Maps of Medieval Spain

While at the GIS / Data Center at Rice, I had the chance to collaborate with Dr. Soifer Irish to create maps of pilgrimage routes and holy sites in medieval Spain for her book, Jews and Christians in Medieval Castile: Tradition, Coexistence, and Change (2016). Dr. Irish is a professor of medieval Iberian history whose work explores the changes in Jewish-Christian relations in the Iberian kingdom of Castile during the 11th to mid-14th century, a period when Christian kingdoms were reclaiming the peninsula from the Umayyad Caliphate during the Reconquista.

Pilgrimage routes and city locations were georeferenced from hard-copy maps, and established through discussion with Dr. Irish. One twist of the project was the inability to consistently use digital resources for laying the basis of the maps, like county-level shapefiles and city lat/lons. The maps really only applied for a much older version of Spain than exists today - the true location of cities now are often different than they were in the Middle Ages (or also no longer there). Publicly available shapefiles for towns, cities, borders, and even some rivers and shorelines either weren't an option, or needed consideration and discussion before use in the project.


The GIS / Data Center is a lab employing students who assist patrons with their spatial projects using ArcMap and Python (for example, architectural or environmental students with spatial analysis questions, or need for datasets for site research). Additionally, faculty members' research or publication projects may require the lab's expertise, giving student employees the chance to collaborate on a longer-term basis.

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