EF5 – Concepts of Change in Historical Processes



Evolution Models for Historical Networks

Project Heads

Benjamin Ducke (DAI), Max Klimm (TU), Guillaume Sagnol (TU)

Project Members

Maximilian Stahlberg (TU)

Project Duration

01.04.2021 − 31.03.2024

Located at

TU Berlin


We study the evolution of ancient road networks using appropriate mathematical models. In archaeology, foundations and artifacts bear witness of past human settlements and the daily lives of their inhabitants. While artifacts can also provide proof of trade and social interaction between settlements, the exact trade routes and the development of land transport networks over time can rarely be recovered from the physical evidence alone but need to be hypothesized from sparse information. To support this process we investigate graph-theoretic models that can generate plausible hypotheses of network formation. By seeking a low number of rules and associated configuration parameters in the design of such a model, we further aim to learn more about the driving factors behind ancient road network formation.

External Website


Selected Pictures

Roman roads on Sardinia

Known Roman roads and close ancient settlements on a terrain cost map of Sardinia (Tobler’s hiking function, logarithmic scale).

Model-based reconstruction

A reconstruction (petrol) of the known network (green) within a maximal network of pairwise least-cost paths (grey).