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Project History

Louis Dupré, The Palace and the Fortress of Ioannina, Seen from the Lake, A Turk and a Young Greek (1825)

Project History

By focusing this regional order, developed under Ali Pasha, MapOE is producing a number of digital projects for spatial and quantitative analysis, based on data extracted from multilingual archival sources from the Ottoman period. After the completion of the initial stage, the project will expand to cover other regions and other periods of the Ottoman experience, as an extensive open-access Geottoman Digital Project. Our aim is to enhance collaborations with scholars from diverse backgrounds and institutions studying this region and the Ottoman World.

Louis Dupré, Voyage à Athènes et à Constantinople, Ali Pasha of Ioannina and his retinue on the Lake of Ioannina (1825)


The project has been carried out by a highly skilled team over the last three years to prepare for the proposed project at Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA). Our team has (i) collated the essential materials into an operable corpus (ii) developed text-to-database extraction scripts for Greek and Ottoman-Turkish materials, (iii) created digital maps illustrating historical topography of Epirus and the infrastructure, (iv) developed preliminary network visualizations to reveal the relations between key actors in our archives and (v) created an initial custom historical gazetteer from the regional and imperial archives.

Creating a historical gazetteer of the Ottoman Empire is by itself a challenging effort, since after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and the consolidation of nation-states in the Balkans and the Middle East, the new regimes changed the majority of place names in the twentieth century. Preparing the historical gazetteer has required a meticulous work to extract Ottoman period toponyms from multiple archival, cartographic, digital and oral sources in the absence of reliable matches from major historical gazetteers (i.e., Pelagios, Getty TGN, Wikidata, World Historical Gazetteer). The gazetteer alone, when complete, will be a major contribution to these open systems for other scholars. These steps, while time consuming, have laid the essential foundation to provide structure to our materials and afford the analyses we propose. In our next phase, our team envisions applying these scripts and methods to the entire corpus to extract and geolocate named entities and relate thousands of features embedded in the individual documents to explore several key issues. 

With our early results and methodological innovations, MapOE has already been featured as the leading projects in the field of Digital History. MapEO has been invited to be a partner of the Pelagios Commons and World Historical Gazetteer, as well as Linked Open Data discussions within the DH global community. In 2017, MapOE was chosen as one of the two featured projects at the LinkedPast III conference at Stanford. MapOE has already changed the conversation in digital humanities in the field of Ottoman History as well as the Middle East and Balkans Studies.