The Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project. A new resource for Pompeii, a new model complex for classical sites
Posted on 05 November 2013
Talk: Eric Poehler (UMass, USA), “The Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project. A new resource for Pompeii, a new model complex for classical sites”.
Date: Tuesday, 05 November 2013
Time: starting at 18:00 c.t. (i.e. 18:15)
With funding through both the NEH Digital Humanities’ Start-Up grant program and the ACLS Digital Innovation Fellowship, the Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project is working to create a unique resource for the study of ancient Pompeii: an exhaustive subject repository searchable through a GIS map. The Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Resource (PBMR) is a web-based research tool composed of three parts: 1. Bibliographic Database and Full-Text Document Repository, 2. Geographical Information System (GIS) and 3. User Interface. Because Pompeii lacks both a single, searchable bibliography and a standard, up-to-date map, the creation of a resource that solves these problems and simultaneously offers new and powerful search methods will revolutionize research on the ancient city. At base, the PBMR affords the user the ability to navigate Pompeii’s landscape and discover an extensive account of the information about that location, including (but not limited to) name, type, images, size and bibliography. The GIS provides a powerful mapping tool that can generate custom maps for diverse user groups. Users working on a particular building can create both overview and detailed maps to illustrate their study, which would be based on information provided by the PMBR as a research tool. The most powerful use of the PBMR is as an analysis tool, as a means to simultaneously ask a series of questions and receive data-rich answers. The PBMR allows the user to vacillate between spatial analysis tools and bibliographic analysis tools, a process that produces results impossible to achieve in any other method. To illustrate this point, imagine the results of a search for “House / Casa / Haus / Maison”: hundreds of citations appear along with locations highlighted in the map. Of course, these results are practically impossible to use. The spatial analysis tools can filter these results by the area of each house (e.g., between 100m2 and 400m2), limiting the results to ‘average’ sized houses. These results can be further refined, such as publication year, to find houses most recently investigated. Finally, the user might once again choose a spatial characteristic to get at a still more nuanced picture of these houses. For example, she can search the refined results for those houses that ‘touch the boundary of’ or ‘contain’ a shop or workshop. The final results, produced in the matter of minutes rather than weeks, reveal the instances of and provide extensive documentation for those residences of average size that were most recently investigated and likely had a commercial profile.
Although focused on the novel means of delivering the scholarship of a particular archaeological site, the anticipated users will not be limited to the academics who study that site. Similarly, the specific content of the project – Pompeii – will not limit its application by other aspects of classics or other subjects in the humanities. We believe that presenting this resource at the Digital Classicist Seminar, while still in development, to an international group of classics scholars will provide crucial feedback from one of the most important user groups.