This afternoon, the Ancient World Mapping Center is participating in The University of North Carolina‘s annual University Research Day. The Center will be displaying a poster collage of our latest research and programming, especially in regard to Antiquity A-la-carte 3.0. The poster features with special prominence an image of our forthcoming Strabo Online web application in connection with Duane Roller’s new translation of the Geographika for Cambridge University Press. It also displays images of A-la-carte’s capability to map man-made features according to the Pleiades database and the AWMC’s collection of shapefiles, to represent coastal variations both within periods of ancient history and in contrast to the modern topographical aspect, and to map surviving ancient features at tenths-of-a-second accuracy with the use of handheld GPS devices. A PDF file of the poster (licensed under a Creative Commons CC BY License) can be seen here.
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International Conference: Pathways of Communication: Roads and Routes in Anatolia from Prehistory to Seljuk Times
The British Institute at Ankara, in collaboration with Ankara University, is hosting the conference Pathways of Communication: Roads and Routes in Anatolia from Prehistory to Seljuk Times March 20-22, 2014 on the university campus. A programme for the conference can be found here. The conference will devote two panels to “Maps and Digital Mapping” and “Digital Approaches to Roads and Networks.” Prof. Richard Talbert has been invited to speak in a panel at Pathways on the Ancient World Mapping Center’s most recent efforts in “Digital Mapping of Classical Asia Minor and its Routes: Progress and Prospects”.
The AWMC is proud to announce the release of a series of geographically accurate, publicly accessible map tiles (http://awmc.unc.edu/wordpress/tiles/ ), suitable for use in nearly any web mapping application or GIS software suite. These tiles are hosted on Mapbox servers courtesy of ISAW, and are created by Ryan Horne from AWMC data produced by Richard Talbert, Jeffrey Becker, Ryan Horne, Ross Twele, Audrey Jo, Ray Belanger, Steve Burges, Luke Hagemann, Ashley Lee, and others.
Offering the first (and at the time of this writing, only) geographically accurate base map of the ancient world, the AWMC tiles conform to the broad periodization presented in the Barrington Atlas, with different selectable water levels for the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, and Late Antique Periods. In addition, we also model inland water, rivers, and other geographical features as they appeared in antiquity. The base tiles are culturally agnostic, allowing them to be used to represent the physical environment of nearly any ancient society in the Mediterranean world. In addition to the base map and geographical tiles we also present the Roman road network, generally following the Barrington Atlas with additional work by the AWMC. Like all of our other electronic offerings, our new tiles are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) license and remain absolutely free for personal, academic, and non-commercial use.
For guidelines on how to use the tiles in an application, please visit http://awmc.unc.edu/wordpress/tiles/map-tile-information. These tiles are a “living” data set, and will be constantly refined to reflect the ongoing work of the AWMC. We welcome feedback on any aspect of this work and we encourage the community to suggest enhancements, fixes, or any other comments on our dedicated site.
Along with our tiles, The Ancient World Mapping Center is also releasing a beta version of Antiquity à la Carte 3.0 (http://awmc.unc.edu/awmc/applications/carte-transitional/). The application, engineered by Ryan Horne, builds upon the two previous iterations of À-la-carte, which appeared in Spring 2012 and October of the same year. Continuing to draw upon the work of the Ancient World Mapping Center and the Pleiades Project, the updated version will incorporate the new AWMC Mapping tiles, along with the expanded features first introduced in v. 2.0. Until the beta version is stable with all of the previous functionality enabled, À-la-carte version 2.0 will remain operational at http://awmc.unc.edu/awmc/applications/alacarte/ . In the meantime, we welcome any feedback on the beta version as we endeavor to create an application that is useful to the ancient world community. We are particularly excited that our new tiles allow us to feature modern data alongside our ancient offerings, which will open many new possibilities and applications for À-la-carte.
Matthew Edney, director of the History of Cartography Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has produced an annotated bibliography on “History of Cartography” for Oxford Bibliographies Online under the subject “Geography”. This bibliography includes: General Overviews; Overviews by Period and Culture; The Field of Study; Technical Aspects of Map Making; Map Forms; Cartographic Modes or Ways of Acting with Maps; Government, Politics, and Cartography; Commerce, Public Discourse, and Identity Mapping; and Maps and Historical Practice.
