»Treasuring Maps« – An Autobiography of Ephesos (TreMAE)

The Treasuring Maps project investigates the role of maps within the field of archaeology by analyzing the way archaeologists traditionally have used maps to visualize space. Instead of viewing maps as measurable truths, TreMAE digs deeper to understand the narratives and data that have led to the development of specific cartographic traditions. Through the case study of Ephesos, TreMAE will evaluate the maps created of the site since its discovery as a way of illustrating how the study of Ephesos evolved over time as well as how conventions for the representation of sites in maps continue to influence archaeological research.

TreMAE takes advantage of current digital methodologies in order to deal with the large quantity of data collected by the Austrian Archaeological Institute (OeAI) on the site of Ephesos. The project entails the creation of an openly accessible, curated corpus of Ephesos maps ranging from the very earliest 17th century topographic representations to modern geographic information systems. This includes collecting all maps, gathering additional information about every map, such as creator, year of production, and the annotation of place names on the maps with the Recogito tool by Pelagios Commons. In collaboration with Rainer Simon from the Austrian Institute of Technology these annotations will be reworked into a gazetteer and expanded with information extracted from the most seminal publications on Ephesos which are currently being digitized through the CELSUS project. The urban gazetteer will experiment with methods of joining the dense spatial information characteristic of urban environments and enriching the toponyms with spelling variants, alternate names, and their English and Turkish translations.

In addition to toponyms, maps also encode large amounts of information and illustrate the relationships between geo-spatial entities. By building on the gazetteer as well as the existing geographic information system of Ephesos, the Research Division Cartography of the Technical University of Vienna will explore ways of semantically modeling archaeological map content so that the information can be made available for computational analyses and visualizations. Ontological models (such as CIDOC-CRM, OGC, W3C, ISO) will supply the structure for describing maps and thus ensure the interoperability with other open geo-spatial knowledge systems.

The project will reevaluate the basis for our current understanding of the Ephesian landscape while also laying the foundation for new lines of spatial inquiry by linking objects, publications, and archaeological documentation on the basis of their geo-spatial and temporal context. Furthermore, it is the first attempt at organizing the disjointed and heterogeneous data from Ephesos so that the dispersed archival collections on Ephesos held by the OeAI can be digitally reconnected for new meaningful knowledge discovery.