Network, Relation, Flow: Imaginations of Space in Herodotus' History

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Classics Faculty

Abstract

Conceptions and representations of space are currently undergoing a fundamental transformation thanks to the technical possibilities afforded by new forms of multimedia software. This project will employ some of these new technologies in order to foster new insights into the treatment of spatial formations and relationships in Herodotus' History. It will explore different methods of representing geo-spatial data sourced from ancient texts, while interrogating the manner in which Herodotus' chosen medium impacts on the imagination of space in the narrative.

The study of space in antiquity tends to be restricted to archaeological survey or analyses of dramatic performance: little work has been done on the narrativisation of space in literature. This lack of interest is particularly pronounced in the case of Herodotus, despite the fact that space features prominently in his narrative, in terms of both its tracing of Persian expansion, and the author's own investigative journey around the world he writes.

There are at least two other reasons why a study of space is important for thinking about Herodotus' History. First, Herodotus occupies a position on the margins of Greek culture, not only by virtue of coming from Halicarnassus (modern-day Bodrum) on the Ionian coast of Asia Minor, but also because he writes down his narrative: in a world dominated by spoken words in public, Herodotus' text stands ideologically distinct from the media of his broader community, and presents an unprecedented opportunity to explore the difference writing has on the way space is conceived. Second, the manner in which Herodotus puts together his text also allows different possibilities for thinking about space. Recent scholarship has demonstrated the composite nature of his narrative: he includes stories and accounts from a wide variety of sources. Since, notionally at least, these accounts represent the views of a particular individual or group, it should be possible to isolate and evaluate the various notions of space different individuals or groups possess, as well as to consider the ways in which Herodotus ties them together.

Thus, this project will seek to identify, detail and investigate the various ways in which space is represented and conceived in Herodotus' History. Its working hypothesis is that Herodotus presents a notion of space which is experienced rather than abstract; that different groups represented in the text 'imagine' space through different perspectives; and that the Mediterranean world he describes may be characterised in terms of networks, relations and flows rather than any notion of a centre. Proof will derive from two methods. First, a narratological analysis will explore the disjuncture between the primary narration of Herodotus and the character-texts of his individual agents, and assess how space works in context as the narrative unfolds. Second, a geo-referenced database will be compiled to plot Herodotus' spatial co-ordinates on a modern-day map with hyperlinks to the data recorded in the History. The results from both the textual analysis and the geo-database will be used to construct a series of different topological representations of the spaces conceived in the text. This will help crystallise the skein of relational connections between places contained in the text, creating network maps that are radically different from standard, topographical-based maps. By these means Herodotus' world-view will be introduced to a new and wider audience via the internet and a series of publications.

Publications

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Chris Pelling (2010) Herodotus and Samos: The 2010 Barron memorial lecture in Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies

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Elton TE Barker (2011) Colloquium: Digital technologies: Help or hindrance for the humanities? in Arts and Humanities in Higher Education

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Elton TE Barker (2010) Mapping an ancient historian in a digital age: the Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Image Archive in Leeds International Classical Studies

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
AH/F019459/1 01/09/2008 01/07/2009 £66,724
AH/F019459/2 Transfer AH/F019459/1 01/07/2009 31/07/2010 £39,476
 
Description Involving a team of researchers from Classics, Geography and Computing, Hestia analyses spatial data embedded in Herodotus's Histories in order to reconstruct the geography of a literary narrative. Challenging the usual abstract Cartesian mapping of the ancient world, Hestia draws attention to the connections between places underpinning Herodotus's narrative. The results eschew schematic spatial distinctions in favour of conceptual model based on networks and flow.
Exploitation Route Hestia's experimental use of new technologies to visualise and analyse geospatial data in a narrative may be of use for the wider community (public agencies, high-tech industries and educationalists) interested in data visualisation, especially of geospatial concepts, and the challenge of making sense of 'messy data'.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/hestia/
 
Description Tools and methods that we have developed have led to a collaboration with Google (http://googleancientplaces.wordpress.com/) and have been used in classrooms both at university (http://hestia.open.ac.uk/reading-herodotus-spatially-in-the-undergraduate-classroom-part-i/) and at school (http://hestia.open.ac.uk/hestia-meets-a-virginia-us-high-school-latin-class-part-i/). Key intellectual outcomes have also contributed to policy discussion by various international bodies, including The Scholarly Communications and Information Technology (SCIT) Program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the workgroup on Information Visualisation in the Digital Humanities for the European Science Foundation-funded Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities, and the workgroup on Research Communities and Research Infrastructures in the Humanities, European Science Foundation Standing Committee for the Humanities.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

 
Description Follow on funding (Hestia 2: Reading Texts Spatially)
Amount £64,084 (GBP)
Funding ID Follow-on funding 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 07/2013 
End 06/2014
 
Description Geospatial Engagement and Community Outreach programme (Pelagios)
Amount £44,006 (GBP)
Funding ID Geospatial Engagement and Community Outreach programme 
Organisation Jisc 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2011 
End 11/2011
 
Description Google Digital Humanities Research Grant (Google Ancient Places phase 2)
Amount £30,988 (GBP)
Organisation Google 
Sector Private
Country United States of America
Start 01/2012 
End 04/2014
 
Description Google Digital Humanities Research Grant (Google Ancient Places)
Amount £21,689 (GBP)
Funding ID Google Digital Humanities Award 
Organisation Google 
Sector Private
Country United States of America
Start 10/2010 
End 12/2011
 
