EF5 – Concepts of Change in Historical Processes



Spreading of copper technology in ancient times

Project Heads

Natasa Djurdjevac Conrad, Christof Schütte, Wolfram Schier

Project Members

Johannes Zonker (FU) 

Project Duration

01.01.2019 – 31.12.2021

Located at

FU Berlin


Invention of copper smelting technology had a great influence on the socio-technological development of past societies. However, dynamical mechanisms that governed the spreading of this process are until now not well understood. The goal of this project is to model and describe the process of spreading and evolution of the copper production technology in ancient Europe between different socio-cultural groups and across multiple spatio-temporal scales.

Within this project, we are studying models on different scales, e.g. stochastic agent-based models on a micro-scale, metapopulation models on a meso-scale and network-based models on a macro-scale. The problem of choosing the optimal model is always connected to balancing between the descriptive power of the model and its computational cost. We are working on derivation of mathematical relations between these models e.g. by using model reduction techniques, which could help in estimating an approximation error made by the choice of the model.

This is an interdisciplinary project with our colleagues from the Institute for Prehistoric Archaeology at Free University Berlin.

Project Webpages

Selected Publications

  1. Fabian Becker, Natasa Djurdjevac Conrad, Raphael A. Eser, Luzie Helfmann, Brigitta Schütt, Christof Schütte and Johannes Zonker. The Furnace and the Goat—A spatio-temporal model of the fuelwood requirement for iron metallurgy on Elba Island, 4th century BCE to 2nd century CE. Under revision.
  2. Johannes Zonker, Stefanie Winkelmann, Christof Schütte and Natasa Djurdjevac Conrad. On multiscale models for spreading processes. In preparation.

Selected Pictures

Data in this plot is provided by W.Schier and reference: E. Rosenstock, S. Scharl and W. Schier. Ex oriente lux? – Ein Diskussionsbeitrag zur Stellung der frühen Kupfermetallurgie Südosteuropas. Oriental European Archaeology, vol. 3 (Rahden/Westf.: Verlag Marie Leidorf 2016) 59- 122.
Network model with geo-cultural partititon.

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