Pleiades: News and Views

Tom Elliott (

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February 11, 2016


Harpokration Online

Posted for Joshua Sosin:

About eight months ago we announced a lightweight tool to support collaborative translation of Harpokration—we called it ‘Harpokration On Line.’ See: Well, we took our time (Mack finished a dissertation, John made serious progress on his, Josh did his first 24+ hour bike ride), and as of this afternoon there is at least one rough translation (in some cases more than one) for every entry.
We had help from others; I mention especially Chris de Lisle, whom we have never met, but who invested considerable effort, for which all should be grateful! And many special thanks to Matthew Farmer (U Missouri) who signed on at the moment when our to-do pile contained mainly entries that we had back-burnered, while we chewed through the easier ones!
So, we are done, but far from done. Now begins the process of correcting errors and infelicities, of which there will be many; adding new features to the tool (e.g. commentary, easy linking out to related digital resources such as Jacoby Online or Pleiades, enhanced encoding in the Greek and features built atop that, perhaps eventual reconciliation of text with Keaney as warranted). This is just a start really.
For next year we (Sosin & Duke Collaboratory for Classics Computing) plan a course at Duke in which the students will (1) start translating their way through Photios’ Lexicon in similar fashion and (2) working with Ryan Baumann and Hugh Cayless of the DC3 to help design and implement expanded features for the translation tool. We will welcome collaborators on that effort as well!
So, here again, please feel free log in, fix, add, correct, disagree and so on. Please note that we do handle login via google; so, if that is a deal-breaker for you, we apologize. We have a rough workaround for that and would be happy to test it out with a few folks, if any should wish.
Matthew C. Farmer (
John P. Aldrup-MacDonald (
Mackenzie Zalin (

February 08, 2016

Pleiades Site News

Request for Comment: New Editorial Guidelines

A draft of a new policy document has been posted on Google Docs for review and comment by community members. Please help us perfect it.

December 08, 2015

Pleiades Site News

Pleiades in San Francisco (January 2016)

Members of the Pleiades team will be in San Francisco, CA from 6-10 January, 2016 during the Joint Annual Meetings of the Archaeological Institute of America and the Society for Classical Studies. Would you like to participate in a Pleiades workshop during that time? Please let us know!

October 22, 2015

Pleiades Site News

AWMC to Host "Mapping the Past" Conference

The Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has just released a call for papers for a conference, to be held on April 8-9, 2016, on the applications of mapping and GIS to ancient history.

September 28, 2015

Horothesia (Tom Elliott)

Lightning talk on Pleiades at NEH

Followers of the ISAW News Blog will have seen the recent piece on the award of an NEH grant for new work on the Pleiades gazetteer and the follow-up piece about my intended participation at a meeting of similarly funded project directors. NEH's Office of Digital Humanities intends to post video of all the talks online, but meantime, here are words I read and the slides I showed during the 3 minutes allotted to my "lightning talk". 

Slides are at Slideshare.

I am here today as a representative of the Pleiades community, an international group of volunteers who build and maintain the most comprehensive geospatial dataset for antiquity available today. Like many people in this room, we believe that the study of the past is a fundamental aspect of the Humanities endeavor. It's essential to understanding what it means to be human today, and to envisioning how we might be better humans in the future. Our collective past is geographically entangled: "where" is the stage on which the human drama is played, and it's an important analytical variable in every field of the past-oriented Humanities: history, archaeology, linguistics, text analysis, and so on. We also believe that the places and spaces known to and inhabited by our ancestors are the precious and fragile property of every person alive today, no matter whether we can still see and touch that heritage, or only just imagine it. 
So, scholars, students, and the public need free and open data about their ancient geography. They need it in order to learn about the past, to advance research, and to inform conservation. They also need it to connect digital images, texts, and other information across the web, regardless of where that information is created or hosted. Unsurprisingly, these same individuals have the collective skill and energy necessary to create and improve geographic information, if only we can put good tools in their hands.
That's what Pleiades does. It combines web-enabled public participation with peer review and editorial oversight in order to identify and describe ancient places and spaces. It continuously enables and draws upon the work of individuals, groups, and their computational agents as a core component of a growing, public scholarly communications network. 
And now, thanks to the Endowment, its reviewers, and the National Humanities Council, we have the opportunity to supercharge that network. Responding to recent adjustments in the guidelines for the digital humanities implementation grants, we requested funds to retool Pleiades. A decade of growth and diversification has left our web application underpowered and unreliable even as more users and external projects look to Pleiades as a source of information and a venue for publication. We need more power to address the most urgent needs articulated by the community: accelerated content creation and review, faster dissemination and discovery, display support for phones and tablets, expanded spatial and temporal coverage, flexible modeling of spatial relationships, comprehensive and customized access and preservation. 
Thanks to NEH, we can continue going where no daughters of Atlas have gone before!

