Where was Critalla?
Herodotus 7.26 and Geographic Information Systems

Alicia Wilson

Furman University

This paper offers an updated explanation of the interpretive problems raised by Herodotus 7.26: the possible locations of Critalla, the gathering site of Xerxes' troops, as well as the route Xerxes and his army followed from Cappadocia to Phrygia.  Scholars such as R. W. Macan and W. M. Ramsay traveled in Asia Minor and therefore made arguments concerning Xerxes' travel based upon their first-hand observation of the geography of the region. For my examination of the problem of Critalla and Xerxes' route, I plotted the possibilities using the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software, ArcGIS 9.  This allowed me to use ArcGIS to perform spatial analyses on these routes and placements of Critalla to determine which I found to be the most plausible, taking into account issues of topography, visibility and accessibility to water.  These analyses show some of the proposed locations of Critalla and proposed routes to be more likely than others, without, however, settling the question definitively.  Therefore, while my approach has not laid to rest the interpretive problems of Hdt. 7.26, I offer it as a case study, demonstrating that GIS technologies can profitably supplement traditional philology and the eyewitness accounts of scholarly explorers.


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