Thursday, May 15, 2008

Numismatic Geography

I attended a workshop yesterday on digital geography at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. It was billed as a hackfest and the participants focused on strategies for interoperability of geographic datasets, which is a primary concern of the Concordia Project. My contribution was discussion of the work I'm doing at the American Numismatic Society to provide a geographic infrastructure for accessing our collection. The most concrete result of this work is an incipient list of "geographic entities" that are linked into the ANS database. Here's a sampling of URL's that make this list actually usable:
If you open any of these links and click on one of the symbols, you will see a link to a URL similar to The resulting page is a little spare but it points to a future in which the ANS establishes unique identifiers for conceptual entities of numismatic interest. In this case, Patara is a geographic entity that is also a mint. "Mint" is an ambiguous term but that's a discussion for another context. What matters is that the ANS now has a simple syntax for establishing identity. Such identities can be linked to third party authority lists, in this case the Pleiades definitions of ancient places. Anybody else using that identifier can know that s/he is referring to the same concept as is the ANS when we say, "Here is a list of coins from Patara." That is a huge step forward.

These id URLs can also be extended with ".atom" and ".kml" to produce an automatically parseable Atom feed or Google Earth compatible representation for each entity. A further implication of this is that I can show maps in the search results produced by the ANS database. If you scroll down in, you'll see a "show map" button for the records from Cyrene. Click there for the relevant Google Map.

The NYU/ISAW workshop provided an incentive to get this infrastructure up and running on a preliminary basis. I'm grateful for that and for the hospitality of our hosts. It was an enjoyable day all round!

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