Week 8 – Making Maps and Traversing Tableau

May 08, 2020

Welcome back, everyone!

As I have said before, one of my goals for my senior project is to create interactive maps of a pigment’s use over time for each of my five chosen pigments. These can be used to help researchers find hotspots of the pigment’s use and gain a better understanding of its origin and spread over time. This can lead to more research on when and where pigment recipes were created or changed, or to better understand an artifact’s provenance through its materials.

I’ve spent the past few weeks collecting data on the use of my five chosen pigments — as you can see chronicled through my recent blog posts — but this week I finally finished it. I made my maps!

But before I show you the final product, I want to go a little further into the process of making them:

I made my maps using a program called Tableau. Tableau is used to analyze data and create data visualizations. You can make a number of different visualizations in Tableau, but I am only using it for maps. (I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a bar graph being particularly useful in this case). It was a little frustrating to use at first, but once I got the hang of it it was more repetitive than anything else. While I am making a Tableau guide for my internship, I am going to simplify the process here. 


(Fair warning: I am by no means a Tableau expert, not even close. These maps are the only thing I have made with this program.)

First, I mentioned before that when collecting my data for each pigment, I tried to find the artist, date, and location. My spreadsheets are organized like this:

The first six columns contain the data I was trying to collect. The next two columns, “Latitude” and “Longitude,” are needed to make the maps, at least the way I did it. This spreadsheet acts as the “data source” for Tableau’s visualizations.

Once I have imported the data into Tableau, the program assigns a label for different types of data. I’m not going to go into all of it, but basically, the things you can do with the data in the program depends on its label.

I used the longitude and latitudes I collected to map each of the points:

Then I used the data from the other columns to add details that will pop up if you scroll over the data points on the map:

You can try it on one of the maps below:

*note – because of the way the Tableau works, I have to put saved images of the maps here, click on each picture to reach the interactive maps*

Now that my maps are finished, I am going to return to my pigment write-ups. I still need to gather recipes for all of the pigments. I will be doing that between working on my research paper and final presentation for my internship.

That’s all I have for now. Until next week!

2 Replies to “Week 8 – Making Maps and Traversing Tableau”

  1. Tad B. says:

    This is really cool! Nice job! I also found it interesting to hear about how you made your visualizations in Tableau. I have always wanted to learn how to use it. Hopefully, I will soon. Neat stuff!

  2. Shang Z. says:

    That’s so cool Max, I love your map. Thank you for sharing.

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