Project MWGRID: Medieval Warfare on the Grid

Distributed Agent-based Simulation for the Humanities

Victims of Their Own Success | History Today

MWGrid was one of the seven strategic research projects funded by the AHRC-EPSRC-JISC e-Science Intitiative to pioneer the research agenda of the Arts and Humanities e-Science programme in the UK.  Details of the project are provided by UKRI  here.

The project sought to address the problems associated with early military logistics through agent-based modelling and distributed simulations. The need for medieval states to collect and distribute resources to maintain armies affected all aspects of political organisation and at critical times, when armies failed, the results could prove disastrous to society. Despite this, military studies seldom progress past the study of existing texts to bear out the pragmatic consequences of military behaviour, even though military activity in terms of resource allocation and consumption is decisive in shaping pre-modern societies.  MWGrid explored the military-logistical context of the Battle of Manzikert in 1071.Manzikert is a key historic event in Byzantine history. The defeat of the Byzantine army by the Seljuk Turks, and the following civil war, resulted in the collapse of Byzantine power in central Anatolia. Given the key position this event takes within the collapse of Byzantine power, the lack of consensus between historians on the numbers of men involved at, or even the route taken by the Byzantine Army to, Manzikert is profound.

The results of the project have had significant implications for study of pre-industrial societies in methodological and theoretical terms and will benefit academics with an interest in comparative military history, the cultural role of military organisation and the relationship of historical and modelled data.

The project also explored new infrastructures and algorithms for constructing and executing very large Multi-Agent models, including the PDES-MAS platform.


Principal Investigators 

Research Staff

Media coverage

Publicity material


In addition to the conferences where papers on MWGrid were presented, the MWGRID Project was showcased in a number of leading national and international events, including:


  • Philip Murgatroyd, Vincent Gaffney, John Haldon, Georgios Theodoropoulos, “Model-ling the Logistics of Mantzikert”, Archaeopress, Oxford, forthcoming


  • John Haldon,  Vince Gaffney, Philip Murgatroyd and Georgios Theodoropoulos,  "Marching Across Anatolia - Medieval Logistics and Modeling the Mantzikert Campaign", Dumbarton Oaks Papers 65/66, ISBN 9780884023876, February 2013. (buy on Amazon).
  • Gaffney, V., P. Murgatroyd, B. Craenen, and G. Theodoropoulos,  “Only Individuals”: Moving the Byzantine Army to Manzikert. In Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. Supplement, no. 122, 2013, pp. 25–43. JSTOR,Oxford University Press
  • Bart Craenen, Vinoth Suryanarayanan, Georgios Theodoropoulos, Vincent Gaffney,  Philip Murgatroyd, John Haldon, , "Modelling Medieval Military Logistics: An Agent-based Simulation of a Byzantine Army on the March", the Journal of  Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory (CMOT),  Springer Publishing, Special Issue on “Agent Directed Simulation”,  DOI Bookmark: 10.1007/s10588-011-9103-9
  • Bart Craenen, Vinoth Suryanarayanan, Vincent Gaffney, Philip Murgatroyd, and Georgios Theodoropoulos. 2012. MWGrid: distributed agent-based simulation in the digital humanities. In Proceedings of the Winter Simulation Conference (WSC '12). Winter Simulation Conference, Article 376, 1–2. DOI bookmark: 10.5555/2429759.2430250
  • Bart Craenen, Philip Murgatroyd, Georgios  Theodoropoulos, Vincent Gaffney, Vinoth Suryanarayanan, “MWGrid: A System for Distributed Agent-based Simulation in the Digital Humanities”,  16th IEEE International Symposium on Distributed Simulation and Real Time Applications (DS-RT'12), October 2012, Dublin, Ireland. ISBN: 978-0-7695-4846-3. DOI bookmark: 10.1109/DS-RT.2012.24
  • Bart Craenen, Vinoth Suryanarayanan, Georgios  Theodoropoulos, Vincent Gaffney,  Philip Murgatroyd, John Haldon, "Medieval Military Logistics: A Case for Distributed Agent-based Simulation",  Distributed Simulation & Online Gaming (DISIO), in conjunction with SIMUTools 2010, SCS/ICST/CREATE-NET Torremolinos, Malaga, Spain - March 15, 2010. DOI Bookmark: 10.4108/ICST.SIMUTOOLS2010.8737


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