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2020-2021 Annual Report

May 28, 2021 in Report

5-1-2020 to 4-30-2021

ANCIENT WORLD MAPPING CENTER (http://awmc.unc.edu)

The year will be remembered for an exceptional mix of developments: on the one hand, impressive productivity achieved remotely in the face of Covid’s continuing impact; on the other, the emergence of serious obstacles beyond the Center’s control that impair its effectiveness.  To be sure, these were only to be expected sooner or later, and can even be regarded as a tribute to the Center’s success.  Nonetheless they pose tough challenges to overcome.

The quantity and range of commissioned mapping undertaken for monographs and articles proved very high.  Requests fulfilled included one map and two plans for Mary Boatwright’s Imperial Women of Rome: Power, Gender, Context (Oxford University Press), four maps for Mark Thatcher’s The Politics of Identity in Greek Sicily and Southern Italy (also Oxford UP), two for Judith Barringer’s Olympia: A Cultural History (Princeton UP), three for Fred Naiden and co-editors, A Companion to Greek Warfare (Wiley Blackwell), as well as one or two maps each for Hilary Becker, Edmund Thomas and Everett Wheeler.

There was equally strong demand for acquiring and reproducing the Center’s own maps (still free of charge for non-commercial use).  Notably, Stanislav Doležal was licensed to reproduce several Roman Empire maps in his Konstantin: Cesta k moci (Jihočeská univerzita v Českých Budějovicích). The many requests for Asia Minor in the Second Century C.E. came from users in Germany, Scotland, South Africa, Turkey and US.  The seven Wall Maps were sought by educators and students at all levels in Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, United Kingdom and US for display in classrooms or use in presentations.  Requests were also met for incorporating data into educational and commercial projects.  In particular, the Center partnered with Barnard College’s Empirical Reasoning Center to provide shapefiles for students taking its course “Society and Environment in the Ancient World.”  These shapefiles were used in QGIS workshops to create maps of the ancient landscape.  Roman roads data was supplied to Roman Podkolzine for integration into his Time Travel Rome mobile app.

There has been intensive effort to prepare revised maps and plans, along with accompanying texts, for the Atlas of Classical History in its new form co-edited by Richard Talbert, Lindsay Holman and Benet Salway (University College London), with the involvement of contributors old and new.  Drafting was again ably undertaken by Coleman Cheeley, joined this year by Hannah Shealy and Faith Virago; Bryanna Ledbetter prepared gazetteers for completed maps.  To illustrate progress, Holman and Talbert offered a presentation “Ancient History Course Maps Transformed by Advances in Cartography” for the poster session of the Archaeological Institute of America (virtual) annual meeting; viewers reacted very positively, and shared helpful observations.  The goal now is to deliver all materials to Routledge ready for production by December 2021.

Miguel Vargas completed the project he began last year to create a map (1:750,000 scale), with directory, that plots the spread of Catholic and Donatist bishoprics across North Africa by the early fifth century CE.  This addition to the Center’s Maps for Texts series is due for release once its review is concluded.

With the collaboration of experts and of IUPUI students, Prof. Elizabeth Wolfram Thill has continued to organize the scans of Great Marble Map of Rome fragments made in partnership with the Center and the Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, Roma Capitale, for online presentation in a format acceptable to the latter.  Naturally, under present circumstances no further teamwork in Rome itself was possible.

To overcome serious unforeseen delay arising from Covid, the Center granted modest emergency funds to the University of Leicester, U.K., enabling Prof. Graham Shipley to complete and deliver to Cambridge University Press – by fall 2020, as planned – his pathbreaking, long-awaited Geographers of the Ancient Greek World, 35 texts translated by 14 scholars, with commentary.  Because of Covid’s onset Shipley was suddenly recalled to the classroom early, and could not then expect to resume the final stage of editing before 2022.  His work is of exceptional value for a clearer understanding of the ancient landscape.

During the year, two resources offered by the Center ceased to function as they should.  The Djakota tool which is vital for Map A on the Peutinger Map site is now considered outmoded by its provider and thus no longer maintained.  For similar reasons Mapbox has ceased to support the landscape base on which the Center’s Map Tiles depend.  Any map using Map Tiles is affected in consequence, including the one being prepared to accompany the translation of Pliny the Elder’s geographical books (Natural History 2 to 6 and more) by Brian Turner and Richard Talbert, now due for publication by Cambridge University Press in early 2022.  Work on this map has been suspended while the Center strives to identify and install satisfactory replacements for both resources affected.  How soon that can be achieved, however, is as yet impossible to predict, and the delay is made all the more regrettable by the extensive reliance placed on both by users worldwide.  Fortunately, the Center’s Antiquity-A-La-Carte remains unaffected, although it cannot form the basis of an interactive map.

