Saturday, March 10, 2018

Icons for the Mycenaean Atlas Project

Three years ago when I first began to develop the Atlas of theMycenaean Bronze Age, I had an image in mind of a landscape scattered with icons that indicated what was found where.  I wanted a picture of the landscape of the Bronze Age.  Of course the work of specifying actual locations for Bronze Age find spots came first.  And up until now the web site has simply displayed orange paddle icons for any find whether it was a palace or a single potsherd.  It looked like this:

Not very helpful to be confronted with a map that was thickly populated with this icon because each icon had to be clicked on before you could tell even roughly what it was.

Now I’m pleased to announce that I have implemented a full range of pictorial icons that give some idea what a particular find is.  First is the ‘habitation’ icon

Currently this will be used to designate any habitation, house, building, palace, etc.

The artifacts icon will be used to symbolize any site from which the most significant finds consist of more than sherds.  So axes, blades, figurines, pins, loom weights, etc. will be symbolized with this:

This icon depicts a sword, an ax-head, and a psi-figurine.

Cemeteries will be symbolized with this icon:

Chamber Tombs will by symbolized like this:

…and tholoi like this:

Mounds, tumuli, and magoulas are symbolized with a mound icon:

Generalized vases finds are depicted like this:

Sites that are characterized principally by sherds use this icon:

Now that I have them displayed it appears that the quality is poor and the images blurry.  Remember that the originals are 32 pixels square and have been grossly enlarged to be visible in this post.   They look much better when displayed on the map.  Here's a map of Achaea with all the icons showing:

I think this makes a nice addition to the site and gives it a more intuitive appearance and feel.

There are some cautions:

First, many sites can be characterized in a multitude of ways.  Sites can be habitations, have mounds of sherds, and incorporate burials.  What icon do I use in that case?  I have attempted to use an icon that accounts for the preponderant importance of the site.  In the previous case I would use a habitation icon since the idea of habitation is probably the most important thing about that site.  There are, on the other hand, many sites which are indicated by an abundance of sherds and which are thought to have been sites but with no other evidence than the just sherds.  In that case I would probably use the sherds icon.  

So the icons are just indicators.  They're an attempt  to make the landscape more intuitively understandable but keep in mind that a single icon cannot and will not fully characterize the site. 

Aside from that the new icons operate in exactly the same way that the old ones did.  They feature tool-tips and an info box with a link to a full page report on the site.  There are still a few of the old orange paddle icons around.  These are for sites such as caves, wells, walls, etc. for which no new icons have been designed.

There have been no icon changes for the modern features.  They are still shown by a red paddle with an 'F' on it.

Here's another example - a map of the Argolid and southern Attica in the LHIII:

Software elements on the website have been updated to support the new icons.

In addition to the icons there is a new database which was delivered on March 2, 2018.  It adds sundry minor corrections as well as thirty new sites, primarily in Crete.  The new DB is rev 0053.

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