Gregory Mumford on Old Kingdom Collapse in Huntsville

The North Alabama Society of the Archaeological Institute of American kicks off its 2009-2010 lecture season tomorrow as follows:

We begin our new archaeology lecture series with a fascinating discussion of the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt for which evidence from Egyptian fortifications in the Sinai is particularly revealing. Dr. Gregory Mumford will share his extensive knowledge of the Old Kingdom and how he employs both satellite data and traditional excavation in his
analyses of its collapse.

Wednesday, September 9
Dr. Gregory Mumford
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Enemy at the Gates: The Collapse of the Old Kingdom in the Sinai
7:30 PM
Chan Auditorium, Business Administration Building, UAH

Please also mark your calendars for talks on representations of children during the wars between ancient Athens and Sparta on October 14 and on Gothic cathedrals on November 11.

To get more information about upcoming events  as well as keep up with current news in archaeology, please see our website:

NEH Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship

From Bethany Nowviskie:

The Scholars' Lab at the University of Virginia Library is now accepting applications for an NEH-funded "Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship," to be held in Charlottesville, Virginia in November 2009 and May 2010.

This program will bring together humanities scholars, software developers, and librarians and other cultural heritage professionals to discuss and develop geospatial tools, content, methods, policies, and infrastructure, in the context of open source and open access. Thirty-one leading academics, developers, and higher-ed administrators serve on the faculty and advisory board of the Institute.

The National Endowment for the Humanities will support travel, working meals, and lodging for 40 attendees as well as Institute faculty members. Special funding is available for graduate students. The University of Virginia Library will also fund up to 5 short-term scholar- and developer-in-residencies at the Scholars' Lab to complement the Institute's focus on humanities GIS.

Three four-day Institute tracks are planned:

15-18 November 2009:
Track 1: Stewardship (for library, museum, GIS and digital humanities center professionals)
Track 2: Software (for Web developers, designers, systems administrators, and information scientists)

25-28 May 2010:
Track 3: Scholarship (for humanities scholars, advanced graduate students, and post-docs)

Application DEADLINES are September 1st (for Tracks 1 and 2) and December 1st (for Track 3). Special consideration will be given to those who apply as part of an institutional team, as the curriculum is designed to foster robust technical and social infrastructure, at a local level, for geospatial scholarship in the digital humanities.

Apply to attend at the URL above, and please help distribute this message widely!

Determining BAtlas IDs for future Pleiades interoperation

For those who are working with datasets they'd like eventually to link up with Pleiades, we created the Barrington Atlas ID scheme. I've just posted some more tools for helping you determine the BAtlas IDs to go with your existing geographic names or other information.

There's now a draft "Barrington Atlas Index with Identifiers". In PDF (watch out: 7.2 MB) it looks like:

It's also available in a 1.0 MB zip-compressed HTML version, with somewhat semantic class attributes on spans that could be used to parse out different themes ahead of an attempt to match it to a names list:

And of course there is already the home-brewed XML format we distributed the original IDs in (last release tar-gzipped archive):

Share and enjoy!

Bagnall on Amheida Excavations (NYC, 17 June 2009)

The American Research Center in Egypt Presents:
Roger Bagnall
NYU Excavations at Amheida
Date: Wednesday, June 17th
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 15 E 84th St., New York, NY 10028, Second Floor Lecture Room

Amheida is a vast archaeological site on the western edge of Dakhla Oasis in Egypt. A team of researchers led by Dr. Roger Bagnall, Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU, began the Amheida Project in 2001 with an intensive investigation and survey of the site.

One of the most spectacular discoveries, near the center of the town in Area 2, is the house of Serenus, who was part of the city council in the middle of the 4th century. The structure contains fifteen rooms, one of which was painted with classical wall scenes. On the northern wall, to the left of the doorway, a mythological scene depicts the legend of Perseus rescuing the beautiful Andromeda who is about to be devoured by a sea-monster, while to the right of the door is the Homeric scene of the Return of Odysseus to Ithaca, from his long voyage which brought him to Egyptian shores.

The site at Amheida will be part of a long-term scheme for the Dakhla Oasis Project. Please join us for a presentation and discussion on Amheida and its archaeological significance.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please be sure to RSVP to For more information on the lecture and other ISAW events, please visit: You may also contact the ISAW events office directly at 212.992.7818. For press inquiries, please contact Suzan Toma at

Determinationes, past and present

Determinatio is a Latin term (Greek: ἀφορισμός or ὁροθέσια) for the written, serial description of boundaries, produced as necessary by Roman surveyors and routinely included in the verdicts of Roman (pro-)magistrates and iudices when settling boundary disputes.

Here's an example, dating to the early second century CE:

Serving as proconsul of either Achaia or Macedonia, Q. Gellius Augurinus delivered the following verdict in a boundary dispute between the Thessalian communities of Lamia and Hypata (mod. Ypati). His ruling was subsequently inscribed, and was first recorded by modern scholars in 1855 in the Greek village of Myxiates, where the stone had been reused in building a house.

CIL 3.12306; ILS 5947a; IG IX/2 p. 19 (before no. 60); CIL 3.586; Henzen 1856; Smallwood 1966 447. See also: Stählin 1924, 220-222; RE s.v. Hypata.

Q(uinto) Gellio Sentio Augurino proco(n)s(ule) decreta / ex tabellis recitata kalendis Martis. Cum optimus maximusque princeps / Traianus Hadrianus Aug(ustus) scripserit mihi uti adhibitis menso/ribus de controversiis finium inter Lamienses et Hypataeos cognita causa / terminarem egoque in rem praesentem saepius et continuis diebus /5 fuerim cognoverimque praesentibus utriusque civitatis defensoribus, / adhibito a me Iulio Victore evocato Augusti mensore, placet initium / finium esse ab eo loco in quo Siden fuisse comperi, quae est infra con/saeptum consecratum Neptuno, indeque descendentibus rigorem ser/vari usque ad fontem Dercynnam, qui est trans flumen Sperchion, it[a ut per] /10 amphispora Lamiensium et Hypataeorum rigor at fontem Dercynn[am supra] / scriptum ducat et inde ad tumulum Pelion per decursum Sir [---] / at monimentum Euryti quod est intra finem Lam[iensium --- ] / [---] Erycaniorum et Proherniorum [---] / [---] thraxum et Sido [---] /15 [---] const [ ------

Translation (mine):

Verdicts recited from the tablets when Quintus Gellius Sentius Augurinus was proconsul, on the kalends of March. Since the best and greatest princeps, Trajan Hadrian Augustus, wrote to me that, once surveyors had been consulted concerning the boundary disputes between the Lamienses and the Hypataeoi, and the case had been investigated, I should make a boundary demarcation; and, since, in the case at hand, I was present often and for successive days, and I investigated with the defenders of both cities being present and with Iulius Victor, evocatus of the emperor, a surveyor, being consulted by me, let it be that the start of the boundary be from that place in which I have learned Side was, which is below the enclosed area consecrated to Neptune; and thence in descending to preserve a straight line all the way to the spring (called) Dercynna, which is across the river Sperchion, so that a straight line leads through the amphispora of the Lamienses and the Hypataeoi to the above-mentioned spring Dercynna; and thence to the tumulus (called) Pelion along the slope (called) Sir... to the monument of Eurytos which is within the boundaries of the Lamienses ...
This same genre is still in use in legal property descriptions in the United States today. I stumbled across another example this morning in the revised Huntsville downtown planning and zoning document, now awaiting approval by the city council (ARTICLE 23 GENERAL BUSINESS C-3 DISTRICT REGULATIONS, pp. 9ff):

Within Historic District Buffer Zone B, the maximum number of stories shall be four (4) stories with a maximum height of sixty (60) feet.

Historic District Buffer Zone B is defined as the property that lies within the following boundaries: Begin at the the intersection of the centerlines of Clinton Avenue and Monroe Street/Lincoln Street; then in a southerly direction along the centerline of Monroe Street/Lincoln Street to the intersection of the centerlines of Lincoln Street and Randolph Avenue; then West along the centerline of Randolph Avenue to the intersection of the centerlines of Randolph Avenue and Green Street; then South along the centerline of Green Street to the intersection of the centerlines of Green Street and Eustis Avenue; then West along the centerline of Eustis Avenue to the intersection of the centerlines of Eustis Avenue and Franklin Street; then South along Franklin Street to the intersection of the centerlines of Franklin ... [ it goes on and on, of course! ]

Truly, a morning of geekish glee for me ...

Thanks to James at the Huntsville Development Blog for posting the link.

Unraveling the Mysteries of Ancient Angkor's Water Management System

Tuesday, April 28, 6 pm
2nd floor lecture room
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
15 East 84th St.
New York, NY 10028

Dr. Dougald J.W. O'Reilly
Department of Anthropology, Yale University

A presentation on research undertaken by the Greater Angkor Project exploring the development and decline of this ancient civilizations water management network. Since 2001 the University of Sydney (Australia) researchers and their partners have been working to unravel the mysteries of the Angkorian network - an achievement that is often overshadowed by the scores of massive temples that dot the landscape. Dr O'Reilly, a member of the research team, will present the work done to date and present future research at Angkor.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please be sure to RSVP to For more information on other ISAW events, please visit: You may also contact the ISAW events office directly at 212.992.7818.