Special thanks are due to all – and to Director Lindsay Holman in particular – for maintaining the Center’s momentum undaunted throughout a year when no physical access to it was possible.   Bryanna, Hannah and Faith – who is graduating, as is Coleman – have never set foot there.  They, and Miguel, have all performed excellently from remote locations, and those not returning will be truly missed.  Thanks are owed to the History Department for temporarily assigning the Center an office which could be used for some meetings and for storing materials.

Lindsay Holman continues as Director, with Richard Talbert remaining in charge as research professor.

 

Lindsay Holman

Richard Talbert

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New Book of Interest

February 12, 2021 in Interest, Publication

This is volume 1 of the first-ever Russian translation of Pliny’s Natural History.  There is a concise apparatus criticus for the Latin text, and concise notes accompany the translation.

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Service Updates

January 26, 2021 in Interest, News

The Center is aware with much regret that two resources it offers are no longer functioning as they should. Unfortunately, in both instances the problems which have arisen lie outside the Center’s control. The Djakota software package which facilitates the functioning of Map A on the Peutinger Map site is now considered outmoded by its provider and thus no longer maintained. Consequently, the background image of the map itself no longer functions. Similarly, Mapbox.com has ceased to support the data format used to create and deliver the Center’s Map Tiles. Any map using Map Tiles is affected in consequence (such as that developed in association with Duane Roller’s translation of Strabo, Geography).

Please be assured that the Center is striving to identify and install satisfactory replacements which will enable these resources to resume functioning. How soon that can be achieved, however, is as yet impossible to say.

Also be assured that the Center’s Antiquity-A-La-Carte is not affected by similar problems, and should continue to function smoothly.

A further update will follow when there is progress to report.

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New Book of Interest

December 1, 2020 in Interest, Publication

Daniela Dueck’s Illiterate Geography in Classical Athens and Rome is now available from Routledge.

Illiterate Geography in Classical Athens and Rome  book cover

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Help Update the Peutinger Map Viewer

September 21, 2020 in E-resource, Interest, News

The Ancient World Mapping Center, in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, seeks Expressions of Interest from freelance and contract web developers interested in a small project to update components of an online viewer for the so-called “Peutinger Map” of the Roman World. This HTML+JavaScript web application has been in production on the Web since 2011, providing a seamless “pan and zoom” interface to a raster image of the map, with switchable SVG layers highlighting thematic features. Raster tile services were implemented in the application using the free and open-source Djatoka server application, which is now defunct. We seek a developer or small team to replace the raster tile functionality with a modern, maintainable open-source solution, and to repackage the entire application for easier server-side deployment, but with minimal modification to the rest of the software stack.

Interested parties should email ISAW’s Tom Elliott (tom.elliott@nyu.edu) — not later than 6pm US Eastern Standard Time on Thursday, October 1st, 2020 — in order to indicate their interest in learning more about the scope of the project and its technical aspects. Elliott will organize a prospective vendor teleconference or other forum for questions during the month of October, after which AWMC will solicit proposals for completion of the work. Meantime, the code has been posted to GitHub for review by interested parties.

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2019-2020 Annual Report

June 18, 2020 in Report

5-1-19 to 4-30-20

ANCIENT WORLD MAPPING CENTER (http://awmc.unc.edu)

This year remained an impressively active one throughout for the Center, above all because mapmaking could still continue remotely during the campus lockdown from mid-March onwards.   Preparation of the revised edition of the textbook Atlas of Classical History saw accelerated progress, and there was expansion of the scope of the working partnership with Rome’s Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali.

A variety of maps were made on commission as usual, not only for monographs and articles, but also for the Ishtar Gate exhibition at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University. Commissions included a map of Judaea for Anthony Keddie’s Republican Jesus: How the Right Has Rewritten the Gospels forthcoming from University of California Press, and one of India and Bactria for Alexander Meeus and Kai Trampedach’s volume on Alexander the Great in the Steiner series Studies in Ancient Monarchies.  The number of requests for acquiring and reproducing the Center’s maps showed a marked rise this year.  In particular, the seven Wall Maps – which continue to be offered in digital format without charge for non-commercial purposes – have been in high demand from instructors and students at both school and college levels worldwide, most notably in Australia, Denmark, Italy, United Kingdom and US.

Miguel Vargas joined the Center to implement a project envisaged last year for the Maps for Texts series and now well advanced by him: a map, with directory, that plots the spread of Catholic and Donatist bishoprics across North Africa as documented in the record of the Carthage ‘conference’ in 411 CE.  To date, maps by others for this purpose (notably by Serge Lancel) have all been kept unsatisfyingly small-scale by a print-only format, in grayscale moreover.  The Center’s map in color on a physical landscape base at 1:750,000 – scale chosen to match that of Asia Minor and Black Sea in the Maps for Texts series – offers distinct improvement; its extraordinary elongation creates no obstacle for digital production and presentation.

The interactive map in preparation by Gabriel Moss and Ryan Horne to accompany the forthcoming translation of Pliny the Elder’s Natural History Books 2 to 6 and more by Brian Turner and Richard Talbert is close to completion.  Meantime the translation itself of these ‘geographical’ books and passages has been delivered to Cambridge University Press for expert review.

