Landscapes, both literal and figurative, have incredible power in structuring thought and interpretation in the humanities. The literal physical landscape is often an important consideration in many areas of study; archaeologists, anthropologists and historians often consider topography as a variable in explaining past human behavior. As a metaphor, the term ‘landscape’ is used more broadly and less concretely, but with a flexibility that permits an even greater impact. Authors are said to have had an effect on the landscape of their genre and particularly powerful writers are given the power to generate their own, new landscape. The Pompeii Bibliography and Mapping Project (PBMP) intends to explore the ways in which the former kind of landscape, the physical, can be employed to structure and examine the latter, metaphorical variety. Specifically, we are working to map the landscape of publications about Pompeii onto the space of the ancient city itself, creating a unified, bi-directional interface to both resources.
The interconnection of these components creates a unique and powerful environment for Humanities research for the public and academics alike. For the public and students, this tool will dismantle the knowledge barrier of using multiple library catalogs and databases. For researchers, this same advantage will reinvest bibliographic search time into research time, bringing together the full array of once disparate sources and making them instantly available, from basic citations to searchable copies of the sources themselves. The online GIS will also permit users to make custom maps from standardized data online as well as offering the core files for download, reinterpretation and/or advanced analyses. The online interface brings these elements together, allowing users to vacillate between navigating the map to find bibliographic data and searching the database and full-text repository to visualize bibliographic data in the map. Most importantly, the interface fuses the spatial and bibliographic search tools, allowing users to ask questions about both the thematic and spatial relationships of a particular subject. Although focused on the novel means of delivering the scholarship of a particular archaeological site, the specific content of the project does not limit its implementation for other humanistic subjects (e.g., Victorian era London).