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Meet ToposText app, the Digital Humanities Awards 2016

Posted by moodhacker on March 1, 2017 at 9:15 AM

The webpage and application ToposText won first place in the “Best Use of Digital Humanities for Public Engagement” at the "Digital Humanities Awards 2016”, the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation announced on Tuesday.

The innovative tool, available to download for free, allows users to access thousands of mythical and historical locations relevant to the ancient Greek world - from ancient cities and shrines, medieval castles and towers, modern museums and excavation sites - in Greece and other locations, along with a slew of ancient texts referring to them, with one click on the smartphone.

The idea and work for ToposText belongs to former U.S. diplomat and scholar at the American School of Classical Studies Brady Kiesling, while the app was built by IT company Pavla AE with the support of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation – a non-profit organization devoted to promoting Greek arts and letters.

The inspiration came from Kiesling’s two decades of exploring Greece by car, foot or bicycle and the realization that it would be extremely handy if, during his travels, he had the written accounts of historians, travelers or geographers at his fingertips to provide historical and cultural meaning to the places he was visiting around Greece.




The other winners of the 2016 DH Awards were “A Generator of Socratic Dialogues” for its “Best Use of DH For Fun”, “Peripleo” for “Best DH Data Visualization”, “EAGLE MediaWiki” for “Best DH Tool or Suite of Tools” and “The Programming Historian” as “Best DH Blog Post or Series of Posts”.

The awards are an annual event where the public nominates resources for the recognition of talent and expertise in the digital humanities community which are then nominated and voted for entirely by the public. They are overseen by an international Nominations Committee comprised of five university professors from educational centers around the world.


ToposText (where ‘topos’ in Greek means ‘place’;)as a new interface, helps travelers locate and learn about some of the most significant sites form ancient Greek literature and culture. By presenting 5000 places relevant to the ancient Greek world - ancient cities and shrines, medieval castles and towers, modern museums and excavation sites – primarily in Greece but including major places from Spain to the Caucasus, it “links readers and travelers to Europe’s most ancient literary culture and to the Greek landscape that inspired it”.



ToposText was designed as an application for mobile devices.

Opening it presents a scrolling alphabetical list of 5000+ Greek cities, colonies, sanctuaries, archaeological sites, museums, and other points of interest, side-by-side with a location-aware map showing the nearby places by name, icon (city, sanctuary, theatre, etc) and the number of ancient references in the TT database. The texts and index and a basic map are stored on the device that requires no internet connection. Most coordinates come from Pleiades, an online database of thousands of ancient places, names and coordinates.


Selecting a site from either the list or the map opens up a table of two-line snippets from ancient authors, headed where available by a modern description. Selecting from this index list, which can be filtered by date, genre, and relevance, connects one to the full text of 240-odd works in English translation, some with the original Ancient Greek as well. Thus, at a glance, and from any location, you can select and read the passages in ancient literature that give a place its historical and cultural meaning. While you are reading, the map alongside shows the location of the ancient places mentioned. A link next to many place descriptions connects to Travelogues, a sister web site of the Laskaridis Foundation offering thousands of early traveler illustrations of Greece and its antiquities that complement the ancient texts.


At this stage, ToposText is comprehensive only for the area of modern Greece but aspires one day to include more inscriptions, ancient scholia anddictionaries, ideally every ancient text that refers to Greek places from mythological times through to the Late Roman era.

Enriching the TT library, or expanding it to include Byzantine, Medieval and early modern texts, will depend on the willingness of scholars to make texts and English translations available.


ToposText is available for iPad free at Apple’s app store. Soon it will also become available for the iPhone and for Android devices. Download the app and have a large classical library married to an up-to-date gazetteer to help you find your way around the ancient world!



Categories: Greece Cultural Heritage, Best of Greece, So Special Greece

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