Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Roots - The Interactive Map


The History Channel's dramatization of Alex Haley's 'Roots: The Saga of an American Family' began last night. The series presents an historical portrait of American slavery through the story of one family.

The History Channel's website for the new television series includes an interactive map visualizing the 350 year history of the Transatlantic slave trade. Mapping Slave Journeys uses data from the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database to show slave ship journeys across the Atlantic from 1525 to 1865.

The timeline running along the bottom of the map includes a number of interesting stories that the History Channel has picked out from the data, including details about individual ships, ship rebellions and the slave ship which Alex Haley believed that his ancestor, Kunta Kinte, had been transported on.


This isn't the first mapped visualization of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database. Last year Slate released the Atlantic Slave Trade in Two Minutes, a map which animates the journeys of the slave ship journeys over 315 years.

This map visualizes the scale of the transatlantic slave trade over the centuries. It also reveals the patterns of the trade routes used and the destinations of the slave ships. The size of the ships on the map are scaled to represent the number of slaves on board. You can also click on each ship to find out under which country's flag the ship sailed.


Professor Adam Rothman and Matt Burdumy of Georgetown University have also created a series of heat maps using data from the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database.. These heat maps visualize the most important central locations in over 35,000 slaving voyages (from 1500 to 1870).

Their visualization of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database consists of three animated heat maps showing the cumulative frequency of slave ship points of departure, the principal ports where slaves were purchased and the principal ports where the slaves were sold.

During the animation on each map a cumulative heat-map appears, revealing the pattern of slave voyages over time. For example, the map of slave voyage departures reveals how Portugal and Spain's early dominance of the transatlantic slave trade was quickly overtaken by the emergence of British slave traders.
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