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Social Networks in Ancient Athens: Clues to a Classical Creative Hotspot

Evening Program on Zoom

Friday, February 26, 2021 - 6:30 p.m. ET
Code: 1J0074
$20 - Member
$25 - Non-Member


Around 450 B.C., a small town on a remote peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean emerged as a center of innovation, higher education, discovery, and invention. We don’t usually think of ancient Athens in such terms, but with perhaps just 35,000 male citizens, it produced lasting works of literature, philosophy, architecture, and fine arts that have had more impact on the evolution of Western civilization than any other culture before or since.

What factors in ancient Greek society, and in Athens specifically, made it so open to creative people and their new ideas? How did their version of democracy provide a nurturing platform for innovations to develop and spread? Diane Cline, an associate professor in the department of history at George Washington University, follows the social fabric of classical Athens by using a research method called Social Network Analysis, which investigates social structures through the use of networks and graph theory. By presenting social relationships among Athenians as nodes and links in a network, Cline illustrates how the structure of Athenian society in the mid-5th century B.C. enabled high creativity, productivity, innovation, and an unparalleled legacy.


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This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.