Against Gravity

James Riley Snyder

Full Paper
(Re)constructing Aqueduct Construction: An Agent-Based Modeling Approach to Building Evidence for the Water Supply of Constantinople
The result of recent research has shown that the Water Supply of Constantinople was one of the largest construction projects undertaken in the ancient world, requiring as much stone as the Great Pyramid of Giza and five times more manpower than of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome. However, with lacking archaeological and textual evidence, many vital questions remain about this massive undertaking and the organization of the laborers involved. As part of a 2-year project at the University of Edinburgh we are applying agent-based modeling (ABM) to the study of construction processes of the Water Supply of Constantinople. This has allowed for the systematic exploration of assumptions made due to the lack of physical and textual evidence. Firstly, through the integration of information from various domains (archaeological, textual, historical, and ethnographic) into a coherent narrative that can be visualised in simulation models. Secondly, we use simulation experiments to generate hypotheses about the day-to-day construction activities, different levels of agency and major organisational decisions taken in these levels. Finally, we aim to update previous manpower estimates for the Water Supply of Constantinople by considering the multiple levels of construction organisation through the combination of various sources of scientific and historical data.