You are browsing the archive for Report.

AWMC Annual Report 2013-2014

June 26, 2014 in Antiquity À-la-carte, API, Interest, News, Pleiades Project, Presentation, Publication, Report, Wall Maps

5-1-13 to 4-30-14 

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

Among the projects undertaken by the Center during this very active year two major preoccupations stand out.  One was the initiative to release a series of publicly accessible map tiles suitable for use in almost any web mapping application or Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software suite (http://awmc.unc.edu/wordpress/tiles/).  This ambitious goal was achieved early in 2014.  Created from data produced by the Center and generously hosted on Mapbox servers courtesy of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University, these map tiles are the first (and, currently, only) geographically accurate base map of the ancient world from Britain to Bactria.  The tiles conform to the broad periodization (Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Late Antique) presented in the Barrington Atlas.  Inland water, rivers, shorelines and other geographical features are returned so far as possible to their ancient appearance. The neutral presentation enables scholars to represent the physical environment of nearly any ancient society within the vast arc of space spanned.   Also early in 2014 the Center released revised tiles of the Roman road network.  All these new map tiles were rapidly adopted by the Pleiades Project (see below) for its web interface, and by the beta version of Stanford University’s ORBIS Project 2.0 (http://orbis.stanford.edu/v2/index.html).

The new tiles are in turn the building blocks for the Center’s beta version of Antiquity À-la-carte 3.0 in preparation (http://awmc.unc.edu/awmc/applications/carte-transitional/).  It should fully replace the current and still-active version 2.0 by the end of next academic year.  Like version 2.0, it is a versatile web-based GIS interface and interactive digital atlas of the ancient Mediterranean world, offering data produced by the Center as well as the entire feature set of its longterm ongoing partner the Pleiades Project (http://pleaides.stoa.org). As with 2.0, users can frame, populate and export maps according to their own design, either selecting the Center’s data or adding their own content, including line work and shading.  In accordance with the Center’s standard operating procedure, all this content is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, permitting free use for non-commercial purposes.

The Center’s other major preoccupation was completion of a seamless, interactive online map to accompany the remarkable new translation into English of Strabo’s massive Geography by Duane W. Roller (The Ohio State University) due for publication in both print and electronic formats by Cambridge University Press in summer 2014.  The map itself is accessible free: http://awmc.unc.edu/awmc/applications/strabo.  The map is built on the Antiquity À-la-carte interface, and has immense coverage because it plots all the locatable geographical and cultural features mentioned in the 17 books of this fundamentally important Greek source – over 3,000 of them, stretching from Ireland to the Ganges delta and deep into north Africa.   In the e-version of the translation, the gazetteer offers embedded hyperlinks to each toponym’s stable URI within the digital module, making it possible to move directly between Strabo’s text and its cartographic realization.  While production of this map inevitably presented the Center with technical obstacles, its success in overcoming them has assisted other mapmaking initiatives.  The opportunity for the Center to incorporate the enormous body of Strabo’s geographic information into its API (http://awmc.unc.edu/api) has also been invaluable.

The Center’s wallmap of Asia Minor in the Roman imperial period at 1:750,000 scale (measuring 4 x 6.5 ft) is a longterm project that has presented even more challenges than the Strabo map.  Fortunately, it has at last been brought very close to completion this year.  Richard Talbert exhibited a near-final draft in Ankara, Turkey, at the conference Pathways of Communication: Roads and Routes in Anatolia from Prehistory to Seljuk Times, where it was so favorably received that the British Institute requested permission to keep it on display.  The Center has begun work on a similar map of the Iberian Peninsula at the same scale.

Mapmaking commissions fulfilled by the Center included two maps for Clifford Ando (University of Chicago) to illustrate his research on the Romans’ pacification of North Africa; one plan of Augustan Rome, three plans of Rome and Constantinople in the fourth century AD, and one overview map of the Mediterranean for the forthcoming monograph Sacred Founders (University of California Press) by Diliana Angelova (University of California, Berkeley); one map of the Sasanian Empire in the third century AD for a Brill monograph by Iain Gardner (University of Sydney); and six maps of Eurasia, the Roman empire, Roman North Africa, the barbarian kingdoms, the Iranian world, and central Asia in the fifth century AD for The Cambridge Companion to the Age of Attila edited by Michael Maas (Rice University).  The Center supplied all 28 maps for the second edition of Mary Boatwright and co-authors, A Brief History of the Romans (Oxford University Press).  In addition, the Center provided an integration of its current map tiles and shapefiles of the Iberian Peninsula, as well as its Peutinger Map files, for the Fall 2013 exhibition at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University, Measuring and Mapping Space: Geographic Knowledge in Greco-Roman Antiquity. The Center also assisted Princeton University Press in the test stages of its innovative re-issue of the Barrington Atlas as an app for iPad 2.0+.

Richard Talbert gave a lecture at the ISAW exhibition, and a keynote address on mapping Asia Minor at the Ankara conference Pathways of Communication.  At the Chicago annual meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America, Steve Burges (now a graduate student at Boston University) presented a paper “The creation of the Forum Romanum: Three-dimensional mapping and Rome’s flood-prone valley,” incorporating research he had done at the Center for his UNC senior honors thesis last year.  In Chapel Hill, Ross Twele, Ryan Horne and Michael Heubel were chosen to make a presentation at the Historical GIS Student Showcase in April.  The Center also made a poster presentation on Antiquity À-la-carte and its Strabo map for University Research Day.

As hoped, several students who had been working most productively at the Center returned to continue this year.  Ryan Horne again played a major role by taking the lead in the release of all the new map tiles, in the ongoing work on Antiquity À-la-carte 3.0, and in solving the difficulties of presentation faced by the Strabo and Asia Minor maps.  Ray Belanger further expanded the Center’s geodatabase of physical and cultural features derived from the Barrington Atlas.  Luke Hagemann incorporated Greek place names into the database and cross-referenced Strabo’s toponyms with Pleiades IDs.  Two undergraduate students and one graduate (Lindsay Holman) were recruited: Audrey Jo revised the Center’s shoreline geodatabase especially in regions where marked change has occurred since antiquity.  Michael Heubel created a new geodatabase of polyline extents and labels for regions, peoples, tribes and physical features.  Lindsay expanded the geodatabase of rivers courses, in particular to classify them at distinct zoom levels for online viewing.  Audrey, Luke and Ray all graduated, and their loss will be keenly felt, as will that of this year’s exemplary acting director Ross Twele.  He has been tireless, creative, diplomatic, and enviably clear-headed in advancing an array of demanding projects and responsibilities each at a different stage and with its own distinctive needs.  Ross will be succeeded by Ryan Horne.

Ross Twele

Richard Talbert

Share

AWMC Annual Report (2012-2013)

June 10, 2013 in Interest, News, Report

photoOverview

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.

Technology

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.

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 (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.

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.

Personnel

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

Share

AWMC 2011-2012 Report

May 24, 2012 in Report

Please click here to view the Center’s annual report of activities and accomplishments.

Share

AWMC 2010-2011 Report

August 22, 2011 in Report

Please click here to view the Center’s annual report of activities and accomplishments.

Share

AWMC 2009-2010 Report

June 30, 2010 in Report

Please click here to view the Center’s annual report of activities and accomplishments.

Share

AWMC 2007-2008 Update

September 15, 2008 in Report

The Center is pleased to provide you with an update on our activities from the 2007-2008 academic year. This update can be found here.

Share