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AWMC Annual Report 2014-2015

August 6, 2015 in Report

5-1-14 to 4-30-15

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

This has been another very productive year for the Center.  Its publicly accessible map tiles, released last year, were significantly refined by the incorporation of OpenStreetMap data into the layers for coastlines, rivers and lakes.  Featuring some of the most precise geographic information available, OpenStreetMap data provides a new level of detail far superior to previous maps made from a VMAP0 base.  Because OpenStreetMap is primarily focused on contemporary conditions, it has been necessary for the Center to remove all modern manmade features from the Mediterranean and other coastlines, painstaking work typically to be done at very large scales.  This immense task was completed by the end of the year; the revisions will soon be incorporated into a new version of the Center’s map tiles and offered for download on the Center’s site.

A challenging, but instructive, major project which took the entire year to complete was the production of as many as 130 maps, battle-plans and site-plans in full color for The Routledge Atlas of the Ancient Near East and Persia from the Bronze Age to the Roman Imperial Period by Trevor Bryce and Jessie Birkett-Rees at the University of Queensland and Monash University respectively, Australia. This work was undertaken principally by Gabe Moss and Ray Belanger.  It hardly needs stressing that in terms of chronology, culture and geography the scope of this atlas is vast, and not surprisingly some of the plans in particular (Troy, for example) proved very demanding to draft.  A further important large project for which planning in collaboration with Oxford University Press has begun is a substantial range of maps of various types to illustrate the Oxford Classical Dictionary: in the revised, rethought online edition now being developed, this standard reference work is to include maps for the first time.

Other commissions fulfilled by the Center included seven maps for the Routledge Encyclopedia of Ancient Mediterranean Religions edited by Eric Orlin, as well as one map for the first English-language edition of Bertolt Brecht’s novel The Business Affairs of Mr Julius Caesar, and another for Federico Santangelo’s biography of Gaius Marius (both Bloomsbury Publishing).  Many maps were made for Oxford University Press works: four for Luca Grillo’s commentary on Cicero, De Provinciis Consularibus; three for a monograph on Sophocles by Oliver Taplin; one for a monograph on Roman historical drama by Patrick Kragelund; and several, together with plans, for Richard Talbert’s Roman Portable Sundials: The Empire in Your Hand.  Further maps and plans were produced discreetly for Talbert’s surprise Festschrift Aspects of Ancient Institutions and Geography (Brill).  Plans for a set of maps to illustrate the bible were developed with the Bible and Gospel Trust, UK.  Cambridge University Press has now published the online map made by the Center to accompany Duane Roller’s translation of Strabo’s Geography.  As usual, the Center licensed a number of its previously published maps for reproduction, sometimes in modified form.

The Center’s wallmap of Asia Minor in the second century CE at 1;750,000 scale has been completed.  It is to be published with the volume of proceedings arising from the Ankara conference Pathways of Communication: Roads and Routes in Anatolia from Prehistory to Seljuk Times, to which Talbert has also contributed a chapter entitled “The mapping of classical Asia Minor and its routes: Progress and prospects from Richard Kiepert to Global Positioning Systems.”  Talbert and Center Director Ryan Horne presented the next wallmap in early draft – Hispania, also at 1:750,000 scale – at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in New Orleans, LA, where it was well received.  Two invitations to discuss the Center’s work were accepted – by Horne at the Wake Forest University Digital Humanities Kitchen, and by Talbert at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.  Talbert also taught a class on the Barrington Atlas by Skype for a Travel and Geography in the Roman Empire course at Radboud University, Netherlands.  Horne delivered the keynote address, focusing on digital mapping, for the UNC/King’s College London Transatlantic Conference.

At the graduate level, two students were recruited to the Center, Will Knauth (School of Information and Library Science) and Gabe Moss (History), while Ray Belanger unexpectedly proved able to continue working after graduation.  Ashley Cloud was recruited at the undergraduate level, joining Michael Heubel who continued.  While all have done excellent work, a special note of appreciation for Ray is in order as he leaves for a second time; the remarkable skill which he developed in drafting plans will be hard to replace.  The greatest loss by far, however, is that of Ryan Horne, who has capped five years of extraordinarily dedicated and creative work at the Center by serving as Director.  Most recently, Ryan’s continued commitment to the upgrading of the Antiquity-A-La-Carte tool and to furtherance of the Center’s partnership with the Pleiades project at New York University (pleiades.stoa.org) has been quite invaluable.  It is hard to thank him enough for all these efforts, which will continue to have longterm impact worldwide.  He is to be congratulated on his appointment as post-doctoral fellow at UNC’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities and the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative.  Ryan’s successor as Director is Gabe Moss.

Ryan Horne
Richard Talbert


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