After lengthy discussions, agreement was reached that Lindsay Holman and Benet Salway (University College London) should join Richard Talbert to co-edit the substantially revised edition of the Atlas of Classical History.  It is to be published by Routledge, with the maps all remade digitally in color, using the Center’s Map Tiles as base.  Contributors to the original edition are being invited to review the fresh drafts of their maps; at the same time new contributors have been recruited, in most instances for plans of cities that could not be accommodated previously.  So much mapmaking has provided exceptional opportunities for student assistants to gain training and experience.  Hania Zanib has specialized in drafting city- and battle-plans with precision.  Peter Streilein, Tyler Brown and Coleman Cheeley have concentrated on maps of the Near East, Aegean and Roman Empire. Ross Twele has begun to compile the gazetteer.

As Richard Talbert’s collection of maps made of Asia Minor (Turkey) during the late 19th and early 20th centuries continues to expand in size and complexity, Ross Twele has also worked towards organizing its presentation online.

A supplement negotiated to the partnership agreement made last year with the Sovrintendenza Capitolina ai Beni Culturali, Roma Capitale authorized a three-week initiative in Rome to proceed during September–October.  Within this period a joint Italian–U.S. team made 3D scans of all 823 incised fragments of the Great Marble Map (Forma Urbis) to an accuracy of approximately 0.05 mm; because several of this formidable total were dispersed across Rome, visits to various museums were required (Museo dell’Ara Pacis, for example).  The number scanned far exceeded even the most optimistic estimate of what might be achieved in the limited time available.  Such success was due not least to the efficiency of the four 3D handheld structured light scanners used – three Creaform Go!SCAN and one Creaform Spark 3D.  Derek Miller (Center for Digital Scholarship, IUPUI) brought these scanners and oversaw their operation throughout.  Prof. Elizabeth Wolfram Thill (Classical Studies, IUPUI) again took a leading role.  She and Dr. Riccardo Montalbano in Rome (partially funded by the Center) have now begun the arduous work of organizing the scans for online presentation in a format that will enable a further agreement with the Sovrintendenza to be reached, one granting public access to this remarkable material.   In January Prof. Wolfram Thill outlined the recent progress made by the partnership, as well as future prospects, at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in Washington, DC; the stream of questions following her paper attests to the high level of interest generated.  A potentially rewarding further goal – which in current conditions must remain on hold – is to scan likewise the neglected mass of uninscribed fragments; their number has been greatly increased by finds from recent tunneling for a new metro line in the area where the Map was displayed.

Once again this year it was the Center’s good fortune to have an outstanding workforce: three graduate students – Gabriel Moss, Ross Twele, Miguel Vargas; and four undergraduates – Tyler Brown, Coleman Cheeley, Peter Streilein, Hania Zanib.  All three graduating at the year’s end – former Director Gabriel Moss (PhD), Tyler Brown and Peter Streilein (both BA) – will be greatly missed.

A further word of sincere appreciation to all, including Director Lindsay Holman, is called for this year because of the pandemic crisis.  In mid-March, during the last hour before the sudden closure of Davis library, Lindsay brilliantly reconfigured the Center’s machines for remote working.  In consequence, everyone gained, and seized, the welcome opportunity to continue working and communicating from home – at a somewhat slower pace, to be sure, and with certain technical limitations, but overall almost as productively as before.

Lindsay Holman continues as Director, and Richard Talbert (after his retirement from all other duties) remains in charge as research professor.

 

Lindsay Holman

Richard Talbert

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Tabula Imperii Byzantini Update

June 16, 2020 in E-resource, Interest, Publication

Bithynien und Hellespont

In the TIB series, #13 Bithynien und Hellespont by Klaus Belke was published in April. Its two substantial volumes are accompanied not only by a map at the regular scale for the series (1:800,000), but also by several others, including the Bosporos at 1:100,000. See link here for free online access.

For the latest report about digitizing TIB and progress on extending its coverage, visit here.

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Book of Interest now in paperback

March 12, 2020 in Publication

This Routledge publication was issued in paperback at the end of February.

Challenges of Mapping the Classical World (Hardback) book cover

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Two Books: New Edition and New Format

February 13, 2020 in Interest, Publication

A second edition of Graham Shipley’s Pseudo-Skylax is now available in hardback and paperback from Liverpool University Press.

Pseudo-Skylax's Periplous: The Circumnavigation of the Inhabited World: Text, Translation and Commentary

Richard Talbert’s Roman Portable Sundials is now issued in paperback by Oxford University Press.

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New Book of Interest

January 7, 2020 in Interest, Publication

Eastern Trade and the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages: Pegolotti’s Ayas-Tabriz Itinerary and its Commercial Context, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

This study by Thomas Sinclair, accompanied by many maps, has recently appeared from Routledge. While it relates to the medieval period in the first instance, it also draws upon the Antonine Itinerary and Peutinger Map among other ancient evidence.

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