Complex Networks PPNA vs PPNB

New research applying Complex Networks to the societies of the Neolithic in the Near East has shed much light on the distinct exchange dynamics among those first villages as their social complexity developed through the PPNA and PPNB periods (10.000 BC—7.000 BC).

Among the authors of these research findings are three researchers involved in Case study 4 in the SimulPast project.

"Our research has demonstrated, through compatibilities between modelling trials and the archaeological data, the viability of complex social networks in prehistoric societies and the need to look to such complex models for understanding social behaviour in the past."

"The Neolithic cannot be understood without taking account of the existence of these complex networks of interaction, as these networks could explain the efficient and rapid spread of innovations across the Near East beginning in the PPNA. Some of these innovations, which included funerary rituals, plant and animal domestication, the organization of villages around collective/ritual buildings and the transition from round to square houses, appeared almost contemporaneously across an extended area of the Fertile Crescent. The exchange of ideas and experiences which were enabled by such networks allowed human communities to be highly dynamic, while the network itself acted as a repository of innovations, reducing risks of involution."

"Complex social networking, considered a major catalyst to current innovation, has revealed itself to be one catalyst for the decisive cultural changes that took place around 12.000 years ago in the Near East."


Ibáñez JJ, Ortega D, Campos D, Khalidi L, Méndez V. (2015) Testing complex networks of interaction at the onset of the
Near Eastern Neolithic using modelling of obsidian exchange. J. R. Soc. Interface 12:20150210.