Thursday, November 19, 2015

The American Numismatic Society Announces the Launch of PELLA

The American Numismatic Society (ANS) is excited to announce the launch of its latest digital platform, PELLA (, an important new research tool for ancient Greek numismatics that provides a comprehensive, easily accessible online catalogue of the coinage produced by the kings of the Macedonian Argead dynasty (c.700–310 BC). Cataloguing the individual coin types of the kings from Alexander I (ruled 498–454 BC), the first of the Macedonian kings to strike coins, down to Philip III Arrhidaeus (ruled 323–317 BC), PELLA allows users to conduct research on specific types, view examples from multiple collections, conduct statistical analyses of weight and other measurement data, and see maps of where the type was minted and where examples have been found in hoards.

As a linked data project, PELLA connects to the relevant pages within the ANS's collection website, MANTIS (, as well as Inventory of Greek Coin Hoards Online (, and incorporates material from other public collections. The current version of PELLA provides links to examples of the coinage (in the name) of Alexander the Great and Philip III Arrhidaeus present in the ANS collection, the Münzkabinett of the State Museums of Berlin, and the British Museum totaling nearly 10,000 examples of individual coins. The current version of PELLA uses the numbering system and typology originally created and published by Martin Price in The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arhidaeus, London 1991, with the addition of modifications that greatly enhance the volume’s usefulness as an online resource.

PELLA is made possible by stable numismatic identifiers and linked open data methodologies established by the project. Coin type data are made available with an Open Database License.

Dr. Peter van Alfen, Margaret Thompson Associate Curator of Greek Coins, commented on the announcement. "The Macedonian kings of the Argead dynasty struck arguably the most influential coinages of the ancient Greek world, so it’s appropriate that our first digital project in Greek numismatics focuses on their coinage. We also wanted to provide a specific platform for facilitating research on their coinages, particularly since the ANS holds one of the largest and most important collections of Argead coinage in the world. By being able to link to other important collections, the research potential is significantly enhanced. The ANS is committed to enhancing its online presence and digitizing its collection - PELLA is another example of our progress, and we are proud it well help educate those with general numismatic interest as well as academic researchers.”

Friday, November 13, 2015

Aurelian, Tacitus, and Florian Added to OCRE

Three new emperors from RIC V have been added into Online Coins of the Roman Empire: Aurelian, Tacitus, and Florian. This accounts for about 800 new coin types. Additionally, both the Berlin and British Museum collections have been reprocessed to link to these newly-minted URIs. A handful of coins from Berlin have been added, and about 200 coins from the British Museum have been made available. This is the first time the BM coins have been added since the introduction of emperors from RIC V, so the range is from Valerian to Florian.

While the BM has a tremendous number of Crisis of the Third Century coins, not all of their radiates consistently reference RIC numbers, since RIC is pretty out of date with respect to coinage from this period.

We expect to publish a major update to the ANS collection soon. Thousands of coins have recently been photographed, and these images should make their way onto Mantis as early as next week.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Using XForms to transform Google Spreadsheets into RDF

With XML Amsterdam happening and reading about a lot of the XForms action happening at the conference, it has occurred to me that I haven't written any blog posts in the last few months about technical advances in Nomisma or other projects (like the Digital Library application, which features an XForms interface for MODS that accepts a PDF upload, and sends the PDF into Solr for full-text indexing, as well as dynamically generates EPUB files from TEI). The ETDPub application will get a full technical write-up in a journal eventually, probably code4lib.


On Nomisma, I worked on a few new features in the backend that have greatly reduced my workload. First, I finally implemented a system that makes use of the VoID metadata RDF for data dumps that are contributed into the Nomisma SPARQL endpoint to facilitate the aggregation of coins for OCRE, CRRO, and our other large projects. The VoID RDF is validated to ensure it contains the required title, description, license, etc., and if valid, the data dump is ingested into the SPARQL endpoint. The dump can be refreshed with a click of a button, or a dataset can be removed from the triplestore entirely by passing in a SPARQL/Update query:

PREFIX nmo:    <>
PREFIX void:    <>
PREFIX dcterms:    <>
DELETE {?s ?p ?o} WHERE {
{ ?object void:inDataset <DATASET> ;
  nmo:hasObverse ?s . ?s ?p ?o }
UNION { ?object void:inDataset <DATASET> ;
  nmo:hasReverse ?s . ?s ?p ?o }
UNION { ?object void:inDataset <DATASET> ;
  dcterms:tableOfContents ?s . ?s ?p ?o }
UNION { ?s void:inDataset <DATASET> . ?s ?p ?o}

