Connected Contests is a website hosted by the University of Groningen, with the ultimate aim of serving as a collaborative tool for specialist studies on ancient athletics and festivals, including spatial and network analyses. The website will allow users to retrieve prosopographical and geographical information about athletes and festivals via a user-friendly interface. The website connects with other sites and contains prosopographical links to Trismegistos (www.trismegistos.org - University of Leuven, Mark Depauw), with spatial links to Pleiades (pleiades.stoa.org/home - Stoa Consortium, Tom Elliot), epigraphic links to the PHI Greek Inscriptions (epigraphy.packhum.org - Packhard Humanities Institute) and will be linked with the Hellenistic athletes database (University of Mannheim, Christian Mann, Sebastian Scharff).

Connected Contests is part of an ongoing project divided into phases:

- Phase 1 (2017) - design online database of ancient athletes and performers
- Phase 2 (2018) - expansion with additional festival data, further refinement of UI
- Phase 3 (2019-2023) - expansion with additional festival data; integration of spatial searches and interface allowing for user input

We are currently in Phase 3. The immediate aim is to compile an online prosopographical database of ancient athletes and performers in the Roman world based on reference collections and epigraphic corpora. The initial focus was on the design of the database and on the systematic collection, updating, and digitization of existing collections of evidence for particular types of victors, such as Olympic victors,  Isthmian victors, and Pythian victors. 

Follow our progress on our blog.

Technical Details

Infrastructure: the Connected Contests database is hosted by the web hosting service of the Center for Information Technology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands. We use a MariaDB RDBMS, which is automatically backed up daily.

The Database Model of the Connected Contests database is presented schematically in this figure. The central table in the database, called Event, represents a single accomplishment of a single Person at a single Contest, in a single Discipline. Thus, the Events are the elementary constituents of our data model. Every other table, such as Person, Place, Contest, Discipline, links to Event. 


This website was produced with funding from a grant in the digital humanities, awarded by the University of Groningen in 2017, the Research Assistant Project of the Faculty of Arts (2018) The British Academy (2018-2019), and a major grant from NWO (2019-2023). This database builds on prototype versions of Ancient Athletes Online developed by Sam van Dijk, Esther van den Berg, and Caroline van Toor. 

Current team members include:

Project directors Prof. Dr Onno Van Nijf & Dr Christina Williamson
ICT Development Dr Cristian Marocico (database), Dr Jonas Bulthuis (coordination)
Data assistance and support Caroline van Toor MA, Iris Loois, Pim Schievink MA
Data collection Tom Britton MA, Robin van Vliet MA, Adam Wiznura MA
External advice and data entry Dr Andrew Farrington (Democritus University of Thrace) and Dr Mali Skotheim (ASCS Athens)

We thank our former team members Pieter Kampinga (Nov. 2017), Jeffrey Schulman (until Sept. 2018), Yoram Poot (Jan. 2019), Dies van der Linde, RHUL (Sept 2018-April 2019), Pim Schievink (Jan-Sept 2019), Nadine Blaak (July and August 2019), Epameinondas Kazolis (2020)

For more information, contact: connectedcontests@rug.nl  or o.m.van.nijf@rug.nl 

Recent Posts

  • New feature! Distribution map of festivals

    Take a look at the first version of our geographically and chronologically determined distribution map of festivals ((the link is also available via our homepage). The map shows cities in the ancient world where one or more festivals were organised. Sliding the bar below the map allows you to see the chronological development and popularity of the cities and their festivals. The size of the red bulb represents the number of participants in a particular period. By clicking the red bulbs you will see which festival(s) were hosted by this particular city, how many known participants it attracted, and the names of the athletes and musicians that were born in that particular city. We are working on improving the functionality of the map, i.a. by creating a map that shows the result of any query you might run. 

  • New content! Organizers and competitors in Boiotian contests centred on Rome

    The newest addition to the database includes ca. 150 competitors in and organizers of some Boiotian contests associated with the presence of Rome, that were being organized in the second and first centuries BCE: the Amphiaraia kai Rhomaia in Oropos, the Rhomaia in Thebes, and the alleged Erotideia kai Rhomaia in Thespiai. Like other contemporaries, the Boiotians seem to have used their association with Rome through these contests to claim their status in a rapidly changing world.   

  • CfP - Rooted Cities, Wandering Gods: Inter-Urban Religious Interaction

    We are proud to announce that the members of the Connecting the Greeks project are organising a conference on inter-urban religious contacts, to take place (hopefully in person!) at Groningen in the autumn of 2021. We invite anyone interested in cities, religious practices, and the ties between them to submit an abstract – you can read all about the conference theme and confirmed speakers in the full call for papers. 

  • New content! Competitors associated with Hellenistic dynasties

    Over the winter we’ve added a miscellany of competitors associated with the royal dynasties of the Hellenistic world. These range from actual royalty (the Ptolemies in particular were very fond of chariot-racing) to Greeks who came to take part in the new contests established by rulers eager for recognition and cultural authority. Particularly notable is Arsinoe II (Person ID 4178) - successively married to two of the most powerful rulers in the Hellenistic world and the first woman in Greek history to be declared a god, she won three races at the same Olympic festival in 272 BC. Also fun is an unnamed actor from Tegea (Person ID 4202). Known for outstanding performances in tragedies, he also managed to win a boxing contest at the newly-founded Ptolemaia festival at Alexandria. It’s still uncertain whether this means that the quality of the new competition was low, or whether he simply got very lucky!

  • Caldelli's Capitolian victors online

    All victors and participants collected by Caldelli (L'Agon Capitolinus. Storia e protagonisti dall'istituzione domizianea al IV secolo, 1993) have been added to the Connected Contests database. Find out all about the strange story of Herakleides, whose dream that he butchered the audience and judges during his performance meant that he would lose - which he did (event ID 30166). Or about the enormously successful Marcus Aurelius Asklepiades (person ID 656), a.k.a. Hermodoros, who quit boxing in his prime (he was 25) because of 'dangers and envious people' in IG XIV 1102. 






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