This page describes a quick and easy way to generate maps on toponyms and sites in Upper Mesopotamia from the Middle and Late Bronze Ages with the help of QGIS. It is meant simply to provide a first impression and emphatically does not replace professional cartographic works with a more in-depth use of GIS.

The tutorial is divided into three sections:

  1. Installation and setup of Qantum GIS
  2. The compilation of sites to be shown on the map
  3. The importation of these sites into QGIS and formatting of the visualization

The instructions in the first section only need to be carried out once. Once these have been completed, that is, QGIS will already have been installed on your computer and the additional steps carried out, you can skip to section 2.

It's important to note a few general recommendations to begin.
QGIS is a comprehensive desktop-GIS which offers considerably more than the functions described here. Depending on the speed of your internet connection and computer, download and subsequent application can lead to considerable lag. It's important to stay patient. In addition, in using QGIS, it's helpful to avoid including spaces and special characters (umlauts, accents, symbols, numerals) for the names of files or directories.
Once you've grown used to these basic rules for using QGIS, you can begin to create your own maps. A good map has a clearly defined goal defined by a clear title (and subtitle, if necessary). ). Scale, Northing, and metadata should also be included together with co-ordinates and the projection used. In order to let users interpret your maps correclty, a legend explaining the symbols used on the map is essential.


You can download QGIS 3.0 from the QGIS-Website: QGIS Download. Install QGIS by opening the downloaded file and follow the instructions. In addition, download the following zip-file: Textelsem Data Package. Open the file on your computer in a directory of your choice, remembering to avoid special characters and spaces in the path. You should also only make changes in the directory "my_data", that is, adding or deleting files or directories. Use this directory to manage your own files.

Compiling Data

In the virtual research environment developed for this purpose, you can now select the individual sites which you would like to be shown on your map. Click on the "Plus" on the right next to a site in order to add it to the export.

The application offers the possibility of including filters on the left top, in order to filter data according to archeological or philological criteria. The search function is based on the Levenshtein algorithm in order to find place names in various transcriptions and transliterations. In addition, you can display places based on your current position by clicking on the map. By clicking on "add all," all filtered places will be added to the export. By clicking on the Plus, on the selected place will be added.

On the top left you can also switch between the overview and a view in which only those places are displayed which have already been exported. Once you are finished selecting places for export, you can now save the file. This file will be used later to be loaded into QGIS and display the places in the application. In order to save the file, click on the tab "Export", check the list below or the map display to make sure all of the data is included, select the labels for the place names, name the file, and click on "download". It's strongly recommended that you place the new file in the directory my_data.

Creating the Map

After the installation is complete, you can start QGIS by opening the file "textelsem_map_template.qgis" in the unzipped directory. In the Layer window to the left, select the information to be displayed on the map. Under "Basemaps" you can select a map for the background. In addition, under "HIGEOMES data," you can add additional elements such as rivers or the total data set of sites.

Under "User Data," you can now display the selected sites and toponyms from TexTelSem. You can add any number of files exported from the virtual research environment described in section 2 to QGIS by dragging the files into QGIS with the mouse. Next, you can also change the display by double-clicking on the respective layer (that is, the respective export-file). The most important visual displays can be changed under "Layer Visibility", while labels can be added under "Labels". Select "Label this Layer" and then, immediately below, select either "Name" for the HiGeoMes-ID or "Description" for the designation which you selected during export.






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