This is a fairly simple workflow, but it isn't yet complete in that it only accommodates RDF/XML at the moment (need to expand for Turtle and JSON-LD), nor does it validate the data dumps. This saves me a lot of time in that I can simply click a button in the user interface to re-ingest a dump when new matches are made between coins in that dump and new types published in OCRE--or simply refresh the OCRE dump when we publish new types. Before, I used to have to shut down the triplestore for a few minutes, delete the data directory, and then manually upload each RDF dump into the triplestore via command line.

Google Spreadsheets to RDF

The other really significant advancement has reduced my workload significantly with respect to batch publication of new concepts (as RDF) into Nomisma. I would occasionally receive spreadsheets of data to upload into Nomisma, which required me to author a PHP script to transform CSV into RDF, and there were invariably validation problems in the original data.

I spent 1-2 weeks developing an XForms application that could read a Google Spreadsheet (published as an Atom feed) in order to validate the data and import as RDF. First, one begins with a spreadsheet like this.

The user will be presented with an interface like the one below:

The user may map the spreadsheet headings to allowable RDF properties. There are some basic requirements--that there be a Nomisma ID that conforms to xs:anyURI, that there be one English preferred label, one English definition, that there may be no duplicate languages for preferred labels or definitions. There must be both a latitude and a longitude if uploading mint IDs. That sort of thing. The full list of allowable properties and more specific instructions are at

After selecting a valid data mapping (XForms bindings), the user may proceed to the next screen, which then validates each row in the spreadsheet to ensure the data values conform to other bindings. For example, there cannot be blank values for English preferred labels, and skos:exactMatch, skos:closeMatch, skos:broader, and the like must be URIs that begin with the https?:// regular expression (XPath matches() function). If everything is valid, the XForms engine will transform the Atom XML into the appropriate RDF/XML model, save to the filesystem (for versioning in Github), post to the SPARQL endpoint, and then transform the RDF/XML into an XML document for indexing into the Solr search index.

There's a neat additional feature that executes when there's a skos:closeMatch or skos:exactMatch with a wikipedia or dbpedia URL. An XForms submission executes that queries Wikidata based on the article title to extract titles in other languages (essentially facilitating multilingual interfaces by mapping alternate languages into skos:prefLabel in RDF) as well as matching concepts in other vocabulary systems, like VIAF, the Getty AAT/TGN/ULAN, Geonames, etc. In the end of this process, we can some pretty sophisticated RDF that can link people to URIs in other systems and model their relationship to a political entity or dynasty with the org ontology, e.g.,

We have created nearly 1,000 new Nomisma concepts this summer through this new spreadsheet import mechanism--a great investment in two weeks' of labor to free me from having to write data processing scripts and pushing the responsibility of creating and updating IDs to the numismatic subject specialists.

This import mechanism is open source of course:

Friday, October 23, 2015

More than 700 Greco-Roman mints updated in Nomisma

Thanks to Ryan Baumann's work of creating a concordance between geographic identifiers in the Pleiades Gazetteer of Ancient Places and the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names, Dan Pett of the British Museum was able to build on this work to incorporate these concordances into the Portable Antiquities Scheme database. Dan's Nomisma-Pleiades-TGN concordance R script is on Github.

Dan then emailed the Nomisma listserv with a large CSV document of all mints in the PAS database, with associated Nomisma IDs, Getty, BM, Geonames, dbPedia, Pleiades, etc. I stripped away all of the mints that don't already have Nomisma IDs so that I could upload the CSV into Google Sheets, which then makes it possible to import data from the Atom representation of this spreadsheet into the Nomisma RDF. I expanded all of the concordance ID columns into full URIs for the Nomisma spreadsheet validation process, and then successfully updated 721 Greco-Roman mints to add Getty, BM, Geonames, and dbPedia URIs as skos:closeMatch objects. Further, the spreadsheet import process parsed the dbPedia URIs to perform Wikidata lookup, enabling us to add further concordances extracted from Wikidata--including the Wikidata URI itself, plus GND, BnF, and Freebase identifiers. The Wikidata lookup also adds additional translations as skos:prefLabels in from article titles in other languages.

