Camel caravan

Camel caravan
Mosaic from Deir al-Adas, Syria, 8th century (photo: J.C.Meyer)
The research project Mechanisms of cross-cultural interaction: Networks in the Roman Near East (2013-2017) investigates the resilient everyday ties, such as trade, religion and power, connecting people within and across fluctuating imperial borders in the Near East in the Roman Period. The project is funded under the Research Council of Norway's SAMKUL initiative, and hosted by the Department of archaeology, history, cultural studies and religion, University of Bergen, Norway.

This blog is no longer updated, for any queries, please contact project leader Eivind Heldaas Seland


Notice: The NeRoNE project ended 30.06.2017. This blog is not updated anymore. Please contact the project leader for any queries regarding the project or its results.

Mechanisms of cross-cultural interaction: Networks in the Roman Near East (NeRoNE) is a four-year research project (2013-16) funded by the Research Council of Norway under the SAMKUL program. Briefly stated, the aim is to investigate the role of informal networks of power, religion and commerce in the Near East (roughly present-day Syria, Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, Palestinian Authority along with parts of Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt) in the Roman period. Selected networks of this kind, reconstructed from literary, archaeological and epigraphic data, will be approached by means of concepts and methodology from Social Network Analysis, and will be followed over time. The hypothesis is that social networks on the regional level were resilient to stress on the imperial level, such as civil wars, invasions, economic crisis and natural disaster, and thus can contribute towards explaining the relative stability and longevity of Roman rule in the Near East, along with the strong continuity with earlier and later periods.

NeRoNE is a small project, with one PhD candidate (HÃ¥kon Teigen) and one full time principal investigator (Eivind Heldaas Seland). Our way into a large region and a long period is by case studies that we relate to a larger theoretical and empirical backdrop. Through a series of guest-lectures, workshops, conference panels and a conference planned for 2015, we cooperate with scholars working with case studies of other historical networks, related research problems and theoretical approaches. If you are interested in working with us, don't hesitate to get in touch.

We also believe that studies of networks is a way of transcending traditional chronological, disciplinary and geographical boundaries in the study of the past, and we strongly feel that history in general and ancient history in particular is and should be relevant. In our research we aim at doing that by being methodologically and theoretically explicit, and by aiming to write testable, comparative and cross-disciplinary history that can be related to other periods, disciplines and empirical settings. We also engage with educators, students and the interested public via courses, public lectures and other activities. Parts of this activity can also be followed at Seland's Norwegian-language popular-history blog at

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