A comparison using the example of the Arabian Peninsula

Niklaas GÖRSCH
(Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany)

Keywords: Historical Geography, Digital Humanities, Recogito, QGIS

Klaudios Ptolemaios (c. 100 – c. 170) compiled the geographical knowledge of the 2nd century in his Geography. From a historical and geographical point of view, his collection is a unique source of investigation. In Europe, the Geography was rediscovered in the early 15th century.
This paper wants to account for questions on geographical knowledge existing in the ancient Mediterranean and in 15th century Europe about the Arabian Peninsula, the then so-called Arabia Felix. An aspect of this paper investigates what kind of toponyms in this area we preserved through the Geography and how this knowledge was received by geographers and mapmakers in their Tabulae modernae (or novae) in the 15th century.
This paper uses traditional historical methods and new technologies. On the one hand, methods from philology and historical geography are employed. On the other hand, open data methods are used to compare already known locations from historical and archaeological research and make it possible to discuss solutions to rediscover places, which are unknown in modern times but were localized and are mentioned by Ptolemy. QGIS as well as the web-based tool Recogito and its gazetteers will be applied to make similarities between the antiquity and the early modern period visible by creating a map with different layers.
The implementation of Digital Humanities in current historical research allows a collaborative workspace in which historical issues can be visualized and discussed more efficiently. In order to embed the results of this paper into the current research Linked Open Geodata will be used for comparing maps and its toponyms of certain areas of the Arabian Peninsula.

Relevance conference / Relevance session:
The geographical understanding of the world plays a crucial role in shaping the reality and the imagination of any culture.

The paper compares geographical knowledge from different periods of time about the Arabian Peninsula by employing traditional historical methods and tools from the Digital Humanities.