New publication of interest: A Brief History of the Romans, 2nd ed by Boatwright, Gargola, Lenski, and Talbert
The second edition of A Brief History of the Romans by M. T. Boatwright, D. Gargola, N. Lenski, and R. J. A. Talbert is now available from Oxford University Press, featuring new map content generated by the Ancient World Mapping Center. A companion website, www.oup.com/us/boatwright, is forthcoming.
Princeton University Press and the Ancient World Mapping Center are pleased to announce the release of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World app for iPad 2+ on November 21, 2013. For the full press release and screenshots of the app, see http://blog.press.princeton.edu/barrington-atlas-of-the-greek-and-roman-world-app-available-november-21-2013/
UPDATE: The final release date for this app is Monday, December 2.
Upcoming ISAW exhibition: Measuring and Mapping Space: Geographic Knowledge in Greco-Roman Antiquity
The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World has announced its next exhibition, Measuring and Mapping Space: Geographic Knowledge in Greco-Roman Antiquity, to be held October 4, 2013 – January 5, 2014. For further information, visit the exhibition website at http://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions.
UPDATE: John Noble Wilford has written a piece about the exhibition for the New York Times “Science” section: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/science/legacy-of-greco-roman-mapmaking.html
New publication of interest: Reflectance Transformation Imaging of a ‘Byzantine’ portable sundial by Bevan, Lehoux, and Talbert
George Bevan and Daryn Lehoux of Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, CA and Richard Talbert of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have published a new article, Reflectance Transformation Imaging of a ‘Byzantine’ portable sundial, in Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 187 (2013). This article should be of special interest to RTI enthusiasts and to anyone curious about the application of digital photography methods to ancient history and archaeology. It is an illustration of the remarkable advances that RTI can provide over autopic examination alone. The article will not be available for Open Access download until one year after initial publication.
UPDATE: A .pdf file of the article is provided here: ZPE 187-bevan-lehoux-talbert
AWMC’s partners at the Pleiades Project have created a range of accuracy assessments related to geographic content derived from the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. These accuracy assessments are tailored to the scale and project of the BAtlas and will be of great use to AWMC and its database editing efforts, particularly with respect to physical geography derived from the BAtlas (coastline, rivers, islands, mountains, etc.). The ratings relate to the positional accuracy of data; positional accuracy in GIS terms is a quantifiable value and represents either the positional difference between two geospatial layers of information or between the geospatial layer itself and reality.
Read more about these accuracy ratings at these links:
The 2012-2013 academic year has been an extremely busy and productive time at the Ancient World Mapping Center. These activities and accomplishments are summarized below.
An invaluable advance this year has been the activation of a Dell Poweredge server dedicated exclusively to the Center’s projects. The close consultation and assistance of Joseph Ryan (UNC Humanities Computing) and Steven Fishback (UNC Research Computing) were vital to its acquisition and installation. Hosted by UNC ITS, it represents an enormous technological leap forward, enabling the Center to establish a new website at last (http://awmc.unc.edu), as well as a series of independent blog feeds powered by WordPress. Together they provide for an online community (by way of user registration), a venue for posting notices and news items, and a platform for web-based content (see below).
AWMC’s social media following on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ continue to enable not only the dissemination of information, but also a convenient vehicle for interfacing with the community.
This year has also seen the release of Antiquity A-La-Carte 2.0, a web-based GIS (Geographic Information Systems) interface and interactive digital atlas of the ancient Mediterranean world designed by Ryan Horne. It features accurate historical, cultural, and geographical data produced by the Center together with the entire Pleiades Project feature set (pleiades.stoa.org; see below). Users can frame, populate, and export maps according to their own design, both selecting data extracted from the Center’s database and adding their own original content, including line work and shading. The Center’s server further allows for the hosting of shapefiles of geographic data derived from the Barrington Atlas: these files may be downloaded and incorporated into GIS-based projects. All this content is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, allowing for free use for non-commercial purposes. The release of this authoritative ancient world data represents a vital aspect of the Center’s mission and a uniquely valuable service to the academic community worldwide in an ever-expanding digital environment. This year, moreover, the Center has launched an automated application programming interface which permits the downloading, under the Creative Commons license, of over 250,000 items of geographic information comprising the entire Pleaides dataset and Center-authored content, including polyline and polygon information for the physical geography of the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds. Via its API the Center has also begun offering toponyms in Greek script – over 1,200 in an initial batch compiled by Luke Hagemann, with more in preparation. Employing stable Pleiades uris, these names are thus aggregated to the larger linked data networks of the Pleiades and Pelagios Projects.
