Sunday, October 29, 2017

Modern features now visible on MAP Place Key Report

Some time ago I wrote about the importance of keeping track of modern features even though assembling an atlas of the Bronze Age.

All during the creation of this database I have dutifully kept track of all the modern features which I judged relevant for locating Bronze Age sites; all the various churches, towns, signs, hills etc. which the literature includes in its directions.

Here’s a simple example:

In Simpson [1981] we read this about the site of Ritsona.  ‘The site is a low knoll about 400 m. southwest of Rhitsona and 300 m. west of the road from Thebes to Chalkis.’[1]  The first challenge is to find Rhitsona.  I know that this isn’t hard but I located the town anyway and added it to the ‘Features’ table in the database.  

Now if you look for the site of Ritsona/Mykalessos (C810) you’ll get a Place Key Report.  The map on that Report will now show modern features as well as the site you’re looking for.  These modern features will show up as a red paddle with an ‘F’ on it; the actual BA site has been changed to render as a blue paddle.  The map for Ritsona looks like this:

These new paddles also support tool tips.  That means that if you mouse over the paddle the name of the feature will pop up.  Clicking on these paddles does nothing.  They don't support info boxes although I might add that in the future for the modern feature paddles.

For each site I show features for approximately two kilometers in each direction.  If you zoom out you'll see that the features are limited to places around the sought-for site.  That way they load fast and you don't have to wait for all 3300+ to load.

Each feature has its own unique number, a feature number, which appears in the tool tips.  You can always refer to each feature uniquely.

Keeping track of modern features is an important part of the Atlas both because these modern references are very common in all the literature I've examined and also because locating these modern features helps in a big way to keep the older scholarly literature current.

Until now there hasn't been a way to show these features on the Place Report map.  Now you can see them.


1. Simpson [1981], p. 73, ‘C 34 Rhitsona: Ancient Mykalessos’.


Simpson [1981]: Simpson, Richard Hope. Mycenaean Greece. Park Ridge, New Jersey: Noyes Press, 1981.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Database Release Rev 0.042 for Helladic.Info

Today the website has received a new database: MAP_Rev_0.042__10_23_17_Test

This DB fixes many minor errors and finishes the integration of Banou [1996].  It also adds the following Mycenaean find sites:

Key           Name                                          Lat                     Lon                    Region

C5043 Aetos: Skala 39.572055 20.357397 Epirus
C5044 Anthochori: Agioi Apostoloi 39.738985 21.12192 Epirus
C5045 Hydas/Selimiye 36.704264 28.094181 Caria
C5046 Kadikalesi 37.791729 27.270687 Ionia
C5047 Çine Tepecik Höyük 37.609346 28.01202 Caria
C5048 Perge 36.961157 30.854204 Pamphylia
C5049 Kilisitepe 36.502329 33.553426 Cilicia
C5050 Kinet Höyük 36.853609 36.157014 Cilicia
C5051 Tell Tayinat 36.248157 36.375783 Seleucia
C5052 Ilioupolis/Kara 37.930173 23.762682 Attica
C5053 Munichia: Temple of Artemis 37.939834 23.655682 Attica
C5054 Merenda: Mycenaean Cemetery 37.882438 23.969516 Attica
C5055 Glyka Nera - Fouresi 38.0067 23.849567 Attica
C5056 Nekyomanteion 39.236154 20.534308 Epirus
C5057 Skoura: Melathria: Cem 37.038056 22.498089 Laconia
C5058 Ayios Vasileios 2 36.98242 22.482425 Laconia
C5059 Chrysapha: Panagia Chrysafio. 37.078249 22.529832 Laconia
C5060 Chrysapha: Palaikastro 37.06787 22.53428 Laconia
C5061 Phoiniki (Ntouka Rachis Phoi. 36.715509 22.9271 Laconia
C5062 Panaghia: Cem 36.484393 22.939592 Laconia
C5063 Ayios Yeoryios: Cave 36.537201 22.993183 Laconia
C5064 Aigies 36.777244 22.51641 Laconia
C5065 Aphissou 37.078788 22.452966 Laconia


Banou [1996]:   Banou, Emilia. Beitrag zum Studium Lakoniens in der mykenischen Zeit, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität zu Freiburg. 1996

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Origin Point for the grid system for Laconia Survey, Cavanagh, etc.

