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New publication of interest: Reflectance Transformation Imaging of a ‘Byzantine’ portable sundial by Bevan, Lehoux, and Talbert

September 4, 2013 in Interest, News, Publication

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 Accuracy Assessments in Pleiades

June 10, 2013 in Interest, Pleiades Project, Site Information

in0006AWMC’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:



AWMC Annual Report (2012-2013)

June 10, 2013 in Interest, News, Report


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 (, 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.

Antiquity À-la-carte 2.0 and AWMC API

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 (; 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.

AWMC Partnerships

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.

AWMC Projects

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 UniversityRyan 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

Richard Talbert

31 May 2013


Linked Ancient World Data Institute 2013

May 17, 2013 in Interest, News, Presentation

6350518979_99e367f491_zThe 2013 Linked Ancient World Data Institute (LAWDI) will take place from May 30th to June 1st 2013 on the campus of Drew University. Organized by Tom Elliott (ISAW), Sebastian Heath (ISAW), and John Muccigrosso (Drew; 2013 Host), the LAWDI focuses on Linked Open Data and represents “an approach to the creation of digital resources that emphasizes connections between diverse information on the basis of published and stable web addresses (URIs) that identify common concepts and individual items.” The initiative has received funding support from the NEH. For the 2013 iteration, AWMC’s own Ryan Horne (Ph.D. student, Department of History, UNC-Chapel Hill) will be one of the participants. AWMC and its partners are extremely interested in the applications of linked data to the geography and history of the ancient world. AWMC is experimenting with linked data possibilities in its Benthos project and also by its participation in the Pelagios network.


New publication of interest: Roman Roads and Roman Society by Feng Ding Xiong

May 14, 2013 in Interest, News, Publication


Feng Ding Xiong. 2012. Roman Roads and Roman Society. China Social Sciences Press. ISBN-13: 9787516113813.

Chinese scholar Feng Ding Xiong (Zhejiang Ocean University Zhoushan 316000 China) has produced a new monograph entitled Roman Roads and Roman Society that has now been issued by the China Social Sciences Press (pub. date 2012; ISBN-13: 9787516113813). It does not appear that any Western libraries yet hold this title, but a copy kindly sent by the author will be deposited in the library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Chinese-language monograph does include an English table of contents.


Tauris re-prints An Atlas of Ancient Geography, Biblical and Classical: Maps of the Ancient World by William Smith

March 28, 2013 in Interest, News, Publication

81ZsbKDSKsL._SL1500_Publisher I. B. Tauris has re-printed William Smith’s landmark nineteenth century work An Atlas of Ancient Geography, Biblical and Classical: Maps of the Ancient World. The new edition includes an introduction written by Richard Talbert. See Tauris’ website for ordering information. The publisher’s description, in part, states “Published to complement his Greek and Roman dictionaries, “An Atlas of Ancient Geography, Biblical and Classical” by Sir William Smith is the rarest and most visually compelling of the volumes. Produced to the highest standard by the leading mapmaker of the day, the maps – large-scale, small-scale, historical, topographical, multiple city plans and other insets – are clear, detailed, intricately colored works of art. “The Atlas” provides the first complete set of maps of the ancient world, both classical and biblical. A full index of names and places, both ancient and modern, accompanies each of the larger maps. For each map there is also an accompanying text, giving sources and authorities for them.”


ISBN: 9781848853522
Publication Date: 28 Feb 2013
Number of Pages: 240
Height: 495
Width: 319


ISAW publishes Hatke Aksum and Nubia: Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa (NYU 2013).

March 1, 2013 in Interest, News, Publication


G. Hatke 2013. Aksum and Nubia: Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa (NYU) ISBN: 0-8147-6066-X

A digital monograph from Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW) has appeared. George Hatke’s Aksum and Nubia: Warfare, Commerce, and Political Fictions in Ancient Northeast Africa (ISAW NYU 2013) ISBN: 0-8147-6066-X (alk. paper) is available as an e-book and as a traditional print publication. Its topic treats ancient Northeast Africa and includes three custom-made maps produced by AWMC. The electronic version is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution No-derivatives License.


New title concering the Artemidorus Papyrus

March 1, 2013 in Interest, News, Publication

Intorno al Papiro di Artemidoro, III. Geografia e Cartografia: Atti del Convegno internazionale del 27 novembre 2009 presso la Società Geografica Italiana. Villa Celimontana, Roma (LED, 2012). ISBN-13: 9788879165082.

A new title of interest has appeared on the ongoing study of the Artemidorus Papyrus. This title, edited by C. Gallazzi, B. Kramer, and S. Settis is Intorno al Papiro di Artemidoro, III. Geografia e Cartografia: Atti del Convegno internazionale del 27 novembre 2009 presso la Società Geografica Italiana. Villa Celimontana, Roma (LED, 2012). ISBN-13: 9788879165082.


Modeling Connectivity: Cultural Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean

February 18, 2013 in Interest, Presentation

The College of Charleston (Charleston SC) will host the Theodore B. Guérard Lecture Series: Modeling Connectivity: Cultural Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean on February 21 and 22, 2013. Three speakers – Michael Maas (Rice), Richard Talbert (UNC) and Trevor Harris (West Virginia University) will present papers connected to the theme “Modeling Connectivity: Cultural Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean”. Visit the College of Charleston website for more information.


Introducing Benthos

February 15, 2013 in Benthos, Interest, News, Site Information

benthos1AWMC has launched a Beta version of its new project, Benthos: Digital Atlas of Ancient Waters. This project aims to map not only the physical geography of ancient Mediterranean waters, but also to map cultural and historical information related to transportation, communication, and commerce. The initial sample includes data for Mediterranean ports, shipwrecks, and a preliminary attempt at creating network maps for point-of-origin for some elements of commercial wares that were included in the cargo of sunken ships. AWMC feels that a platform such as Benthos has great potential both as a standalone application, but that its value is increased greatly by interfacing with other cognate projects already online. AWMC welcomes community feedback on this new project, as well as inquiries from potential collaborators and data partners.