A kinship network analysis of Palmyrene genealogies
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonJournal of Historical Network Research (JHNR). 2021, 6 (1), 41-84. 10.25517/jhnr.v6i1.65
In this proof-of-concept study we investigate the potential and chal-lenges of a formal network approach for the examination of 1st to 3rd century CE kinship networks in ancient Palmyra (in present-day Syria). The recent availabil-ity of a large, digitised archaeological dataset allows for a thorough reassessment of previously studied genealogies. By applying network and genealogical formal methods to these for the first time we can re-evaluate the genealogical complete-ness and gender bias in our sources, and scientifically explore the tendency for in-termarriage within an extended Palmyrene family.We combine archaeological information from funerary portraits in the exhaus-tive database created by the Palmyra Portrait Project with textual sources from fu-nerary and public inscriptions, and critically evaluate the differences and limits of these sources for genealogical studies. Applying formal network and genealog-ical techniques to these datasets, as well as comparing five different case studies, allows us to draw attention to four key points: (1) our sources confirm a high de-gree of genealogical incompleteness and gender bias, which was already known from studies of Palmyrene society; (2) to evaluate whether the relinking index can enhance debates on endogamy and exogamy practices in Palmyra; (3) funer-ary and public inscriptions are highly complementary and reveal different gene-alogical structures; and (4) to assess the assumptions behind creating uncertain relationships in funerary cases and their effects on our results.