Users of Chapter 23 of the Laconia Survey, Cavanagh et al. [1996], etc. will probably be frustrated by the unnecessarily arcane Transverse Mercator system used by the authors.  Those who wish to use the location information in the book should be aware that the origin of their system (which they do not supply) is equivalent to  UTM:

34S, 619880.00 m E, 4091741.00 m N.

It is about 1300 m. N and slightly west of Mt. Taygetus.

In decimal lat/lon terms this is:  36.964135° N,  22.346662° E

(The absolute origin of their system is approximately 519880.00 m E, 3991741.00 m N in UTM.  The authors describe this as being to the SW of Cape Tainaron.  It is, in fact, to the SW of Cape Akritas.)

The value I have supplied for their origin is an approximation but very close to the real value and was obtained by manual iteration.  At any rate precision of placement is not a real goal for these authors since their coordinates designate 100 m. (1 hectare) squares.  Nevertheless the reader may use this origin value with some confidence and I believe it useful to locate most of their sites.


Here's an example from Cavanagh et al. [1996],  p. 289:

The Palace of the Despots in Mystràs is located at UTM:  621480.00 m E,  4104041.00 m N (the sector is 34S).  This value obtained by inspection in Google Earth.

The position given by them for this location is 1600 m E, 12300 m. N, which is to say, 1,600 m. E of their origin (given above) and 12300 meters N of their origin.   Adding these two values to the origin is:

Easting: 619880 + 1600 = 621480 (result in UTM, suitable for entering into Google Earth)
Northing: 4091741 + 12300 = 4104041 (UTM)

Setting the Tools> Options > Show Lat/Long to Universal Transverse Mercator and then creating a place mark with coordinates 621480, 4104041 will put the place mark on the Palace of Despots in Mystràs.


Cavanagh et al.  [2005]:  Cavanagh, Wiliam,  Christopher Mee, Peter James Neil Brodie and Tristan Carter.  'The Laconia Rural Sites Project', in The British School at Athens, Supplementary Volume 36, pp. iii-xv and 1-350, [2005].

Cavanagh et al. [1996]:  Cavanagh, William,  Joost Crouwel, R. W. V. Catling, Graham Shipley, Pamela Armstrong, Tristan Carter, David Hibler, Richard Jones, Jo Lawson, Marco Overbeek, Apostolos Sarris, Heleen Visscher And  Mark Ydo.  'Continuity And Change In A Greek Rural Landscape: The Laconia Survey. Volume II: Archaeological Data',  The British School at Athens. Supplementary Volumes, no. 27, pp. iii-xxx and 1-459.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Promiscuous Lex

‘.. let us go down, and there confound their language,
that they may not understand one another’s speech.‘
Genesis  xi.7

   So, imagine that there are two websites, and and they both blog about, guess what, Napoleon Bonaparte.  And these are two reputable scholars although A blogs mostly about the period before 1804 and B blogs mostly Imperial period with some overlaps.  Here’s the idea: someone says ‘what a great resource it would be if we could put these two together somehow’.    And when we consider that there’s a large amount of material on the web related to Napoleon it would be great if this could be automated.  That is, from a multiplicity of on-line resources, to create one large indexable or searchable reference on Napoleon!  

