Spreading processes are important drivers of change in social systems. To understand the mechanisms of spreading it is fundamental to have information about the underlying contact network and the dynamical parameters of the process.
However, in many real-wold examples, this information is not known and needs to be inferred from data. State-of-the-art spreading inference methods have mostly been applied to modern social systems, as they rely on availability of very detailed data. In this paper we study the inference challenges for historical spreading processes, for which only very fragmented information is available. To cope with this problem, we extend existing network models by formulating a model on a mesoscale with temporal spreading rate. Furthermore, we formulate the respective parameter inference problem for the extended model. We apply our approach to the romanization process of Northern Tunisia, a scarce dataset, and study properties of the inferred time-evolving interregional networks. As a result, we show that (1) optimal solutions consist of very different network structures and spreading rate functions; and that (2) these diverse solutions produce very similar spreading patterns. Finally, we discuss how inferred dominant interregional connections are related to available archaeological traces. Historical networks resulting from our approach can help understanding complex processes of cultural change in ancient times.