May 13, 2015

Pleiades Site News

Elizabeth Robinson joins editorial board

Pleiades has a new associate editor: Elizabeth Robinson

March 31, 2015

Pleiades Site News

Mapping Spartacus: Using Pleiades in the Classroom

Pleiades provides geospatial data to dozens of digital projects, but it can also be used as a pedagogical tool in the classroom. Students in Sarah Bond's 'Ancient Financial Crisis' class used Pleiades data and the AWMC's Antiquity À-la-carte tool in order to make maps of the sites involved in the Third Servile War (73-71 BCE) led in part by Spartacus, and then mapped the course of the slave rebellion through the terrain of Republican Italy.

March 26, 2015

Pleiades Site News

PhD opportunity on ‘Abstract Mapping for Ancient and Contemporary Cities’

New opportunity at the University of Kent, with potential for funding.

November 27, 2014


Round table: Linking Ancient People, Places, Objects and Texts

Linking Ancient People, Places, Objects and Texts
a round table discussion
Gabriel Bodard (KCL), Daniel Pett (British Museum), Humphrey Southall (Portsmouth), Charlotte Tupman (KCL); with response by Eleanor Robson (UCL)

18:00, Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Anatomy Museum, Strand Building 6th Floor
King’s College London, Strand London WC2R 2LS

As classicists and ancient historians have become increasingly reliant on large online research tools over recent years, it has become ever more imperative to find ways of integrating those tools. Linked Open Data (LOD) has the potential to leverage both the connectivity, accessibility and universal standards of the Web, and the power, structure and semantics of relational data. This potential is being used by several scholars and projects in the area of ancient world and historical studies. The SNAP:DRGN project ( is using LOD to bring together many technically varied databases and authorities lists of ancient persons into a single virtual authority file; the Pleiades gazetteer and service projects such as Pelagios and PastPlace are creating open vocabularies for historical places and networks of references to them. Museums and other heritage institutions are at the forefront of work to encode semantic archaeological and material culture data, and projects such as Sharing Ancient Wisdoms ( and the Homer Multitext ( are developing citation protocols and an ontology for relating texts with variants, translations and influences.

The panel will introduce some of these key projects and concepts, and then the audience will be invited to participate in open discussion of the issues and potentials of Linked Ancient World Data.

September 11, 2014

Pleiades Site News

AWMC Launches Online Strabo's Geography Map

This interactive web application was designed to accompany Duane W. Roller’s new English translation of Strabo, just out from Cambridge University Press.

August 29, 2014

Pleiades Site News

Ryan Horne Assumes Co-Managing Editor Role

The Pleiades Editorial College is pleased to announce that, concurrent with his role as Acting Director of the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ryan will work with Tom Elliott to manage the day-to-day and strategic operational aspects of Pleiades.

August 13, 2014

Pleiades Site News

Sarah Bond joins editorial board

Pleiades has a new associate editor: Sarah E. Bond.

August 08, 2014

Pleiades Site News

Pleiades 2 Final Report

The Pleiades 2 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities ended in April 2014. A copy of the final report submitted to the NEH has been posted on the Pleiades website.

Stuart Dunn on Santorini

A blog post about the challenges of documenting changing volcanic landscapes in a digital gazetteer.

August 07, 2014

Pleiades Site News

Studying Identities in Rome and its Empire

A call for papers has been issued for a proposed colloquium sponsored by the Roman Provincial Archaeology Interest Group at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America in New Orleans. The deadline for 500-word abstracts is February 21, 2014.

Richer Names Listings for Places

Pleiades place pages now provide more summary information for associated names.

New Pleiades Plus Matches Pleiades with GeoNames

Pleiades Plus is an experimental machine alignment between Pleiades place resources and content in the GeoNames Gazetteer.

Maintenance Downtime: May 29, 2014

Pleiades will be down for approximately an hour tonight.

Geographies of the Ancient City: Lessons to Learn from Diachronic Comparisons

A second call for papers has just been issued for this session at the Annual International Conference of the Royal Geographical Society (London, August 2014). Deadline for 300-word proposals is February 3, 2014.

The Ancient Near East in Pleiades

We have recently accessioned some data derived from the Tübinger Atlas des Vorderen Orients (TAVO) by an external project. Here is the status of the work, some context, and a call for volunteers.