Medieval Warfare on the Grid: The Case of Manzikert

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.

Principal investigator
Professor Vince Gaffney
Principal project staff
Professor Vince Gaffney, Dr Georgios Theodoropoulos
Start date
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Completion date
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Digital resources 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.
Source material
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.

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