Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Near term progress in digital numismatics

Looking Back

As we close out 2014, we can reflect on a tremendous amount of progress we have made with respect to and other digital numismatic projects at the American Numismatic Society. Numishare's front end has been migrated from Cocoon to Orbeon, which will enable a wider variety of current and future web standards, and the user interface was migrated into Bootstrap 3 last spring. The new version of Mantis was launched a few months ago, immediately following the release of a new project, The Art of Devastation, which is a type corpus of World War I medals. The first of the Edward T. Newell Greek numismatic research notebooks have gone online, annotated to link to other resources (monographs, coins in the ANS collection, and other researchers) by means of LOD technologies. The new version of the ANS archives, Archer, has gone online, employing SPARQL to link to another new project, the ANS Biographies (a production installation of EAC-CPF software, xEAC). In OCRE, we have completed volume IV of RIC, from Septimius Severus to Uranius Antoninus. More than 12,000 coins from the British Museum have been ingested into the Nomisma triplestore to be made available in OCRE (with many thanks to Eleanor Ghey from the BM for providing data dumps in spreadsheets that have allowed me to create a concordance between their coins in OCRE URIs). The new Bootstrap 3 version of OCRE launched into production last February, the first of the Numishare projects migrated into that stylistic framework (therefore, enabling out-of-the-box scaling for mobile devices), and in late March of 2014, we received $300,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities to complete the project over the next three years. Finally, much progress has been made in the development of a formal RDF ontology for numismatics, in conjunction with an architectural re-write of, which has been in development for much of the year.

Looking Forward

We are going to be making at least as much progress in 2015 as 2014, especially in the first few months of the year. The new framework will be released by the end of January. It will be fully compliant to the latest standards and protocols for a linked data publication framework. The data model for IDs will be revised significantly. SKOS will play a much larger role in linking instances together (via skos:broader), and the instances will conform to formal classes from the Nomisma ontology. The editing interface for concepts will be opened up to a wider editing team, and I foresee many more URIs minted this year, especially outside the realm of ancient numismatics. There is a large demand for greater representation of Medieval and Islamic URIs. The editing interface includes improved lookup mechanisms for linking Nomisma concepts to matching terms in other vocabulary systems, like VIAF and the Getty thesauri.

The main bottleneck for the release of the new version of Nomisma lies in the creation of URIs for Roman Republican moneyers. RRC and IGCH URIs are going to be spun off into separate projects, maintained by specialists are are focused on the curation of those datasets. As a result, the existing RRC URIs in Nomisma must redirect to URIs in a new domain name. Additionally, RRC URIs are used in production in several different projects, so those projects must transition to the new RRC Online URIs before the URIs are deprecated in the namespace. Before RRC Online can launch, the Republican moneyers must have URIs in Nomisma. I expect to have the list verified by the end of the week so that we can move forward with publishing the moneyers in Nomisma either by this Friday or the first week of January. RRC Online (which will function exactly like OCRE, but focused on Roman Republican coinage) will launch soon after. We already have more than 10,000 coins from  the ANS and British Museum ready to be linked into RRC Online, in addition to several hundred coins from The University of Virginia Art Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and University College Dublin. After the launch of RRC Online, we will move the new version of Nomisma into production by the end of January. By the time we meet in April in Berlin to discuss the Online Greek Corpus and Poland to discuss the European Coin Find Network, we should have transitioned all projects to use the new Nomisma ontology, which Karsten Tolle has been working on over the last one to two years. A draft of the Nomisma documentation should be available in time for these meetings.

We have a number of longer term Greek numismatic projects coming down the pike. As part of the Online Greek Corpus, we are going to work on standardizing Seleucid and Alexandrian types within the ANS database, as well as work on improving IGCH, which will function as a standalone Greek coin hoard research tool, much like Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic. The digital IGCH will serve as an important bridge between Greek coins in the ANS collection and associated bibliographic references. We hope to show serious progress with respect to Greek projects in time for the INC meeting in Taormina in late September.

