Kristina Neumann, one of our PhD candidates in the Department of Classics at UC, will be giving a presentation soon on her work with the Google Earth database mentioned here earlier.  She has done amazing things with this database and created a series of KML files that allows her to express the reach of Antioch coinage in a stunning way.

This paper is part of the joint AIA/APA meetings in Chicago happening now. See it in session 5D at 12:30 on Saturday January 4.

In ancient times, much like now, authorities determined which foreign currency was accepted in a community. For Neumann, this made coins an ideal representation of a political relationship among cities. For example, if lots of Antiochene coins were discovered in a neighboring city, it’s likely a political agreement existed between the two governments.

Coins were also a data-rich resource for Neumann. In addition to tracking where the coins were found, she cataloged critical information about a coin — such as when it was minted and under whose authority it was made — that has been derived from the images and inscriptions imprinted on it. Other artifacts, like pottery, were less likely to have such identifiers.

Neumann uses Google Earth to convert the vast information in her coin database into a visual representation of Antioch’s political borders. She analyzes how the software plots which coins were found where and in what quantity across different historic time periods. This way she can follow the transformation of Antioch’s political influence as it was absorbed by the Roman empire.

She has found Antioch’s civic coins were spread farther out than previously theorized, and they were particularly abundant along a known trade route. Neumann can scan centuries of change in seconds with Google Earth to show the overall contraction of Antioch’s political authority but also its continued and evolving influence in selected regions and cities — and eventually its greater integration within the empire.

Google Earth allows Kristina Neumann to track change in Antioch as it was absorbed by the Roman Empire.

Her talk is already getting some news attention, which I have been tracking here.