As a result, we have added more than a dozen new translations for Zeugma and a few additional URIs.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

ANS Launches Online Catalogue with Dar al-Kutub, the Egyptian National Library

The American Numismatic Society (ANS) is pleased to announce, in collaboration with Dr. Jere Bacharach, Department of History at the University of Washington, and Dr. Sherif Anwar, College of Archaeology, Cairo University, the digital publication of the non-hoard numismatic collection of the Egyptian National Library (

The catalog consists of more than 6,500 objects, ranging from late Roman glassware and pre-Islamic Sasanian coinage to the modern Egyptian coinage of Anwar Sadat. The collection is particularly strong in Medieval Islamic coinage across all major dynasties. The catalog differs from its predecessors in a number of ways. The collection has been photographed in color, with inscriptions read and transcribed from these images. The database includes references to the 1982 catalog of the collection undertaken by Dr. Norman D. Nicol.

The interface is available in both English and Arabic, owing to translations provided by Dr. Sherif Anwar. The multilingual interface is driven by numismatic concepts defined by Over the course of this project, more than 700 Islamic entities—people, dynasties, corporate entities, mints, etc.—were created in Nomisma, with labels in English, Arabic, and other languages, forming the technical foundation for the aggregation of other Islamic numismatic collections. Geographic coordinates have been included for the majority of Islamic mints, permitting the mapping of the Egyptian National Library collection.

According to Ethan Gruber, the ANS Director of Data Science, "the effort undertaken in defining Islamic entities in a Linked Open Data environment will make it possible to improve the Islamic department in the ANS database, and may make Islamic type corpora similar to Online Coins of the Roman Empire ( possible in the future." Like other ANS digital projects, the data are freely available with an Open Database License, and are published in the Numishare framework.

The ANS acknowledges the contributions of the individuals who are named at

(Image information: Glass – Mamluk, Sultanate of Egypt, CE 1250-1517.6057, Egyptian National Library)

For more information contact Joanne Isaac at 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.

Friday, October 2, 2015

On Open Data and Numismatic Typologies

edit (2 October 2015, 4PM): I want to make it clear that we have been collaborating with numerous members of the Coins and Medals departments for several years now on a few digital projects, including building a close relationship with the Portable Antiquities Scheme. Data usage concerns have been expressed by a small handful of individuals at the British Museum and are not, as far as I can tell, driven by the Trustees of the British Museum.

Can the British Museum make their data available with a Creative Commons license, but then restrict how the data are used?

The short answer is yes.

But the long answer in this case is a bit more complicated. The British Museum has authorized the reuse of their data and images under a CC 4.0 BY-NC-SA license, meaning that anyone has the right to use these data for non-commercial purposes as long as the BM is attributed and the creative works derived from these data and images and likewise freely and openly shared. ANS collaborative projects have always adhered to these requirements. For OCRE, CRRO, and PELLA, we have extracted data from the British Museum SPARQL endpoint and transformed these data into the Nomisma ontology. The full list of datasets are available at, and so one may download the entire BM RDF data dump at once or extract any associated data via the Nomisma SPARQL endpoint. Individual coins are also attributed to their collection throughout the various interfaces in our digital type corpus projects.

As the British Museum license currently stands, we (or anyone) have the right to use these images and data in this manner, without the need to ask the BM permission to do so.

Only if the BM changed their license to the more restrictive ND (No Derivatives) would they be able to exert absolute control over the reuse of their data. This means that the public can only download a dump of their CIDOC-CRM RDF in N-Quads. It would not even be permissible to transform these data into RDF/XML for XSLT processing. One could not match the places in their thesaurus to Pleiades URIs and transform the CIDOC CRM into the Open Annotation model used for the Pelagios project. One could generate CSV out of the data to load into Open Refine, Google Fusion Tables for visualization, or to analyze data with R. Of course, a CC ND license would obliterate any potential for reuse of British Museum data, and this is certainly why they have not sought to place this draconian license on their data.

What does this have to do with typologies?

