Network analytics

The ERC Advanced Grant MAP – Mapping Ancient Polytheisms. Cult Epithets as an Interface between Religious Systems and Human Agency – project explores the way in which the gods were named in antiquity (ca. 1000 BCE – 400 CE). To this end, it identifies divine « onomastic sequences » in epigraphic, papyrological, numismatic, even literary sources of the Greek and West-Semitic areas. The gathered sources are inserted into an open access relational database. The different elements that make up the onomastic sequences and their structural arrangement are analysed. The divine names can be analysed through various variables (type of source, dating, location, context of enunciation, agents). Indeed, the variety of the onomastic formulae in different contexts justifies the use of network analysis. This analysis can be based on the syntactic structure of the formulae or on the semantic dimension of the elements. To this purpose, different tools are available on the MAP website :
  • MAP syntax diagrams : networks of syntactic structures

This online application was developed by Sébastien Plutniak using the package R Shiny. It allows to visualize, describe and compare the structure of divine « onomastic sequences » according to the format defined by the MAP project (using symbols to signify the qualification #, the juxtaposition /, the coordination +, the equivalence = ; using brackets [ ] to isolate syntagms, etc.). Thanks to this tool, the user can compare different formulae according to the chronological periods, the spaces or other variables determined beforehand. The application provides descriptive results (syntactic diagrams, descriptive statistics), comparative results (visualization and measurement of differences), and graphic representations.

  • Gephi : networking divine onomastic elements

The MAP database connects the different elements that make up the divine onomastic sequences, that can be as a network. Using the advanced search tool (, the user can retrieve a list of nodes and edges depending on the choosen criteria (contextual criteria, choice of a particuliar divinity, etc.). These lists are produced by SQL queries and can be exported as Gephi-readable CSV tables. Gephi is an open source network visualization and analysis software. Using the data extracted from the MAP database, it allows to make ego graphs (focusing on a particular theonym), graphs determined by a particular geographic or chronologic area, etc. The onomastic elements are the nodes of the network, and the edges are determined by cooccurrence within testimonies.
The resulting CSV files can be exploited by other network analysis tools, such as R.