On several occasions I have blogged on the possibilities of Google Earth and its online spin-off, Google Maps. My last blog on this topic was a bit over half a year ago, when I had some 1700 items available. In the meantime, I have added more than 550 ancient sites to my list, from all quarters of the ancient world. The grand total now is 2375.
Google has obtained better photos of Iran, and as a consequence, I could improve my page with links to satellite photos of ancient sites in Iran. Some errors have been corrected, and on many places you can now see the actual ruins, something that was often impossible. For example, you can now discern the Apadana and Great Gate of Susa, and I was able to spot my favorite picknick site (Gandj Nameh). All this is, to use the phrase you have already heard a million times today, “a giant leap forward”. I was impressed by the Zoroastrian shrine at Takht-e Suleyman. and the ziggurat of Choga Zanbil, both of which have become visible only now.
Sometimes, you can see that the people at Google are still working on it. This photo of the Persian Gate shows an imperfect match on precisely the place where the Macedonians were trapped by Ariobarzanes.
If you are interested in downloading my masterfile (which runs on Google Earth, not Google Maps), you can download it from Jim West’s blog, here. Why Jim rebaptized it “biblical”, I don’t know; in any case, the masterfile has markers from Pakistan to Scotland and from Morocco to Ukraine.
As I already announced, I am moving several pages of my website, using the opportunity to revise and update them a bit. This weekend’s harvest consists of four Roman sites:
- Gheriat el-Garbia: one of the main forts of the Limes Tripolitanus
- Gheriat esh-Shergia: a fortified farm, which also belonged to the Limes Tripolitanus
- Italica: three pages on the Roman town near modern Seville, birthplace of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian
- Tarraco: the first Roman military base in Spain
I am back from Iran, and in spite of an unpleasant incident in Shiraz, I have never had such an easy trip. I even found some time to translate three Dutch articles into English:
- Maximalists and Minimalists: What to do when archaeology and written sources offer contradictory information? The problem has been addressed most explicitly by scholars studying the rise of Judaism. They distinguish two approaches: “maximalism” means that you prefer the written record and introduce auxiliary hypotheses to explain why the archaeological evidence you need is not there, and “minimalism” is the opposite. The labels can be explained in other branches of ancient history too, like ancient Media and Caesar‘s campaigns in Belgium.
- Lost Legacy. Eastern roots of western civilization: English summary of my next book, which will appear in a week or two; the original title is Vergeten erfenis. Oosterse wortels van de westerse cultuur and it’s published by Athenaeum – Polak & Van Gennep.
- Why the Dutch are Becoming Restless: English summary of my little book Polderdenken, a history of the Dutch consultation culture. This is slowly disappearing – new styles of leadership are being introduced – and this creates unrest.
During the weekend, I added several new brief articles on ancient Iran, which will not surprise the regular visitors of this little blog: the reliefs at Sar-e Pol-e Zahab, the rock tomb at Dukkan-e Daud, the Median fortress at Tepe Nush-e Jan, the excavation of Anšan, and some new photos of Istakhr.
I also wrote a brief review of William A. Simmons’ beautiful Peoples of the New Testament World. An Illustrated Guide (2008), added several links to my list of Google Earth sites, inserted links to the LacusCurtius text of Polybius‘ World History, and uploaded some photos.
Postscript 7 May: The first review of my book is there! I’m delighted. It’s here, and of course it’s in Dutch.
This blog’s page with links to ancient sites on Google Earth belongs to the best visited pages; there are now some 780 links, and I hope to find an opportunity to update it soon, because some of the links to webpages about the sites have, in the meantime, moved. For those specialized in the ancient Near East, the list of 1300 sites presented by the Institutionen för lingvistik och filologi of the University of Uppsala is useful.
Update: my own list of ancient sites updated: all links fixed, and several added. You can still find it here, although it will move in the not too distant future.