Saturday 28 January 2023

A Hex Map of Ancient Greece

Hex Map Showing Sparta Location
This is Sparta!

I was tinkering and put together this hex map of the area we usually call Ancient Greece (download it; it's a lot better than the preview makes it look). Not everything - Crete is probably the biggest missing part, but also the northern area, including Thessalonika. And of course there's nothing of the Italian/Sicilian colonies to the west which everyone always forgets about.

The big hexes are 36miles and inside them are 6 mile hexes (don't forget: a 6 mile hex is still 20,000 acres).

The map itself is the size of a single index mapsheet in my Campaign Map Book by sheer luck rather than intent. But the 6:1 ratio is ideal for that if you fancy splashing some cash my way.

Here's a little index for the map which I'll try to update from time to time:

Place Type Hex
Argos City 0607
Athens City 0807
Corinth City 0607
Delos Island 1108
Delphi Temple 0506
Elis City 0307
Elusis Temple 0806
Ephesus City/Wonder 1606
Halicarnassus City/Wonder 1609
Lindos City 1811
Marathon City 0806
Megalopolis City 0408
Messene City 0408
Mt Olympus Mountain 0502
Mycenae City 0607
Olympia Temple/Wonder 0308
Plataea Site 0706
Pylos City 0409
Rhodes City/Wonder 1810
Sparta City 0509
Tegea City 0508
Thebes City 0706
Therea Volcano 1210
Troy City 1302

It's sometimes hard to decide when something is a city or a temple complex so take the "Type" column with a pinch of salt. Also, Corinth is very near the place where three hexes join so I might be wrong there.

Finally, the background map is of course a modern map from OpenStreetMap and while at this scale changes in coastlines are mostly invisible, I would point out that there was historically no bridge between the western Peloponnese and the mainland and it certainly would not have been called  the A5.

I say "mostly" invisible because there is some controversy over the location of Ithica - Odysseus' home. The modern island of Kephalonia has two clear regions - an east and western "lobe". It has been suggested that the western of these was the original Ithica and the channel between the islands was filled in by a combination of uplift and huge landslides caused by earthquakes. 

I actually went to the bother of going there and having a look myself and, especially from the air, it is clear that there has been very significant landslipping and there is plenty of evidence - and indeed modern records of - land uplift by really strong earthquakes. There is a major fault complex where three tectonic plates meet just to the west/southwest of the island.

So I'd say it's likely that these were two islands in the past, possibly even the historical past if Scrabo's text about a shallow channel is definitely referring to this location. But that of course does not mean that the western area (now called Paliki) was then called Ithica. However, the modern Ithica bears no resemblance to the low-lying island good for horses which Homer describes. Unless "good for horses" means that it's ideal for watching them fall over cliffs or roll down precipitous slopes into the sea.

Anyway, I mention all this mainly because it illustrates that the area is active enough that a detailed modern map can in fact be an inaccurate guide to the ancient landscape described in stories. We're sort of used to the idea that rivers move about over time. Not so much islands.