Understanding human behaviour represents a great scientific challenge that gathers some of the most distinguished researchers worldwide. The fast-growing international scenario of clusters of excellence devoted to this perspective demonstrates the international expectations and significant investments in that direction. Spain hosts some important research groups coming from different perspectives and disciplines, whose work is focused on this target, however these research groups remain mostly isolated in a single disciplinary framework.

SimulPast intends to break this status-quo.

The project will exploit existing technologies designed and used in indirectly related fields such as the Natural and Formal Sciences, in which simulation methodologies are significantly more established than in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Such techniques will be used to inform and develop novel simulation methodologies specifically optimised for use in archaeology, not simply recycled unchanged from other disciplines. We hope that this will help define a new transdisciplinary trend for computer simulation research in human populations. Indeed, from our perspective the problem to solve is not so much which technique is better but how we can and how we need to represent and model human behaviour.

SimulPast will lead to an improved ability to simulate social networks and decision-making processes, with special emphasis on resource management during periods of environmental stress. Advances in the field of social simulation are of special relevance today, as the social component remains the most difficult to integrate in predictive models of global change. Indeed, any advance in the field of social simulation may prove fundamental to implement the right strategies to face rapid environmental (and social) change in the near future.

Practical results of SimulPast will include:

  • The definition of a set of guidelines for technology and knowledge transfer for social simulation.
  • The development of new validated software packages for social simulation.
  • A more comprehensive understanding of the processes of social transformations and human-environment interaction.
  • Learn from “examples from the past” for social transformations in changing environments and resistance/resilience of human societies to climate change.
  • The generation of new, innovative and transdisciplinary research groups.

SimulPast presents a unique opportunity for Spain to play a leading role in human behavioural studies, able to compete and cooperate with established groups in the international arena.