Revealed: the brand new ancient world...

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The contours of the ancient world have been comprehensively redrawn after an exhaustive £3m survey of the Greek and Roman empires. It is the first detailed map of the classical world for 120 years, and is the most complete work of its kind ever undertaken.

The contours of the ancient world have been comprehensively redrawn after an exhaustive £3m survey of the Greek and Roman empires. It is the first detailed map of the classical world for 120 years, and is the most complete work of its kind ever undertaken.

The map identifies several "great walls" in countries other than China, dozens of new Greek and Roman cities across Europe, and redraws entire coastlines - including that of Britain, which acquires little-known islands (now submerged) off the coast of Norfolk and Kent.

The team of 200 scholars behind the project has placed20,000 archaeological sites, many of them discovered only in recent years.

Covering the territories of 75 modern nations from Britain in the west to India in the east, the survey has taken 12 years to complete. More than 200sq ft of detailed maps have been produced and have just been published in atlas form.

Among significant new and recent discoveries featured in the atlas are the Greek city of Akra in the Crimea, the Roman town of Complutum in Spain, a Roman city at Waldgirmes in Germany and the lost city of Phasis, found by underwater archaeologists in a coastal lagoon in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

Other recently discovered sites in the survey include an important First-century battlefield in Germany, two aqueducts in northern Italy, a Roman town in a remote Saharan oasis in Egypt and the site of an important Roman siege that took place in Spain.

All the latest geological and geographical evidence has been used to re-create the coastlines as they would have appeared in ancient times. In Britain, the survey shows how much larger the Wash was in Roman times - and the approximate shapes of islands that existed off the Norfolk and east Kent coasts just 2,000 years ago. The Sussex and Somerset coasts were also substantially different, according to the new atlas.

Elsewhere, the research included in the atlas has substantially redrawn the Roman period geography of Holland, the Rhÿne Delta in France, the Po Valley in Italy, coastal Tunisia, Iraq and the Black Sea coast of the Ukraine.

The survey is also revealing for the first time the full extent of the ancient world's elaborate military defence systems. Archaeologists will now be able to examine in detail the geographical distribution of thousands of miles of little-known stone and earthen frontier walls, many of which have never before been accurately recorded on topographical maps.

The atlas reveals how the concept of linear defence pioneered by the builders of the Great Wall of China can be seen right across central and western Asia and Europe.

Non-Chinese "great walls" included in the survey are located in the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, along the modern Iran/Turkmenistan frontier, southern Russia, the northern Balkans, Germany, Britain and North Africa.

The survey - published as the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World - has been financed by academic and other institutions in the US, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Sweden and Spain. The huge academic team that produced the survey and atlas was assembled using staff at universities in 27 countries. More than 30 British classicists and archaeologists from a dozen UK universities took part.

"This survey has, for the first time, reconstructed the physical and human geography of the entire classical world," said the atlas's editor, Richard Talbert, a British classical historian.

"Modern scholars will now be able to see the thousands of archaeological and historical sites of Greek and Roman civilisation in their true ancient topographical context," said Professor Talbert, who teaches at the University of North Carolina.

"It reflects, for the first time in cartographic form, the huge strides in knowledge about the classical world which have been made over the past century."

The Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World, edited by Richard JA Talbert and published by Princeton University Press, is priced £205, including CD-ROM place name directory.

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