Harvard scholars prepare Medieval Atlas

Harvard scholars prepare Medieval Atlas


US: A team of Harvard professors, graduate students and undergraduates prepared a Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations (DARMC)—an interactive online database that gives students and scholars access to a wealth of previously unavailable information. The team is also planning to allow free downloads of all its basic data sets.

According to medieval historian Daniel L. Smail, DARMC is “particularly useful” because the field of medieval studies “is so scattered.” Smail added, “Something like the digital atlas has an added value as it gives us statistical correlations that we couldn’t see before.”

For the undergraduates involved in this project, it provided a chance to conduct real historical research with a senior Harvard professor.

The atlas claims to provide analysis on “all aspects” of Western Eurasian civilisations in the first 1500 years of modern history—covering subjects such as the Roman road network, the voyages of the Crusades and the path of the rats that spread the bubonic plague.

In the 1990s, history professor Michael McCormick first conceived this idea while working on a book on communication and commerce. At one point, in order to understand the circuitous route the Vikings took in their various explorations, McCormick wanted to see the world as it would have appeared to medieval Norsemen. But no such maps were available with or without a Scandinavian focus.

After several years, McCormick received a small amount of funding from the Office of the Provost to create maps that would supplement his undergraduate course on the Roman Empire. After a trial run with those maps proved successful, McCormick and his team began to create maps for his other courses. Later, McCormick won USD 1.5 million distinguished achievement award from the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, which has funded large portions of the project.

Source: The Crimson