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Digitally annotated medieval city view. Image credit: Edward Triplett
Digitally annotated medieval city view. Image credit: Edward Triplett


Project Lead(s): Philip J. Stern, Edward Triplett


The primary goal of the Sandcastle project is to enable researchers to visualize non-Cartesian, premodern images of places in a comparative environment that resembles the gestural, malleable ones used by medieval and early modern cartographers and artists. This project focuses on perspectival images that are at times referred to as maps but are more accurately described as views or “chorographies.” The Sandcastle project aims to collect and annotate as many representative examples of chorographic views as possible in order to run the variations through a workflow that will procedurally generate experiential 3D environments from the images. With assistance from a Phase II Advancement grant from the Office of Digital Humanities (ODH) at the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), will provide a toolkit created in “Houdini” (a procedural modeling software) that can be opened in either the Unreal or Unity game engines and that is capable of translating annotated (and traced) features from any chorographic view into 3D objects and terrain.

The project website will contain tutorials and guides for walking scholars through the multiple-application process of annotating and converting images into 3D scenes. The project site also aims to host case studies that can demonstrate how the Sandcastle workflow leads to new knowledge about the use of hierarchical scale, perspectival flexibility, and cartographic decision-making in chorographic views from the medieval and early modern periods. The Book of Fortresses project is also closely aligned with this project, and will serve as one of the most significant sources to test the application of the Sandcastle workflow.

Banner Image: Digitally annotated medieval city view. Image credit: Edward Triplett

Current Collaborators

Ali Rothberg
Caroline Rettig
Julia Deitelbaum
Renee George
Xinyue Qian

Related Projects

Book of Fortresses

Funding & Sponsorship