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  • Writer's pictureArpit Shah

Go back in time with Stanford's Orbis

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

From my Twitter feed I got to know about this wonderful mapping project - Orbis: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman Empire -

Essentially, it tries to show us how difficult and how big an achievement it would have been to run a mega kingdom / empire spanning 3 continents prior to the advent of technology. Not only can one see how long would it have taken to travel from Point A to Point B using modes of communication at that time (donkey, carriage, ship), but also one can see how expensive (in local currency denarii) it would have been to make that journey i.e. both the time and cost parameters are expressed.

One can only imagine the effort gone into making this mapping project a reality. At a basic level, it is like a computer game to play around with, for the history aficionados (click on Start Exploring the Roman World to begin). At a Geographic Information System (GIS) level, the project depicts how beautifully one can assimilate complex transport and network data onto a palatable visual illustration i.e. a map. I presume the Romans would have loved to see this visual depiction! It would have helped in better planning, more conquests and ultimately, more victories.

Have fun exploring Orbis!


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