MWGrid: Medieval Warfare on the Grid

The University of Birmingham
AHRC e-Science

MWGrid is one of the seven pilot research projects to funded by the AHRC-EPSRC-JISC e-Science Intitiative. This is a collaborative project between The Institute of Archaeology and Antiquity (IAA, Professor Vince Gaffney) and the School of Computer Science (Dr Georgios Theodoropoulos) at the University of Birmingham and seeks to address the problems associated with early military logistics through agent-based modelling and distributed simulations.

At the IAA, the project builds on work initiated by Professors Vince Gaffney and John Haldon through the Birmingham/Princeton Medieval Logistics Group.

At the School of Computer Science, the project builds on an extensive portfolio of research of the Distributed Systems Lab on distributed simulation of multi-agent systems, including the EPSRC/e-Science funded PDES-MAS and DS-GRID projects.

The project pulls together this strong inter-disciplinary expertise to study problems related to early medieval logistics. The need for medieval states to collect and distribute resources to maintain armies affected all aspects of political organisation and at critical times, when armies failed, the results could prove disastrous to society. Despite this, military studies seldom progress past the study of existing texts to bear out the pragmatic consequences of military behaviour, even though military activity in terms of resource allocation and consumption is decisive in shaping pre-modern societies.

More specifically, MWGrid will explore the military-logistical context of the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.Manzikert is a key historic event in Byzantine history. The defeat of the Byzantine army by the Seljuk Turks, and the following civil war, resulted in the collapse of Byzantine power in central Anatolia. Given the key position this event takes within the collapse of Byzantine power, the lack of consensus between historians on the numbers of men involved at, or even the route taken by the Byzantine Army to, Manzikert is profound.

The results will have significant implications for study of pre-industrial societies in methodological and theoretical terms and will benefit academics with an interest in comparative military history, the cultural role of military organisation and the relationship of historical and modelled data. It will also explore new infrastructures and algorithms for constructing and executing very large Multi-Agent models, particularly when these models are composed of distributed data and computational components.

The MWGrid project will use the University's new BlueBear Cluster.

For further information on the project at this stage, please see the Proposal document and supporting material.

Project Calendar

Sample Bibliography Items
(click for complete list...)


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Hildebrandt, W. R., and McGuire, K. R. (2003). "Large-game hunting, gender-differentiated work organization, and the role of evolutionary ecology in California and Great Basin prehistory: A reply to Broughton and Bayham." American Antiquity 68(4): 790-792.

Jacobsen, C., Bronson, R., and Vekstein, D. (1990). "A Strategy for Testing the Empirical Adequacy of Macrosociological Theories." Journal of Mathematical Sociology 15(2): 137-148.

Orzack, S. H., and Sober, E. (1994). "How (not) to test an optimality model." Trends in Ecology and Evolution 9(7): 265-267.

Parker, G. A., and Maynard Smith, J. (1990). "Optimal theory in evolutionary biology." Nature 348(6296): 27-33.

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