The Center’s continuing partnership with the Pleiades Project (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University) is a longstanding one, now enhanced by automatic daily synchronization of databases. This year the Center also entered into a partnership with the Mellon-funded Pelagios Project (Open University, UK), which promotes linked ancient world data online through use of the stable Pleiades identifiers. This new partnership broadens the reach of the data content offered via the Center’s API and provides authoritative geographical information along with cultural metadata.
Three projects have proven to be the year’s major challenges, each with creative outcomes in prospect despite the obstacles to be overcome. One, a scholarly map of Asia Minor around 100 CE (1:750,000 scale), was ready for display in draft by Richard Talbert and former Center acting director Brian Turner (Portland State University, Oregon) at the International Limes Congress, Ruse, Bulgaria, where feedback received assisted the production of a revised draft now under review by several experts. The second project, Benthos: Digital Atlas of Ancient Waters, has been initiated with the mapping of ancient shipwrecks in the Mediterranean. The third project, a commission to map the several thousand identifiable geographical and cultural features named in Strabo’s Geography for Duane Roller’s new translation forthcoming from Cambridge University Press, has been the most taxing, but rewarding nonetheless. In fact completion of a full draft – imminent at the year’s end – would not have been feasible without extensive reliance upon the Center’s new tools and resources. Although publication in both print and digital formats had been envisaged originally, it is now acknowledged by all concerned that only the latter is practical and, moreover, hugely beneficial. Indeed, with the experience gained from mapping Strabo, the Center intends to launch a matching initiative to translate and map the geographical books in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History.
The Center fulfilled further commissions, among them a series of topographical phase plans of Rome’s Campus Martius, and maps for George Hatke, Aksum and Nubia: Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa (NYU Press); Paul Keyser, Oxford Handbook of Science and Medicine in the Classical World; Barbette Spaeth, Cambridge Companion to Ancient Mediterranean Religion; and Noelle Zeiner-Carmichael, Roman Letters: An Anthology (Wiley-Blackwell).
As the basis of his senior honors thesis advised by Richard Talbert, Steve Burges used LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data for the city of Rome acquired jointly by the Center and Davis Library last year. His meticulously documented reconstruction of the early phases of Rome’s Forum supersedes all previous efforts, and most instructively advances our understanding of the valley’s transformation into public space and of the siting of public buildings there in relation to flooding by the river Tiber. Steve presented a summary of his findings at UNC’s Annual Celebration of Undergraduate Research.
Richard Talbert accepted an invitation to survey the Center’s current projects and their likely development and expansion at a workshop “The future of ORBIS” sponsored by the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis and the Department of Classics, Stanford University. Ryan Horne presented some of the Center’s ongoing work at the inaugural conference of the Digital Classics Association held at SUNY Buffalo, and was chosen to participate in the Linked Ancient World Data Institute organized jointly by NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and Drew University.
An outstanding team of graduate and undergraduate assistants has made such a productive year possible. Ryan Horne been primarily responsible for the pathbreaking design, engineering, and development of Antiquity A-La-Carte 2.0, the Center’s API, and the Benthos project. Ray Belanger has again made excellent progress on painstakingly refining the geodatabase of physical features derived from the Barrington Atlas, line work for rivers in particular. Ashley Lee and Angela Blackburn have enlarged the Benthos database, as has Luke Hagemann the Center’s database. A key figure who will be stepping down, however, is Dr. Jeffrey Becker after a tireless two-year stint as acting director. His contribution during this period merits the highest praise and gratitude. He has been at the forefront of substantially raising the Center’s capacity and leadership as a world-class resource in its field, and of ensuring the permanence of its fundamental accomplishments. His initiatives have ranged widely and most fruitfully: above all, his herculean efforts have now brought the Asia Minor and Strabo maps within sight of completion after surmounting endless difficulties. He will be succeeded as acting director by former assistant Ross Twele.
Jeffrey A. Becker
31 May 2013