Delos as a Mediterranean network?

Mapping historical cultures dates before the term digital humanities became established, most notably through the method of cartography, the practice of drawing and studying maps. Traditional print cartography for research and educational purposes is currently being transformed by digital multi-layered, ‘deep’ maps.  The application of digital cartography has further expanded historical understandings of place, culture, and society as geographical networks. While traditional print cartography can only visualize place as static geometries on a map, digital platforms provide a capacity for updates, different mapping tiles and interactivity. Digital maps can therefore display the dynamics of space and time within texts and other data sources.

Within the Digital Periegesis project we took a small case- study, everything that Pausanias refers to when it comes to Delos, a small island in the middle of the Aegean, right below Mykonos.

Caption 1: Google maps,  displaying Delos

We have visited the island upon acquiring the project grant to see how its cultural heritage monuments is represented. The island is not inhabited, but is indeed an archaeological site, with excavations and guide tours conducted by the Greek government and the French Archaeological School in Athens.

Upon arrival, we were handed a paper guide that served as a map of the site.

Captions 2 and 3: A digital scan copy of the map that was created as a catalogue of the island in Delos by the Greek ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Overall, the map guide concentrates on what is on the island of Delos visually, while using a narrative analysis of the relation of delos to other places.

After annotating all Pausanias’s references in Delos in Recogito, following a simple annotation scheme that concentrates on place and people as place (proxies) we were able to see the relation of the island to other places in the Mediterranean. Using QGIS, we were able to visualize all the other places that Delos is connected to as static points on a map.


Caption 4: A QGIS rendering of Delos and associated places.

We had to make some creative adjustments, for example, we mapped the mythical Hyperborians by analogy somewhere up north… above Britain in the ‘Hyperborean Ocean’

Also note that a lot of our relations have to do with war and conflict but also with religion, as Delos is the island that during the classical times was connected to Apollo’s cult, alongside Delphi and Didyma, but also connected to Kalaureia, Poros, which according to Pausanias used to be a cult site for Apollo as Delos was Poseidon’s in the mythical past.

Caption 5: a simple recogito visualization of our tags of Delos.

Next, we will annotate the relations of those places to Delos, using Gephi, a social visualization network- more anon!