The Pausanias Project – Documenting the Material World

The 2nd Century AD Roman traveler, Pausanias, toured the eastern Mediterranean describing the antiquities he saw along his route for unfamiliar audiences.  The Pausanias Digital Heritage Project attempts to emulate the work of Pausanias in a digital venue through the reconstruction of archaeological sites and their related cultures.  Like Pausanias, the project focuses on a multi-disciplinary methodology and provides a single portal for diverse data sets, such as 3-D reconstructions of sites and monuments, images of relevant archaeological features, primary documents, and secondary literature.

The Pausanias Digital Heritage Project (initiated by Rollins College in 2010) is an interactive tool for the study of the ancient world predicated on the integration of visual and spatial data with primary texts and interpretive analysis.  The project (currently in its pilot phase) will eventually provide scholars, students, and visitors to major world archaeological sites and museums with free real-time virtual guides linked to relevant ancient texts and an online encyclopedia comprised of user-generated content.  The material will appear in formats available via the World Wide Web, as well as on mobile platforms such as iDevices and Android.

As professors in the classroom, we are already constantly confronted by the desire of our students to conduct research via online tools, yet our students, and newcomers to the study of the Classical World in general, frequently do not have the background to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources of information.  A major component of the Pausanias Digital Heritage Project, The Pausanias Encyclopedia, seeks to remedy this difficulty by constructing an authoritative online resource.  The Pausanias Encyclopedia, like sites such as Wikipedia, consists of user-generated content (allowing for the relatively quick compilation of data on the cultures of antiquity) while employing a two stage peer-editing process that will ensure the accuracy of the information contained therein, thus creating a trustworthy online resource that seeks to update and complement standard print materials such as the Oxford Classical Dictionary and Brill’s New Pauly without the hefty price tag charged for the online versions of these reference works.

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