Archæology

The assorted finds of Artefact Publishing

Germanic migrations project

For a few days now I have been itching for a new project to dedicate myself to. Perhaps a foolish feeling, given that the academic year commences in a few weeks and I’m sure I’ll be kept more than busy enough by course work and paid employment. However, in doing preparatory reading for the linguistics paper Danish and Comparative Germanic, I struck gold. For those that don’t know, there were hundreds of different Germanic tribes, and it seems that barely a year went by from 300–800AD when at least one of them was not busy moving around in a not infrequently successful attempt to take over Europe. It is confusing trying to keep track of all of it without a map. Or rather, many maps.

It occured to me that really what would be better than a set of discrete maps is a program which will show an animation of the various movements, with a facility to select parts of Europe/individual tribes/particular time periods, and also to show primary source references for particular events, etc. Nothing strained or bizarre, just a collection of data from which different views can be assembled.

This leads me to small rant about how much better children’s books tend to be at presenting information than books for adults. Children’s books tend to have an abundance of graphics complementing the text, and these are often extraordinarily effective, much more so than large amounts of text. One example I recall has lush colour illustrations of buildings in South America (Mayan, perhaps?), with a partially transparent overlay — with the overlay down the illustration was of the building intact in an exterior view. Lift up the overlay, and you get to see part of the interior. Marvellous! Then I read an academic book which has six small, poorly labelled black and white maps to cover the entirety of Germanic and pre-Germanic movements from the time of the last ice age.

So anyway, I have to go and start this project. What fun!

Posted by jamie on February 7, 2004 16:18+13:00

Comments

Just make sure there is no Waldo anywhere to be found

Posted by: sue on February 7, 2004 23:42+13:00

Jamie, when I am rich, I shall endow you with a hardbound collection of the works of Tufte.

Posted by: stephen on February 9, 2004 10:24+13:00

You mean The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information and Visual Explanations? Sitting right here on my shelf, though not the latest edition of the first volume. No doubt I shall be refering to them, and various cartography texts, extensively during this project (which I expect shall take me a good while — though perhaps the worst of it will be making SVGs of the multitude of areas. That and assembling the data and figuring out how to deal with the gaps in that data.

But thank you for the thought!

Posted by: Jamie on February 9, 2004 15:31+13:00

Ahh, yes. I got work to buy me that one.

Posted by: Alan on March 8, 2004 16:43+13:00