History and Geography Working Together

Every year Bracken Library helps sponsor GIS Day to give students the opportunity to display their work and learn more about Geographic GIS Day - 3Information Systems.  This year’s speaker, Colin Rose from the University of Toronto, has background knowledge in both GIS and Renaissance Florence.  In his presentation, “Geo-Spatial and Sensory Digital Map of Renaissance Florence,” he discussed his on-going project to digitally record census records from this time and location.  The immensity of project could not be covered in his brief talk, but left those familiar with GIS processes awestruck at the scope of his endeavor.

As the Lead Research Assistant for this project, Mr. Rose described the Decima project as a databse to compile historical GIS, documentation, and cartography.
“DECIMA aims to be an interdisciplinary research and teaching tool for scholars of early modern Europe. By integrating a wide variety of social and economic historical data into a visualized spatial framework, DECIMA allows scholars to place their research into the context of the built urban fabric of early modern Florence. Researchers can interrogate data about the inhabitants of sixteenth century Florence, their professional and economic activities, their living patterns, and the distribution of wealth and power throughout the city.”

Medieval maps were oriented to help people be closer to God by always including Jerusalem as a directional reference point.   Surveyors, as well as documents referencing businesses, and economic stratification are being used to geographically place these locations.  Health records are also being used to map the impact of the Plague, and its effect over time.

Adding a geographic prospect to the study of history allows for a greater understanding of both disciplines.  They enrich our understanding and increase our knowledge of past cultures and events.

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