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Deng and Kim Received NSF Award for Interdisciplinary Research on Magdalenian Social Interaction

Assistant Professor Minjeong Kim and Professor Jing Deng received an exciting NSF grant for their interdisciplinary research project with Dr. Charles Egeland of Anthropology, Dr. Rebecca Schwendler of PaleoWest Archaeology, and Professor Christopher M. Nicholson at the University of Wyoming, titled “A network approach to Magdalenian social landscapes.”

The Magdalenian of western Europe (ca. 20,000 to 14,000 years ago) witnessed the creation and circulation of an unprecedented abundance and diversity of portable artwork. The chronological and geographic distribution of these items hints at extraordinarily rich intra- and inter-regional social interactions. The project develops a Social Network Analysis (SNA) approach to the reconstruction of these Magdalenian social landscapes, involving three components: (1) the collection of 200+ high-quality digital images of perforated disks, which is a widespread and vividly decorated type of Magdalenian portable art that we assume encoded socially significant information; (2) the construction of an image processing algorithm that extracts and identifies patterns in the decorative elements of perforated disk images (led by Professor Kim); and (3) the use of an online, open-source platform that can use methods and concepts from SNA to visually and quantitatively describe the structure of Magdalenian social space (led by Professors Deng and Nicholson.)

Congratulations to Professors Deng and Kim!