Digitizing the Fall of the Roman Empire

Investigator Mike McCormick, FAS Department of History

DARMC Project website

From a general survey of the later Roman empire from ca. 250 to 700, the course "History 11111: The fall of Roman Empire" is shifting to an investigation of the question of the fall of the Roman Empire.

It will emphasize archaeology, primary written sources in translation, web-based resources, and the application of new natural scientific methods to historical and archaeological problems across the entire Roman world.

Today’s students are more visually oriented than yesterday’s, and more digitally aware in general, prompting the move from static wall maps to interactive and infinitely adaptable digital maps.  It is essential to the teaching mission of the staff that the students be able to visualize the places, monuments, excavations, relief and vegetation of the late Roman empire, even as they hear over the website the sounds of a reconstructed late Roman circus organ or the chant of churches of the imperial capitals.

The project created the first high quality digital maps of the Roman Empire which is suitable for continuous improvement and adaptation in teaching and research worldwide.

The CGA helped to georeference and convert existing paper maps into digital files and GIS layers, and eventually built a web application so students can navigate the maps and query them for research questions.

The CGA also organized trainings to facilitate students’ use of the digital maps in section and in their research.

map sample from DARMC