Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris
(2012). On using a digital text in modern humanities research: the case of Herodotus’s Histories.
In: Mahony, Simon and Dunn, Stuart eds.
Digital Classicist Supplement: Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies.
Wiley-Blackwell, (In Press).
Involving the collaboration of researchers from Classics, Geography and Archaeological Computing, and supported by funding from the AHRC, HESTIA (the Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Imaging Archive) aims to enrich contemporary discussions of space by developing an innovative methodology for the study of an ancient narrative, Herodotus’s Histories. Using the latest digital technology in combination with close textual study, we investigate the geographical concepts through which Herodotus describes the conflict between Greeks and Persians. Our findings nuance the customary topographical vision of an east versus west polarity by drawing attention to the topological network culture that criss-crosses the two, and develop the means of bringing that world to a mass audience via the internet. In this paper we discuss three main aspects to the project: the data capture of place-names in Herodotus; their visualization and dissemination using the web-mapping technologies of GIS, Google Earth and Timemap; and the interrogation of the relationships that Herodotus draws between different geographical concepts using the digital resources at our disposal. Our concern will be to set out in some detail the digital basis to our methodology and the technologies that we have been exploiting, as well as the problems that we have encountered, in the hope of contributing not only to a more complex picture of space in Herodotus but also to a basis for future digital projects across the Humanities that spatially visualize large text-based corpora. With this in mind we end with a brief discussion of some of the ways in which this study is being developed, with assistance from research grants from the Google Digital Humanities Awards Program and JISC.
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