Dr Ben Davies

BA - University of Hawaii, MA - University of Auckland

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Professional Teaching Fellow

Research | Current

Archaeologists observe patterns in the present-day material record and interpret them in terms of unobservable processes and behaviours occurring in the distant past. In my research, I use a lot of different kinds of models, particularly computer simulations, to try and build the processes we cannot observe and examine the logic behind different archaeological interpretations.

One area this has led me is the formation of the archaeological record: how different geomorphic and behavioural processes combine to produce distinctive patterns within the record. In my doctoral work, I have focused on building simple computational models of different deposit and assemblage formation processes that can be used to explore the outcomes of many different formation scenarios and compare different interpretations of surface archaeological deposits in arid Australia.

Another area of interest to me is human mobility in the past. My research in Australia has examined mobility through the patterning within stone artefact assemblages, which is viewed as an outcome of different tranport and discard activities. I have also worked on questions I have have ongoing work on prehistoric voyaging among the Pacific Islands, examining the connectivity of different islands and island groups during the prehistoric period. To this end, I have developed an agent-based computer simulation of prehistoric voyaging that uses different strategies for responding to different conditions, while modelled climate datasets provide the winds and currents upon which the virtual craft sail.

Finally, I am also interested in palaeodemography, particularly how different historical processes produce different outcomes in terms of past and present human population characteristics and their material traces. My doctoral work examines the formation of different patterns associated with population growth, particularly frequencies of radiocarbon dates. At the same time, Dr. Bruce Floyd and I have worked on questions pertaining to the body dimensions of present day Pacific Islands peoples. My original MA work concerned the sustainability of different populations on a remote island in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 370 Archaeology and Heritage in the Information Age

Areas of expertise

  • Australian prehistory
  • Pacific Islands prehistory
  • Formation studies in archaeology
  • Simulation, data modelling and agent-based modelling
  • Complex systems in archaeology

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Davies, B., Holdaway, S. J., & Fanning, P. C. (2018). MODELING RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SPACE, MOVEMENT, AND LITHIC GEOMETRIC ATTRIBUTES. American Antiquity, 83 (03), 444-461. 10.1017/aaq.2018.23
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Holdaway
  • Holdaway, S. J., Davies, B., & Fanning, P. C. (2017). Aboriginal use of fire in a landscape context: Investigating presence and absence of heat retainer hearths in western New South Wales, Australia. Current Anthropology, 58 (Supplement 16), S230-S242. 10.1086/691436
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Holdaway
  • Davies, B., Holdaway, S. J., & Fanning, P. C. (2016). Modelling the palimpsest: an exploratory agent-based model of surface archaeological deposit formation in a fluvial landscape. The Holocene: a major interdisciplinary journal focusing on recent environmental change, 26 (3), 450-463. 10.1177/0959683615609754
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/28443
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Simon Holdaway
  • Davies, B. M. (2016). Logic and Landscapes: Simulating Surface Archaeological Record Formation in Western New South Wales, Australia The University of Auckland. ResearchSpace@Auckland.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29847

Contact details

Alternative contact

Extension number: 88570

Primary office location

HSB - EAST - Bldg 201E
New Zealand

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