April Fool: Ancient GIS Discovered

Researchers working at the base of Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey have discovered the remnants of what appears to an ancient map-based navigation system that is being called the “world’s first GIS.” The presence of the artifact, which has been dubbed “ArkMap”, at the base of mountain is seen as further evidence that Ararat was indeed the resting place of Noah’s Biblical ark.

The mechanical device seems to have been supported by what appears to be the ancient equivalent of a database that includes such items a comprehensive collection of depth soundings and well as information on the habitats of various animal species that were common at the time. It is interesting to note that the database appears to contain no information about landmarks.

The data has survived due to the fact that it was encoded onto to bronze plates in a manner that seems to indicate that a strong electrical current was used. “Given the technology of the time, it is a mystery how this was accomplished.” said Dr. Una Balatro, leader of the research team. “It’s hard to imagine anything short of lightning being able to do this.”

The data was uniquely encoded in a complex series of two-by-two matrices. The researchers have not fully uncovered how the matrices were linked to each other but as Dr. Balatro put it: “two-by-two seemed to be a big thing for them.”

Also found at the site were fragments of what appears to be a stone tablet with a map engraved on it. It is the first evidence that ancient navigators may have used tablets for mapping and charting. “It appears that they used information from the database to mark up the basemap on the tablet with some form of ink, which could be easily removed as needed.” said Dr. Balatro.

More information on the discovery can be found here.