All of the numismatic data in the British Museum SPARQL endpoint are open, and nearly every individual specimen contains at least one reference to a coin type number. By poking around the BM data, I was able to figure out that the reference URI containing 'GC30' as a short title refers to Price's The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus. I developed a simple SPARQL query that allowed me to extract a list of nearly 3,000 coins from the British Museum that contained Price references. One could extend this query to gather a list of unique Price references rather than objects, and therefore anyone would be able to generate a significant portion of the typologies from the Price catalog. Now, this catalog would not be complete because Price derived some of his typologies from other collections, such as the American Numismatic Society. The BM endpoint also does not contain a full account of all Alexander coins in the BM collection.

However, these typologies from Price can be derived from descriptions of individual specimens, and the BM CC 4.0 BY-NC-SA license still applies. This begs the question: can the British Museum exert copyright control over typologies published in print when these same typologies can be freely and openly derived from its own collection database?

In fact, it would be possible to derive other typologies not under British Museum copyright by the same mechanisms. The same goes for the ANS database, which is freely and openly available with an Open Database License. Can the British Museum and ANS even include type numbers within their public databases if it is possible to derive typological data that might be under copyright of another publisher? In the United States, data aren't even copyrightable. And the use of reference numbers in databases, specifically, falls within the realm of Fair Use. If we begin to debate whether or not type numbers may even be referenced on the Web, the only real loser in this debate is the general public.

Proof of Concept: Seleucid Coinage, an American Numismatic Society publication

The URI for Houghton and Lorber's Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalogue Part I Volume I is

Poking around at the CIDOC CRM structure of the coins associated with SC references, I constructed a SPARQL query that would extract most of the typological data from the endpoint. It is a bit messy, as the SPARQL XML response tends to be with the expression of triples, so I took this XML response and wrote some basic XSLT to convert the response into CSV that better reflects individual typologies.

There are only 11 Seleucid coins in the BM system with Houghton and Lorber 2002 references, but I was able to generate a CSV file for all of the typological data for the SC types. The metadata are strings, but one could easily drop this CSV into Google Spreadsheets to clean up. If we were dealing with a typological dataset that consistent of thousands of types, it could be cleaned up in Open Refine in, probably, less than an hour to fully link all concepts to Nomisma URIs.

I have written a number of PHP scripts (e.g., like this one) to transform CSV into NUDS, and so one of these scripts could be adapted to transform the Nomisma-linked CSV into NUDS for direct publication in Numishare. It is possible to go from BM SPARQL queries to a fully-functional digital type corpus like OCRE in about a day's worth of work.

So basically, what I have done here is use the BM SPARQL endpoint to extract open data that comprise typologies that have been published by the ANS and are under ANS copyright. I mean, who cares, right?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

On Concordances Between Type Corpora

By now some of you may have heard that the British Museum issued a take-down notice for the PELLA project, a digital type corpus of Argead coins. PELLA will ultimately generate URIs for all Argead types, and will hopefully be the canonical corpus for cataloging both museum, archaeological, and private collections. The first and most important step in building a large scale digital corpus/data aggregation system (like PELLA, OCRE, CRRO, etc.) is to build a concordance between existing type numbers and future ones. This is especially the case for PELLA, as OCRE and CRRO are merely reflections of the current editions of Roman Imperial Coinage and Roman Republican Coinage. Therefore, Martin Price's 1991 out of print, but in copyright The Coinage in the Name of Alexander the Great and Philip Arrhidaeus is just one part of the existing print corpora of Argead coinage.

The British Museum "cannot consent to the Price catalogue typology being released online until we have been able to assess whether the Trustees of the British Museum would approve the inclusion of the Price catalogue material within this online resource" because they erroneously believe that the data published through PELLA are verbatim descriptions from the corpus. We can demonstrate significant enhancements of the typology, so this brings to question whether URIs for Price types can even be minted.

The BM seemingly does not want us to issue typological data under the Price numbering system, despite the enhancements that clearly deviate from the original publication. The BM would find it impossible to enforce this demand, as Price numbers are a standard reference for the coins of Alexander the Great, and nearly every collection uses these numbers--whether commercial auction houses, large museum collections like the ANS, Berlin, or Bibliotheque nationale de France, or tiny little museums like the University of Virginia Art Museum, which owns two Price-numbered coins of Alexander. The entire purpose of numbered type corpora like RIC, RRC, Price, etc. is to create a an up-to-date system by which scholars may cite coin types in a standardized way. Price's own corpus wasn't created in a vacuum. His typologies were influenced by those of his predecessors, going back for centuries.

