Gojko Barjamovic and colaborators Thomas Chaney, Kerem A. Cosar, and Ali Hortacsu, developed an algorithm based on trade data from 12,000 ancient clay tablets. The results help corroborate the historical location of 11 lost Bronze Age cities.
“In a rare example of collaboration across disciplines, we use a theory-based quantitative method from economics to inform this quest in the field of history,” the authors wrote in the paper. “The structural gravity model delivers estimates for the coordinates of the lost cities. For a majority of cases, our quantitative estimates are remarkably close to qualitative proposals made by historians. In some cases where historians disagree on the likely site of lost cities, our quantitative method supports the suggestions of some historians and rejects that of others.”