From the project website (accessed 2016-06-24):
Here we propose that early urban settlements in the Near East provide an ideal laboratory for the study of human-environmental interactions because they offer an enormous array of data drawn from archaeological and textual studies that can be incorporated into an overall social, economic and environmental analytical framework stretching over several millennia. Based on nearly four years of collaboration between the Oriental Institute (Chicago) and the social modeling group at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), we propose to model and explain trajectories of development and demise of Bronze Age settlement systems for both the rain-fed and irrigated zones of Syria and Iraq. Climatic, hydrological, agricultural, demographic and active agent social models will be combined using ANL's DIAS simulation framework to provide a new holistic dynamic object model. The goal is to determine under what conditions urbanization or its opposite, ruralization or even collapse, might have taken place.