Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory

Modelling medieval military logistics: An agent-based simulation of a Byzantine army on the march

View publication


Although historical studies are frequently perceived as clear narratives defined by a series of fixed events; in reality, even where critical historical events may be identified, historic documentation frequently lacks corroborative detail to support verifiable interpretation. Consequently, interpretation rarely rises above the level of unproven assertion and is rarely tested against a range of evidence. Agent-based simulation can provide an opportunity to break these cycles of academic claim and counter-claim. This paper discusses the development of an agent-based simulation designed to investigate medieval military logistics so that new evidence may be generated to supplement existing historical analysis. It uses as a use-case the Byzantine army's march to the battle of Manzikert (AD 1071), a key event in medieval history. The paper focuses primarily on the design of the agents and the environment they interact with, as well as how the agent-based simulation as a whole can be used to generate new parameters with which historical evidence can be situated. © 2011 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.