BAM is an interdisciplinary effort to create and provide a framework of web-based open-source tools that will enable users to explore, analyze, and electronically publish social, geographic, and textual data with little to no programming knowledge. BAM’s simultaneous presentation of these tools is designed to encourage a deeper “reading” of texts by providing students, teachers, researchers, and the public with an open-access portal wherein they can interact with various combinations of texts, maps, and networks, all in a linked data environment. The flexible architecture of BAM is designed around the concept of individual modules, based on the specific needs of each dataset, and the interpretive goals of the creator. BAM modules can be either stand-alone projects, or flexible portals through which to publish data in combination with a dissertation or monograph. Sarah Bond and Paul Dilley are co-PIs of BAM, Ryan Horne is its lead developer. Each module is based on core BAM code but is an autonomous project with its own PI (Sarah Bond is PI of WOAH, Paul Dilley is PI of the Iowa Canon, Caitlin Marly is PI of Digital Cicero) and team of developers and researchers, described on their respective sites.
The ideas behind Big Ancient Mediterranean were first discussed by Sarah Bond and Paul Dilley in Fall 2014; soon after this discussion, Bond joined the Classics Department at the University of Iowa. Both were already closely involved with Digital Humanities, in complementary areas: Bond’s specialties are geospatial data and text encoding, while Dilley’s focus is textual analysis and social networks. Bond and Dilley were intrigued by the possibilities of leveraging the ancient world’s impressive and growing body of linked data to provide an innovative platform for research and teaching.
While exploring possibilities for BAM’s interface, Bond and Dilley reached out to Ryan Horne, then the acting director of UNC’s Ancient World Mapping Center and PhD candidate in ancient history, to join the team as lead developer. Horne has subsequently received his PhD and completed a Mellon postdoctoral fellow at UNC’s Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, Institute for Arts and Humanities, and the History department. He is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh. Additional coding for BAM has been provided by Ed Keogh, a doctoral student in Classics at the University of Iowa, and Noah Anderson, an undergraduate double-major in Classics and Computer Science. A number of other undergraduate and graduate students have contributed data collection and analysis for BAM, both in the classroom and through RA positions. Further details are found in the individual modules.