Archive for ‘November, 2012’

Sometimes I spend Friday afternoons “gadgeting,” that is, researching software and gadgets that can help wrangle research, data, sources, and photos into something that resembles a website or dissertation. Today’s epiphany came courtesy of Picasa, free photo organizing software that is connected to a Google account. Research for both my dissertation and Documenting Cappadocia includes the five thousand photos I took in Turkey, images scanned and downloaded from a variety of haphazard sources, screenshots, and lots of sticky notes and photocopies. It’s kind of a mess.

While in Cappadocia I used iPhoto on a laptop to put my photos into albums and tag them by event, but was dissatisfied that I couldn’t visualize subfolders and found the library to be large and clunky. Aperture was organized the same way, offering more in the way of filters and Photoshop-type features–not what I needed at all. Picasa can detect folders from several places (like Dropbox or my desktop) and then photos can be organized into Picasa albums while they still live in folders elsewhere. (It’s worth a moment to read their “Folders versus Albums” page here). Photos can be tagged; metadata is visible in the properties panel; and subfolders can be visible as well. This is a good way to separate the photos that I took from images that have been scanned or downloaded for research only. I wish there were a way to add notes (and am experimenting with Evernote for smaller batches of photos).  Lyn offers a similar app for organizing photos, although it’s not free.

For my next trip, I will be more organized about collecting data. I just got a camera that records GPS coordinates and am testing out software and apps for recording data in the field. If you have suggestions, please leave a comment below.


When I began the Documenting Cappadocia project last year, I thought a WordPress site would be a quick and nifty way to share some lists and photos, hopefully inspiring more people to do research on Byzantine Cappadocia. While the original goal holds true, I’ve decided to adopt a more long-term strategy, building a database to serve the scholarly community, rather than just acting as social hub or album, and carefully considering the software and tools that are best suited for a project of this size.

My inspiration comes from the early explorers of Cappadocia who, in the early 20th century, documented Byzantine monuments by describing and photographing dozens of locations, often at great personal risk and expense. Volumes by Guillaume de Jerphanion, Marcell Restle, and Gertrude Bell (among others) are listed in the bibliography. These publications are still a valuable starting point for any scholar who researches Cappadocia, but the books are expensive, often out of print, and difficult to locate. Very few of these resources can be found online.

Another long tradition is that of the gazetteer, the directory or encyclopedic dictionary of places. Since antiquity, scholars have mapped important locations with a corresponding directory of information about each site. Twenty-first century gazetteers often build these resources online. Pleiades, for instance, began with the printed Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World and now uses crowd-sourced information to link geographical and historical data about ancient places. You may have noticed Documenting Cappadocia’s list of Byzantine monuments. This will be the starting point for a database that contains an entry for each Byzantine site. The sites will then be incorporated into a searchable map, creating a gazetteer of Cappadocia, one that will digitize the early explorers’ tradition of documenting monuments into a twenty-first century tool for research.

After a brief hiatus, the Documenting Cappadocia blog is back. I’ll continue to post information about Cappadocia travel and research, as well as early explorers. But I’m also going to write about the process and tools that I’m using to build the site. Comments are always welcome, and I’d love to hear from scholars who are working on similar projects.