Pelagios Chapter 3: Early Geospatial Documents
A few weeks ago we trailed that we had some exciting news and now we can finally announce it. Thanks to the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Pelagios is entering a third, even more ambitious phase. We will be extending the Pelagios approach to all early geospatial documents up to 1492 (a game-changing year for the history of cartography). This means that we’ll be dealing with texts and maps, not only from the ancient Greco-Roman worlds, but also the early Byzantine, Christian, Maritime, Islamic and Chinese traditions.
With a digital place index of maps and descriptions of the world in place, researchers and the general public will be able to explore online the historical significance of both famous and obscure places in the history of geography. As just one example, Claudius Ptolemy used London as one of his primary reference points for global time zones in the late second century, just as we do today. While such coincidences may be rare, and many places in early maps and texts are unidentified, or existed only in the popular or religious imaginations, our aim is to help their rich biographies to be told. With such an unprecedented variety of data linked together, it will be possible to trace in broad terms the continuities – and discontinuities – of people’s responses to the world around them. Equally exciting, and thanks to the continuing annotation of data by Pelagios growing community of partners, you’ll also be able to bring together disparate fragments of its life history, its connections with other places, its stories and imagery.