August 2, 2016 in Report
5-1-15 to 4-30-16
ANCIENT WORLD MAPPING CENTER (http://awmc.unc.edu)
For 2015-2016, the seemingly routine annual claim that the past year has been busier than ever is no exaggeration for sure. Not only did an exceptional number of commissioned maps achieve completion, but the Center also made substantial headway on several research projects as well as mounting its first conference.
Particularly significant among completed commissions is a set of nine maps for the fifth edition of the much-used Oxford Classical Dictionary, the first of its editions to be digital-only, and the first to include any maps! The set – designed by Center Director Gabriel Moss – ranges from the spread of Greek colonization to the administrative divisions of Constantine’s empire. Graduate assistant Alexandra Locking produced ten maps for Mercury’s Wings: Exploring Modes of Communication in the Ancient World, a collaborative volume co-edited by Fred Naiden and Richard Talbert, due for publication by Oxford University Press in 2017. Other notable commissions included maps for the first-ever English translation and commentary on Dionysius of Byzantium, Anaplous Bospori (Thomas Russell, Oxford University Press); for Brill’s Companion to Insurgency and Terrorism in the Ancient Mediterranean (ed. Timothy Howe and Lee Brice); for a display of ancient coins at the University Museum, Oxford MS; and for Civitates, a board game designed for high-school students learning Latin. Plans developed last year with the Bible and Gospel Trust, UK, led to the production and delivery of a dozen maps to illustrate the bible. Trevor Bryce’s Atlas of the Ancient Near East and Persia from Prehistoric Times to the Roman Imperial Period, for which the Center made 130 full-color maps last year, has now been published by Routledge, an impressive volume.
In April the Center held its first conference, on the theme Mapping the Past: G.I.S. Approaches to Ancient History. This well-attended occasion – with keynote address by the Center’s first director, Dr Tom Elliott (NYU) – provided a productive forum in which twelve speakers from North America and Europe shared approaches and techniques for using geography and digital tools to study the ancient past. The technology training workshop G.I.S. for Historians organized in connection with the conference filled to capacity. All presentations were filmed and are publicly available on the Center’s new YouTube channel: (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEr92C0pVw6-CeM9krzNs2Q)
Two ongoing research initiatives were advanced: the map of Hispania at 1:750,000 scale, and digital manipulation of Forma Urbis Romae fragments in collaboration with Prof. Ryan Shaw and graduate assistant Will Knauth in the School of Information and Library Science. Further initiatives were launched, in particular the creation of digital maps to add a cartographic dimension to Ptolemy’s Table of Important Cities and to the Synekdemos of Hierocles. Maps to illustrate travel accounts were also started, among them Egeria’s pilgrimages and the journey of Theophanes from Hermopolis in Egypt to Syrian Antioch.
The Center’s partnership with Pleiades at New York University (Pleiades.stoa.org) remained active; this project has embarked on a new phase with the award of further support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Center’s two publicly available mapping resources, the Antiquity-A-La-Carte platform and the Ancient World Map Tiles, continue to be in great demand from scholars and educators. Former Center director Dr. Ryan Horne designed both, and has maintained them: the platform now has approaching 2,000 registered users, while this year alone the tiles have been viewed nearly one million times.
The Center’s assistants have proven as dedicated and talented as ever. It is a blow to be losing both graduate students: Will Knauth has completed his MLS, and Alexandra Locking has won a fellowship which requires exclusive focus on the completion of her dissertation. Among undergraduates, Ashley Cloud graduated after two years of dedicated work for the Center. Michael Heubel continued for a third year, and was joined by three excellent recruits Sabrina Cheung, Daniel Hawke, and McKenzie Hitchcock. It is the Center’s good fortune that Gabriel Moss, after an outstandingly successful year as director, will continue in that position for 2016-2017.