Monday, August 3, 2020

First steps made in the normalization of the ANS Islamic department

Following some recent upgrades to our data consistency in MANTIS in the linking of many Greek names to Nomisma URIs, I have run a first-pass cleanup of entities that appear in the authority fields in the ANS' internal curatorial FileMaker Pro database. As part of the Egyptian National Library project, a large number of Islamic rulers, dynasties, and corporate bodies were created to cover the range of entities in the ENL's collection. This work was largely undertaken by Jere Bacharach.

Recently, I attempted to run the ANS's list of names that appear in the Authority facet in MANTIS against the OpenRefine reconciliation API. I have successfully matched more than 300 labels within our database to Nomisma URIs. In some cases, a single entity was represented by more than one string in our database, and so we have made some noticeable improvements in consistency. We have also filtered out any value from FileMaker that is obviously not useful. For example, several hundred three-digit number codes had been inputted. Current curatorial staff is not even aware of what these codes correspond to, and so there's really no point in publishing these values into MANTIS.

1930.168.89, an Ilkhanid coin

1930.168.89 in Arabic

Nearly all of the Nomisma URIs for people link to dynasties or corporate entities, which have been indexed into MANTIS in a "State" facet. We plan to review the relationships between these entities, as dynasties and corporate bodies have been conflated in Nomisma, and we should split these into two separate classes of concept. For example, the "Abbasids" ( carry a definition that corresponds more to a corporate entity, e.g., the Abbasid Caliphate ( An Abbasid Dynasty entity should also be created in Nomisma to connect rulers together by means of familial relationships, but individual governors operate under the authority of the Caliphate without being relatives in the Dynasty. An additional benefit of these entities being connected to Nomisma URIs is that translations for all of them are available in Arabic, among other languages.

The cleanup is done in an independent PHP script that processes CSV exported from FileMaker into NUDS XML for publication into Numishare. An intermediate lookup table is implemented by matching a value the relevant field in FileMaker to a key in a Google spreadsheet in order to extract a Nomisma URI in another column, if available. About 300 of 2,500 total lines have been matched to URIs. But this will be a jumping off point for doing more comprehensive cleanup and Nomisma ID creation later, as we migrate into CollectiveAccess.

Monday, July 27, 2020

126 BnF coins integrated into Antigonid Coins Online

One hundred twenty-six coins from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, recently cataloged by Julien Olivier, have been incorporated into the newly-released Antigonid Coins Online (AGCO), which so far includes the coinage of Demetrius Poliorcetes. Roughly a dozen of these coins were already accessible through AGCO upon its launch since a handful of the coins of Demetrius are cross-linked with posthumous issues in the name of Alexander the Great in PELLA (related specimens are displayed in Numishare when they link directly to a type URI or implied to be the same via skos:exactMatch).

A BnF example of Demetrius 51

There are now 433 total specimens connected to the 182 types of Demetrius Poliorcetes. Two-thirds of the types are connected to at least one physical specimens, and about 40% (77 types) of the corpus links to at least one photographed coin. This number will grow, as the majority of the ANS' coins of Demetrius have not been photographed yet.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

ANS launches the first phase of Antigonid Coins Online

After soft-launching last week to give our partners (in the NUMiD consortium, particularly!) a chance to begin cataloging coinage, we are formally announcing the release of Antigonid Coins Online. The first phase of this project includes 182 types of Demetrius Poliorcetes from Edward T. Newell's The Coinages of Demetrius Poliorcetes (1927). We will, in time, introduce typologies for the remaining kings of this Successor dynasty.

