Resources for Teaching Ancient Geography

Making Maps

Antiquity À-la-carte“The Antiquity À-la-carte application is a web-based GIS interface and interactive digital atlas of the ancient world, featuring accurate historical, cultural, and geographical data produced by the AWMC in addition to the entire Pleiades Project feature set. The map is completely searchable with customizable features, allowing for the creation of any map covering Archaic Greece to Late Antiquity and beyond. AWMC welcomes feedback from community members on the experience of using the application and welcomes suggestions and comments. Click here ... to launch the map application. This application works best with Firefox, Chrome, or Safari. All site content and maps are released here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC 3.0) license.”

Big Ancient Mediterranean: A project that marries texts, network analysis, and ancient geography. It currently allows you to see the people and places in the Book of Luke within the module Terra Biblica–built to house texts connected to early Christianity–and to explore a map of Latin authors. Project PIs are Sarah Bond, Paul Dilley, and Ryan Horne.

CartoDB: “is a Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud computing platform that provides GIS and web mapping tools for display in a web browser. CartoDB users can use the company’s free platform or deploy their own instance of the open source software. CartoDB is offered as freemium service, where accounts are free up to a certain size. For larger accounts, a fee is applied.[1] It was first released in Beta at FOSS4G in Denver in September 2011,[2] and officially debuted as a final release at Where2.0 in April 2012.” (Description via Wikipedia)

GPS Visualizer“GPS Visualizer is do-it-yourself mapping, for both beginners and power users. Its strengths are its simplicity and flexibility in terms of input, and its enormous number of options regarding the output. When you upload your GPS data, GPS Visualizer will automatically detect what kind of file it is and process it accordingly. The output can be in the form of Google Maps, KML files for Google Earth, JPEG maps, SVG drawings, elevation profiles, plain-text tables with all your raw data, or GPX files that can be used with many other GPS-related applications. Moreover, all of the maps and profiles can be adjusted in innumerable ways using the options on the input forms: you can change the size, the colors, the background map, etc. In the case of Google Maps, there is even more you can do to edit your map after it’s been created, if you’re comfortable with HTML and/or JavaScript.”

Google Earth and Google Earth Pro: Google Earth reads and produces a file called KML. “KML, or ‘Keyhole Markup Language’, is an XML grammar and file format for modeling and storing geographic features such as points, lines, images, polygons, and models for display in Google Earth, Google Maps and other applications. You can use KML to share places and information with other users of these applications. You can find example KML files on the KML Gallery and Google Earth Community site that describe interesting features and places.”

Harvard World Map: “WorldMap is an open source web mapping system that is currently under construction. It is built to assist academic research and teaching as well as the general public and supports discovery, investigation, analysis, visualization, communication and archiving of multi-disciplinary, multi-source and multi-format data, organized spatially and temporally. The first instance of WorldMap, focused on the continent of Africa, is called AfricaMap. Since its beta release in November of 2008, the framework has been implemented in several geographic locations with different research foci, including metro Boston, East Asia, Vermont, Harvard Forest and the city of Paris. These web mapping applications are used in courses as well as by individual researchers.”

Leaflet: “Leaflet is a modern open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps. It is developed by Vladimir Agafonkin with a team of dedicated contributors. Weighing just about 33 KB of JS, it has all the features most developers ever need for online maps. Leaflet is designed with simplicity, performance and usability in mind. It works efficiently across all major desktop and mobile platforms out of the box, taking advantage of HTML5 and CSS3 on modern browsers while still being accessible on older ones. It can be extended with a huge amount of plugins, has a beautiful, easy to use and well-documented API and a simple, readable source code that is a joy to contribute to.”

LEGO Build with Chrome: is a web application that allows users to explore and build a world of digital LEGO creations. A collaboration between Google Chrome and The LEGO Group, Build with Chrome was originally developed by a team of Google Australia developers for the LEGO Festival of Play. In January 2014, the Google Chrome team opened up Build with Chrome to everyone and added features such as the ability to sign in with a Google Plus account to help you find builds that people in your circles have created, a new categorization system for completed builds, and Build Academy.” (Pulled from Lego.Wikia)

