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Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science$
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Mirko Canevaro, Andrew Erskine, Benjamin Gray, and Josiah Ober

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474421775

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.001.0001

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What Can Data Drawn from the Hansen-Nielsen Inventory Tell Us about Political Transitions in Ancient Greece?

What Can Data Drawn from the Hansen-Nielsen Inventory Tell Us about Political Transitions in Ancient Greece?

Chapter:
(p.213) 7 What Can Data Drawn from the Hansen-Nielsen Inventory Tell Us about Political Transitions in Ancient Greece?
Source:
Ancient Greek History and Contemporary Social Science
Author(s):

Robert K. Fleck

F. Andrew Hanssen

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474421775.003.0008

Most of the democratic transitions that have occurred in human history took place in ancient Greece. Thanks to Mogens Hansen’s and Thomas Nielsen’s monumental Inventory of Archaic and Classical Period Poleis (augmented by Josiah Ober and his Stanford colleagues), a fascinating data set documenting ancient Greek political transitions now exists. But the data present an extraordinary challenge to empirical research, because so much remains unknown about so many poleis. Furthermore, and very importantly, one cannot treat missing information as if it were caused by chance destruction of records. The objectives of this chapter are threefold: first, to illustrate the feasibility of useful statistical analysis, even when applied to data as uncertain in origin and/or interpretation as those from ancient Greece; second, to provide additional evidence of the value of a systematic database, such as that derived from Hansen and Nielsen’s work; third, to contribute to literature on political transition in ancient Greece.

Keywords:   Regime change, Greek polis, Hansen’s and Nielsen’s Inventory

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