Blog Post

Cities of Heracles: Using Google maps and the Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites to create a map

Original post at Antiquorum & Praesentis blog by Jesica Jayd H. Lewis


As a graduate student of the Ancient World, one of the things that has stood out to me throughout the past two years is just how many settlements were named after the Greek hero Heracles (Hercules in Latin). It seemed like everywhere I looked, and in every time period, some city named for the hero was involved in major events in the ancient world. I decided to conduct an experiment by creating a map to visualize just how many cities of Heracles were established in the Mediterranean basin, which might bring up further interesting questions.

By using a snapshot of the Mediterranean area from Google maps, I created the following map showing the different cities that were for the hero Heracles/Hercules.

Cities of Hercules-Heracles Map

I used the online Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites through Perseus Digital Library (which I found through Google search) to identify different sites named for a variation of Heracles’s name. First I made a list of the sites by searching under “H” in the table of contents, beginning with the site HERAKLEIA (Ereğli) in Pontus, Turkey, going through HERAKLEION (Iraklion) Temenos district, Crete and HERCULANEUM (Ercolano, formerly Resina) Italy, and finally HERCULIA (Gorsium) in Hungary. After this, I used Google search and Google maps to locate these sites, and then edited my snapshot image of the Mediterranean with blue dots indicating where the sites were situated and labeled them.

In going further with this map, it would be interesting to animate it such that the blue dots appear along a chronological sequence corresponding to when each given site was established or received the name of Heracles.


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