Perseus: An Interactive Curriculum on Ancient Greek Civilization

Principal Investigators:

Gregory Crane
Assistant Professor of the Classics Harvard University

V. Judson Harward
Research Assistant Professor of Archaeology
Department of Archaeology
Boston University

Frederick Hemans
Assistant Professor of Archaeology Department of Archaeology
Boston University

Sponsors: Annenberg/CPB Project, Xerox Corporation, various museums and curatorial organizations worldwide.

Duration: July 1987 – June 1990

Project Summary:

Perseus is a program of research tools and courses which incorporates computer and video technology for the study of Ancient Greece. The project was carried out by a collection of archaeologists, art historians, philologists, and historians at Boston University, Harvard University, and other neighboring academic institutions.

The primary aim of Perseus’ creators was to compile an extensive database on Ancient Greece with both visual and textual information. They were successful, and the resulting database is suitable for elementary school through graduate level research and educational needs. At the same time, Perseus has been implemented into museums as an informative and far-reaching tool of interest. The visual portion of the database contains art and architectural examples, maps, satellite photographs, and architectural drawings.

Capacities such as these compare with other videodisk projects such as the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture and The Getty Art History Information Program’s Museum Prototype Project. However, Perseus is unique because it is the only project with a visual database devoted entirely to Greek art and architecture; it incorporates text and visual medium simultaneously; and uses innovative, “user-friendly” computer software.

Perseus compliments traditional GIS in that the uniform schemes to handle geographical data is usually is distributed in a highly irregular manner. Archaeology excavation provides tremendous amounts of data regarding limited portions of ancient occupation areas. Normal raster used GIS does not provide efficient strategies for using this rich but irregular data. With an interactive database such as Perseus, the vast amounts of data collected by researchers and GIS can be fully appreciated and utilized.