Project title: Cross-cultural AfterLife of Classical Sites (CALCS)
Grantees: Valeria Vitale and Gabriel Bodard
Home Institution: Institute of Classical Studies (University of London)
Shortly after the end of what we call the Classical Period, and before the Latin Middle Ages or Renaissance, the Islamic world took control of huge swathes of the former Empire, and held parts of it for many centuries; Iberia and Sicily were Arabic-speaking for hundred of years, and most of the Balkans were part of the Turkish-speaking Ottoman Empire for centuries after the fall of Byzantium. Today, almost half of the former Roman Empire is still made up of countries whose first language are a form of Arabic. Many sources, from mediaeval maps and manuscripts, through Renaissance scholarship, to modern references in academic and popular works in North Africa and the Near East, will be inaccessible to the sort of computational study that Pleiades and Pelagios enable if we do not take into account the Arabic and Ottoman names for sites such as Alicante (أليكانته), Messina (مسينة), Thessaloniki (سلانیك) and Leptis Magna (لَبْدَة). More importantly, this one-sided recording of historical names runs the risk of (inadvertently) perpetuating the myth of European monoculture, the idea that there is an uninterrupted and pure line—politically, geographically, linguistically, genetically—from the grandeur of antiquity to the enlightenment of modern Europe, to which no one but white, Christian, Indo-European speaking people contributed. The inclusion of data from Arabic documents (in Pleiades) and the maps themselves (in Recogito) also helps to highlight the contribution to modern cartography (including some startlingly topological maps) from the Arabic tradition.
Outcomes and Resources:
All the resources developed for the CALCS project are available on Github at https://github.com/DigiClass/CALCS