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Google explores geography of ancient world

Southampton, UK: Google, Inc. via its Digital Humanities Awards Program funded USD 50,000 to the  Google Ancient Places (GAP) project, led by the University of Southampton. The project aims to explore how people of antiquity viewed the geography of the ancient world.

GAP is an international collaborative research project between the University of Southampton (Dr Leif Isaksen), The Open University (Dr Elton Barker), the University of Edinburgh (Dr Kate Byrne), University of California, Berkeley (Dr Eric Kansa) and independent developer Nick Rabinowitz. This Digital Humanities Research Grant is the second round of funding GAP has received from the Google Research Awards Program, and will allow the team to expand their project to a wider variety of books and texts. 

Under the GAP project, researchers developed a web application which allows users to choose a classical text or book (500BC – 500AD) and then search for references to ancient places within it, presenting the results in a user-friendly interface.

GAP uses specialist software to identify where and how often places are mentioned within a text, displaying references to the locations and plotting results on a map using an independent digital gazetteer (Pleiades).

Dr Leif Isaksen, Project leader, and Southampton Digital Humanities specialist explained, “A GAP user can not only see how an author’s narrative moves from place-to-place, but also how a town or city’s relative importance varies throughout a historical text.

“We hope it will interest scholars and users with a general interest in antiquity alike.”

Source: University of Southampton