Thursday, January 05, 2006

China Historical GIS

Sometimes you really need a historical GIS (Geographical Information System) to organize all the place names you find in the Burmese chronicle.

When I'm reading the chronicle, I always find myself flipping between Than Tun's Royal Orders of Burma for lists of polities, Scott's Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Trager and Koenig's sittans, maps from books like Lieberman's Burmese Administrative Cycles, contemporary maps (there are some very detailed ones online), and the list of polities for the late Ava period in the Burmese chronicle (will publish this useful list soon).

All this information should be combined into a historical GIS for early modern Burma with the best-guess locations for historical place names. Then detailed maps of military campaigns and of Burmese state expansion could be drawn.

The China GIS referred to above has already covered a lot of the same ground and there are already some GIS beginnings online. Wade's Online Ming Shi-lu provides a map of polities along the Tai-Yunnan frontier with Burma.

You can even download GIS data for Burma (Follow the links: datasets / DCW CHINA shapefiles / Get more DCW Data). Only the rivers, coastline, and topography data really seem relevant.

I can't link into Google Earth directly to show you the wonderful views of Burma that could be used to illustrate chronicle history.