Mare ORBIS: a network model for maritime transportation in the Roman world

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This article presents for the first time the maritime transportation model that supports version 2.0 of ORBIS: the Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World. In Part 1, the author demonstrates the extent to which maps misrepresent the lived experience of connectivity (travel, transportation, and communication) in the premodern Mediterranean. In Part 2, he introduces readers to ORBIS, a pioneering digital project that allows users to calculate the costs (in terms of time and expense) of connectivity throughout the Roman transportation network. In Part 3, he emphasizes the extent to which Roman society relied on maritime connections and identifies a variety of factors that make modelling maritime connectivity far more difficult than modelling connectivity overland. In Part 4, he presents the model he developed to overcome these obstacles. In Part 5, he concludes by highlighting four important characteristics of the model. On one level, this article demonstrates to specialists the importance and potential payoffs of digital approaches to studying the premodern Mediterranean. On another level, it provides both specialists and non-specialists with more accurate and historically contextualized understandings of not only premodern geography per se, but also the crucial role that geography played in shaping the development of premodern societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-198
Number of pages30
JournalMediterranean Historical Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021


  • Roman history
  • digital history
  • geography
  • maritime transportation
  • network modeling


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