And not just search; we should be able to ask questions.  Simple questions like ‘When was the Battle of Marengo?’ and more complex questions such as ‘Was Napoleon good for France?’  Automation is the key, but how would that be done?  Well, as a number of computer types have pointed out, all these sources use the very same nouns or referents.  For example they all use such words as: ‘Napoleon’, ‘empire’, ‘Pope’, ‘Josephine’, ‘France’, ‘Marengo’, ‘Austerlitz’, etc., etc.  What we need to do is come up with a formal way of representing all the relevant nouns, enumerate their properties, and relate them to each other.  The sites, after all, are quite different in style and presentation but they are semantically similar.  And that leads us to formulate such quasi-RDF (Resource Description Format) triples as:

‘Napoleon’ ‘has-a’ ‘wife’;
‘Napoleon’ ‘is-a’ ‘general’;
‘Marengo’ ‘is-a’ ‘battle’
‘General’ ‘has-a’ ‘army’;
‘Josephine’ ‘is-a’ ‘wife’;
‘wife’ ‘has-a’ ‘husband’

And if we defined enough of these, a large number to be sure but graduate students have lots of time, we’d create a representational form strong enough to describe Napoleon and all of his works.  A computer program could be written that would search the aforementioned blogs and find each noun and relate it to the relevant triplet in our database and automatically place it in context.  In that way the various sites on Napoleon would be united in a Semantic Web.  We would be able to ask questions about Napoleon or related subjects and not only learn where the answers are but the answers themselves.  And, of course, not just Napoleon but every conceivable subject – a grand semantic web that unites all knowledge (on-line at least) and allows us to ask questions about anything and receive complete and detailed answers along with the degree of the reliability of that answer.   And the important thing is that all of this would be automated.

This kind of work is attributed to Tim Berners-Lee.   But, of course, none of this is new.  Philosophers have been trying to reduce reality to a series of unambiguous predicates since the dawn of time.  The only thing that’s new here is the intended scale and the means; computers have allowed dreamers to envision a totally automated and effortlessly constructed compendium of every conceivable statement about reality.

It is darkly curious, then, that none of this ever seems to succeed.   Whenever you DHers hear the words ‘Semantic Web’, ‘RDF’, or ‘XML’ I solemnly warn you that you are about to be bamboozled into wasting huge amounts of your valuable time.

Please take that to heart.  Just ignore advocates of such schemes; like the religious fanatics that  pass out pamphlets at your door (and religious fanaticism is exactly what drives the semantic web) they’ll go away if you ignore the door bell.  Remember that you are scholars and RDF/XML semantic web schemes are the death of scholarship.

What’s so wrong about the Semantic Web?


The problem is that there is an infinite number of domains of discourse and no Semantic Web can ever hope to unite them.  To see this imagine that we have a third website to be covered by our Napoleonic RDF.  It is called ‘’ and it tells the compelling story of how Napoleon came from outer space to wreak havoc in order to pave the way for an alien invasion.  But, foiled by the crafty British, and imprisoned on Saint Helena, his avatar went back into space – there to bide its time on a moon of Saturn where it waits to try again.  And, even though this site uses the same referents as the first two sites, ‘Napoleon’, ‘Marengo’, ‘Josephine’, etc., and even though its propositions can be expressed in the same or similar RDF,  it does not belong to the same domain of discourse.  No attempt to unite these three sites can ever lead to anything except nonsense.  Now, of course, you’ll say that no coo-coo web site like that should be included in our semantic web.  But a human being would have to make that judgment.  To make the judgment, that is, that this web site belongs to a totally different domain of discourse.  So much for the dream of automation.

And, in fact, there's no guarantee that any particular web site is consistent in the domains of discourse that it presents.  That means that even if you choose a website to include in your semantic web scheme that someone knowledgeable still has to go through each statement and test it for reliability (however reliability is defined in your particular semantic web).

Darker examples could be adduced.  Imagine two web-sites, ‘’ and ‘’, the first a pro-evolution site and the second vehemently anti-evolution.  They both use the same terms, ‘evolution’, ‘fitness’, ‘selection’, and in, probably, very similar ways.  The same RDF could be formed for both.  But at some point someone is naively going to ask our semantic web about the truth value of evolution and survival of the fittest.  Any semantic web that tries to unite these two domains of discourse will be incoherent on that question.  There is no knowledge schema that covers or can cover these two separate realities.  Again the problem could be solved by a human being culling the web sites covered.  That is, by reading all of them and making a human judgment about which are reliable.  (Another name for this is 'scholarship'.)  Again, the death of automation.

