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The Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) & Geography

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Title: The Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) & Geography
Author: Unknown author
Summary: How can GIS help scholars to understand the history of travel? How can GIS tools work in tandem with digitized archival materials? The Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) is addressing such questions by building a digital archive of resources relating to Westerners’ travel to Egypt and other parts of the Middle East in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. TIMEA (http://timea.rice.edu) offers historical maps; XML-encoded texts such as travel guides, travel narratives, and museum catalogs; and images such as postcards, stereographs, and book illustrations. In addition, TIMEA makes available a GIS map featuring layers such as elevation, hydrography, satellite imagery, and historic sites. Users can search or browse TIMEA for a specific place name and go directly to that location on the GIS map. TIMEA enables humanities researchers to study a range of topics related to geography, history and culture. For instance, scholars can search the archive for texts and images related to a particular place, and even restrict their search to particular dates. To investigate how places changed over time, they can compare maps of locations taken from different editions of travel guides; for instance, an 1888 map shows a train station where there was none in 1870. Researchers can locate a place name on the GIS name and view related information, such as water and roads. Thus a researcher could investigate the relationship between historic sites and rivers or transportation systems. The GIS map is built in such a way that scholars could fairly easily add a new layer, so long as it is keyed to the correct latitude/longitude. The ArcIMS interface for delivering the GIS map online has proven difficult to customize and confusing to users, so we are currently developing Google Maps that make locations on the GIS map serve as access points to related archival resources and that show itineraries for Nile cruises provided in Sir John Gardner Wilkinson’s Hand-book for travellers in Egypt (1847) and Cook's tourists' handbook for Egypt, the Nile, and the Desert (1897). TIMEA’s contributions to the geography and the humanities community include: • Focusing on a region that has heretofore been unrepresented by GIS efforts • Integrating a multimedia thematic research collection with GIS tools • Developing software for automatically marking up place names in XML-encoded texts, then generating links from those place names to related resources in the archive. • Building educational modules that explore GIS in the humanities and provide background information on places Developing GIS resources for the TIMEA project has raised several challenges. We have had difficulty locating historical data sources, although travel guides can offer useful data such as population, recommended itineraries, and climate We have not found a compelling way to represent the relationship between space and time—how dynamic processes affect regions, and vice versa—although applications such as TimeMap hold promise. For researchers not accustomed to working with GIS tools, the map interface can be daunting and confusing. Finally, creating GIS resources requires significant labor and expertise, so collaboration and clear communication between scholars and technical experts are essential.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1911/17011
Date: 2007-06-29
Original Source Original presentation: Spiro, Lisa. "The Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) & Geography." Geography and the Humanities Symposium, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, June 22-24, 2007.
Subject
About This Resource: Part of the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA, http://timea.rice.edu), funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the Computer and Information Technology Institute (CITI), Rice University.

Citation

The Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA) & Geography (2007-06-29T17:14:47Z).
From Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA). http://hdl.handle.net/1911/17011
For more on properly formatting citations, see Citing TIMEA Resources.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

  • TIMEA Research [8]
    The TIMEA research collection provides papers, presentations and tools related to the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA).

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