Convert a list of historic places into a map

Prepare the table

To convert a list of locations into points on a map, the list first must be reformatted as a table, for example as an .xlsx file, .csv file, or Google Sheets document. The work of copying and pasting the content from Wikipedia into a .csv table has already been done for you. However, before you import the table into ArcGIS, you'll make some improvements to its formatting to ensure that the correct locations are found.

  1. Download AncientCities.csv.
  2. Right-click the downloaded file, point to Open with, and choose Excel.
    Note:

    If you don't have access to Microsoft Excel or a similar program, you can download the modified file and skip to the next section.

  3. Open the table and review the data.

    Some of the entries in the Name column have their historical names in parentheses.

    Names with historical names in parentheses

    The geocoding process will convert the place-names in this table to geographic locations by matching the place-names to addresses in a database. The entries that include parentheses might make location matching difficult. You'll separate the historical names into their own column to help ensure that the geocoding process finds the correct locations.

  4. Right-click the header for column B and click Insert.

    Insert option in the column context menu

    A new empty column (named B) appears.

  5. In column B, row 1, type Historical name.
  6. In column B, row 5, type Hippo Regius.
  7. In column A, row 5, remove the text (as Hippo Regius) so the cell contains only the text Annaba.

    Annaba row with Historical name set to Hippo Regius

  8. Edit the following place-names in the same way so all of the names in parentheses are moved into the Historical name column:
    • Benghazi/Euesperides
    • Constantine/Cirta
    • Fes/Fes-al-Bali
    • Luxor/Wasat, better known by its Greek name Thebes
    • Marrakesh/Murakuc
    • Tangier/Tingi
    • Tripoli/Oyat

    Completed table

    Some of the place-names in this table are relevant to your class and some are not. There may also be some cities that are missing from the list that you'd like to include. Since Wikipedia is an unreliable source, you'll need to evaluate this data for errors as well as relevancy.

  9. Make any further edits to the table that you feel are appropriate, such as adding or removing rows.
  10. On the ribbon, click File and click Save As. Name the new file AncientCities, followed by your initials (for example, AncientCities_YN)
    Note:

    Later, you'll upload the .csv file to ArcGIS Online. You cannot create two files in an ArcGIS organization with the same name. Adding your initials ensures that other people in your organization can also complete this tutorial.

  11. Click Save.
  12. Close Excel.

    Your list is now formatted as a table and is ready to be geocoded.

Add the table to ArcGIS Online

Now that you have a table of locations, you can use ArcGIS Online to convert it into geospatial data. The geocoding process will ask you a series of questions about your data and try to match each row in the table to the correct location on earth. You'll have a chance later to review the matches and fix any errors.

  1. Sign in to your ArcGIS organizational account.
    Note:

    If you don't have an organizational account, see options for software access.

  2. If necessary, click the Content tab.

    Content tab

    On the content page, you can access, organize, browse, search, and work with content on the website. You can also add files from your device to create items in ArcGIS Online. For this tutorial, you will create a hosted feature layer from the .csv table you prepared.

  3. Click New item.

    New item button on the Content tab

  4. In the New item window, click Your device and choose the edited version of AncientCities.csv.

    The New item page appears. The table will be added to your ArcGIS Online account in its native, or original, format: a .csv file. But you can additionally choose to add it as a hosted feature layer. This is necessary to turn the table into points on a map.

    A feature layer is a geospatial dataset that can be used in maps across ArcGIS. The term hosted means that the data is stored in your account.

  5. Choose Add AncientCities.csv and create a hosted feature layer or table.

    Add AncientCities_YN.csv and create a hosted feature layer or table option

  6. Click Next.

    Because you're creating a new feature layer, you are given a chance to review the fields. In ArcGIS, columns are called fields. You can't change the field names from what is present in the .csv file, but you can change their display names.

  7. In the table, review the Display name values.

    Display names

    Note:

    The Type for each field is set to String, which means the data is stored as text.

    To learn more about field types, see Add or delete a field.