Description Resource and Discovery programme (Pelagios phase 2)
Amount £153,496 (GBP)
Funding ID Resource and Discovery programme 
Organisation Jisc 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 12/2011 
End 07/2012
 
Description Scholarly Communications and Information Technology (Pelagios 3: Early Geospatial Documents)
Amount £311,352 (GBP)
Organisation Andrew W. Mellon Foundation 
Sector Private
Country United States of America
Start 09/2013 
End 08/2015
 
Title A database has been compiled from the digital text of Herodotus 
Description A database of place names in the Histories of Herodotus, openly available online here: http://hestia.open.ac.uk/database/data_view.php?ftr_mode=standard&retftrset=4 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The database is part of a suite of open educational resources openly available here: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/classical-studies/herodotus-the-histories 
URL http://hestia.open.ac.uk/database/data_view.php?ftr_mode=standard&retftrset=4
 
Title The Perseus digital text of Herodotus was converted from TEI P4 to P5 and was subject to intense data cleaning 
Description The text of the Histories of Herodotus has had all place names annotated 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact The text is part of a suite of open educational resources available here: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/classical-studies/herodotus-the-histories 
URL http://www2.open.ac.uk/openlearn/hestia/index.html#index
 
Description Collaboration with Connected Past group 
Organisation University of Southampton
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developing network analysis methods for qualitative research in the humanities, social sciences and other groups (including local government and cultural heritage institutions).
Collaborator Contribution Hosted a one-day workshop and invited speakers from a range of US, Europe and UK universities, as well as representatives from local government, English Heritage and Ordnance Survey.
Impact The collaboration is multi-disciplinary: Classical Studies, Archaeology, History, Geography, Data Science.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration with Stanford Literary Lab 
Organisation Stanford University
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developing methods of data visualisation and analysis for research in the humanities, social sciences, and the digital economy.
Collaborator Contribution Organised a two-day workshop working with humanities and social science groups, with invited contributions from the digital economy and information services.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary with contributions from Classical Studies, English, History, Geography, Archaeology, Digital Humanities, Library studies, Data Science.
Start Year 2013
 
Description Google Ancient Places 
Organisation University of California, Berkeley
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developing an automated means of discovery places in texts and then visualizing them in a single-page application.
Collaborator Contribution Helped to develop the means of extracting place name data from texts and of visualising the results in a single-screen interface.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from Classical Studies, Archaeology, Informatics and Design.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Google Ancient Places 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department School of Informatics Edinburgh
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developing an automated means of discovery places in texts and then visualizing them in a single-page application.
Collaborator Contribution Helped to develop the means of extracting place name data from texts and of visualising the results in a single-screen interface.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from Classical Studies, Archaeology, Informatics and Design.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Google Ancient Places 
Organisation University of Southampton
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Developing an automated means of discovery places in texts and then visualizing them in a single-page application.
Collaborator Contribution Helped to develop the means of extracting place name data from texts and of visualising the results in a single-screen interface.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from Classical Studies, Archaeology, Informatics and Design.
Start Year 2010
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation Austrian Institute of Technology
Country Austria, Republic of 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation English Heritage
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation Free University of Berlin
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation German Archaeological Institute
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation Heidelberg University
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation King's College London
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation Ordnance Survey
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation The British Library
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation Tufts University
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation University of Leipzig
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Pelagios 
Organisation University of Southampton
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Providing guidelines and schema for annotating, cataloguing and visualizing references to ancient places, and assisting people working with ancient world data to make their resources more discoverable, accessible and usable to other researchers and the general public.
Collaborator Contribution Revising their data standards and formats to join our infrastructure network.
Impact This collaboration is multi-disciplinary, with contributions from all humanities disciplines, geography, data science, technology.
Start Year 2011
 
Description A workshop on approaches to the geospatial analysis of documents and artefacts 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This workshop explored the potential of innovative spatial networks and linked data techniques for research and work in the higher education, public and cultural heritage sectors, and facilitated knowledge exchange among the participants, including representatives from different disciplines (classics, geography, computer science), local government and other organisations (such as Ordnance Survey).

The workshop was recorded and has led to a number of enquiries about the use of network analysis and linked open data. A number of the participants reported a change in view and expressed interest in further collaboration of this kind.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://hestia.open.ac.uk/a-seminar-on-approaches-to-geospatial-analysis/
 
Description Data Visualisation in the Humanities, workshop for the AHRC-funded CHASE consortium's 'Going Digital' project 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The workshop provided examples of data visualisation and gave a critique of their use, particularly in the Humanities. It sparked a lot of debate and enabled the participants to try out different visualisation techniques for themselves.

A number of the attendees provided follow-up communications and changed the way that they were thinking of using data visualisation in their PhD studies.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Telling stories with maps: a workshop on the geoweb, qualitative GIS and narrative mapping 
Form Of Engagement Activity Scientific meeting (conference/symposium etc.)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation workshop facilitator
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact This one-day workshop, which explored the intersection of GIS technologies and qualitative data, provided an opportunity for knowledge exchange between different disciplines, such as: geography, Classics, law, English literature, Japanese literature, sociology.

Since the workshop many participants have expressed how they have changed their working practice and adopted new technologies for their studies. See for example one participant's response on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?id=245859704390&v=wall&story_fbid=10152460823249391), a summary of the twitter feed on storify (https://storify.com/moacir/telling-stories-with-maps), and the project's youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-wupYMc_xZkTn_Czy34BJQ).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://hestia.open.ac.uk/telling-stories-with-maps/