Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory

, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 1095–1126 | Cite as

Tracing Teams, Texts, and Topics: Applying Social Network Analysis to Understand Archaeological Knowledge Production at Çatalhöyük

  • Allison MickelEmail author


Social network analysis (SNA) is an analytical technique rapidly gaining popularity within archaeology for its applicability to a wide variety of issues relating to past communities. Using the 20-year project at Çatalhöyük, Turkey, as a case study, I demonstrate how SNA can be helpfully used to understand knowledge production in archaeology. Balancing network visualization and computation with contextual knowledge, combining SNA with topic modeling, and concentrating on social structures all work to provide a diachronic view of how information flows between disparate research teams at Çatalhöyük as well as the social structures and specific individuals promoting this flow. SNA has the undeniable potential to provide new perspectives on how dispersed datasets are assembled to produce archaeological knowledge, illustrating the value of retaining focus on the social conditions of scientific practice even as significant insights are being derived from instead investigating objects and ontology.


Social network analysis Topic modeling Knowledge production Reflexivity Turkey 



The work described in this paper was conducted by a team of researchers at Stanford University including Elijah Meeks, who deserves recognition for conducting the topic modeling and for creating the online network visualization, Karl Grossner, who helped with interpreting and editing the online component, and Ian Hodder, who made the data available in the first place and contributed his unparalleled firsthand knowledge of project history. I would like to express my deep gratitude to these team members, as well as to all of the participants of the Çatalhöyük Research Project who played a role in this study (however, unconsciously). Finally, I am thankful for the constructive comments made by Tom Brughmans and three anonymous reviewers, which greatly improved this text. Of course, any oversights or errors remain my own.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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