Telling stories with maps: digital experiments with Herodotean geography

Barker, Elton; Isaksen, Leif and Ogden, Jessica (2016). Telling stories with maps: digital experiments with Herodotean geography. In: Barker, Elton; Bouzarovski, Stefan; Isaksen, Leif and Pelling, Chris eds. New Worlds from Old Texts: Revisiting Ancient Space and Place. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 181–224.



This chapter presents some initial attempts at exploring digital technologies for examining Herodotus’s Histories geospatially. The basis of this study was a digital copy of Herodotus’s Histories from the Perseus classical library: Isaksen and Barker here discuss the process of data cleaning and aggregating the repurposed text, and sketch out the configuration of the geo-referenced database, which stores the spatial co-ordinates of all place-names, their precise references in the narrative, and their categorization (as settlements, physical features or territories). With such a database, some of the ways in which Herodotus’s discursive model can be represented and explored visually are then demonstrated, using different kinds of web-mapping technologies, such as: (i) Geographical Information Systems (GIS), through which spatial concepts in the Histories can be queried and visualized; (ii) a KML ‘Google Earth’ layer that provides users with full English and Greek citations of references to locations in the Histories; and (iii) a narrative Timeline that shows locations appear and ‘fade from memory’ as the ‘reader’ moves along it. As well as discussing the advantages of and challenges posed by these varying visualizations,

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