Raja SENGUPTA, McGill University, Canada
Griet VANKEERBERGHEN, McGill University, Canada
Jing RAO, McGill University, Canada
Ruoxuan WEN, McGill University, Canada
Agent-Based Models (ABMs) can represent mobility through their use of rules to develop patterns of movement. It has also been suggested that they are ideal tool for understanding the past. Combining these concepts, we used ABMs to investigate the paths taken by a low-level official (Shi Rao) of the Western Han period (206/201 BCE–8 CE). Shi Rao is of particular importance as detailed textual records were found in his tomb, which was archaeologically discovered in 1993. Among the funerary texts was a diary, the “Diary of the second year of the Yuanyan reign period,” that registers his movements during one year (Feb 14, 11 BCE–Feb 2, 10 BCE). During this period, Shi Rao’s range of travel was to four neighboring commanderies/kingdoms. While the diary entries are clear about the official’s departure and arrival times as he traveled, they do not mention the mode of transport he employed. Shi Rao, according to most scholars, utilized waterways on his travels. Because of the period of travel, we are able to use a historical atlas (by Tan Qixiang), which has maps that show the administrative boundaries and landscape features as they were close to Shi Rao’s lifetime, to understand the course of waterways at the end of Western Han, and hence identify possible boat-based paths of Shi Rao’s travels using an ABM simulation. Alternately, and since details of road networks of this region and time period are missing, we can also compare travel distances using Least Cost Path Analysis over “shortest” and “viable” topographic surfaces (including river valleys and mountain passes) that connect visited locations. The latter can represent horse-based and pedestrian travel on ancient roads. The comparison of paths derived by ABM simulation (for boat travel) and by least cost path analysis (for horse-based travel) can provide insights into whether Shi Rao most likely used boats or horses for his journeys.
Mots clés : Agent-Based Models|History|Western Han|Least Cost Path Analysis|China