Thursday, June 5, 2014

OCRE updates: coin types through Pupienus added

There are a few significant updates to report with OCRE (Online Coins of the Roman Empire). First, we have added all of the coin types through Pupienus (A.D. 238). There are now more than 19,000 Roman imperial coin types represented in OCRE. I have also generated new RDF dumps from both the ANS and British Museum collections, so we now have physical specimens (including images in some cases) for these new types. The last update from the ANS is from Septimius Severus, I believe, so we added thousands more physical coins into the triplestore that power's OCRE's linking. There are about 25,000 physical objects linked to types defined on OCRE. The new Contributors page is a dynamic representation of collections that have submitted data into the triplestore. The University of Virginia collection has been updated to link a few coins of Severus Alexander and Maximinus Thrax into OCRE. Two of these are from the Oliver's Orchard Hoards, a large hoard excavated in Britain in the 1980s. About half of UVA's collection comes from this hoard, and so there will be more georeferenced coins added into the system eventually, as we make our way through the Crisis of the Third Century. As such, the two coins of Severus Alexander from this hoard, published in the UVA collection, are the first two physical objects available in OCRE that have attested findspots.

Importantly, OCRE has been migrated to the newest version of Numishare. OCRE is functionally the same as before, but the query process for displaying thumbnails on search results pages is more efficient. Pages will load slightly faster while browsing the collection. This migration also means that the new version of the project uses the Bootstrap framework, which means that the site is responsive, functionally equally as well on mobile devices as on desktop ones.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

British Museum Coins in OCRE

With many thanks to Eleanor Ghey in the British Museum Coins & Medals department for providing spreadsheet dumps of the BM's imperial coins from Augustus through the end of RIC Volume 4, I was able to match more than 11,000 coins from Augustus to Elegabalus to URIs defining Roman imperial coin types in OCRE. After these matches were made, another script queried the British Museum's SPARQL endpoint to generate a large RDF file conforming to's model. Most coins include die axis, weight, and diameter. Many (if not most) also include links to images. These measurements are now available for the quantitative analysis feature in Numishare, resulting in generally more accurate queries.

There are now roughly 20,000 coins hooked into OCRE from four collections: the ANS, British Museum, Berlin, and the University of Virginia Art Museum. We do expect to incorporate larger numbers from Berlin and the Bibliothèque Nationale in the future, as well as from some large scale finds databases like the Portable Antiquities Scheme and the European Coin Find Network. The floodgates will soon open in providing data and research tools to a wide audience of students, scholars, and generally interested parties to visualization information and ask questions of the data that were not previously possible.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Caracalla through Elagabalus published to OCRE

All of the types from Caracalla through Elagabalus have been published to OCRE. Additionally, the University of Virginia Art Museum collection has been re-published into the triplestore. The number is small, but there are four coins in this batch from UVA (see for example). So far, there is no coverage from the ANS collection, but we hope to make these coins available in OCRE by the end of next week.  Additionally, I expect to have most or all of the imperial coins from the British Museum available in OCRE tomorrow or Monday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

ANS and ISAW Receive Major NEH Grant to Complete OCRE

The American Numismatic Society and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World receive a major grant from the NEH

The American Numismatic Society(ANS) and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World(ISAW) are delighted to announce the receipt of a major grant of $300,000 from the Division of Preservation and Access of the National Endowment for the Humanities. The grant, made as part of the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program, will provide for the full implementation of the Online Coins of the Roman Empire(OCRE) project.

Co-directed by Dr. Andrew Meadows of the ANS and Professor Roger Bagnall of ISAW and managed by Dr. Gilles Bransbourg, OCRE is a ground breaking initiative to create an online reference and cataloguing tool for coinage of the Roman Empire. Through its use of a Linked Open Data model, OCRE will provide full descriptions and illustrations of the 45,000 different types of Roman Imperial Coinage, as well as providing a union catalogue of specimens held in major collections.  Currently the collections at the ANS in New York, the Bode Museum in Berlin and the University of Virginia Art Museum are included. It is hoped over the lifetime of the project to add the collections of the British Museum in London and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, as well as other collections as they become available online. 

Within three years, OCRE will also begin to include coin find information from the UK’s Portable Antiquities Scheme and the European Coin Finds Network. OCRE will additionally provide tools to chart the distribution of coin types, and to analyze metrological, stylistic, and typological data on the basis of coins included in the union catalogue.  The OCRE interface is currently fully searchable in eleven languages, rising to twenty over the course of the project.

Through its Linked Data approach, the OCRE project is designed to interact fully with other such initiatives being developed for the Ancient World, including ISAWs existing Pleiades project (, a joint ANS London Institute of Archaeology project to catalogue Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic (, a joint ANS British Museum project to establish a type catalogue of Roman Republican Coinage and Oxford University’s Coin Hoards of the Roman Empire project (

Executive Director of the ANS, Dr. Ute Wartenberg, commented. “The award of this major grant is exciting for the ANS and pays tribute to the hard work and technical skill of the staff involved in the planning of the foundation stage of the project. We also owe a major debt to donors and members of the Society who have supported the project to this point.”

