Egypt and the Central Arabian Peninsula, through the dry savanna of the Eastern Sahel to the semi-arid steppe in the coastal regions and mountain piedmonts of Western Asia, towards the layered climatic complexities of South Asia ranging from temperate to tropical and cold regions (Rubel and Kottek 2010; Husain 2022; Kuper and Kröpelin 2006). It includes areas where permanent settlements emerged and persisted in time owing to multifaceted factors of the presence of huge perennial rivers, the development of irrigation systems, sufficient rain regimes, and in some areas the decisive role played by summer monsoons, which all sustain, even in such diverse environment, fertile ecosystems and productive lands. In the desert areas, crossing lands, connections and exchanges require following riverine routes and stopping by water bodies, defining mandatory paths and attraction spots for trading, networking and borders (Gatto 2011; Arbuckle and Hammer 2019). In contrast, in the tropical monsoonal belt, the itineraries require an unceasing adaptation not only to the land topography but also to the seasonal variations, because the water bodies play the key role of endless remodelers of the landscape. This massive diversity in these environments share a common ground in the relationship between cultures and water bodies that played a pivotal role in the rising of social and technological complexity, economy, movement, trade and the commencement of civilisations (Rost 2022; Zhuang and Altaweel 2018). Despite the territorial morphology and local environmental conditions made the economy of each area developing an individual pathway, these cultures rapidly became intertwined in the maritime and land trade networks, boundary disputes and conflicts.

This session aims to transcend traditional geographic and cultural boundaries and to consider a unified perspective across the vast areas between the Nile to the Brahmaputra. This approach seeks to connect the archaeological narratives and landscapes of the mentioned regions, highlighting shared features, interactions, and influences that shaped human history from prehistory towards medieval times. A wide array of computational methods can be employed to address this intricate subject and vast geographic range. These include satellite remote sensing, geophysics, laser scanning, 3D modelling, LiDAR, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), mobile GIS, historical legacy datasets, mapping and management cultural heritage systems, statistics, spatial analysis, machine learning, deep learning, predictive modelling, network analysis, agent-based modelling, or least-cost path analysis for instance (to cite a few: Boogers and Daems 2022; Castiello 2022; Garcia-Molsosa, Orengo, and Petrie 2023; Resler et al. 2021) We warmly welcome papers on computational methods centred around such topics as:

  • Social Complexity and technological advancement in connection with water bodies
  • Heritage preservation
  • Landscape archaeology
  • Machine Learning
  • Mountain archaeology
  • Network analysis
  • Predictive modelling
  • Remote sensing
  • Sedentarization and Nomadism
  • Settlement patterns
  • Trade and movement modelling
  • Water management


  • Arbuckle, B. S., and E. L. Hammer. 2019. ‘The Rise of Pastoralism in the Ancient Near East’. Journal of Archaeological Research 27 (3): 391–449.
  • Arnott, R. 2022. Crossing Continents: Between India and the Aegean from Prehistory to Alexander the Great. Oxford: Oxbow Books.  
  • Boogers, S., and Daems, D.. 2022. SAGAscape: Simulating Resource Exploitation Strategies in Iron Age to Hellenistic Communities in Southwest Anatolia. Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology 5 (1): 169–87.
  • Castiello, M.E. 2022. Computational and Machine Learning tools for archaeological site modeling. Chams: Springer. Cobb, M.A. 2018. The Indian Ocean Trade in Antiquity: Political, Cultural and Economic Impacts. Taylor & Francis.
  • Garcia-Molsosa, Arnau, Hector A. Orengo, and Cameron A. Petrie. 2023. ‘Reconstructing Long-Term Settlement Histories on Complex Alluvial Floodplains by Integrating Historical Map Analysis and Remote-Sensing: An Archaeological Analysis of the Landscape of the Indus River Basin’. Heritage Science 11 (1): 141.
  • Gatto, M.C. 2011. The Nubian Pastoral Culture as Link between Egypt and Africa: A View from the Archaeological Record. In Egypt in Its African Context Proceedings of the Conference held at The Manchester Museum, University of Manchester, 2-4 October 2009, edited by K. Exell, 21–29. BAR International Series 2204. Oxford: Archaeopress.
  • Husain, M. 2022. Geography Of India. Edited by Tasawwur H. Z.. 10th ed. Chennai: MC Graff Hill.
  • Kuper, R., and S. Kröpelin. 2006. ‘Climate-Controlled Holocene Occupation in the Sahara: Motor of Africa’s Evolution’. Science 313 (5788): 803–7.
  • Lyonnet, B., and N. A. Dubova. 2021. The World of the Oxus Civilizations. Edited by B. Lyonnet and N. A. Dubova. Routledge. Magee, Peter. 2014. The Archaeology of Prehistoric Arabia: Adaptation and Social Formation from the Neolithic to the Iron Age. Cambridge University Press.
  • Mattingly, D.J. 2017. Trade in the Ancient Sahara and Beyond. Trans-Saharan Archaeology. Cambridge University Press.
  • Possehl, G., ed. 1993. Harappan Civilisation: A Recent Perspective. New Delhi. American Institute of Indian Studies and Oxford & IBH Publishing Company
  • Resler, Abraham, Reuven Yeshurun, Filipe Natalio, and Raja Giryes. 2021. ‘A Deep-Learning Model for Predictive Archaeology and Archaeological Community Detection’. Humanities and Social Sciences Communications 8 (1): 295.
  • Rost, S., ed. 2022. Irrigation in Early States New Directions. Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.
  • Rubel, F., and M. Kottek. 2010. ‘Observed and Projected Climate Shifts 1901–2100 Depicted by World Maps of the Köppen-Geiger Climate Classification’. Meteorologische Zeitschrift 19 (2): 135–41.
  • Steadman, Sharon R., and G. McMahon. 2011. The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Anatolia: (10,000-323 BCE). OUP USA.
  • Van De Mieroop, M. 2016. A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 BC. 3rd ed. Blackwell History of the Ancient World. Wiley.
  • Zhuang, Y., and M. Altaweel, eds. 2018. Water Societies and Technologies from the Past and Present. London: UCL Press.

Navjot Kour is a PCI postdoctoral researcher with the project “RIVERINE: Mapping archaeological mounds and long-term socio-ecological transformations in riverine monsoonal plains” (PCI2021-122026-2B), funded by MCIN/AEI /10.13039/501100011033 and by the European Union NextGenerationEU/PRTR

Nazarij Buławka is an MSCA postdoctoral researcher with the project “UnderTheSands. Ancient irrigation detection and analysis using Advanced remote sensing methods ” (HORIZON-MSCA-2021-PF-01-101062705)

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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