Please Note: DARMC is currently undergoing a thorough technical update.
To ensure data access during this transition period, we are keeping the current version online
while the known technical issues are addressed. Thanks for you patience!
The Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations (DARMC) makes freely available on the internet the best available materials for a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) approach to mapping and spatial analysis of the Roman and medieval worlds. DARMC allows innovative spatial and temporal analyses of all aspects of the civilizations of western Eurasia in the first 1500 years of our era, as well as the generation of original maps illustrating differing aspects of ancient and medieval civilization. A work in progress with no claim to definitiveness, it has been built in less than three years by a dedicated team of Harvard undergraduates, graduate students, research scholars and one professor, with some valuable contributions from younger and more senior scholars at other institutions. For more details on who we are, please see the People page.
In a first phase, DARMC offers a series of maps and geodatabases bearing on multiple aspects of Roman and medieval civilization in the broadest terms. We have drawn on the cartographic achievements of our predecessors, most notably from Richard J. A. Talbert’s magnificent Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (2000), the remarkable fruit of an international research effort. DARMC includes the majority of the cultural features of the Barrington Atlas at a higher level of geographic accuracy and detail. We build on that achievement and continue it in close collaboration with Pleiades, the online gazeteer and bibliography of classical sites. As such DARMC will allow spatial access of new clarity, functionality and ease to the rich textual data assembled in Pleiades. Conversely, the written materials synthesized in Pleiades can be envisaged in their full spatial and visual dimension in DARMC.
DARMC’s coverage begins under the Roman empire and extends nearly a thousand years toward the present by encompassing the medieval world. Although the initial post-Roman focus has been on medieval Europe, Byzantium and the Crusades have not been neglected, and we have begun to include the essential third leg of the tripod of medieval civilization, the Islamic world.
DARMC contains dozens of data layers in several geodatabases, that is, databases whose data is georeferenced or specified in terms of decimal degrees of latitude and longitude. They should prove useful to students, professional scholars and scientists, as well as to learned amateurs and curious minds of all descriptions. Here one can find the Roman road networks, bridges, aqueducts, the cities and settlements of the empire, Roman military installations, the shrines, mines, and villas that already appeared in the Barrington Atlas and in other similar research tools. [See Bibliography.] But here one can also follow the rise and fall of the main kingdoms, empires, and principalities of medieval Europe, the offices of the great trading federation of the Hanseatic League, the spread of Cluniac monasticism, the medieval universities, the transmission of the Black Death. DARMC locates the episcopal sees of the late Roman empire, Byzantium, and medieval Europe; Europe’s ecclesiastical provinces and the dioceses of medieval France have been drawn according the best approximations we can find. Although we make no claim at perfection, we have endeavored to locate places as accurately as appropriate for historical purposes, and our young and enthusiastic team members have geocorrected the locations of thousands of sites using Google Earth. Here too we offer for online use a number of completely new research geodatabases built by members of our team. They range from a geodatabase of the movements and laws issued by the late Roman emperors as analyzed by Otto Seeck to the new geodatabases of Roman and medieval shipwrecks, of written evidence for late Roman and early medieval climate events, of the dossiers of over 3000 Latin saints lives, of archaeologically documented rat bones and so on, created by our collaborators. For more details on these, their contents, structures and bibliographies, please see the Maps page.
Begun in 2007, the web-based version was constructed with ESRI’s ArcGIS software products. We expect that DARMC will continue to grow, as generous colleagues prepare new materials which can be added to those already up and available on the web. Those who are interested in contributing such materials should contact darmc[at]harvard.edu. We hope that as DARMC grows through time, its contribution will recognized as of a piece with the other signal advances of Harvard University’s Center for Geographic Analysis for the free flow of new scholarly and scientific data around the globe, along with Africa Map and the Historical Atlas of China.