Walter Scheidel to Speak on Maps and the Roman World

March 18, 2013

Walter Scheidel will be visiting the University of Virginia on March 25 as part of the UVa Digital Humanities Speaker Series. He will speak at 3:30pm, Monday, March 25, in Minor Hall Auditorium. A reception will follow.

His talk, titled “Redrawing the Map of the Roman World,” will use the Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World (ORBIS) to rethink how maps can convey a rich data such as the consequences of distance in a pre-modern empire. Critical tasks for a government — communication and transportation — become increasingly expensive and time-consuming in a larger state. ORBIS’s interactive database integrates geographic, economic, environmental, and technical data sets, allowing users to reconstruct the time cost and financial expense associated with a wide range of different types of travel in antiquity. The model is based on a simplified version of the giant network of cities, roads, rivers, and sea lanes that framed movement across the Roman Empire and broadly reflects conditions around 200 CE, as well as a few sites and roads created in late antiquity.

This talk explores the new possibilities for maps making complex arguments and visualizing the impacts of rich data sets. The possibilities presented here could be useful to scholars who wish to present rich data over spans of geographic space and over time.

Dr. Scheidel is the Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History, and Chair of the Department of Classics at Stanford University. He recently co-edited The Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean and The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Economy. His research takes comparative and trans-disciplinary approaches to the study of the pre-modern world, with a particular focus on ancient social and economic history.

The UVa Digital Humanities Speaker Series is a collaborative effort by the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities (IATH), SHANTI, and the UVa Library Scholars' Lab.