Finally, over the course of 2015 and extending a few years into the future, we are going to work on systematically cleaning up the ANS collection database, linking denominations, materials, people, etc. to URIs in Nomisma, the Getty thesauri, VIAF, etc. whenever applicable. This will dramatically improve the usefulness of Mantis, which is often limited due to inconsistency in data entry and utter lack of controlled vocabulary. Furthermore, we are going to work on improving the bibliographic references, making it easier to traverse from Mantis to Donum (the ANS library catalog), Worldcat, JSTOR, etc. to access further information. Mantis will grow into a more useful numismatic research portal over time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Extending Nomisma for spatial queries

I have recently worked on extending the geographic query functionality in the new Nomisma prototype. It took a few days of fiddling around and testing, but it was altogether a painless operation. First it required reading the (excellent) spatial query documentation for Apache Fuseki, which is the SPARQL endpoint that we have been using in Nomisma for nearly two years. I actually had not upgraded Fuseki since launching it into production in the early months of 2013, and so I had to update from 0.2 to 1.1 across the board in order to enable spatial queries--on the Nomisma production server, on the American Numismatic Society production server (Fuseki powers the interlinking of the Society's archival records in Archer), and on my two development machines at home.

Fuseki's configuration can be extended to use Lucene or Solr as the spatial index. The latter made a lot of sense because Solr is already an integral part of the architecture of most of our digital projects. The Solr index in Nomisma powers the basic facet-based search/browse interface and the Atom feed. I found an older email on the Jena list with an example configuration TTL file that I was able to modify.

After successfully configuring the spatial index, I initially learned that I was not able to use my current index for extending Fuseki. That is because only main Nomisma concepts are indexed, and not the geo:SpatialThing objects associated with mints and regions. The browse interface would be confusing if you received results for both nm:rome and nm:rome#this, the geographic feature associated with the concept of the mint of Rome. As a result, I spun up a new index for storing the URIs and coordinates for the geo:SpatialThings only, and this facilitated spatial queries that delivered results that I expected.

This is a dramatic leap forward in the types of geographic queries we can do in Nomisma, as we can get query results within a bounding box or within a certain distance of a point. Once we begin connecting larger numbers of coins with findspots into the system, we'll be able to do heatmaps showing geographic distribution and a variety of other visualizations. If we ingest other forms of GIS data, such as roads, springs, shrines, etc., we can query for hoards and finds within X meters of the geographic feature.

The example below is a query that will get mints within 50 km of Athens (by giving the lat and long of the city).

   ?loc spatial:nearby (37.974722 23.7225 50 'km') .
   ?mint geo:location ?loc ;
         skos:prefLabel ?label .
  FILTER langMatches (lang(?label), 'en')

You can test it yourself in the Nomisma prototype.

Friday, November 7, 2014

New version of Mantis released

Following the migration of Numishare's public user interface from Apache Cocoon to Orbeon, the American Numismatic Society's collection database, Mantis, has now been updated and deployed into production. The new version of Mantis take advantage of new user interface developments incorporated into Numishare since the winter--namely HTML5 + Bootstrap 3, which makes the site work equally well on mobile devices as desktops and laptops.

While much of the functionality has remained the same despite the noticeable visual facelift, the migration to Orbeon has enabled some new data export features, which follow advances in modern web publishing frameworks. Data are available in Turtle and JSON-LD in addition to RDF/XML. These serializations are available through REST URIs. They are also accessible via content negotiation, made possible by Orbeon's XML Pipeline Language (XPL). I won't go into further detail, as I already discussed this in a previous blog post. However, Mantis now has an APIs page with documentation on how to access data (as do all other Numishare projects). I plan to improve this documentation in the near future to include more information about our Solr schema and fields available for query, including some pretty advanced examples.

Over the last week, I migrated Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic, OCRE, and AoD to the Orbeon-based Numishare in production. I am pleased to announce that I have deleted Cocoon 2.1.11 from Tomcat on the server. It has served me well as a [mostly] XML developer since 2007, but it's time to move on.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Emperors Added to OCRE

We have added more than 1,300 new coin types from Gordian III to Trajan Decius into OCRE. We have now surpassed 20,000 types, and are at least half-way finished the publication process.

