Antioch Mosaics and ArcGIS Online: The Final Takeaways

To conclude our research on the global distribution of the Antioch mosaics, Ella Gonzalez and I created an interactive map and StoryMap on ArcGIS Online.

The map of the current Antioch mosaic repositories can be accessed here:

The StoryMap describing our entire research process from start to finish can be accessed here:


  • Faith Cimok’s Antioch Mosaics: A Corpus (2000)
  • Frances F. Jones’ “Antioch Mosaics in Princeton” (1981)*
  • Claudia Barsanti’s “The Fate of the Antioch Mosaic Pavements: Some Reflections” (2012)

*Note: all mosaics with “M” plus a number are from Jones’ article.

Mapping the Past in the Present: Antioch Mosaics and ArcGIS Online

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, ArcGIS has become a useful tool for tracking the spread of the virus across the world and mapping the number of confirmed cases in each country. Within our own community at Johns Hopkins University, researchers who work at the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) have been using ArcGIS mapping software to create visualizations of COVID-19 in real time. Thus, it seems like now, more than ever, ArcGIS has gained a newfound importance in today’s society. 

In my own personal research and workstream, ArcGIS has become an important tool as well. On Friday, my fellow student investigator Ella Gonzalez and I had a private consultation over Zoom with a member of the Data Services team at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. She first suggested that we use ArcGIS Online instead of ArcGIS Pro for our project as it is less complex and more user friendly, and then went into a detailed presentation of the various tools we can use for visualizing the distribution of the Antioch mosaics. Compared to my first introduction to ArcGIS a few weeks ago, this presentation was tailored to my specific research interests and made me feel a lot more comfortable using the mapping software on my own time. 

After our Zoom meeting, Ella and I decided on a three-phase plan for digitizing the distribution of the Antioch mosaics on ArcGIS Online: the first phase is inputting data into Google Sheets, the second phase is transferring this data to ArcGIS Online, and the third phase is adding external media (i.e., hyperlinks to museum collections, images of mosaics, and potentially the in situ locations of each mosaic).

In the first (and current) phase of our project, we are creating a detailed spreadsheet on Google Sheets that lists each museum in the United States, France, and Turkey that has an Antioch mosaic. Using Google Maps, we will then add the longitude and latitude coordinates of the museum into the spreadsheet, as this will be used within ArcGIS Online to physically map out the museum location. In the second phase of our project, we will be inputting the data from the spreadsheet into ArcGIS Online and adjusting the visual display of our location dots/map in general. In the third phase of our project, we will be adding external media (i.e., links to the museum website, images of the Antioch mosaics) to each location on our map. Depending on how long the first two phases take us, we may want to add links to three-dimensional renderings or floorplans of the houses from Antioch that once contained these mosaics. At the end of the third phase, I hope to publish our map through the University system. Thus, through using ArcGIS Online, I will not only be able to map the past in the present, but also create a graphic that can act as an educational resource for anyone interested in the distribution of the Antioch mosaics.

Visualizing the Distribution of Antioch Mosaics using ArcGIS Pro

Two weeks ago, I attended an introductory workshop on ArcGIS Pro that was offered through Data Services at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library. During this course, I was introduced to the basics of working with spatial data and creating two-dimensional and three-dimensional maps. As someone who had no previous background in working with geographic information systems software, I felt a bit out of my element at first, but was reassured by the course instructor and course assistant that no prior knowledge was necessary to understand the interface of ArcGIS Pro and the functions of its most commonly used tools. I quickly learned how to input data from an existing data set, rename my categories/refine my search queries, and change the colors of my map. At the end of the three hours, I had created a two-dimensional map of the United States showing the ideal geographic location for a warehouse accommodating the 65 and older population. 

For the next phase of my work stream, I am interested in applying what I learned at the ArcGIS Pro training to the distribution of Antioch mosaics around the globe. As my initial data set, I plan on using a graphic published in Fatih Cimok’s Antioch Mosaics: A Corpus that shows the many repositories of extant Antioch mosaics. Considering that this map was published 20 years ago, I have been conducting my own research on whether new repositories of Antioch mosaics exist today. For example, I have learned from speaking with my fellow student investigator Ella Gonzalez that another Antioch mosaic may be located somewhere in Cuba, although its current location remains unknown. After Spring Break, I am meeting with the course assistant from the ArcGIS Pro training to discuss the first steps to inputting this repository data into a two-dimensional map. Within the next few weeks or so, I hope to create a visually striking and educational graphic that helps contextualize the original in situ locations of these mosaics and where they are now housed. 

On March 25th, I am attending another introductory workshop offered through Data Services on ArcGIS StoryMaps. Through using one of the StoryMaps web app templates, I will be able to integrate maps, text, scanned documents and videos. My plan is to include the two-dimensional map of the repositories that I produce in ArcGIS Pro, and feature it within my overarching StoryMap. For the StoryMap itself, depending on how comfortable I feel using it after the training, I plan on tracing the distribution history of one or more Antioch mosaics from the BMA collection, from its in situ site to its current location in the museum.