Anthrographic: A Humanities Visualization Program

Open Access
Author:
Gilliam, Merle C
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Geography
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Roger Michael Downs, Honors Advisor
  • Dr Paul Harvey, Thesis Supervisor
  • Mary Lou Z Munn, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Geovisualization
  • Spatial Humanities
Abstract:
The argument of this thesis is that a relatively easy to use Geographic Information System (GIS) program would be of significant benefit to historians, archaeologists, and other scholars in the humanities and that AnthroGraphics is such a program. To determine the salient features of AnthroGraphic, I interviewed prospective users who were highly knowledgeable in the humanities but without experience in using GIS. The AnthroGraphic program has three components: a data entry interface, a database, and an interactive map display. The database uses a Microsoft SQL Server and consists of tables linked to a simple data entry interface. This interface integrates the Google Geocoding Application Programming Interface (API) that converts addresses to geographic coordinates, thereby enabling points to be placed on the map. The map displays are created by Leaflet, an open source JavaScript library for interactive maps. The prototype map is a visualization of the Romanization of the Etruscans over three centuries as depicted by primary and secondary sources pulled from books and websites. Virtually no data comprising the prototype map originally existed in a tabular form. Users can zoom and pan the map to select an area of interest. The left sidebar displays layers of primary and secondary source layers that users can choose for display on the map. These can change by moving a time slider on the bottom of the screen. The right sidebar enables users to filter display points in each layer by selecting checkboxes that correspond to layer attributes. Clicking on an individual data point brings up a menu which displays images associated with that point as well as information such as textual citations of ancient authors and the relative accuracy of the point’s geographic position. The prototype map demonstrates AnthroGraphic’s usefulness for visualizing and analyzing humanities data. As with any such program, the use of AnthroGraphic over time will suggest ways in which it can be improved.