MapBox: “is one of the biggest providers of custom online maps for major websites such as Foursquare, Pinterest,Evernote, the Financial Times and Uber Technologies.[2] Since 2010, it has rapidly expanded the niche of custom maps, as a response to the limited choice offered by map providers such as Google Maps.[2] Mapbox is the creator of, or a significant contributor to many popular open source mapping libraries and applications, including the MBTiles specification, the TileMill cartography IDE, the Leaflet JavaScript library, the CartoCSS map styling language and parser, and the mapbox.js JavaScript library.” (Description via Wikipedia)

Pelagios Project: A great tool for geography and for finding material culture for a certain area. It plugs you into the linked open data network for antiquity–e.g. inscriptions, ceramics, coins, and archaeological remains. Via the Pelagios Blog: “The aim of [the] work with Pelagios has been to create a static (non-layered) map of the ancient places in the Pleiades dataset with the capacity to serve as a background layer to online mapping applications of the Ancient World. Because it is based on ancient settlements and uses ancient placenames, our map presents a visualisation more tailored to archaeological and historical research, for which modern mapping interfaces, such as Google Maps, are hardly appropriate; it even includes non-settlement data such as the Roman roads network, some aqueducts and defence walls (limes, city walls). Thus, for example, the tiles can be used as a background layer to display the occurrence of find-spots, archaeological sites, etc., thereby creating new opportunities to put data of these kinds in their historical context.”

Tools

DIRT: Digital Research Tools“The DiRT Directory aggregates information about digital research tools for scholarly use. It evolved from “Bamboo DiRT”, a version of the directory developed by Project Bamboo, which itself developed out of Lisa Spiro’s DiRT wiki. The DiRT Directory makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software.”

Google Fusion Tables: “Fusion Tables is an experimental data visualization web application to gather, visualize, and share data tables.”

Esri’s StoryMapA video tutorial for using Esri’s Story Maps. Check out Odysseus’ Journey HERE. 

World Atlas: Find Longitude and Latitude: Find longitude and latitude coordinates quickly. Caveat internetor: Ancient places are not this Atlas’ strong point. Go with the Pleiades data.

Free Data 

Data.govDownloadable data from the US government.

Eurogeographics: “EuroGlobalMap is a 1:1 million scale topographic dataset covering 45 countries and territories in the European region.It is now available as opendata. EuroGlobalMap is perfect for use as background to many applications from planning, monitoring and network analysis to presenting environmental policies.”

Pleiades: “Get complete and regular shapshots of all Pleiades resources, available in multiple formats including CSV, KML, and RDF.”

USGS: The National Map: “The Global Map is an international effort by national mapping organizations to produce consistent and accurate mapping data of the world at a scale of 1:1,000,000. The 1997-2014 Edition of the National Atlas of the United States originally supplied all American data to the Global Map. The National Map will continue to publish two data collections at one million-scale: one for Global Map users and one for National Map users. In terms of vector geometry, the lines, points, and areas in these data collections are identical. The difference is in the attributes assigned to these features. The Global Map edition includes just the data fields and attribute values in the Global Map Specifications Version 2.2. National Map vector data includes all of the Global Map data fields and attributes plus those in the National Map data dictionary.”

GIS Classes (Some Free, Some Not So Free)

ESRI Virtual Campus Courses: online, self-paced, step by step lessons that cover a variety of topics related to GIS applications and technology. Currently there are 40+ course selections to choose from that are included with our standard subscription, and many more seminars are available that are free to the public.”

Coursera: “Maps and the Geospatial Revolution”: “This course brings together core concepts in cartography, geographic information systems, and spatial thinking with real-world examples to provide the fundamentals necessary to engage with Geography beyond the surface-level. We will explore what makes spatial information special, how spatial data is created, how spatial analysis is conducted, and how to design maps so that they’re effective at telling the stories we wish to share. To gain experience using this knowledge, we will work with the latest mapping and analysis software to explore geographic problems.”

Classroom Activities 

Google Editable Map: Ask students to contribute to an editable map and place information about themselves on it. This is a great way to start off a class and introduce spatial thinking, maps, layers, and data sharing.

Serpent Column: This activity explore the monument of the “serpent column” and how we can represent inscriptions and other textual sources geographically using Pleiades.stoa.org. The full Pleiades workshop video with this activity is available for viewing HERE.

Mapping Spartacus: Using Pleiades.stoa.org in order to teach the Third Servile War (i.e. The Spartacan War).

Finding Digital Humanities Projects

Centernet: Find Digital Humanities Centers.

HASTAC

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