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2021-2022 Annual Report

June 13, 2022 in Report

5-1-2021 to 4-30-2022

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

Boosted not least by restored access to the Center itself in August after 16 months of remote working, this has been a year of achievement and optimism.  Two most challenging major projects are now all but completed, and the availability of two widely used resources offered by the Center should be restored soon.  In addition, favorable prospects for securing the Center’s future have emerged at last.

Commissioned cartography included one map for Jamie Kreiner’s Battles of the Brain (Liveright), another by Paul Cartledge for the Cambridge World History of Genocide, vol. 1, and five for Pliny the Elder’s World: Natural History Books 2-6, a translation by Brian Turner (former Center Director) and Richard Talbert, forthcoming imminently from Cambridge University Press.  However, by far the largest, most complex commission was 28 maps for a further Cambridge publication, Geographers of the Ancient Greek World edited by Graham Shipley (University of Leicester, U.K.).  This is a massive collaborative translation and commentary for which the Center contributed modest emergency funds last year to ensure timely completion of the text.  The specifications for its varied cartography proved very demanding, with numerous issues of layout and design to be resolved, but the outcome has been highly approved.  Of the 28, only the map (with inset) for Dionysios of Byzantion, Anaplous Bosporou, now awaits completion.    Licences which the Center issued for reproduction of its own previously published maps included one for Jessica Peritz’s article “The Castrato Remains – or, Galvanizing the Corpse of Musical Style” in the Journal of Musicology, and another for a forthcoming exhibition in the Luxembourg Musée National d’Histoire et d’Art about restoration of the Roman mosaic found at Vichten. 

The other most challenging major project now all but completed is the revised Routledge Atlas of Classical History, co-edited by Richard Talbert, Lindsay Holman and Benet Salway (University College London, U.K.).  All 142 full-color maps ranging in size from quarter-page to doublespread and including battle- and city-plans – the work of 30 expert contributors worldwide alongside the co-editors – are now ready.  Only some (overdue) accompanying texts and recommended readings are awaited [these fortunately arrived early in May; by its end the atlas was not just in the publisher’s hands, but also cleared for immediate production].  All four of the Center’s assistants gained the opportunity to revise or draft these maps, Hannah Shealy continuing from last year, now joined by Safiatou Bamba, Bryanna Ledbetter and Rachel Sarvey.  Bryanna also continued her preparation of gazetteers for completed maps.  At the same time Hannah skillfully drafted many of the maps for Geographers of the Ancient Greek World.

With classroom needs further in mind, the Center has initiated a new online Maps for Texts project to equip readers of Livy’s Roman history from the Second Punic War onwards with a 1:750,000 map, building on the recent edition and translation by John Yardley for the Loeb Classical Library; Rachel Sarvey has taken the lead so far.  The Center has also welcomed a request from the American Classical League for collaboration in making map materials available to the teachers nationwide that it represents, and in developing more.

Work has resumed to prepare for release – in the Center’s Maps for Texts series – Miguel Vargas’ map (1:750,000) that plots the spread of Catholic and Donatist bishoprics across North Africa by the early fifth century CE.

The Center has organized Richard Talbert’s extensive collection of maps of Asia Minor/Turkey made during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Ottoman, British, German, Greek, Italian, Russian especially) to form the basis of an exhibition (primarily virtual) Late Ottoman Turkey in Princeton’s Forgotten Maps, 1883-1923 to be hosted in fall 2022 by Princeton University Library (which holds much of this scattered material, but far from all).  The pathbreaking synergy of this joint initiative promises to have lasting value.  The principal cartographers featured, Heinrich Kiepert and his son Richard, were very preoccupied with classical antiquity, and their long-lasting impact has escaped notice outside Turkey.  The Center’s preparations have notably benefited from Safiatou Bamba’s rare ability to read and translate Ottoman Turkish.

There is now good reason to expect that the frustrating dysfunction of two of the Center’s major digital resources relied upon worldwide is about to be overcome.  Generous efforts by a team at the University of Iowa to provide a fresh basis of support (at least temporarily) for Map Tiles are now at the testing stage; results seem most promising.  A web developer in Belgium has likewise devised a replacement support base for Map A on the Peutinger Map site; its test version too appears to operate soundly.  Restoration of both these resources will be a huge relief.

Because a viable plan has still to be settled for the Center’s future after June 30, 2022 – when Richard Talbert was due to step down – he has agreed to remain in post as part-time research professor for an additional year, encouraged by most supportive discussions with the History Department chair, Senior Associate Dean, and Dean of the College.  All three have committed to urging the new Deans (from June 30, 2022) to authorize an immediate search for a faculty member in History who will both teach ancient history and take charge of the Center.  The Department has ranked this position its top preference for searches in 2022-2023.

Meantime Lindsay Holman – who graduated PhD in August – has been appointed Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA, and so is stepping down as Center Director after a remarkable five-year term in this increasingly demanding position.  It is impossible to express adequate thanks for the outstanding service she has so ably rendered throughout as cartographer, organizer, colleague and mentor.  Her departure is a blow, but it should be no surprise that her talents and record attract attention elsewhere.  Also to be thanked warmly are this year’s assistants Bryanna, Hannah, Safiatou and Rachel, the first three of whom are graduating.  For 2022-2023 – envisaged as primarily a year to prepare for transition – Richard Talbert remains in charge, to be assisted by Rachel Sarvey.

Lindsay Holman

Richard Talbert


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