This brings us to the important point of concordances. While PELLA will eventually issue a new set of unique identifiers for Argead coin types (based on a numbering system combining the ruler and mint), currently, the four collections that contribute data on physical specimens to the PELLA project use Price numbers in their databases. It is impossible to aggregate these collections without first establishing a baseline numbering system. It takes little effort to map these collections to Price URIs in PELLA. Moving into the future, there will be a systematic and transparent mapping from Price to future-URIs following Linked Open Data methodologies.

The fact of the matter is will NEVER, EVER go away.

Even after we have established a new numbering system, the price.4 URI will be a semantic HTTP 303 See Other redirect to the new URI if you go to price.4 in your browser. If you request RDF for price.4 via content negotiation, it will say that this type has been dcterms:isReplacedBy ale3.amphipolis.4 (or whatever). The RDF for ale3.amphipolis.4 will say that this is a skos:exactMatch for its preceding Price number.

The Berlin Münzkabinett has already begun to incorporate Price URIs from Pella into its database. But moving forward, because of the inherent functionality in Numishare for building sustainable concordances between coin types, Berlin will be able to update their database to the most current version of PELLA type URIs through automated mechanisms. The same would be true for the British Museum, if they want in due course to benefit from the work of others freely offered, for the incorporation of PELLA (or OCRE or CRRO...or Getty or Pleiades or Wikidata, for that matter) URIs into the "5 Star" Linked "Open" Data system. This is a topic for another time, but I am feeling increasingly inclined to discuss it.

According to the British Museum, "as far as we can see this catalogue data has not been updated to incorporate any new attributions and contains no new scholarly research." This, of course, ignores the tremendous scholarly effort in mapping typologies into the graph of data in the Nomisma ontology and concept namespaces, as well as the reorganization of obverse and reverse symbols in a way that makes query possible on the Web.

This brings me to my final point:

We are also concerned that the Open Database License (ODbL v1.0) under which the PELLA project is distributed is not compatible with the Creative Commons License (CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0) license that governs all non-commercial uses of images and data available both through the British Museum Collection Online and the British Museum Semantic Web Collection Online, as well as all non-commercial uses of any documents produced by the British Museum in any format or through any medium.

The PELLA data were created by Andy Meadows and Peter van Alfen, with translations into German and French provided by Karsten Dahmen and Frédérique Duyrat, and the ANS has every right to place an Open Database License on these data, since these typologies are enhancements over what was originally provided in Price. And of course, our migration of their data from CIDOC-CRM into the Nomisma Ontology and integration of it into the Nomisma SPARQL endpoint does not violate any terms of their CC license whatsoever. PELLA is a non-commercial project. We are sharing the data alike, and we are attributing the data to the British Museum, when applicable. And we have linked to the images that they are providing through their own system, which is perfectly acceptable for their CC license. No one complained when the British Museum became partners in OCRE or CRRO, so one has to wonder why they are causing such a stink with this particular project. The British Museum is stifling scholarship and undermining the potential for numismatic research and the integration of numismatic materials into the wider cultural heritage domain. We at the ANS support Open Data and Open Access, and we hope that future scholars may make use of these data for answering more complex research questions.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The American Numismatic Society Introduces Digital Library

The American Numismatic Society (ANS) continues its mission of providing Open Access research tools to researchers worldwide with its newly unveiled Digital Library ( The ANS Digital Library will grow to house three collections of digital material: numismatic theses/dissertations, auction catalogues, and ebooks.

Beginning now, the collection of electronic theses and dissertations hosts international doctoral work on numismatic themes. Anyone may browse the collection online, and are welcome to download any PDF or DOC file containing the research that earned their authors their MAs and/or PhDs. The ANS has seeded this space with the work of its own staff, and welcome any/all theses from numismatists, archaeologists, historians, and other scholars worldwide.

Andrew Reinhard, Director of Publications for the ANS, discussed the reasoning behind creating the collection. “Many numismatic doctoral theses and dissertations are never published, or they appear only in print that is accessible to very few people. The ANS is already an international destination for Open Access numismatic data, so it seemed logical that we also could be a hub for hosting advanced, groundbreaking numismatic scholarship.”

If you would like to have the ANS host and distribute your thesis or dissertation at no charge under a Creative Commons license, email the file(s) or link(s) to Once your work is uploaded, the ANS will publish its link, and will also create an entry in the DONUM library catalogue to aid discoverability.

