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Title: TRANSIT : a GIS toolbox for estimating the duration of ancient sail-powered navigation
Authors: Alberti, Gianmarco
Keywords: Geographic information systems
Classical antiquities -- Expertising
Issue Date: 2017-11-21
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Citation: Alberti, G. (2017). TRANSIT : a GIS toolbox for estimating the duration of ancient sail-powered navigation. Cartography and Geographic Information Science.
Abstract: Cost-surface analysis in Geographic Information System (GIS) environment has been less fre- quently used in the study of ancient sail navigation than in other studies of the human past. Navigation cost-surface analysis entails the use of GIS tools that are versatile but not very easy to grasp and to put to work. This article describes an ArcGIS toolbox built to facilitate cost-surface analysis of ancient sail navigation. It estimates the navigation time from a start location, con- sidering parameters relevant for the generation of an accumulated anisotropic cost-surface, automating the complex workflow required to meaningfully pre- and post-process the data. Acknowledging the limitations inherent to the tool, and to the modeling of a complex matter such as sail navigation, the toolbox is first described and then used in a worked example. Historically recorded voyages in the Mediterranean during classical antiquity are compared to estimated durations generated by the toolbox. In spite of structural and expected limitations, the results indicate that the proposed toolbox may produce reasonable estimates. These should be thought of as values gravitating around, not matching, likely past durations. The estimated values may prove useful as an indication of the order of magnitude of past voyages’ duration, and as frame of reference in measuring ancient maritime space through time.
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