A working example

The geographical timelapse project is now well underway and on schedule. In the past couple of weeks, I focused on producing a working example of the final Venetian and started filling it up with content. The current version of the project is presented below. The timemap is divided in three parts. The top part represents the events, on which the user can click to center the map. The middle part is used for navigating in time, and the bottom part is the map representing the state of the Venetian Empire in any given year. Clicking in any of the highlighted zones or on the event names brings up a small window with some detail on the relevant event. The different colors on the map represent the period of acquisition of the territories (one color per Century).

Timemap of the Venetian Empire

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I started from the Euratlas shapefiles corresponding to the Venetian Empire in 1100, and progressively added more content to be visualized. I mainly focused on the Domini da Mar, namely the venetians maritime possessions, which began with the Venetian Crusade(1122-1124), and gained a lot of importance following the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204), as can ben seen in the above map. The timeline is, however, far from being complete data-wise and I will focus on adding more events in the weeks to come. If time allows, the Domini di Terraferma will also be added to the timeline.

The sources used for determining the date of events are included as comments in the source code, for better traceability. Most of the data is taken from Mélanie Fournier’s database of Venetian territories, which, in turn, is built essentially around Il dominio veneziano di Levanto, Venice, a maritime republic, and sometimes completed by Wikipedia data. Determining the precise date of events can be complicated at times, because of the multitude of sources available. When presented with such a situation, I pick the most cited date / period and indicate the conflicting nature of the sources. I have also been confronted to an issue when determining the boundaries of the Venetian possessions. It is easy to determine the boundaries of an island, but a lot more difficult to determine the boundaries of a continental territorial possession, which may, furthermore, change at any time. When confronted with such a task, I based myself on the Euratlas data in order to draw an approximated territory on the map.

Another issue is sometimes caused by the scale of events. The possessions are not set in stone and sometimes change hands for a few months, due to a war or a rebellion, as was the case for the island of Candia in the early thirteenth Century. Keeping up with all these changes over a period of 500 years would require a tremendous amount of work and significantly affect the readibility of the timeline. Hence, I mainly decided to ignore such “small scale” historical events.

The displayed polygons were created using the Polygon creator tool. This tool allows the user to recover the coordinates of a set of manually marked points on the map. These points are then formatted in the Google Maps Polygon format, and inserted in the Javascript routine generating the map.

The Timemap library also had to be tweaked in order to better suit the needs of the project by adding custom zoom buttons and improving the window where events information is displayed. The time browser was improved by disabling event selection, and the user selection was deactivated in the events presentation.

The last steps of the project will be the addition of more events to the timemap, before working on finalizing the presentation and getting started on the final report.