The concept of the Modelling Summer School held near Kiel in August proved to be successful, as organizer Oliver Nakoinz states in his resume.
Ideas can be communicated, relationships highlighted, and facts reproduced with the help of models. Accordingly, it is not surprising that models and modeling increasingly gain importance in science and are accorded more attention in teaching. The particular strength of models lies in interdisciplinary exchange and in their transdisciplinary application. This is a special challenge for teaching, since general disciplinary courses can only provide very limited interdisciplinary instruction. One solution to this is found in the interdisciplinary training program of the Graduate School Human Development in Landscapes. Another supplementary solution can be offered by an interdisciplinary summer school. Such a summer school on “Modeling Human Behavior in Landscapes” was carried out from 30 July – 07 August 2013 at Noer Castle, north of the city of Kiel, on the coast of the Baltic Sea. This conference offered not only participants from different disciplines but also participants from different countries the opportunity to merge scientific traditions and skill levels.
The goal of the conference was, on the one hand, to convey the basics of spatial modeling using concepts of different disciplines and, on the other hand, to solve archaeological problems with quantitative modeling. The topics discussed included model theory, trend , regression, density, interpolation, dot patterns, borders and territories, networks, transport systems and interaction. Concepts of mathematical modeling were presented and discussed for these subject areas. The procedure here corresponds most often to a simple scheme. First, an empirical model is created, which only reflects archaeological observations. Different theoretical models, for which the principles of formation are provided, are then compared to the empirical models or respectively adjusted to these by calibration. Through this juxtaposition new knowledge is generated. The principles of the theoretical models are then transferred to the empirical models. In this manner, different parameters can be chosen, for example, in order to find the most agreeable path between two points. Which parameters were relevant in the past is unknown, but they can be determined by such a comparison of a theoretical and an empirical path model.
The development of an empirical path model was one of the joint case studies of the Summer School. Further studies included the modeling of the influence of settlements on vegetation and the effects of unspecific landscape classifications on the modeling of preferred settlement sites. From the joint processing of the case studies, several publication projects were envisioned and already pursued in the week following the Summer School. A joint conference presentation is in preparation. It can be surmised that the working atmosphere of the Summer School must have been optimal to enable such a high productivity level. In fact, all participants were quite industrious and enthusiastically strived to gain knowledge and to process the case studies. The computers were first turned off and all discussions finished only hours after the official end of the agenda. The location of the meeting on the Baltic Sea, discussions in the park or short breaks on the beach surely contributed to these good results. The concept of bringing people with different backgrounds together to jointly work on modeling problems proved to be successful. The participants augmented each other in a very productive manner and reciprocally introduced their own standpoints, investigations and scientific traditions.
Text: Oliver Nakoinz; Translation: Eileen Kücükkaraka