Information and Technology

Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan

Posted July 08, 2007

This multimedia presentation of two scrolls, one formerly believed to be an accurate copy of the other, depicts the Mongol Invasion of Japan, a key event in the development in Japanese self-identity and mythology. These two scrolls are placed side by side for the first time and the discrepancies between them are revealed. As cultural artifacts, these scrolls, presented in such detail with new educational technology, give students the opportunity to explore numerous areas of Japanese history, from warfare and social structures to mythology and national identity.

The Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan have been used by multiple classes at Bowdoin and are an ongoing part of several courses in Asian Studies. The site is now available for public use.
Tom Conlan, Asian Studies
Kevin Travers, Information Technology

This is the third iteration of the project. It has grown considerably in complexity and robustness and is still being developed further today.
The uniqueness of the Scrolls of the Mongol Invasions of Japan website is that users can scroll through and compare four different versions of the scrolls simultaneously. Through the use of technology that allows fast viewing of huge digital images, scholars and students have the opportunity to delve deeply into the historical importance of each manuscript as well as the implications of the differences between them. The Guided View feature allows Professor Conlan to add commentary and guided analysis for teaching.
The site was developed using Macromedia Flash™ and an add-on component called Zoomify™. These technologies allowed the creation of a seamless digital version of the scrolls, with smooth, rapid zooming and high-resolution details of the painting and calligraphy. Through this reconstruction, scholars, students and casual browsers alike can experience the scroll as it was originally created - something impossible to convey in the pages of a book.
Partial funding has been provided by the John A. Gibbons Student Summer Internship Fund.

Scholar, Web Designer Create Digital Japanese Scroll, April 19, 2005

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