Thursday, March 19, 2020

The gold and silver coinage of Philip II published to PELLA

After considerable effort by ANS curator Peter van Alfen, the gold and silver coin types of Philip II of Macedon have been published to PELLA. This typology, based on Georges Le Rider's 1977 Le monnayage d’argent et d’or de Philippe II frappé en Macédoine de 359 à 294, has been numbered 1-382. Le Rider's corpus is actually a die study, and the numbering system is based on die combinations rather than types. As such, there are about 2,200 or so die combinations that correspond to the 382 types. These types were given a new numbering scheme, pella.philip_ii.1 to 382, but all of the Le Rider numbers are also URIs in order to establish a concordance between Le Rider and the new scheme so that collections that cataloged their coins with Le Rider numbers can submit their RDF with those URIs or map the Le Rider to the PELLA type number.

Le Rider numbers as subtypes or deprecated types

The correspondence between PELLA and Le Rider numbers is either 1:n or 1:1. When a typology has multiple possible die combinations, the Le Rider number is considered to be a subtype of the PELLA super type. For example, there are three die combinations for PELLA Philip II no. 1, Le Rider 1.1 to 1.3. If a museum has cataloged one of their coins to Le Rider 1.1, that coin will show up on the subtype page for that combination as well as the page for PELLA Philip II 1, which gathers all of the physical specimens linked directly to that URI or any possible subtype URI (via's SPARQL endpoint).

Philip II 125 with the first specimen from a Nomisma partner.

The other category in which a PELLA and Le Rider number might correlate is 1:1. In these cases, the Le Rider URI still exists, but is not a subtype (linked in the RDF as skos:broader). Instead, the Le Rider Linked Open Data is dcterms:isReplacedBy the PELLA URI, which forces an automatic semantic HTTP 303 redirect in the browser (e.g., Le Rider 5.120). The underlying RDF for the Le Rider URI is still accessible through content negotiation or appending .ttl, .jsonld, or .rdf onto the URI. These two URIs are still linked together by skos:exactMatch, which facilitates the display of coins linked to Le Rider URIs on the PELLA page.

Uploading spreadsheets in Numishare

The publication of this typology represents a breakthrough in another way. Last summer, I spent several weeks developing a spreadsheet import mechanism in the Numishare back-end. I detailed it here (along with recommendations for structuring numismatic data in Google Sheets). After some further tweaking this week, the Philip II typology is the first spreadsheet data imported into Numishare in production. Out of all of the typology projects we have published online in the last 8 years (since the OCRE prototype developed in 2012), this is the first one that did not require me to write an intermediate PHP script. I cannot overemphasize how important this is. Curators can now formulate their own data, according to the specifications above, and publish new projects without technical intervention. After the conclusion of the Hellenistic Royal Coinages project in May, I will turn my attention to refactoring older spreadsheets from OCRE into this new format, and major updates in OCRE can be made directly by curators. I have essentially coded myself out of a repetitive task, saving myself a lot of time and the ANS a lot of money in the long term.

What's next for PELLA?

Now that the URIs for Philip II are activated, I imagine that our colleagues in Berlin and Paris will begin cataloging with them. Peter has updated our curatorial database with these new IDs, but the data have not been pushed from our [terrible] FileMaker database to Mantis, but you should expect to see the ANS's coins of Philip II online in the coming days. In the mean time, a single tetradrachm from the Fralin Museum at the University of Virginia is the first contributor to the new corpus, for Philip II 125.

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