Friday, September 6, 2019

ORBIS: The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World

Paul's First Mission Journey on ORBIS
I've mentioned ORBIS before, but Chiara Palladino just posted an excellent review of the site. She writes:
The aim of Orbis is to allow investigation of the concrete conditions of travel in the ancient world, with a particular focus on the 3rd-century Roman route and transportation network. Orbis is a response to the long-standing scholarly debate about visual representations and study of “spatial practice” in the premodern world: traditional mapping approaches fail to convey the complexity of the variables involved in travel practices and provide a flat view of phenomena that are strongly connected with space and movement, such as trade, economic control, and imperialism. Orbis was conceived to respond to the specific question of how travel and transport constraints affected the expansion of the Roman Empire.
You will want to read the rest of the review and see examples of what sort of insights ORBIS 
can offer. From a biblical perspective, it can provide a good sense of how long and how expensive travel might have been in New Testament times. You cannot list more than a beginning and endpoint for each journey, but you can keep stringing them together to get the kind of map of Paul's first mission journey I depict above. You will see that not every city is included in the ORBIS database, so it does not include smaller locales like Lystra and Derbe. You also should create a map by right clicking on a site to make it a start or endpoint, since some of the names have changed by the 3rd century CE. (E.g., Antioch of Pisidia is listed as Caesarea of Phrygia.) You do have the options to choose fastest, cheapest, or shortest; set the season which would affect sailing options; choose whether you go by road and/or river/coastal sea/open sea.
Paul: Neapolis to Thessalonica - Via Egnatia

In this segment Paul traveled on his second mission journey from Neapolis > Philippi > Amphipolis > Appolonia > Thessalonica, ORBIS correctly picks out the Via Egnatia route. We also learn that such a trip would take 5.8 days to cover 173 kilometers (107 miles). 

So check out the review, and then play around with ORBIS for yourself.