Annotated Collaborative EventMaps

Work on this project has been supported by the
NEH Digital Humanities Fellowship FX 50009 08
with additional support from Colgate University.

Definitions and an Example

An EventMap is a sequence of Google maps controlled by a Timeline. Each map corresponds to an event: something that happened at a specific place during a specific time interval. The Timeline makes it possible to go to the next, the previous, the first, or the last event in the sequence; or to go to any specific time to see what was (or will be) happening at that time. To indicate the locations of events, maps can contain clickable markers, lines, polygons and image overlays (e.g., scanned maps) -- everything that can be found in Google's My Maps.

The screenshot below shows a Google map overlayed with a scanned map of Afghanistan's borders in 1879, edited in Photoshop. It corresponds to the historical event of the treaty of Gandamak, formalizing the British occupation ofthe mountain passes into Afghanistan in response to perceived Russian threat. (Both Bukhara and Khiva, although nominally independent, were Russian protectorates similar to the Princely States of British India.) You can view the entire EventMap describing the history of Afghanistan's borders, as well as other examples of EventMaps, at this site.

1875 borders

The area on the left contains a web page. It can be a very simple web page consisting of just a title and a paragraph of text, or it can be a complex web page containing images and multimedia. Typically, the material of the page expains, annotates or expands upon the event shown in the EventMap, but it can be used for any other purpose.

Instead of thinking of an EventMap as a sequence of maps each annotated by a web page, one can think of it as a sequence of pages (an article, a book) each annotated by a map. A good example of this kind of book is Colin McEvedy's The New Penguin Atlas of Ancient History: Revised Edition, 2003 .

It is easy to collaborate in creating EventMaps because each EventMap is defined by a Google Spreadsheet of a specific format. (See the Authoring Guide for details.) Every user with whom the spreadsheed is shared can modify the corresponding EventMap by changing the content of existing events or adding new ones. You can create your own EventMap by creating a Google Spreadsheet and annotations for it. For collaboration, simply share the speadsheet with colleagues and friends.

To review the many ways of navigating EventMaps, please refer again to the screen shot. Clicking on the logo in top left returns you to the home page. The controls on bottom right provide these actions:

The annotation on the left is a web page within an iframe, and can contain links to any materials on the Web.

The Authoring Guide explains all aspects of authoring including the setting up of the map sequence and the timeline, and creating the annotations.


As of this writing (November 2008), EventMaps can only be viewed in the Firefox browser 1.5 or later. We recommend that you maximize the browser window by pressing F11 on your keyboard. The IE7 version is under active development.

EventMaps require an Internet connection because Google Maps (and, for authoring, Google Spreadsheets) require it. The files of EventMaps themselves can be viewed and edited as local files. In other words, in order to view an EventMap application you can simply click on its home page.

Filtering and Search

Coming Soon