Monday, August 15, 2011


A.-M. Wittke, E. Olshausen, R. Szydlak, C. F. Salazar (ed.), Historical Atlas of the Ancient World. Brill's New Pauly: Supplements, 3. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010. Pp. xix, 307. ISBN 9789004171565. $398.00, €280.00.

Reviewed by Duncan B. Campbell, Glasgow (

Version at BMCR home site

Continuing its policy of making the authoritative Der Neue Pauly encyclopaedia available for an English readership, Brill has now produced a translation of its Historischer Atlas der antiken Welt (reviewed here: BMCR 2009.07.22). No new material has been added, so the comments of the previous reviewer regarding the content of the volume are equally valid for this translation. 1

We certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Salazar and her team for completing their herculean task so ably. (Unfortunately, no information is given regarding the various individuals involved, although Duncan Smart is named as translator.) It is difficult to judge the quality of the translation without access to the original volume, but the map titles appear to have been translated faithfully, with only one or two awkwardnesses: the target readership would perhaps be more comfortable with the 'advanced civilisations' (Hochkulturen) of Mesopotamia and Egypt, rather than 'high cultures' (p. vi), and the Etruscan 'heartland' (Kernland), rather than 'core territory' (Map 74/75).

Several map titles have been translated with admirable sensitivity to English usage, as with 'The Delian League' (for Der Attisch-Delische Seebund, Map 94/95), but the target readership may struggle with 'Tyrannis in the Archaic and Classical Periods' (Map 92/93, originally Die ältere und die jüngere Tyrannis), where the simple translation to 'Tyrannies …' would have clarified the subject matter (and, in Map B, 'later tyrannies' is surely preferable to 'younger tyrannis'). Similar subtlety of English usage has been missed in Map 168/169 where the original, Das Römische Reich im Bürgerkrieg 49-45 v.Chr., is better rendered 'The Roman world during the Civil War of 49-45 BC', rather than 'The Roman Empire …', as the period in question predates the accession of Rome's first emperor. (Similarly, Map 170/171, covering 44-30 BC.)

In the text and captions, the translators have generally been mindful of the different expectations of their American and British readers. The 'Sāsāniden' of the original (Maps 216/217 and 218/219), for example, have become 'Sassanids', in line with common (if strictly incorrect) English usage. So it is unfortunate that, in Map 91 ('City development and town planning in Greece'), while 'Miletos' (Map C) has been carefully changed to 'Miletus', and 'Akropolis' to 'Acropolis' (Map B), 'Athenai' (Map A) has not been changed to 'Athens'. And only a half-hearted attempt has been made converting the 'Konstantinopolis' of Map 238 ('Archaeological site-map') to 'Constantinopolis', rather than 'Constantinople'.

This is a particular problem with the maps themselves, which are the German originals (although the double-spread Map 8/9, 'Exploration in the ancient world', has had English language placenames added). Naturally, the others exhibit German-style placenames, for the editing of each and every map would have been an unconscionable undertaking in terms of time and expense. However, the target readership will quickly notice that, in rendering foreign placenames, English usage follows different rules from those followed by the German cartographers of Der Neue Pauly. Of course, it is surely not beyond the wit of the intelligent reader to seek 'Mykenai' when he or she wishes Mycenae, or 'Syrakusai' for Syracuse. However, the reader who remembers to look for 'Korinthos' (instead of Corinth) will miss the 'Corinthus' on Map 187 ('The development of the Roman provinces in the southern Balkan Peninsula'). And the reader wishing to locate the Battle of Cynoscephalae will not find it at all, unless he or she looks under 'Kynoskephalai'. Perhaps more could have been done in the Index to assist the Anglophone reader with entries along the lines of 'Cynoscephalae, see Kynoskephalai'.

The index is generally serviceable, but the indexing policy is not always ideal. For example, readers looking for maps showing Jerusalem will need to look up 'Hierosolyma' and 'Aelia Capitolina' as well, in order to guarantee full coverage; it would surely have been simpler (and more 'reader friendly') to list under 'Jerusalem' all maps which include the city under any of its names. The same situation obtains for Constantinople, for which the reader must look up 'Constantinople', 'Constantinopolis', and 'Konstantinopolis' to ensure that no maps are missed. The indexer has almost achieved the ideal for Carthage (variously rendered Carchedon, Karchedon, Carthago, and Karthago in the maps and text) by listing all entries under 'Carthago', except one: readers must still look up 'Karchedon' or 'Qart-hadašt' to catch Map 85 ('Commerce and trade in the Mediterranean world').

The overall emphasis on ancient placenames to the exclusion of modern equivalents can be irritating. Informed readers may know enough to seek York under 'Eboracum' or Milan under 'Mediolanum', but the Hadrian's Wall forts are indexed only under their various Latin names (a truly opaque policy which has not been applied to the forts of the German limes). And returning to Miletus/Miletos, it has become 'Mileos' in the index.

I would not wish to end on a negative note, as an English-language version of the Historischer Atlas der antiken Welt will be a welcome addition to many college and university libraries, providing a wealth of information for those who lack German. However, for many readers, it may provide an experience which is frustrating and illuminating in equal measure.


1.   In particular, there is no new front matter relating exclusively to this English-language edition. Note also that the running head at pages 274-275 should be changed to 'Authors and rights'.

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