Over the next few months, the ANS will begin to share freely its scanned auction catalogues as well as ebook versions of its monographs and series on this Digital Library platform.

For more information, contact Andrew Reinhard, Director of Publications, at 212-571-4470 ext. 111 or

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Portable Antiquities Scheme in CRRO

The first archaeological materials have been linked into Coinage of the Roman Republic Online (CRRO). Yesterday, Dan Pett began working on linking Republican coins in the Portable Antiquities Scheme to URIs for Michael Crawford's RRC numbers in CRRO. Beginning with just four linked objects yesterday afternoon, in order to iron out the VoID and Nomisma data dump models, the number of PAS coins in CRRO has grown to 66 this morning. In total, we expect more than 1,000 PAS coins in CRRO by the time the database has been fully linked up.

The PAS coins have weights, axes, and diameters that can be used for quantitative analysis. Many have public findspots to show the geographic distribution of types, and of course, most have been photographed. RRC 322/1a, for example, contains links to two PAS coins, one of which has a findspot of Blyth, defined with a URI from the Ordnance Survey gazetteer.

Since most of the PAS Republican coins were minted in Rome, these new data have altered the heatmap distribution for the Nomisma concept of the mint of Rome, with a number of new findspots appearing in England, adding to the two findspots already recorded from Crisis of the Third Century hoards in which a number of University of Virginia Art Museum coins were found.

When the Republican coins in PAS are fully linked into CRRO, we expect that this will enhance the project's value as a research tool for investigating the circulation of Roman coinage into the British Isles.

Incidentally, I updated the underlying SPARQL query for the CRRO Contributors page to display coin counts and publisher information for coins which are not contained in museum collections (since the PAS database contains objects which may have been dispersed to a wide variety of public or private collections). These code updates affect Numishare in general, including OCRE.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Migrated from OpenLayers to Leaflet in Nomisma, Implemented Heatmaps

I have spent a few days finding solutions to scalability problems loading a lot of points in OpenLayers, and migrated to Leaflet and implemented heatmaps, which reveal context in a more useful way when there are a lot of points. I wrote the following email to the Nomisma list:


We had run into scalability issues with rendering maps of findspots driven by SPARQL for mints in the Nomisma interface. It was not a triplestore issue, but a browser issue. OpenLayers did not handle 1000 points for findspots related to Rome gracefully, so I had to change directions.

First, it should be noted that the the points now reflect unique findspots and not objects (because we can't reasonably map 10,000 coins found in the same hoard, therefore the same findspot).

I switched OpenLayers to Leaflet. I replaced the default KML rendering of points into a heatmap, which is more indicative of distribution overall. See for example, but you can also see for the distribution of (mostly Republican) coins using Sicily as the nmo:hasMint. The IGCH findspots are in the system, so a number of Greek mints have hits as well (

There are four available base layers. The default is the ancient terrain produced by the Ancient World Mapping Center at the University of North Carolina and hosted by Also available are modern terrain, OpenStreetMap, and the Roman Empire map.

You can toggle the main point/polygon for the mint/region on or off, as well as the heatmap. You can also turn on the KML layer (which is still available for individual download as well). Leaflet seems to handle a large number of points more efficiently than OpenLayers.

This migration to Leaflet is the beginning of really sophisticated geographic analysis tools that I would like to implement into Nomisma. There are a lot of ways we can make Nomisma data more useful to researchers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Antike Fundmünzen in Europa (AFE) in OCRE

More than 800 coins from Antike Fundmünzen in Europa (AFE), a Römisch-Germanische Kommission (RGK) (a Nomisma partner), have been ingested into the Nomisma triplestore. Of these, only a few dozen are directly linked to URIs in OCRE, but the remaining coins are still available for query by means of directly affiliated triples (such as this SPARQL query below, which gathers a UNION of coins with Vespasian explicitly designated as authority and those that are implied by means of a linked coin type).

SELECT ?object ?type ?weight ?diameter WHERE {
  { ?object nmo:hasAuthority nm:vespasian ; a nmo:NumismaticObject }
  UNION { ?type nmo:hasAuthority nm:vespasian ; a nmo:TypeSeriesItem .
         ?object nmo:hasTypeSeriesItem ?type }
  OPTIONAL {?object nmo:hasWeight ?weight}
  OPTIONAL {?object nmo:hasDiameter ?diameter}

These are the first archaeological materials ingested in Nomisma, each with findspots.