Another Persian Crisis: the Persepolis Fortification Archive in Chicago

A public lecture

Friday, April 24, 12 noon
2nd floor lecture room
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
15 East 84th St.
New York, NY 10028

Matthew W. Stolper
Professor of Assyriology, John A. Wilson Professor of Oriental Studies in the Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago

Matthew W. Stolper is the Director of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project. In 1933, Oriental Institute archaeologists working at Persepolis, clearing the ruined palaces of Kings Darius, Xerxes, and their Achaemenid Persian successors, found tens of thousands of clay tablets in a bastion in the fortification wall at the edge of the great stone terrace. These documents were pieces of a single, complex system, the Persepolis Fortification Archive, that proved-after decades of painstaking work-to be the largest and most important single source of information from within the Persian Empire on Achaemenid Persian languages, history, society, religion and art. Now, the Archive faces a legal battle that could well lead to its dismemberment and loss if it is seized and sold, and disappears into the holdings of private collectors around the world. Fueled by this crisis the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project is a new phase in recording and distributing the results of the study of the archive, responding to emergency conditions with electronic equipment and media alongside the conventional tool-kits of philology and scholarship.

A summary of the project is available on the website of the Oriental Institute (

Background and news of the project and the controversy are available at the Persepolis Fortification Archive Weblog (

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please be sure to RSVP. For more information on other ISAW events, please visit: You may also contact the ISAW events office directly at 212.992.7818.

Publishing Archaeological Data on the Web (New York, 14 April)

Two Public Lectures on Publishing Archaeological Data on the Web

Sebastian Heath, Ph.D. (American Numismatic Society)
Eric Kansa, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley)

Date: 14 April 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 15 E 84th St., New York, NY  10028, U.S.A. (lecture room)

Heath: Digital Publication and Linked Data at Troy

The Post-Bronze Age Excavations at Troy in Turkey, known as Ilion in the Greek and Roman periods, have begun a program of publishing ceramic vessels and coins from the site in digital format. Our goal is to provide the information in formats that are useful to archaeologists in the field and to students or anybody else interested in this material. Accordingly, all the files that make up these publications are available for download under Creative Commons licenses. Anybody can take this information and redistribute it for free. We are also working to express the inherent links within archaeological information. A user reading about pottery from North Africa found at Troy can easily link to secondary literature and internet resources that will increase their understanding of this material. We likewise hope to make such links discoverable by search engines as well as by researchers working on the digital processing of humanities resources.

Kansa: Open Context: Digital Dissemination of Field Research and Museum Collections

Publishing archaeological field data and primary documentation has received increasing attention and concern. Archaeological sites are threatened and archaeological methods themselves are often destructive. Often, excavation and survey records represent the only aspect of the archaeological record that can be preserved. This is especially worrisome, since so much of this documentation is in vulnerable, volatile digital formats. In addition to cultural heritage preservation issues, archaeologists often want to use pooled primary field documentation as a resource for investigation. Research may be enhanced by simplifying and speeding access to such documentation, or even by comparing across the results of multiple studies.

In an attempt to respond to these needs, several initiatives are exploring several approaches toward digital dissemination. Open Context ( is an open source system that provides a cost-effective dissemination solution for field research and museum collections. The system offers integrated access and services across datasets pooled from multiple research projects and collections. A long-term development goal is to help link field research and museum collections with active discussions and creative reuses, making these collections a much richer and integral part of continued cultural and scholarly production. Citation features and editorial control encourage researchers to consider publication in Open Context as a valid form of scholarly communication. At the same time, Creative Commons licenses give explicit permissions for users to freely and legally use the material so long as they properly attribute the original creator and abide by a few other optional terms.

A major challenge with Open Context’s approach lies in data integration and mapping different source data sets to Open Context’s common global structure. Open Context aims to provide Web-based tool for researchers and collections managers to upload, "markup" and publish diverse archaeological and museum collection datasets. It remains to be seen if this tool can be easy enough to use by individual contributors, or if trained staff will always be required to aid such markup.

John Hessler on Physical and Epigraphical Remains of Roman Centuriation and Surveying in Tunisia (25 February 2009)

By way of Lawrence Summers' post to the MapHist list, I just learned of the following public lecture, to be given by John Hessler at the Library of Congress on the 25th of February, 2009:

John W. Hessler, a senior reference librarian in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, will present "In the Footsteps of Caesar: Searching for the Physical and Epigraphical Remains of Roman Centuriation and Surveying in Tunisia" at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 25. The lecture will be held in the Geography and Map Reading Room, in the basement level of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Geography and Map Division, the event is free and open to the public; tickets and reservations are not required. The lecture is part of the division's "Map Talk" series.

In his lecture, Hessler will provide a brief description of the cartography and surveying techniques employed by the Romans in North Africa; a description of a sixth-century manuscript known as "Corpus Agrimensorum," which spells out how the Romans surveyed their territories; and a travel log describing his search for the physical remains of Roman surveying practices in Tunisia and Southern France.

There is more than one "TimeMap" in the geohistorical software space

Guest blogging at the Google Geo Developer's Blog, UC Berkeley's Nick Rabinowitz details his TimeMap Javascript library that:

helps the Google Maps API play nicely with the SIMILE Timeline API to create maps and timelines that work together
This is not to be confused with the older TimeMap family of software components (some now open-sourced), originally built by the Archaeological Computing Laboratory at the University of Sydney under the direction of Ian Johnson.