The British Museum and American Numismatic Society coins from this period have been re-processed and added into the Nomisma RDF triplestore. The University of Virginia coins will be republished momentarily, giving the project a few dozen more coins from published British coin hoards. At present, there are more than 14,000 physical specimens from the ANS and nearly 13,000 coins from the BM accessible through OCRE.

Many of the BM coins from this lot have findspots (many found in hoards excavated in Britain over the last 30-40 years, e.g.,, but unforunately the findspots data in the British Museum's SPARQL endpoint do not contain machine readable geographic coordinates. Hopefully the BM data may be enhanced to improve the geographic usefulness in OCRE eventually.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Numishare Migrated from Cocoon 2.1.11 to Orbeon

Over the past few weeks, I have been working on migrating Numishare's public user interface from Cocoon 2.1.11 to Orbeon. While Cocoon has been capable of delivering most of the functionality integral to Numishare, it is time to move on. Cocoon has been part of Numishare's application stack since before Numishare really even became a reusable framework; it dates back to the development of the University of Virginia Art Museum Numismatic Collection website back in 2007. Since this date, Cocoon has seen the release of 2.2 (dramatically different than 2.1.11), and has been stuck in a 3.0 alpha for more than three years. In fact, the most recent release of any version of Cocoon is 2.1.12. The application has served the cultural heritage community well for years, but let's admit it, Cocoon is dead. It has been dead for years, and I've been keeping Numishare going with duct tape and bubble gum for far too long. In fact, you have to change one of Cocoon 2.1.11's out-of-the-box settings to even support native UTF-8, resulting in garbled responses from Solr.

Although Cocoon has run its course, XML technology is still quite powerful, and has gotten a shot in the arm with the new XQuery/XPath 3.0 and XForms 2.0 specs, which will support JSON processing, among other new features. Orbeon's XML Pipeline Language (XPL) is quite robust, and Orbeon has been powering the user interface for all of my other projects for quite a few years (xEAC [see:], EADitor [see:], the new [yet-to-be-released], and

All of the functionality built in Cocoon's pipelines have been ported into Orbeon's XPL, which is now a better MVC framework. Furthermore, XPL and Orbeon processors enable a variety of modern HTTP features that are employed for the semantic web. All pages are HTML5, and record pages now include RDFa to embed Nomisma properties.

It is now much easier to deliver linked data in RDF/Turtle and JSON-LD. Numishare supports content negotiation to receive individual record metadata in NUDS/XML, RDF/XML, Turtle, JSON-LD (all three in Nomisma's model and ontology), and KML in the appropriate content-type; search results are available in Atom by requesting 'application/atom+xml' or raw Solr XML by requesting 'application/xml' in the Accept header. I have not included it yet, but the Pelagios linked data will also be made available in TTL and JSON-LD in addition to RDF/XML. The multilingual interface will be more dynamic, as we can make use of the browser language passed through the request header rather than relying on the 'lang' URL parameter. Finally, I have introduced an 'apis' page (linked from the navigation menu), which lists available APIs (just one now, to aggregate NUDS records into a single model) and relevant documentation. There are a number of features that have yet to be added, but Orbeon provides a path for implementation that Cocoon simply does not.

Most of the projects on our test server have already been migrated into the new version of Numishare. Once I have ported the stylistic themes from OCRE, AoD, CHRR, and Mantis, I will work on pushing the new Orbeon-based Numishare into production.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Report from SemTechBiz + Getty TGN in

I spent last week in San Jose, attending the Semantic Technology and Business conference, where I participated in a LODLAM-sponsored workshop aimed at providing an introduction to linked open data technologies to a library, archive, and museum audience.

I was asked to provide a somewhat hands-on demo of SPARQL. My presentation, from 0 to 60 on SPARQL queries in 50 minutes provided a brief outline of the sorts of linked data methodologies we're employing in our numismatic projects--particularly and OCRE--and the SPARQL queries that make them possible. I started fairly simply and built up to more complex queries of weight analysis and geographic distribution of coin types. By downloading SPARQL queries with geographic data as a CSV file from the endpoint, I was able to import the CSV directly into Google Fusion tables to generate maps. I have placed the content of the slideshow up on Dropbox as a PDF.

