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Stigmergy in comparative settlement choice and palaeoenvironment simulation

Ch'ng, Eugene; Gaffney, Vince; Hakvoort, Gido


Eugene Ch'ng

Vince Gaffney

Gido Hakvoort


Decisions on settlement location in the face of climate change and coastal inundation may have resulted in success, survival or even catastrophic failure for early settlers in many parts of the world. In this study, we investigate various questions related to how individuals respond to a palaeoenvironmental simulation, on an interactive tabletop device where participants have the opportunity to build a settlement on a coastal land- scape, balancing safety, and access to resources, including sea and terrestrial foodstuffs, while taking into con- sideration the threat of rising sea levels. The results of the study were analyzed to consider whether decisions on settlement were predicated to be near to locations where previous structures were located, stigmergically, and whether later settler choice would fare better, and score higher, as time progressed. The proximity of settlements was investigated and the reasons for clustering were considered. The interactive simulation was exhibited to thousands of visitors at the 2012 Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition at the ‘‘Europe’s Lost World’’ exhibit. 347 participants contributed to the simulation, providing a sufficiently large sample of data for analysis.


Ch'ng, E., Gaffney, V., & Hakvoort, G. (in press). Stigmergy in comparative settlement choice and palaeoenvironment simulation. Complexity, 21(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 2, 2014
Online Publication Date Oct 20, 2016
Deposit Date Oct 18, 2017
Journal Complexity
Print ISSN 1076-2787
Electronic ISSN 1099-0526
Publisher Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 3
Keywords stigmergy; simulation; settlement choice; palaeoenvironment; cooperative behavior
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