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The Space Race: Outreach through Maps, Spatial Analysis, and Ancient Geography

Sarah Bond

University of Iowa

As mediators between the past and the present, maps are a means for understanding antiquity in new ways. Yet what can you even do with linked data for over 35,000 ancient places, locations, and names? Pleiades.stoa.org has a few answers. The gazetteer, which began as a means of digitizing the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (2000), grows daily and provides extensive coverage for the Greek and Roman world. It is also expanding into Ancient Near Eastern, Byzantine, Celtic, and Early Medieval geography. In Pleiades workshops, we  introduce the Pleiades community to participants. Editors will walk participants through the history and layout of the gazetteer, discuss the popular contribution and review of our linked geodata, and then help participants make a map of sites within the ancient Mediterranean. Persons at all levels of experience (from "interested" to "expert") are welcome to participate and to contribute at no charge… just like the Pleiades project itself. As this paper explores, GIS and mapping workshops function as a practical way of speaking to students, teachers, and the broader public about the creation and use of maps in the study of classical antiquity.

As as coda to this paper, I shall address the tension between using open source content management systems (CMS) like Pleiades and publishing on proprietary CMS like JSTOR, among the more important issues facing a new era in classical studies (and in all the humanities for that matter). My own choice is always for open source CMS, which I believe is not merely an economical decision, but also an ethical one, and one that speaks directly to the kinds of outreach that can and should be done for classical studies today. It is my hope that this last point will generate a good deal of discussion on our panel, and I look forward to hearing the thoughts of the SCS membership.

Session/Panel Title

New Outreach and Communications for Classics: Persons, Places, and Things

Session/Paper Number

4.6

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