The audience consisted mainly of cultural heritage professionals, although there were some industry professionals in attendance. The feedback I received was positive overall (judging by the Twitter stream, in any case), but I did receive comment about the model and ontology (or lack thereof) that we have employed in Rest assured that we are working on a formal ontology and refined data model that conforms to data/computer science standards. No more URIs used simultaneously as classes, properties, and instances!

On another note, the Getty Museum announced last week the release of their Thesaurus of Geographic Names as linked open data (following the Art and Architecture Thesaurus). I have extended the nomisma editing interface (as well as the one) to enable Getty TGN lookups for mints and regions in order to link nomisma ids with Getty ones. Through this mechanism, we can establish links between Pleiades and TGN places, although there are certainly more ancient places in Pleiades than in nomisma, which are purely numismatic.

The text search yields a response of matches from the Getty SPARQL endpoint. The user can read the scope note for further context about the use of the TGN id and make the appropriate selection of skos:exactMatch or skos:relatedMatch.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Art of Devastation: A Web-based Catalogue of First World War Medallic Art

As part of its commemoration of the centennial of the First World War, the American Numismatic Society announces the launch of Art of Devastation ( an important new web-based research catalogue of the thousands of art medals, commemorative medals and tokens produced in response to this major conflict.

Directed by Dr. Peter van Alfen, with assistance from Sylvia Karges, Art of Devastation aims to be the first comprehensive catalogue of this abundant and varied material, one that takes full advantage of the web environment and linked open data. Intended to help identify medals and tokens in users’ hands, Art of Devastation offers unique catalogue numbers for types and variants for future referencing, and illustrates, where possible, multiple examples for comparison. Mapping tools allow users to locate where the item was created, and where the events associated with it took place. Links to other websites, such as Wikipedia, take users to entries discussing the artist who created the item, as well as the people, events, and things, like the weapons or symbols depicted on it. In addition to serving as an identification and learning resource, Art of Devastation provides easy access for non-numismatists to an important, yet often overlooked body of primary evidence from the Great War.

Before the War began, medals and tokens had served for centuries as a significant means of communication where easy and durable forms of mass communication did not exist. Whether issued by states, organizations, or individuals, their commemorative and propagandistic function was already well known and understood. Increasingly, by the turn of the century, the medal had also become an important medium of more reflective and private artistic expression. Art medals could be distinguished from traditional types of medals by their frequent lack of words, non-elite representation, greater emotional intimacy, experimental shapes, and cast production rather than striking. During the War, these various public and private functions continued, converged, and were greatly intensified by the enormity of the conflict. Thousands of different types of medals and tokens were produced on both sides, consuming scarce metallic resources. This outlay underscores the fundamental role that these items played in feting heroes, marshaling support, directing public opinion, and, more poignantly, expressing grief and disgust.

Art of Devastation enables users to explore the range of artistic responses to the War and particular events within it. The sinking of the Cunard passenger liner RMS Lusitania by the German submarine SM U-20 on May 7th 1915, for example, attracted considerable artistic output on both sides of the conflict. René Baudichon, a French artist, responded with a medal with themes paralleling those of Allied atrocity propaganda, depicting a drowning child avenged by Ultrix America, the Statue of Liberty with a sword.

On the German side, the emotions were more complicated. The artists Karl Goetz and Walther Eberbach derided Allied hypocrisy on purported bans on armament shipments on passenger liners with their satirical takes on the sinking, while Ludwig Gies cast enmities aside to focus solely on the human tragedy of the event.

The creation of this new web tool is the work of ANS database developer Ethan Gruber. At launch, Art of Devastation incorporates the roughly 1,400 relevant items in the ANS’s collection. In collaboration with other institutions, such as the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Royal Library of Belgium, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, the catalogue will continue to expand.

The project director, Dr. Peter van Alfen, is available to discuss Art of Devastation by phone or email:

212-517-4470, ext. 153,

Links to Illustrations:

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.