Avatar of admin


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


Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.