Medieval Warfare on the Grid: The Case of Manzikert

Project start date: 2007-04 Project end date: 2011-09
The Medieval Warfare on the Grid project (MWGrid) employs e-science methods and tools to support historical research into logistics of medieval war. The battle of Manzikert (modern Malazgirt, Turkey) in 1071, between the Byzantine Empire and the Seljuk Turks, is the subject of this investigation. This key event, which paved the way for Turkish settlement in eastern Anatolia, has been previously studied through comparative historical analysis. However, due to limited sources and the lack of comprehensive analytical methods, its logistics remain a subject of speculation. MWGrid investigates how early military logistics may be addressed by modelling these systems as Multi-Agent Systems (MAS), using the logistical operation undertaken by the Byzantine Empire in crossing Anatolia prior to the Battle of Manzikert as a case study. Using agent-based modelling and distributed simulation, the project seeks to explore military behaviour. Specifically, the project is addressing the questions of numbers of men involved and the route taken by the Byzantine Army. The use of a distributed Access Grid analysis, digital terrain mapping, computer visualisation and agent-based modelling, will enhance knowledge about how medieval states collected and distributed resources to maintain armies. This project benefits from the co-operation of experts in disciplines including History, Earth Sciences and Palaeo-environmental Science, Archaeology and Archaeological Surveying and Mapping.
Subject domains: 
Methods usedCategory
3d modelling - vectorPractice-led research
Audio-visual interaction (synchronous)Communication and collaboration
Coding and standardisationData structuring and enhancement
Collaborative publishingData publishing and dissemination
CollatingData analysis
Content analysisData analysis
Data miningData analysis
Data modellingData structuring and enhancement
Desktop publishing and pre-pressData publishing and dissemination
DocumentationStrategy and project management
General project managementStrategy and project management
General website developmentData publishing and dissemination
Geophysical surveyData capture
Graphical interaction (synchronous)Communication and collaboration
Graphical renderingData structuring and enhancement
IndexingData analysis
Interface designData publishing and dissemination
Iterative designStrategy and project management
Manual input and transcriptionData capture
ParsingData analysis
PrototypingStrategy and project management
Resource sharingCommunication and collaboration
Resource sharingData publishing and dissemination
Searching and queryingData analysis
Spatial data analysisData analysis
Statistical analysisData analysis
Streaming mediaData publishing and dissemination
System quality assurance and code testingStrategy and project management
Textual interaction (asynchronous)Communication and collaboration
Textual interaction (synchronous)Communication and collaboration
Use of existing digital dataData capture
Version controlStrategy and project management
Video-based interaction (asynchronous)Communication and collaboration
Virtual world modellingData structuring and enhancement
Virtual world modellingPractice-led research
VisualisationData analysis
Funding sources: 
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Software tools used: 
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Blender
  • C
  • Eclipse
  • HTML
  • Java
  • JNI
  • Latex
  • Microsoft Word
  • MPI
  • OpenOffice
  • PostScript
  • Python
  • Spring
  • Subversion
  • XML
Source material used:  
ASTER GDEM terrains. Archaeological and historical data from the Tabula Imperii Byzantini. Globcover – The European Space Agency's vegetation cover database. Parallel Distributed Event-based Simulation of Multi-Agent Simulation (PDES-MAS) platform as developed by the University of Birmingham (UoB) and others, maintained and made available through the UoB School of Computer Sciences website and repository.
Digital resource created:  
Multi-Agent Simulation (MAS) models and behaviours coded in Java and configured through XML and CSV configuration files. Adjusted, updated, and interactive version of PDES-MAS (see source material) written specificly for the project, coded in C++. Interfaces and APIs used to combine MAS models and interactive-PDES-MAS, including configuration framework, coded in Java, C++ and JNI. Python and blender conversion scripts used to extract movies and images from generated result files. Various digital publications related to the project. All made available through project' website and UoB repositories.
Access to digital resource:  
Open Access
Metadata standards employed: 
Philip Murgatroyd, Vincent Gaffney, Bart Craenen, Georgios Theodoropoulos, Vinoth Suryanarayanan and John Haldon. Medieval Military
Logistics: A Case of Distributed Agent-based Simulation. Proceedings of the Distributed Simulation & Online gaming Conference (DISIO 2010), ACM Digital Library, Torremolinos, Spain - March 15, 2010

Institutions affiliated with this project: 

UK HE institutions involved:
University of Birmingham
Other institutions involved:
Princeton University

Project staff and expertise: 

Principal staff member:Professor Vince Gaffney, Dr Georgios Theodoropoulos
Other staff:PhD student(s), Postdoctoral researcher(s) / Research assistant(s)
External expertise:

Metadata on this record
Author(s) of recordVince Gaffney
TitleMedieval Warfare on the Grid: The Case of Manzikert
Record created2010-07-02
Record updated2010-07-02 16:02
URL of record
Citation of recordVince Gaffney: Medieval Warfare on the Grid: The Case of Manzikert. <> created: 2010-07-02, last updated 2010-07-02 16:02
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