Attalid Networks: Seeking Status and Acquiring Authority beyond State Capacity

Gregory J Callaghan, University of Pennsylvania


This dissertation examines how the Attalids, despite—even because of—a fairly limited military capacity, achieved a status in the eastern Mediterranean comparable to the great powers such as the Ptolemies, Seleucids, or Antigonids. I demonstrate that the Attalids pursued this status as an alternative source of influence to compensate for the limits of traditionally defined military- political power. Methodologically, I use network analysis as a starting point for organizing and visualizing Attalid interstate status signaling, drawing on a wide range of evidentiary sources: epigraphy, archaeology, literature, numismatics, and other material sources. My use of networks is fundamentally descriptive, while my analysis is rooted in modern International Relations theories of status, authority, and hierarchies. The dynasty’s pursuit of status enabled it to have an outsized role within their interstate system and to expand from a single city to a sizable kingdom spanning most of Asia Minor. This challenges the field’s traditional conception of the interstate system, with its disproportionate focus on great powers. In my focus on the middle power of the Attalids, I break through this dichotomy, and demonstrate how status hierarchies were a means by which states besides the great powers claimed a space for themselves on the world stage, and could, in fact, influence interstate behavior despite their lesser material capacities.

Subject Area

Ancient history|Archaeology|Classical Studies

Recommended Citation

Callaghan, Gregory J, "Attalid Networks: Seeking Status and Acquiring Authority beyond State Capacity" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27960963.