And what about these two: ‘’ and ‘’?  Or these two: ‘’ and ‘’?  Or these two: ‘’ and ‘’?  Or these two: ‘’ and ‘’?

In other words the proposed RDF schemes will fail precisely where we, as human beings, are most concerned to know something reliable.  That is, where our very selves are most involved, RDF and related schemes are powerless.  RDFs through all time have relied on the idea that all knowledge is one; that Truth is One.  I blame Plato for this but that’s just me.  The fact that some of these RDF schemes are ‘ISO-certified’ is just the rotted icing on the absurdist cake.(3)

The truth is not One.  And call me a grumpy old man but I have decades of experience in advanced computer science and I've never personally encountered a computer scientist who was educated about anything outside the narrow field of computers (and it is a narrow field).  They are not to be trusted on the issues with which the rest of us are concerned (although I might make an exception for Jaron Lanier).

What divides us as human beings isn’t just a few propositions which, once we learn them, will put us on the track to ‘right thought’.  It is not information that divides us.  This is the classic mistake of computer scientists – and the Holy Grail for every totalitarian.  Au fond, most computer scientists really believe that things are only words.  But they aren’t.  We, as human beings, live in our own inherently valuable universes.  Not all of those universes can be harmonized with all the others.  What separates these universes – these selves – are not wrong propositions, or bad-thought, but deeply felt passions, needs, appetites, and loves.  Other human universes cannot be stormed by the Dialectic.  Our connections have to be built up patiently over time.

And no automation can replace scholarship.  By scholarship I mean the several activities of gathering evidence, organizing, patient collation, reflection, judgment and the expression of these activities in the form of essays, books, diagrams and, yes, even in the form of web sites or blogs.  There is no grand slam against reality; no Tower to the Heavens that we can build that will let us storm the citadel of knowledge.   We have to patiently scrape away at the matrix of the Unknown with our small intellects in order to see it more plainly.

Just as we have to work to see each other more plainly.


(1) The best critique I know on this subject is Hubert Dreyfus’ invaluable (it deserved a Pulitzer) What Computers Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason from 1972 and his new edition, What Computers Still Can’t Do, from 1992.  The budding DHer can also benefit by reading the amusing remarks of Turow (2010) on Tort law.  Turow shines a brilliant light on this very problem of knowledge representation and of reasoning from slightly differing circumstances.

(2) A very mild formulation compared to what we often find on the internet.

(3) ISO is another bad idea from the ’80s whose sell-by date has long passed.


Dreyfus (1972): Dreyfus, Hubert, What Computers Can't Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason.  Harper and Row.  1972

Dreyfus (1992): Dreyfus, Hubert. What Computers Still Can't Do.  MIT Press. 1992.

Turow (2010): Turow, Scott.  One-L.  Penguin Books (reprinted 2010).

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Database Update MAP_Rev_0.040__10_06_17_Test

The Mycenaean Atlas Project has been updated with database MAP_Rev_0.040__10_06_17_Test

This version features an improved set of points for Epirus.

The following sites have been added:

Methana: Ayios Konstantinos 1,
Ayios Ioryios: MS124,
Oga Plateau: MS67,
Nissaki: MS103,
Vromoneri: MS108,
Magoula: MS60,
Vromolimni: MS106,
Koropi Health Center: hab,
Koropi: Kotzia and Hera Streets: Burial,
Athens: Olympic Complex,
Marathon EH Cem: Tsepi,
Schinias: hab,
Kato Souli: Cemetery Complex,
Angelokastro: Hab,
Palaiopyrgos: Meropi,
Kato Meropi Cem,
Mazaraki: Cem,
Liatovouni: hab,
Liatovouni: Cem,
Ioannina: Katamachi: Hoard,
Ioannina: Katamachi: Hab,
Preveza: Stefani: Hoard,
Ioannina: Krya: hab,
Kastritsa: Weapon,
Kato Pedina,
Sevasto: Liminari Hill: Goutsoura (PS 12),