At this juncture, it includes more than 300 coins from 11 collections, from both large and small museums. Currently, the handful of coins from the British Museum and Bibliotheque nationale de France are connected to typologies from PELLA that are the same coin type. Karsten Dahmen began cataloging Berlin's coins of Demetrius almost immediately, and a few German university museums soon followed. I updated my script for harvesting Newell references from Harvard Art Museums as well as added another dozen from MFA Boston into the master spreadsheet, which I also reprocessed from a script I had written early. The first coin of Demetrius harvested into Nomisma was actually from the Fralin Museum at the University of Virginia, since I still maintain that project. A further 200 or so were cataloged by Lauren Tomanelli, before she departed the ANS to pursue her archaeology PhD at the University of Arizona, and Peter van Alfen, who referred to the trays for those coins not yet photographed.

Demetrius 159

Additionally, Lauren drew 26 new monograms that are unique (thus far) to the coinage of Demetrius Poliorcetes, while also inserting URIs to monograms from PELLA and PCO into the types, when it is apparent they symbols are semantically identical. These coins now appear in the Hellenistic Royal Coinages union typology, and are available for comparative queries of measurements, geographic distribution, etc. The HRC project was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Antigonid Coins Online was not part of the original set of deliverables for HRC, but as in many of our grant-funded projects, we always exceed expectations.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Initial Binders of Richard Schaefer's Roman Republican Die Study Now Online

Richard Schaefer has undertaken the most comprehensive die study of Roman Republican coinage, a process that has taken many years, and has culminated in 14 binders of pasted coin photographs and annotations, in addition to loose clippings stored a series of boxes.

Lucia Carbone and Liv Mariah Yarrow have supervised the digitization of these resources as part of the Roman Republican Die Project (RRDP). This entails not only scanning the images of the binders and clippings, but also the creation of spreadsheets for each RRC type, including a listing of each obverse and reverse die, and a number of occurrences for each die. Eventually these statistical data will be published and made accessible through Coinage of the Roman Republic Online (CRRO). In this initial phase of the project, we are aiming to publish the binders and the clippings, assembled as TEI files of facsimile images, published the the ANS archival platform, Archer and linked to CRRO.

Interface for Schaefer's RRDP Binder 1

This method of publication is similar to the Newell notebooks of coin hoards that we digitized and annotated for Hellenistic Royal Coinages in that the images are published through our IIIF server and the TEI file is serialized into a IIIF JSON-LD manifest for display in Mirador. The difference is that the page images in the RRDP are not (yet) annotated, but the pages still correspond to one or more RRC URIs published in CRRO. In order to link individual pages URIs in a manner that can be expressed in our implementation of OpenAnnotation RDF, I made some code updates to support the use of the @facs TEI attribute that points each term to a facsimile @xml:id:

  <classCode scheme="">300264354</classCode>
  <keywords scheme="nmo:TypeSeriesItem">
    <term ref="" 
      facs="#schaefer_097-1b_b05_p001-0">RRC 97/1b</term>
    <term ref="" 
      facs="#schaefer_354-1_b05_p002">RRC 354/1</term>
    <term ref="" 
      facs="#schaefer_354-1_b05_p003-0">RRC 354/1</term>

The coin types appear in the index terms underneath the page turner, similar to the Newell notebooks. I made some additional code updates to EADitor (the framework on which Archer is built) to read term URIs in order to index them into the search engine more effectively, creating new Hoard and Coin Type facet lists in the browse page.

Archer browse page with new Coin Type facet (includes HRC types from Newell notebooks)

So far we have published Schaefer's 14 binders to Archer, but the clippings images (organized in batches of 100 RRC numbers) will be published by the end of this month or in early August. That will conclude the first phase of publication, enabling the seamless interoperability between these archival documents and RRC types published in CRRO. Like other typology projects published in Numishare, CRRO's configuration has been updated to interact with Archer's SPARQL endpoint, making these resources available directly in CRRO's user interface.

Binder 1, as it appears in RRC 302/1

The next phase will entail minting URIs for each distinct obverse and reverse die in a new standalone Numishare project, and making some code updates to support the publication of dies and linking to types.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Significant data improvement made to ANS Greek department

Last week, as I begin to transition from the basically-completed Hellenistic Royal Coinages project to publishing the Roman Republican Die Project, I took a few hours to dump a list of names that appear as authorities in the ANS's Greek department and reconcile them against's API in OpenRefine.

