Thursday, February 2, 2012

Quantitative Analysis of Coin-Types

Among the American Numismatic Society's current projects is Online Coins of the Rome Empire (OCRE), which is a free, open-access catalog of Roman Imperial Coins.  Each coin type numbered in RIC will be represented with a nomisma URI.  A NUDS XML record will describe the typological attributes of the coin-type, as well as link to associated physical objects in various collections (Mantis, to start).  An early Numishare blog post describes this feature in more detail.  We will be presenting a prototype of OCRE at CAA in March (abstract).  The OCRE project not only provides stable URIs for coin-types, but also a user interface for searching, browsing, and mapping Roman Imperial Coins in the same manner of Mantis.

Since a coin-type record can point to related coins in other collections, Numishare can extract physical attributes of those coins, as well as findspots (if available).  The Solr index, for example, will ingest all of the weights of associated physical coins to ascertain the average weight and standard deviation for a coin-type.  The accuracy of these measurements improves proportionally to the number of coins from which the weights are derived.

Numishare currently supports comparing the average weight of a particular coin type to the average weights of associated facets, e.g., by the same authority, denomination, or material across the entire collection.  Eventually, it will support user-set queries: compare RIC Augustus 410 (a silver denarius) with other silver coins of Augustus and with silver coins of the late 3rd century AD.  These sorts of quantitative analyses will no doubt serve as a great resource to numismatists and ancient historians.

The general distribution of Numishare supports a quantitative analysis tab for coin-type records that have associated weight measurements.

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