High values cargoes’ networks (S2)


Ancient Venice, a beautiful and vigorous city full of opportunities—merchandises, traders, and wealth. This project will tell you the stories of the high value cargos in the ancient trading markets of the Republic of Venice and its adjacent reigns. Among them we select the most representative ones such as silk, spices and slave. Their origins, shipping routes, trading prices and so on, are all integrated into our customized data representation function. With an interactive map interface and several charts, users are able to understand in an intuitive way the statuses and changes of these goods across a period of time. Besides, users can get deeper insights from a narrative board displaying the historical events that had huge impacts on the ancient Mediterranean markets.


  1. Back-end database of specific information of high value cargoes and historical events.
  2. Web interface to search shipping routes and origins of high value cargoes in ancient Venice and its vicinity
  3. Web charts to demonstrate information of the cargoes and historical backgrounds.


digital humanity

  • Data Collection

The first and the most important step, is to collect the data we need on the Internet. The scope of our data will focus on the ancient Mediterranean region around the Republic of Venice within a fixed period of time, such as the 15th century. Specifically there are 2 categories of data that we require:

  1. Regional historical backgrounds
  2. Trading records of silk, spices, and slave.

For the first kind of data, we will search the most important period in the trading history of the Republic of Venice, and summarize events and change of territories that had huge impacts on the trading markets. For the second kind, we need to gather as much as information about the cargoes’ origins, shipping routes, and market sizes (price * amount of trading).

From our preliminary search on the Internet, we realized that historical events are well studied, but there seems no exiting database of trading records, thus we will have to search through literatures and research papers to acquire the details of these merchandises to build up the database on our own. Moreover, the sources of data are very diverse, and not all of them are trustful. As a consequence, much effort has to be put into data cleaning and cross validation. We plan to spend the first 6 weeks of the semester into data collection.

  • Data Analysis

Once we have sufficient data for each category, we start to analyze them. The main focus is the mapping between the historical incidents and their impacts on the Mediterranean trading markets. By example, the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century had huge influence on the prosperity of the Republic of Venice, and so we expect to see significant fluctuations on the trading records during that period.

In addition, depending on the size of the data, we will also parse the historical events semantically, based on countries and categories (economic, political, etc), so that the users are able to zoom in to what they want to understand.

  • Data Representation & Visualization

Based on these data, we then construct an interactive map interface and several web charts to show the corresponding trading routes, statistics, and historical backgrounds for a period of time. The expected result is shown in the following figure.
The figure is composed of a world map, a scroll bar, two charts, a board, and three buttons. In the bottom right, users can press a desired button corresponding one high-valued cargo, says slave,  and scroll the time line to a specific period. Then the website would demonstrate the route of slaves on the world map during  a certain period. Besides, the first chart on the right hand side shows the market size of the three cargo and the middle chart depicts the price of slaves for a period of time. What is displayed in the board is the associated historical events.



The overall works are divided into three parts, data collection, data analysis, and data representation. Considering the difficulties of gathering the data concerning these high-valued cargo, we decide to spend almost half the time collecting data. And data analysis is about picking out some interesting and critical historical events during the period, we believe the time of finishing this part could be limited to one week. And the finial part, data representation and visualization, is considered as the most difficult work in the project, since the result is demonstrated in an interactive way and we must learn some website design languages and tools, such as html5 and JavaScript.   Hence, the rest of the time is allocated to the finial part. Each part is supposed to be finished in a period of time and is depicted in the above figure.