To study such formative and widespread civilizations as Greece and Rome without reference to adequate maps may seem blind folly. Yet throughout the present century this has been the predicament of everyone who studies classical antiquity. In the 1980s an attempt to supply the vital missing tools in line with modern scholarship and technology was at last initiated by the American Philological Association under the direction of Prof. Richard Talbert at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

This project to create the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World called for extensive planning and lengthy production stages. Princeton University Press will issue the work in September 2000. MapQuest.com (Lancaster, Pa.) assisted in the Atlas design, produced the award-winning specimen map, and continues as cartographic supplier, using the most up-to-date technology available for map development and production.

The folio volume offers 99 maps in color extending over 175 map pages (mostly double spreads), and ranging from the British Isles to the Indian subcontinent and far up the Nile Valley. A Map-by-Map Directory with concise expository text and detailed reference materials forms an essential reinforcement for scholars, to be issued both in print and on CD-ROM.

The physical bases for the maps are the best obtainable, derived from U.S. National Imagery and Mapping Agency charts at four standard scales ranging from 1:150,000 to 1:5,000,000. The modern landscape is returned to its ancient appearance, and classical cultural data added, by an international team of over 70 scholars, all of them established experts on their areas in antiquity. Every compilation is also confidentially reviewed by a second expert not otherwise engaged on the project.

Thus the appearance of the Atlas will mark a twofold beginning. First, as a comprehensive, affordable and attractive reference tool, it will restore a fundamental dimension to the study of the ancient world. No classical atlas with remotely comparable coverage has been completed since 1874, and the best currently available offers a mere 30 map pages. Meantime, over a century of intense research and exploration awaits effective presentation in map form. For most areas no attempt at anywhere near this project’s uniform scales has ever been made. The Atlas will be a revelation, therefore, displaying the classical world as never before, and opening up fresh perspectives and avenues for investigation. Its appeal will be truly international and interdisciplinary. Specialists worldwide in most ancient civilizations of Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia should find it indispensable, as should historical cartographers, archaeologists, students, and travelers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

  1. When will the Atlas and Directory be published? September 2000.
  2. How much will they cost? Special pre-publication orders cost between $250 and $350 (US), depending on options chosen. For details, and to reserve your copy, please see Princeton University Press’ Barrington Atlas page.
  3. Can I place orders now? Yes. Please see Princeton University Press’ Barrington Atlas page.
  4. What will be included in the Atlas and Directory? Please see the Examples page.
  5. What timespan does the Atlas cover? From approximately 1000 B.C. to around A.D. 640. This span begins from the disappearance of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations in Greece. At the end, Rome’s eastern empire is on the verge of collapse, and the evidence for both western and eastern affairs tails off abruptly thereafter. The Atlas is designed primarily as a reference tool for Greek and Roman studies. So within the millennium and a half covered by it the representation of any region reflects only the period for which it was occupied by Greeks or Romans, or had significant contact with them.
  6. Explain the terms ‘vicar’ and ‘compiler’. For immediate supervision of map compilation the classical world is divided into ten segments, each assigned to a leading scholar who is referred to for convenience by the Late Roman administrator’s title of vicarius or ‘vicar’. Each map and all the data for its accompanying Directory are prepared by an expert ‘compiler’ who has a thorough knowledge of the physical and cultural landscape of the area during classical antiquity.
  7. Can I contribute to the funding of the project? How? Yes, the project still needs to raise the final $50,000 – $100,000 of its estimated total cost to completion of approximately $4 million. Contributions of any size are most welcome, and may be made through either the American Philological Association or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill . Normally they are tax-deductible. Please write to:

         Executive Director, American Philological Association, New York University, 19 University Place, Room 328, New York, NY 10003-4556,


       Project Manager, Classical Atlas Project CB 8110, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-8110.
  8. Can I make a contribution now and receive a free copy of the Atlas on publication? Attractive as this option may seem to prospective donors, for various reasons it is much less so for the Project, and therefore is not available.
  9. Are there opportunities to see proofs of maps being produced for the Atlas ? Yes, exhibits are mounted periodically. Please see our News page for information concerning upcoming events.

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