A major project of mine this year is getting the Ancient Sports Atlas up and running. Here is the plan for the project as I first wrote it up, in early December (can also be found on my Ancient Sports Atlas page):

Plan of the Ancient Sports Atlas

Currently, there is no online gateway for the study of ancient athletics. This provides a challenge for the student of ancient sport, especially when they need to consult source materials. There do exist numerous print materials on the topic, but one can quickly run into a number of difficulties:

  • Sourcebooks in English do not provide the original text, are not panoptic in their approach, and are generally geared toward the introductory student.
  • The best collection of source materials, the Quellendokumentation zur Gymnastik und Agonistik im Altertum series, is only available in German and does not provide good coverage for non-literary evidence.
  • There is no single source to consult when attempting to incorporate iconographic evidence about ancient athletics.
  • Many online sources of Greek and Latin texts are behind pay-walls (e.g., TLG, SEG) and are not limited to the topic of sports.
  • There is not an online resource that presents evidence from a variety of different cultures.

The goal of the Ancient Sports Atlas is to make research on the topic of ancient sports easy, comprehensive, and fun. With this is mind, here is a preliminary sketch of what the project will attempt, roughly in order of precedence:

  1. Provide searchable access to ancient texts dealing with athletics, in the original language and in translation (English first, other languages next).
  2. Serve as a searchable repository for information on ancient artifacts pertaining to the study of ancient athletics.
  3. Provide interactive exhibits (such as in Neatline) for exploring the sites most associated with ancient athletics.
  4. Serve as a hub for scholarship pertaining to the study of ancient athletics, both bibliographic and original.

The term “ancient” is left intentionally vague to allow for a wide range of cultures and times to be included in the project. Because of the specialties of the Principal Investigator, the project will likely begin with documents from the Classical Greek world and then move further afield in geography and time.

First Steps:

  1. Find technical guidance to assess the plausibility of the project and get insight on web development structures most likely to succeed.
  2. Launch a placeholder site to explain the purpose of the project and begin the collection of data.
  3. Enroll a preliminary board of editors to provide oversight for the project and perhaps provide data entry.
  4. Launch a feature with preliminary data.
  5. Write up a project grant to kickstart data collection and the development of features.