Fellow tech and history nerds, rejoice! I have spent a very pleasant hour yesterday on the ToposText app. What is this app, you ask? ToposText is a smartphone application that links mythical and historical locations to the ancient authors who wrote about them in Greek or Latin, using a huge library of ancient texts.

The idea belongs to Brady Kiesling, a former ancient historian and archaeologist from California who returned to scholarship after working for twenty years as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department in Israel, Morocco, Greece, and Armenia. The implementation was done by the IT company Pavla AE and was supported by the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation.

According to its creators, TT presents 5,000 places relevant to the ancient Greek world, from ancient cities and shrines, medieval castles and towers, modern museums and excavation sites. TT shows locations of antiquities primarily in Greece but also does include some major places from Spain to the Caucasus. The application links those places to the ancient authors who wrote about them in Greek or Latin.

Selecting a site from either the list or the map opens up a table of two-line snippets from ancient authors, headed where available by a modern description, whereas selecting from this index list, which can be filtered by date, genre, and relevance, connects one to the full text of 240-odd works in English translation, some with the original Ancient Greek as well. Thus, at a glance and from any location, you can select and read the passages in ancient literature that give a place to its historical and cultural meaning.

The app is available for iOS and Android smart phones and tablets and a new website will be available on Dec. 7. The ToposText website includes:

– A portable library of ancient texts with more than 530 sources on Greek history, mythology and geography in English
– A database with more than 5,350 ancient locations, modern museums and archaeological sites, which covers the entirety of the ancient Greek world
– An interactive map and index which links every location with the ancient source for which it has some reference
– An index of thousands of proper names
– Specific coordinates that allow the user to enlarge an area in the map enough to actually see the ancient ruins

For those in the area, an event to present the application to the public will be held on December 7, at the Historical Library of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, at 7p.m. Speakers include Dr. Eleni Korka, director general of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage at the ministry of culture, Brady Kiesling, Dr. Elton Barker, co-founder of Pelagios Project at the Open University in the UK and Dr. Stavros Paspalas, deputy director of the Australian Archaeological Institute.

the app itself isn't very streamlined or sleek. When you first start it up, it might seem to be freezing because it doesn't show a 'loading' animation, for example. After about twenty seconds the app will open so just wait it out a little while. The map is what you are used to when using google Maps and can be manipulated to move or zoom into (image 1). Every dot is a location. Clicking on the location tag (not the 'info' button) it allows you to 'open' the location and see all that was written about it (image 2). You can tap one of the snippets for the full text (image 3). You can toggle between the English and Greek/Latin. Sadly, the text can't be copied directly off of the app. It does lists copyright information (the little 'C' at the right top) and the book/paragraph/line information so you can look up the text online and copy it there.

For anyone researching ancient sites and/or ancient texts, the app is a treaasure trove. The search funtion works well and it's much more focussed to search for information with the app than, say, Google--which does have access to all the same libraries but has access to many more sources, muddling the results. I'm definitely going to be using this app in the future!