Atlas of Classical History

Atlas of Classical History

Atlas of Classical History

Atlas of Classical History


From the Bronze Age to the reign of Constantine, the Atlas of Classical Historyprovides a comprehensive series of maps, diagrams, and commentary designed to meet the needs of classical scholars, as well as general readers. Over 135 maps of the Greek and Roman worlds clearly mark the political affiliations of the cities and states, major military events, trade routes, artistic, cultural and industrial centers, and colonization and exploration.


In all likelihood this book has its origin in a chance encounter between Richard Stoneman, the humanities editor of Croom Helm Ltd, and myself at the classical societies’ Oxford Triennial Conference in summer 1981. The subject of our conversation on that occasion eludes me. At any rate it was an unexpected pleasure to be approached by Richard in the autumn with a tentative proposal for the compilation of an atlas of classical history. We soon found that we were in close agreement on what was needed: a volume in which lucid maps offered the high school student and the undergraduate a reasonably comprehensive, up-to-date and scholarly coverage of classical history down to the time of Constantine, accompanied by modest elucidation of the material and by some suggestions for further reading. Explanation and discussion were felt to be especially important, so long as they did not outweigh the maps.

A concern to keep production costs under control has restrained us from including everything that we might have wished. The same concern has affected the size and number of pages in the atlas, while colour printing has proved out of the question. Use of some standard bases has helped to limit expenditure on cartography. Equally, without the help of expert colleagues the desired coverage of classical history would have been impossible to achieve. The warmest gratitude is therefore due to those throughout the British Isles who agreed with alacrity to contribute to the atlas and have done such excellent work. It has been deliberate editorial policy to be ready with guidance when required, but otherwise—in view of the contributors’ specialist knowledge—to leave them a fairly free hand in the presentation of their material. Inevitably, however, restraint did have to be exercised when texts submitted overran their allotted space.

In particular no standard convention for the spelling of names has been imposed. Since a convention which meets with general satisfaction has yet to be devised, in a work of this character an editor who sought to impose one of his own making would only face exceptions, pleas, arguments, delay, as well as increasing the possibility of mistakes and diverting attention from more important issues. Whatever an editor does, he has no hope of pleasing everybody where this perennial controversy is concerned. As it is, notably outlandish or unusual spelling of names has been discouraged, Latin forms have been recommended where serious doubt has arisen, and an effort has been made to keep each individual contributor’s usage consistent (since sometimes it was not!). Nonetheless, throughout the atlas as a whole inconsistency does still remain. While any distress caused to purists who read through from cover to cover is regretted, arguably the degree of inconsistency present should hardly cause undue difficulties of comprehension anywhere, and should prove of little account to those who refer just to two or three maps at a time.

No matter how carefully plans are laid in advance, in a complex project of this type the need for certain changes and improvements will only emerge as work proceeds. Such developments are the principal cause of failure to publish the atlas during 1984, as had originally been intended. However the remarkable fact that this target will be missed by so very few months is due above all to the efforts of Jayne Lewin and Richard Stoneman.

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