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2001-2002 Annual Report

January 24, 2018 in Report


The past year has been an excellent growth year for the Ancient World Mapping Center with important advances made in several areas.

Institutional and private donations have brought our endowment total to within $7,000 of our first-year goal of $83,000, and we are confident of closing that gap by 31 July 2002. The goal for 2003 (essential to secure matching funds through an NEH Challenge Grant) is much higher: $400,000. Information about our endowment drive and how to make contributions can be found on our website (see below).

A collaborative effort between the Center’s Director, Tom Elliott, and Professor Gary Bishop, Department of Computer Science, has led to the creation of a computer system that makes historical maps accessible to the blind using touch, sound and synthesized speech. The prototype system was developed by undergraduate students in a software engineering course, working closely with Tom, Gay and Jason Morris, a blind Classics graduate student assigned as a research assistant to the AWMC for academic year 2002-2003. The project, which used geographic data derived from the Barrington Atlas, edited by History Professor Richard Talbert, was so successful that the Facilities Services Division is now assessing the feasibility of using it to provide up-to-date maps of campus construction zones for the benefit of blind students, and faculty. The project has also gained the attention of researchers at the Microsoft Corporation, who have provided a gift of $24,000 to the Computer Science Department to continue work over the summer. We are now seeking funding for academic year 2002-2003 to enhance the device and develop more historical maps–keyed to UNC undergraduate courses–for use in the system. A story about the project appears in the University Gazette (June 13) (http://gazette.unc.edu/research.html#fy).

We are also hard at work developing procedures for the digitization of maps, bibliography, and other materials assembled under Richard Talbert’s direction by the Classical Atlas Project. We have overcome a number of technical challenges and now believe that we are in position to begin the work in earnest. Summer and Fall 2003 will be spent refining methods and developing proposals to secure funding to support this important initiative. Once the digitization project is complete, the Center will be able to respond quickly to requests for specialized maps for courses and research, and to manage effectively the essential effort to maintain an up-to-date record of research into ancient historical geography.

Visit the AWMC on the web at: www.unc.edu/awmc. Contact via email: awmc@unc.edu

Richard Talbert


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