'Where are the proxenoi?': social network analysis, connectivity, and the Greek poleis

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The aim of this article is to establish a new basis for exploring the network of ancient Greek city-states during the Classical and Hellenistic periods by applying Social Network Analysis to the record of inscriptions recording grants of proxeny. Proxeny was a generalised institution for facilitating interactions between Greek political communities. Because it left a rich and idiosyncratic record in the form of thousands of honorific inscriptions, it represents an important test case for Social Network Analysis. By drawing on work on partial samples of network data, we can identify a clear and historically significant structure in this material, namely a massively unequal hierarchy in the extent to which different communities were the focus of links. This allows us to compare, systematically, the hundreds of Greek city-states in terms of their connectivity in the network. As a result it provides a new empirical basis for testing prevailing models and assumptions about why these communities forged links and for mapping the limits of the network. By reading this hierarchy alongside the other information we have, we can identify the role that political, economic and geographic factors played in determining connectivity in this network, and the surprising unimportance of religion.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbergtab036
Number of pages45
JournalPast & Present
Early online date26 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Mar 2022


  • proxeny
  • connectivity
  • Greek poleis
  • Social Network Analysis


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