Of the roughly 1,000 names that appear in the Authority facet, about 600 were successfully linked to Nomisma URIs, the majority of which were generated several months ago as a precursor to the launch of the new and improved Coin Hoards database. Of the remaining 400, a relatively small number (several dozen) are names that require further disambiguation between more than one entity (multiple Cotys or Mithridates are represented in the ANS collection) or rulers that have not yet been created in Nomisma. A larger portion of the remaining 400 are Roman magistrates that will be normalized at a later date as we begin to incorporate Roman Provincial Coinage Online URIs into our database or Celtic kings or tribes that will be created in Nomisma in the near future.

The linking of authorities in MANTIS to Nomisma results in a huge improvement in the usability of our Greek coinage. This not only improves that standardization of preferred labels (since we had previously implemented variant names and spellings for the same person in the underlying FileMaker curatorial database), but Nomisma also facilitates the indexing of related dynasty and corporate entity concepts into MANTIS. The Dynasty facet on the browse page is much improved (although not thoroughly cleaned, since we did not eliminate values from this facet for coins not linked to authorities).

Parthian coins in MANTIS

More importantly, the State facet now lists all of the overarching corporate entities linked to each individual ruler, satrap, magistrate, etc. This means that for the first time, it is possible to execute a simple query to gather all 1,600 coins of the Parthian Empire, 349 coins of the Kingdom of Elymais, etc. in one result set, rather than relying on the previous dynasty field, which was inconsistently cataloged.

Some further statistics:
  • Of the 94,723 coins in the Greek department, 38,563 are linked to Nomisma URIs for authority.
  • 32,177 coins are linked to a Nomisma concept for the related corporate entity. There are 84 corporate entities in total.

There is still much to improve here, both within the Greek department and beyond it, but this is a clear demonstration of the enhancements that can be made in usability by more thorough integration of Linked Open Data identifiers. The effort to achieve this was minimal (since most of the Nomisma IDs had already been created), but is a foundation on which we can build toward better data quality within other departments as we begin to transition from FileMaker to CollectiveAccess as our collections management system.

Friday, June 19, 2020

Hellenistic Royal Coinages union monogram catalog enabled

After making some minor updates to the XQuery that underlies the symbol pages in Numishare, I have enabled the unified monogram interface in the Hellenistic Royal Coinages umbrella site. There are now 2,800 monogram URIs in this interface spread across Seleucid, Ptolemaic, and Argead coinage, including posthumous issues in the name of Alexander the Great published in the PELLA project. These monograms can be filtered by constituent letter, as in individual projects, showing overlap between the various Hellenistic kingdoms. It will become apparent that identical monograms will have different URIs in the different type corpora. This will be addressed eventually, as we combine these images with monograms from other Greek numismatic projects, such as Corpus Nummorum, and issue unique URIs for each monogram concept in the namespace.

Hellenistic monograms consisting of Χ and Ψ

Some minor updates to Numishare were made this morning to index the constituent letters from these monograms into a Solr facet that appears under the symbols section of the browse page in each project, as well as the HRC umbrella site. The letters are indexed at the level of obverse and reverse, but not specific positions, like other symbols. The Javascript that forms the Lucene query has been updated to replace the default operator from OR to AND for letters, since it is more useful to search for types related to all of the associated letters than any of them (in contrast to mints, denominations, etc., where a coin type is typically only associated with one).

