Sitting in your college classics lecture, did you ever wonder where, exactly, the ancient cities of Luna or Velathri were? Now, you can zoom around this huge, detailed map of the ancient world labeled with cities from all sorts of archaeological records, classical text references and European imagery.
The map is the result of the PELAGIOS (Pelagios: Enable Linked Ancient Geodata in Open Systems) Project. Their website explains:
Pelagios are a collective of projects connected by a shared vision of a world – most eloquently described in Tom Elliott’s article ‘Digital Geography and Classics’ – in which the geography of the past is every bit as interconnected, interactive and interesting as the present. Each project represents a different perspective on Antiquity, whether map, text or archaeological record, but as a group we believe passionately that the combination of all of our contributions is enormously more valuable than the sum of its parts. We are committed to open access and a pragmatic lightweight approach that encourages and enables others to join us in putting the Ancient World online. Pelagios is just the first step in a longer journey which will require many such initiatives, but we welcome anyone who shares our vision to join us in realising it.
As part of their open data philosophy, they’ve made available all the information behind the giant map. Here are the data sets that the project pulled from. And there are lots of ways you can explore the map, developed by people all over the world. Here’s a Pelagios heat map showing the density of annotations at each place. And there are widgets and APIs as well to make adding data easy. But don’t feel bad if all you want to do is click around and explore the ancient world.
More from Smithsonian.com: