Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Proxeny Networks of the Ancient World (a database of proxeny networks of the Greek city-states)

Proxeny Networks of the Ancient World  (a database of proxeny networks of the Greek city-states)


PNAW is a database of evidence for a particular kind of social networking between Greek city-states in the Ancient Greek world, known as proxeny (Greek: proxenia). It enables this material to be used to visualise the highly-fragmented political geography of the ancient world during the Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods, and to get a sense of how densely and intensely interconnected were the states which made it up.


Before its unification under a Roman emperor, the ancient Mediterranean world constituted the most fragmented state system in recorded history. More than a thousand distinct Greek city-states (poleis), and many other kinds of actor, such as dynasts, federations, and kings, made up a vibrant and dynamic ecosystem of self-governing states. The interactions of these states were mediated through a highly developed system of institutions. Proxeny is the best attested of these institutions, and was probably the most widely used. It enabled cities to maintain substantial and often widespread networks that connected them with other cities.


Proxeny was an institution of interstate relations in the ancient Greek world. A city-state granted proxeny to the citizen of another community, the status of being their proxenos within that individual's home city. The role of the proxenos was to facilitate interaction between the two political communities, most often by performing services of different kinds for visiting citizens of the first state (termed here the 'granting city'). These services could take various forms - including hospitality, introductions to magistrates, prominent men, or merchants, and help negotiating local legal institutions in the case of contractual disputes. Collectively these services helped to enable citizens of the granting community in question to overcome the political fragmentation of this world and function, whether as official representatives of their own city, or as merchants, tradesmen, or even as tourists, in other communities where they did not have the privileged status of citizen. Proxeny networks, therefore, reflect and allow us to trace patterns of political, economic, and social interactions between city states, and to trace the horizons of different political communities.


PNAW presents an overview of our evidence for these relationships of proxeny in the ancient world, including those recorded in the literary sources as well as the more than two thousand texts inscribed on stone. It accompanies the recent study of this institution published by Oxford University Press, Proxeny and Polis and its purpose is to make this material available in an accessible format which can be corrected and updated as new evidence is published. It makes use of GIS mapping to enable the evidence of links between different communities which this data presents to be explored in an intuitive way. In order to make the search function useable, results are presented in a condensed view with further information available in the form of mouseover dialogue boxes. To illustrate the potential of the search and mapping functions of this database, here are some example searches:

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