Christina G. Williamson presents a working paper on ‚he strength of festival ties. Intentional networks, ‘portable communities’ and the transmission of common knowledge in the Hellenistic world‘

Panhellenic festivals, such as at Olympia, have long been understood as a major factor in the formation of the Greek community during the expansionist processes of colonisation and dispersal of communities across the Mediterranean in the archaic and classical periods. In the Hellenistic period, a new dimension to this phenomenon appeared as interurban festivals were increasingly being hosted by individual cities, modelled on the great panhellenic games. Delegates, athletes, and performers travelled across the Mediterranean, creating a ‘portable community’ that a trail of honorific monuments, victory lists, and civic decrees. These data lend themselves for analysing the cohesion of this expanding world through the lens of network analysis. Yet contrary to the general model, which presumes that innovation comes from random, or ‘weak-tie’ brokers outside the close knit, i.e. strong-tie group, these festivals operated on a shared concept of the past through which interurban connections were shaped. This paper examines these views of the past, their use in creating intentional connections, and the role of ritual in generating common knowledge as it seeks to gauge the strength of festival connections. As it does so, it argues that festival connectivity was anything but random. Although weak ties will have perpetuated the network in numerous ways, the backbone was founded in the strong-tie connectivity of a presumed shared heritage, however fabricated this may have been.