Mapping Venice 1500: Searching the De Barbari Map- Progress Report 2

As of the first week of April, we have finished the initial round of map labeling in accordance with the proposed project timeline. However, we are slightly behind schedule in the actual annotation process and entry of the map labels in the DHCanvas platform. This second progress report documents the process of labeling the printed copies of the De Barbari map, the difficulties faced during labeling, and lastly, a few words on the next steps to be taken.

Labeling process on printed map

When the De Barbari map was divided into six equal portions, one section (see Figure 1 below) did not feature the built environment of Venice and was hence excluded. The remaining five sections were divided more or less equally (based on the density of buildings and structures) among the group members for labeling. We used the resources listed in the previous progress report to aid in the labeling process.

Figure 2 shows an example of how each printed map was labeled. Key features, such as churches, were the easiest to identify and thus labeled first. Following that, we labeled the rest of the map to as large a degree as possible based on the information and resources we had at our disposal.


Figure 1: Upper right corner of the De Barbari map (no built environment)


Figure 2: Bottom left corner of the De Barbari map illustrating an example of the labelling process

Difficulties faced

We encountered several difficulties in the process of labeling the printed copies of the De Barbari map that will be discussed in this section.

First, due to the nature of the map and how it was produced, technical aspects that would be useful in the identification of features—such as map scale and accuracy—were lacking. This made comparisons between the De Barbari map and modern maps slightly tedious due to the difficulties in accurately pinpointing the location of a particular feature on the maps; i.e. the location of a given church on a modern map of Venice was slightly different from its location on the De Barbari map due to the lack of scale and accuracy on the latter map. However, this issue, apart from being time-consuming, did not pose too big a problem.

Second, we were not able to name all identified buildings and/or structures due to the lack of information. Based on the resources we had, some of these buildings were identified by their type (e.g. church or bridge or bell tower) but were not named. For many of these, we failed to identify them by name even after extended research. As a result, these buildings remained unnamed when we labeled the De Barbari map. However, the building/structure type was indicated. If we are unable to name these buildings by the end of the project, only the building type will be annotated in DHCanvas.

Last, there were a few instances of conflicting identities of a building or structure among the various resources. For example, when using maps belonging to different time periods, the building occupying a particular site in Venice were different among the maps. In these cases, we used the identity of the building/structure from the map that was closest in time period to the De Barbari map (i.e. 16th century), and a note was made in case the more modern building type or name should be included in other historical maps.

Next steps

As we are slightly behind schedule, our next step will be to annotate the features identified on the paper copies of the map into DHCanvas; this will be accomplished within the next few weeks.

Our next challenge will be to find more resources, specifically in English, to help us identify and fill in more of the currently unlabelled buildings. Should this prove impossible, we will begin to look at how we can label the already identified features in other historical maps of Venice in order to enable a sort of temporal searching.