  8. Click Next.
  9. On the Location settings page, click None. Scroll up and choose Addresses or place names.
  10. Expand Advanced location settings. For Locator, confirm ArcGIS World Geocoding Service is selected.

    Locator set to ArcGIS World Geocoding Service under the Advanced location setting section

    ArcGIS World Geocoding Service is the database that ArcGIS Online uses to find addresses, cities, landmarks, business names, and postal codes in more than 100 countries around the world. In this tutorial, you will use this locator to create points based on the place information in your .csv file.

  11. For Location fields, choose Location information is in multiple fields.

    Location information is in multiple fields selected

    The list of location types expands.

  12. For Address or Place, choose Name. For Country, choose Present region.

    At the bottom of the New item window, the Credit estimate section shows you how many credits it will cost to geocode the locations in your .csv file.

    Credit estimate

    Credits are the currency used across ArcGIS Online. They are consumed during specific transactions, such as performing analytics, storing features, and geocoding. The cost is 40 credits per 1,000 geocodes. You can expect to use at least 1.48 credits in this tutorial, but you may consume more as you rematch locations.

  13. Click Next.

    On the next page, you will provide the title and other metadata for the new hosted feature layer.

  14. For Title, type Ancient cities in Africa, followed by your initials (for example Ancient cities in Africa YN).
  15. For Tags, type the name of your class, Ancient History.

    This will help you find the data later if you have many layers and maps for different classes. You'll also include a link to the original data source so your students will know where the information came from.

  16. For Summary, type Some of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Africa. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_continuously_inhabited_cities.

    Parameters for the new item

  17. Click Save.

    The item page of the new layer Ancient cities in Africa appears. A Review Locations pop-up window may also appear, stating that 36 of 37 locations were matched.

    Review Locations pop-up window

    This means when the geocoding process converted the list of places to x,y coordinates, it was able to match 36 of the 37 locations to a known city name. There is one location where a match was not found. Any time you geocode, it is important to review both unmatched and matched locations to confirm the geocoding process accurately matched locations to the desired places in your list.

    Note:

    The ArcGIS World Geocoding Service is constantly being updated with new addresses, so your unmatched number may be different.

    Next, you'll review the locations.

Review unmatched locations

Caution:

This tutorial uses Map Viewer Classic. Map Viewer Classic is the predecessor of Map Viewer. Some functionality is not yet available in Map Viewer. It is recommended that you use Map Viewer Classic for the following workflow until it is supported in a future release of Map Viewer.

Of your 37 locations, 36 were matched. You'll begin the review process to properly locate the one unmatched location and to confirm that the other locations were matched correctly.

  1. In the Review Locations window, click Yes.

    A map appears, with markers scattered around Africa. Your table has already been converted into a map.

    Note:

    If you do not see a Review Locations window, click the arrow next to Open in Map Viewer and choose Open in Map Viewer Classic. When the map appears, click the Details button. Under the Ancient cities in Africa layer, click the More Options button and click Review Locations.

    Review Locations

    Below the map, one unmatched location is listed: Zeila/Avalites. The geocoding process did not find a location to match this place-name. It possibly failed because the country name is spelled incorrectly.

  2. Double-click Sonalia and rename it Somalia. Press Enter.

    Sonalia renamed Somalia in the unmatched list

    A blue marker appears on the map in eastern Africa. This is a potential match candidate that the geocoding process found for Zeila/Avalites, Somalia.

    Zeila/Avalites match candidate location on the map

  3. Zoom to the marker on the map.

    Zeila/Avalites match candidate location on the map

    The streets of a town appear, but no label. You're not familiar with this place, so you'll go back to your original data source to see whether you can learn more.

  4. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeila.

    The Wikipedia page shows a map that matches the suggested location.

  5. In ArcGIS Online, click the blue marker.
  6. In the pop-up that appears, click Match.

    Match button on the pop-up

    The marker turns green to indicate that it is now a matched location. In the table below the map, a green check mark appears in the Reviewed column.