Hellenistic coins with monograms that contain Χ and Ψ

Price 874
What interesting here is that there are two pairs of identical monograms in the results. One coin from each pair is from PELLA and the other from SCO. For example, Price 874 is the same monogram as Houghton 570.4. Looking at the types associated with these monograms, Price attributes one type (P151) to Philip III Arrhidaeus from Aradus, but the monogram appears on several Seleucid types. In particular, P151 appears to be identical to, which also includes an identical monogram form (also with two different URIs in PELLA and SCO) in the left field (according to the images, but not the cataloging). The cataloging in PELLA is wrong here and should be fixed. The photographs associated with the Price type clearly show these monograms in left field, and Price 399 beneath the throne (perhaps wrongly encoded as the Greek zeta in SCO).

Price P151 and SC Ad43.9 have not previously been linked together as the same type. Four coins from the Ashmolean and BnF link to the Price URI, but no coins have been cataloged to the SC number. By inserting these types into our concordance list, we will be able to display the images for the coins in SCO. Furthermore, Houghton, Lorber, and Hoover attribute this type to Seleucus, minted in Babylon. While we will not change Price's cataloging to change the authority and mint for the type, ideally we want to to use the SC data as the canonical reference.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

About 1,300 Seleucid Monograms published to SCO

About 1,300 monograms appearing on the coinage of Seleucus I through Antiochus III (Houghton, Lorber, and Hoover's Seleucid Coins, Part 1) have been published to Seleucid Coins Online (SCO) and linked to thousands of types and subtypes. Much like previous work with PELLA and PCO, the constituent letters have been annotated by Peter van Alfen, although I am sure we will spot some errors or oversights in the process.

Where the SCO monograms differ from the previous projects is that monograms have been organized hierarchically by Oliver Hoover. Unlike in PELLA and PCO, where a monogram usually has one SVG file (but may have more than one to illustrate slight variations in style), the Seleucid monograms have been grouped thematically by letters and general design motif.

SCO monogram 299

For example Monogram 299 generally consists of Μ, Ε, and Υ, and has four sub-monograms linked to the parent through skos:broader in the RDF. These sub-monograms URIs (e.g,, are encoded within the coin type data, which makes it possible to visualize the mints, hoards, and coin types connected at the sub-monogram level as well as the parent level, by extending the underlying SPARQL query all types associated with the parent monogram through each of the children:

  BIND (<> as ?symbol)
    SELECT ?symbol ?side WHERE {
     {?side nmo:hasControlmark ?symbol}
     UNION {?children skos:broader+ ?symbol .
              ?side nmo:hasControlmark ?children}

Similarly, Seleucid Coins is an extensively hierarchical type corpus. Many symbols and monograms are annotated at the subtype level. While individual subtypes are indexed into Solr in Numishare for OpenRefine reconciliation and the Atom feed (which powers lookups in KENOM), the browse page itself shows only parent types. The underlying code in Numishare was updated so that symbols and monograms annotated within subtypes are indexed into Solr, making it possible to access them from the symbol facets, regardless of whether that particular monogram appears explicitly within the data for the parent type. For example, Monogram 426 appears in SC 42.2, but has been indexed into the data for SC 42 so that it still appears on the browse page for the query, with two other non-hierarchical types in which the monogram appears directly. Coincidentally, Monogram 426 only appears on posthumous Alexanders minted in Carrhae from 310-290 B.C.

Query results for Monogram 426

Some technical advances I would like to implement in these user interfaces in the near future:

  • A histogram showing the dates of production for monograms
  • Plugging the monograms into the existing distribution analyses functions in Numishare and Nomisma (to generate charts showing authorities, mints, etc. that produced monograms)
  • Vary the radius of the mint points on the map by density of production
  • Introduce a draggable timeline into the map so that the geographic distribution can be visualized over time

The links between letters, monograms, types, mints (and other typological attributes), and hoards will open the door to completely new types of query that were not possible before the application of Linked Open Data to numismatics. We are barely scratching the surface of what's possible. I have recently queried a list of concordances between Ptolemaic monograms and mints from the SPARQL endpoint that I plan to import into a network visualization tool, like Gephi, for experimentation.