Web-GIS “These are the Names of Russian Towns, Distant and Hither”

This is one more type of historical GIS that unites a map and a text of appropriate historical sorce. The web-GIS is based on the materials of so called “List of Russian Towns, Distant and Hither". It survived in 26 copies, and the oldest one was preserved in the Commission Scroll of the Novgorod First Chronicle (Новгородская первая летопись старшего и младшего изводов. М., 2000. С. 475-477). The Commission Scroll  was written, apparently, in the Novgorod Holy Saviour from Khutin monastery in the middle of the 15th century as the copy of the official chronicle kept at cathedra of the Novgorod archbishop (Бобров А.Г. Новгородские летописи XV в. СПб., 2001. С. 68-74. See also: Bobrov A.G. Novgorodian Chronicles of the Fifteenth Century // Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle / Edited by Graeme Dunphy. Leiden: Brill, 2010. Vol. 2. P. 1157-1158). It listed from 355 to 362 towns (an account depends on reading of some names which cannot be identified unambiguous). The List has a large historiography  (basic studies are as follows: Насонов А.Н. «Русская земля» и образование территории Древнерусского государства. М., 1951. С. 142-143; Тихомиров М.Н. "Список русских городов дальних и ближних" // Исторические записки. М., 1952. Т. 40. С. 214-259; Наумов Е.П. К истории летописного “Списка русских городов дальних и ближних" // Летописи и хроники: сб. ст. 1973 г. М., 1974. С. 150-163; Подосинов А.В. О принципах построения и месте создания “Списка русских городов дальних и ближних” // Восточная Европа в древности и средневековье. М., 1978. С. 40-48; Янин В. Л. К вопросу о дате составления обзора «А се имена градом всем русскым далним и ближним» // Древнейшие государства Восточной Европы. 1992-1993. М. 1995. C. 125-134; Кучкин В.А. Датировка списка «А се имена градом всѣм русскым далним и ближним» // Древняя Русь. Вопросы медиевистики. 2015. № 3(61). С. 70-72; Дедук А.В. «Список русских городов дальних и ближних»: история изучения // Русский книжник.  2014. М., 2015. С. 129 - 141).  Scholars disperse in definition of purpose of this List, of place where it was compounded, and of dating, but all agree that definitely enough it marks a circle of cultural interactions maintained by Russians of the late Middle Ages.
Most of scholars date the List to the period between the last quarter of the 14thc. to the early 15th c. At the same time they admit, that later particular changes of the document took place. It is impossible to exclude, however, that accumulation of data for the List covered more extensive period. Some scholars argue that in the List some towns were listed which did not survive the Mongolian Massacre of Russia in the middle 13th century. Others pay attention that the document reflects some changes in political affiliation of towns and other circumstances relating to the first half of the 15th century. 
Anyway, does not raise doubts that in the middle 15th century the List was considered as relevant because in the Commission Scroll it was not simply inherited as a part of earlier compiled text. It was included in the manuscript on the last stage of composition, that is not earlier than in 1446. At the same time, A. G. Bobrov considers this List as the result of work on the episcopal chronicle at the early 1420-s which accidentally preserved in the Commission Scroll (Бобров А.Г. Указ. соч. С. 88). 

The web-GIS was built on the NextGIS platform (http://nextgis.ru/). The solution of the tasks set during this web-GIS development contributed to the expansion of the functionality of the platform through the efforts of OOO "NextGIS" specialists. The text of the List (from the Commission Scroll) appears on the left part of the window (translated by A. Frolov with the participation of T. Jackson). Each town localized on the map is highlighted in the text as a hyperlink. Each group of cities is indicated by a separate conventional symbol. To go to the appropriate place in the map, click on this hyperlink.  
So called ‘intellectual' zooming is applied. It assumes that any particular user needs to see a position of all the towns approximately with the similar accuracy. But this accuracy may differ from one user to another. For example, one researcher pays attention to the topography of towns, while the other needs a general picture of the location of the towns of one group, etc. The system remembers the scale to which the user customized when viewing one selected town, and the next zoom will be the same as the user made it, rather than pre-installed.
On a small scale the towns are displayed without labels. With increasing scale, a number appears for each of the towns, according to which it is possible to judge its position in the text relative to other place names. The name of the town is given in label after the colon. The corresponding numbers in square brackets are also given in the text of the List.
When towns were localized, the results published by other researchers on the historical geography of the source were actively used, and other data were also used (in particular: Вялики Гистарычны Атлас Беларуси. Том 1. Минск, 2009). A special task to indicate the precise location of the town based on topography of the corresponding archaeological hillfort was not raised, but as this web-GIS is discussed in the community of specialists, topographic data will be taken into account. The author is grateful to A. Astaykin, A. Deduk and A. Potravnov for their participation in the correction of the cartographic data of the project and its discussion. 
The concept design of this web-GIS system for the Russian Chronicles has been developed by Dr. Alexey Frolov in collaboration with Dr. Andrea Nanetti (Nanyang Technological University Singapore) during Dr. Alexey Frolov three-week research stay at NTU Singapore (30 April - 19 May 2018) as a Visiting Scholar under the CLASS scheme and as Research Collaborator to the Singapore MOE TIER 1 grant "Data Consolidation for Interactive Global Histories (1205-1533) within the NTU National and International Research Network: "Towards an NTU Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Data-Driven Agent-Based Modelling and Simulations for Historical Sciences" (M4011828, PI Andrea Nanetti, 2017-2020).

A.A. Frolov

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