Review matched locations

The ArcGIS World Geocoding Service found location matches for the other 36 places. You could accept these matches and assume that they are correct; however, it's recommended that you review them first. This dataset in particular merits a review of the location matches as there may be other cities with incorrect spellings or alternative spellings or that have dwindled in importance since ancient times. These factors can make accurate location matching difficult.

Tip:

If you accidentally close the Review Locations pane and table, point to the layer in the Contents pane. Click the More Options button and click Review Locations.

  1. Under the map, click the Matched tab. In the table, click the first row (Agadez).

    Agadez selected in the Matched table

    The map zooms to Niger and shows several markers. The green marker is the matched location. Any blue markers are suggested locations, which are considered less likely than the green one.

  2. Zoom to the green marker.

    It appears to be in the correct location, so you will not change it.

  3. Click the next row (Aksum).

    The green marker appears correct in this case as well, so you will not change it.

    Aksum

  4. Scroll through the Matched table and click the row for Pate.

    The map zooms to an empty part of the map.

  5. Zoom out until you can see a coastline and a label for Pate.

    The basemap is otherwise empty. It's not clear if this place is still inhabited.

    Pate

    Basemaps provide geographical context for a map. So far, you've been using the default Topographic basemap. However, ArcGIS Online provides a variety of basemaps in different styles, which provide different kinds of context.

  6. On the ribbon, click the Basemap button and choose Imagery Hybrid.

    Imagery Hybrid in the Basemap gallery

    The map updates and a town appears. The matched location is correct.

    Imagery of the town of Pate

  7. In the table, click the row for Sofala.

    The map zooms to Mozambique and shows many match candidate locations. You know that Sofala was once a seaport town, so you suspect that the currently matched location—the green marker—is not correct.

  8. Zoom to the two blue markers on the coast.

    Blue markers on the coast of Mozambique

    The map zooms to a village at the mouth of a river. A label for Nova Sofala appears, so it seems likely that this is the correct location. However, before you confirm, you'll consult a second basemap.

  9. Change the basemap to OpenStreetMap.

    The OpenStreetMap basemap, like Wikipedia, is created from crowdsourced data.

    The label for Nova Sofala moves to the northeast along the road. The two blue markers are now close to a label for Sofala. This appears to be the correct location.

  10. Click the marker closest to the Sofala label. In the pop-up window, click Match.

    The marker for the matched location changes to green.

    Matched location for Sofala

  11. Scroll through the table and click the row for Walata. Zoom out on the map.

    The matched location is in a small town with an Arabic label.

    Matched location for Walata

    You'll change the basemap again to look for an English label.

  12. Change the basemap to Imagery Hybrid.

    A label appears on the map for Oualâta. Once again, you'll consult Wikipedia for more information about this town.

  13. Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oualata.

    The Wikipedia page confirms that Oualata is an alternative spelling for Walata. The matched location is correct.

  14. Scroll through the table and click the row for Fes.

    Multiple match candidates are shown on the map. However, the main label for the city (spelled Fez) is to the northeast. You'll explore the city to determine if the basemap label represents a better match location.

    Fez label on the map

  15. Zoom and pan to explore the city.

    On the imagery, the area to the northeast (labeled as Fas al-Madeenah) appears as a distinct area with dense settlement and narrow streets. In some areas, the city's walls can be seen.

    City wall and houses in Fez

    This settlement pattern appears much older than the area to the south, with its grid of streets. You'll match the address to this ancient part of the city.

  16. On the map, click near the center of the Fas al-Madeenah area.

    In the pop-up that appears, click Match.

    New match candidate

    Next, you'll review and match the remaining addresses.

  17. Click each row in the Matched table and confirm that it was correctly matched or update it to a new location.

    Switch between the Topographic, OpenStreetMap, and Imagery Hybrid basemaps to help you determine whether the locations are correct.

  18. When you are satisfied that you have an accurate dataset, at the bottom of the Review Locations pane, click Done Reviewing.

