Digital approaches to Righas Velestinlis’ Charta, the 18th century cartographic monument of Greek cultural heritage.

M. Pazarli, N. Ploutoglou, K. Papadopoulos*, A. Tsorlini, E. Livieratos

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

* University of Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Greece


Righas Velestinlis (1757-1798) is a major personality of the Greek Risorgimento and a top representative of the Greek Enlightenment in the late 18th cent. His ideas, intellectual involvement and revolutionary activism played an important role in the struggle of Greeks for independence in early 19th cent., influencing also the neighbouring people in the Balkans. Among Righas works, writings and translations, his cartographic production even limited in number of maps, is of particular importance. Especially his masterpiece, the Charta, a 12-sheet 2 X 2 metres map, printed in Vienna (1796 – 1797) in 1220 copies, representing almost the whole of Southeast Europe (the Balkan peninsula), is now considered (and recently proclaimed officially) a monument of Greek national cultural heritage.

Despite its historical cartographic importance, Charta is known, among few experts, principally from a scholar or literary point of view, concerning mainly its symbolic semantics. Analyses related to pure cartographic issues of this map, geometric and thematic and in its intrinsic properties (usually not apparent in a direct map-reading) are extremely limited almost missing in the cartographic literature.

Celebrating the 250th anniversary of Righas birth in 2007, a research project on Charta is under development focused on two main topics: a) the analysis of its geometric framing and content; b) the documentation of its toponymy. The original idea behind the project is that both topics should be interrelated and interactive in terms of the possibilities available from modern digital information and communication technologies. This task was feasible because of the recent digitization of one of the few known existing original copies of Charta preserved in the Thessaloniki University Library (almost 2% of the printed copies are survived).

In this paper the methodology designed especially for this project is analyzed getting full profit of the digital transformation of the original map. Intrinsic and extrinsic georeference implied on the map and coupled using a number of appropriate tests for the best fitting. Then a georeferenced digital dictionary of the toponyms is structured. A research on the relevance of Righas Charta toponyms with the modern counterparts and the Ptolemaic toponymy tradition is also part of the research as well as the relevance with toponymy given in other maps, seemed that served as references. An implementation setup on the possible uses of such Charta-related digital tools in education and history teaching and research, is also designed for generalization of the concept.