Geographia, Chorographia, and the Prehistory of Modern Geography: Unravelling the Geographike Hyphegesis of Claudius Ptolemy 

Publication date: Mar 13, 2013 04:22 PM

Start: May 20, 2013 05:30 PM

Location: G31, Foster Court


Dr Leif Isaksen, University of Southampton

This paper will argue that Ptolemy’s Geographike Hyphegesis ('Manual for world-drawing') is a unique fusion of pre-Ptolemaic sources that far surpasses its precursors. It makes the case that the work’s purpose is to provide a terrestrial counterpart to the data compiled in his earlier and equally significant astronomical treatise, the Mathematical Syntaxis. This is expressly to derive local celestial phenomena for a given time in order to draw a wide range of astrological, meteorological, environmental and anthropological conclusions.

A variety of digital methods, including toponymic comparisons, and linear interpolation, will be used to expose the ways in which this combination of fragmentary source material has left traces within the structure of the enormous place catalogue that indicate the nature of both geographic and chorographic sources. Exploring these spatial and categorical ‘fractures’ opens up new possibilities for appraising a crucial stage in the development of geographic thought.

Leif Isaksen is Deputy Director of the Web Science Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Southampton. He is researching the impact that rapidly changing social and technical connectivity is having on heritage discourse, both within and beyond academia, and has a strong interest in the development of geographic thought and representation in Antiquity, and especially in the work of Claudius Ptolemy and the Roman itinerary tradition.

A drinks reception will follow, all welcome.