    Done Reviewing button

Style and save the map

You have converted a list of place-names into geographic data. Next, you'll label the locations and save a map that you can share with your students.

The Contents pane displays a list of the layers in the map and is where you can configure each layer’s style and appearance and add labels. Labels are short pieces of text that describe features in a layer and help your audience understand the symbols they see on a map. The text for a label is usually based on an attribute in the layer, such as the Name attribute.

  1. In the Contents pane, point to Ancient cities in Africa and click the More Options button. Click Create Labels.

    Create Labels option in the More options menu

    Labels appear for each matched location on the map.

  2. In the Label Features pane, for Text, ensure that Name is chosen.

    Text set to Name

  3. Click OK.

    You'll also change the basemap to match the other maps you've created for this class.

  4. Change the basemap to Modern Antique Map.

    Modern Antique Map in the Basemap gallery

    Note:

    If Modern Antique Map is not listed in the basemap list, click Add and click Browse Living Atlas Layers. Search for the Modern Antique vector tile layer and add it to your map.

    Modern Antique vector tile layer in the Living Atlas search results

    The contents of the basemap list are set by your organization's administrator.

  5. On the map, click one of the point symbols to view its pop-up.

    Pop-up for Mombasa

    The pop-up shows information from the table.

  6. Scroll to the bottom of the pop-up and click the More info link.

    The Wikipedia page for the location appears.

  7. Close Wikipedia and close the pop-up.
  8. Zoom out until you can see all of Africa.
  9. On the ribbon, click Save and choose Save.

    Save button

  10. In the Save Map window, for Title, type Ancient Cities in Africa.
  11. For Tags, type Ancient History. For Summary, type Some of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Africa. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_continuously_inhabited_cities.

    Save Map window

  12. Click Save Map.

Edit the data

If you notice an error or a mistake in your data after you finish reviewing locations, it can still be fixed. You'll edit the table to fix a few errors that you noticed in the place-names.

  1. Zoom to the Gulf of Aden, between Yemen and Somalia.

    Here there are two labels with slashes: Zeila/Avalites and Berbera/Malao.

    Labels containing slashes

    When you researched Zeila earlier, you read that Avalites is its ancient name. Similarly, Berbera is a current place-name, while Malao is its historical name. You'll edit the data to correct these place-names.

  2. In the Contents pane, point to Ancient cities in Africa and click the More Options button. Click Show Item Details.

    Show Item Details option in the More options menu

    The item page for the feature layer appears in a new browser tab.

    Each item in ArcGIS Online includes an item page with a variety of information, actions, options, and settings organized by tab: Overview, Data, Visualization, Usage, and Settings. On the Data tab, you can edit a feature layer's attributes and fields.

  3. On the ribbon, click the Data tab.

    Data tab

    Now you can see a table view of the data. Because you created and own this layer, you automatically have editing privileges.

  4. Scroll down to the Berbera/Malao row. Double-click the text in the Name column and delete the text /Malao. In the Historical name column, type Malao.

    Name and Historical name columns edited in the data table

  5. Scroll down to the Zeila/Avalites row. In the Name column, type Zeila. In the Historical name column, type Avalites.
  6. When you're done editing the table, close the item page tab and return to the map.
  7. On the map, click the browser's refresh button.

    Browser refresh button

    The map reappears. Now the labels and pop-ups show the correct information.

    New pop-up for Berbera

The map of ancient cities in Africa is ready to share with your students. You converted a list of place-names into a geospatial dataset and a map.

You edited a table so it would have more consistent formatting, geocoded the table, and reviewed and corrected the resulting location matches. You researched place-names and used basemaps to find the right locations. Now your students can use the map you've made to better explore and understand the places they'll be learning about in class.

Now that you've made a map, the next step is to share it. To share your map in an interactive form so people can zoom and access the pop-ups, try the tutorial Create an app. To share this map as a static image that you can print, try the tutorial Convert a web map into a print map.

You can find more tutorials in the tutorial gallery.