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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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