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BARRINGTON ATLAS OF THE GREEK AND ROMAN WORLD by Princeton University Press Kirkus Star


developed by Princeton University Press

Pub Date: Dec. 5th, 2013
Publisher: Princeton University Press

A state-of-the-art atlas of the ancient world, both as it was known to the Greeks and Romans and as it is known to scholars today.

Responding to a call in the 1980s to rescue classicists’ cartographic tools from their disgraceful condition, the Barrington Atlas has been in print since 2000. Its conversion into an electronic edition brings with it only a problem of scale, for the original stands 19 inches tall, something no tablet can accomplish at full-page view. Still, the 102 maps in the atlas translate well to electronic form, and if the atlas is not immediately easy to bookmark and perhaps more difficult to navigate than is strictly necessary, it contains some fine features—to say nothing of thoroughly beautiful maps that sing under retina view. The map of first-century Britain is a case in point, carefully annotating the locations of the iron mines that made conquest of the islands so important. Similarly, the maps devoted to Germania are full of blank spots; the Romans were sure only that terrible danger lurked therein. Drawn to consistent scale, the maps reveal the astonishing depth of ancient knowledge about the world, even if that knowledge was tinged with superstition and mythology (the map of the Caucasus showing, for instance, that beyond those frozen mountains lay the lands of the mythical race called the Hyperborae, or “beyond-the-north-wind-people”). The work of hundreds of scholars, reviewers, cartographers and technical staff went into this app, and it shows. As the editors observe at the end of their introduction, “Its maps should form the basis of branching out further in every direction,” a process whose fruits we’ll soon hope to see.

Reasonably priced, it invites long hours of poring over: This belongs in the iPad of every student of the classics and ancient history. (Requires iOS 7 and above.)