1895 map of Athens, Georgia

Thanks to a UGA team, university researchers and Athens residents can now take a virtual walk through the city’s changing physical landscape via the “Layers of Time” story map, built from historical material capturing the Old Athens Cemetery, Oconee Hill Cemetery, the UGA campus and the greater Athens area, from the 1800s to the present.

The story map summarizes the comprehensive mapping project conducted by a team of faculty and students led by Marguerite Madden and Sergio Bernardes, director and associate director, respectively, of the Center for Geospatial Research. The project was commissioned after human remains were unearthed on the Baldwin Hall construction site in late 2015.

Initial DNA analysis of the remains revealed the vast majority of those tested were of maternal African descent; considering the age of the remains, the individuals were most likely slaves or former slaves.

The story map demonstrates how interactive maps, images and other information can both enhance the known record and highlight new discoveries. For example, an old, hand-drawn map of burial sites in the Old Athens Cemetery can be accurately projected onto current aerial views, even allowing users to scroll over specific burial sites to reveal what is known about the individual buried there.

The team is presently working to construct a publicly accessible map portal, through which anyone interested in Athens history may view, download and use maps and other imagery contained in the database. The portal is expected to be complete in Fall 2018.

Click on the link below to visit the story map, and watch the university—and the city around it—take shape over the decades.