Dr. Bransbourg will give a presentation on the project at the 39th Chicago International Coin Fair in Rosemont, Illinois, on Friday, April 11th, 2014 in the Kennedy Room, during an ANS reception taking place at 5:45 pm through 7:45 pm. He is also available for interview on +1(212)571-4470 ext. 156, or alternatively on +1(347)622-0106.

For more information contact Joanne Isaac at +1(212)571-4470 ext. 112 or

The American Numismatic Society, organized in 1858 and incorporated in 1865 in New York State, operates as a research museum under Section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is recognized as a publicly supported organization under section 170 (b)(1)(A)(vi) as confirmed on November 1, 1970.  

University College Dublin Classical Museum Joins Consortium

Recapping a post on the Day of DH blog: today I received an RDF dump conforming to the data model of the Republican coins in the University College Dublin Classical Museum. I have pushed this into the nomisma triplestore, and now they are available for query through the endpoint--and will be available for wider access and scholarly research through RRC Online, a joint ANS-British Museum project to digitally publish Michael Crawford's type corpus, Roman Republican Coinage. RRC Online is modeled after OCRE and will be publicly available within the next one or two months.

The UCD coins are encoded natively in NUDS, and XML schema for encoding numismatic data. I have been developing the schema for years, and UCD's adoption of it represents the first external use of the emerging standard (it is used by the University of Virginia collection, but I had involvement in the publication of that collection.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

ANS at the Nomisma/ECFN Meeting

I'm heading to Basel shortly to discuss the latest ANS project (in collaboration with the British Museum), Roman Republican Coinage Online. This is a coin type corpus derived from Michael Crawford's RRC and delivered through Numishare, so it will function like Online Coins of the Roman Empire. There will be a variety of interface enhancements. Most notably, I have migrated Numishare to use Bootstrap 3, so RRC Online and future projects will work out of the box on mobile devices (and, generally, look prettier). Mantis, CHRR, and OCRE will eventually be migrated to Bootstrap.

I'll be talking a bit about last summer's updates to Nomisma, including the SPARQL endpoint, and discuss how people can contribute numismatic data to the endpoint for use in OCRE, RRC Online and other such projects.

Here's my draft presentation:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

New Version of OCRE Released

Although the new Online Coins of the Roman Empire was put into production with a soft launch in October 2013 simultaneous to the release of the new version of Mantis, we have waited until ironing out a few kinks before publicly announcing the new version.

OCRE – Online Database of Coinage of the Roman Empire becomes Bigger, Multi-Contributor and Multi-Lingual

In collaboration with New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, the American Numismatic Society (ANS) is pleased to announce the release of a new version of OCRE (Online Coins of the Roman Empire) ( The OCRE project is creating a revolutionary new tool designed to help in the identification, cataloguing, and research of the rich and varied coinage of the Roman Empire. It aims to provide a comprehensive online resource encompassing every known Roman Imperial coin type. The end result will be:

•A database of 50,000 coin types
•A resource that collectors can use to identify their coins, estimate their rarity, and discover unknown varieties.
•An online reference tool for researchers to help in new research on this important series.
•Easy to use, downloadable catalogue entries for the coinage of every Roman Emperor from Augustus in 31 BC, until the death of Zeno in AD 491.

The new version of the tool contains important new improvements.

OCRE’s first version drew only on the collection of the American Numismatic Society, but the database now has multiple contributing collections, with the addition of the Roman Imperial collection of the Münzkabinett of the State Museum of Berlin and the University of Virginia Art Museum. Between these three collections, OCRE is now able to illustrate 50% of the imperial coin types that it contains.

“Such a joint collaborative effort between major public and private collections should lead to a comprehensive catalogue that will eventually incorporate and display almost all recorded Roman Imperial coin-types,” explains ANS Executive Director, Ute Wartenberg Kagan. More collections will follow soon, bringing OCRE closer to that aim.

Along with adding new specimens, the database has grown since its launch in July 2012 to contain descriptions of known types through the emperor Septimius Severus. To date, more than 15,000 coin types are described. “The time range covered by OCRE is now incorporating 250 years of monetary and numismatic history, from 30 BC until AD 211, effectively covering the entire High Empire. We should very soon include the entire Severan dynasty and then the later 3rd century,” explains OCRE project manager, ISAW Research Associate and ANS Romanist, Gilles Bransbourg.

In a further development, OCRE can now link to another ANS developed resource, Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic ( This enables OCRE to draw on findspot data for some early imperial coin types, and map their distribution.

As ANS database developer, Ethan Gruber, notes, “the new version of OCRE is a significant step forward over the previous in that the architecture for linking coin types to physical coins and hoard data has been completely rewritten to use Linked Open Data technologies. SPARQL is the backbone for new geographic and quantitative visualizations.”

OCRE also allows users to search in 10 languages other than English. This is made possible by multilingual labels provided by's identifiers. “This was a clear prerequisite in order to allow OCRE to become a truly international platform,” notes Andrew Meadows, ANS Deputy Director. Spanish, German, French, Russian, Greek, and Italian are among the languages offered by OCRE, alongside Romanian, Bulgarian, Swedish, and Dutch.