See, for example, of a Vespasianic coin type with a findspot and measurements from the AFE database.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Berlin coins updated in OCRE and CRRO

The Berlin LIDO/XML export data for Roman Imperial Coinage references has been reprocessed, and coins from the Münzkabinett from Valerian through Quintillus are now available in OCRE. The number of imperial coins from Berlin grew about 150 to 3,749. Additionally, the RRC export was reprocessed into RDF following the new Nomisma ontology, and the total number of Republican coins from Berlin available in CRRO has grown to 1,080. The ANS coins for RIC V were updated yesterday, and the University of Virginia coins just before that. I expect to update the RIC V coins from the British Museum in the near future. This will add over 2,000 more coins to OCRE.

Presently, nearly 35,000 coins from the ANS, British Museum, Berlin, and the University of Virginia are available in OCRE. I expect the first batch of archaeological materials from Antike Fundmünzen in Europa (AFE) to be ingested into the Nomisma triplestore soon. This is a tremendous milestone.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

All RIC types through Quintillus published in OCRE

Last week, we published all of the types from Valerian and Gallienus in OCRE. A few days ago, we added Claudius Gothicus and Quintillus. There is a subtle difference between the types from the reigns of Valerian and Gallienus and the emperors after 268 in our RIC V workflow. Due to the tremendous number of subtypes from Valerian and Gallienus (and subtypes of these subtypes, when considering every permutation of obverse portrait and mint mark), we decided we needed to speed up the publication process. Beginning with Claudius Gothicus, only the parent type numbers will be published to OCRE so that we will complete RIC Volume X by the close of the NEH grant two years from now. If/when we have the time, we will return to RIC V to fill in the missing subtypes.

Capturing the parent types is of the utmost importance, since most museum and archaeological databases will likely have designated their coins as a parent type, e.g. Gallienus 210, and not Gallienus 210k or Gallienus 210k Subtype 1. The ANS has gone into this level of granularity with respect to linking coins to OCRE subtypes (as have I with linking the University of Virginia collection), but it is doubtful anyone else has. Indeed, at first glance, neither Berlin nor the British Museum link to the subtypes, many of which were not distinctly numbered within RIC. [As an aside, Mantis and UVa have been updated to link to OCRE, but BM and Berlin coins are not yet available.]

However, in order to support the traversal from parent types to subtypes, I have made some enhancements to the OCRE UI (which are not inherent to Numishare). It is possible to link directly to Gallienus 210 and have those coins show up under "Examples of this Type" in the parent record page, but coins linked more granularly to subtypes will also show up under the "Subtypes" section underneath. Click on the Gallienus 210, 210k, and 210k.1 above for an example. What this means is that an archaeological database can link to the parent type when the legend or mint marks are not legible enough for precise identification, but the numismatic data and images can still be made available through OCRE.

In semantic web terms, subtypes are linked to parent types via the skos:broader property. SPARQL queries have been updated throughout Numishare to infinitely gather subtypes with the skos:broader+ modifier, which is enabled by default in the current version of Fuseki we employ as the SPARQL endpoint (

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Monday, May 11, 2015

Clarifying licenses in Mantis

As many of you might know, several ANS projects, like OCRE and CRRO, already have well-defined Open Database Licenses. In the ANS database itself, Mantis, we had a generic copyright and terms of use statement. We have moved forward with clarifying the licenses on Mantis. The data are made freely and openly available with an Open Database License. The images themselves are now under the Creative Commons Attribution/Non-Commerical license. People are free to link to our coin images from external sites and projects. While this may have been going on anyway, we have now formalized the right to do this.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nomisma extended to link to the Getty ULAN, British Museum thesauri

This morning, the Getty Museum announced the release of the Union List of Artist Names (ULAN) thesaurus as linked open data. Following updates made to the Getty lookup mechanism in's XForms-based editing interface, I have ported these updates into Nomisma's editor. It is now possible to quickly and easily link people and organizations in Nomisma to matching concepts in the ULAN, much like what we have already implemented for linking mints and regions to the TGN and denominations, materials, manufacture methods, and object types to the AAT.

Furthermore, I took the time to finally fully implement the British Museum lookup mechanism in Nomisma. The British Museum thesauri cover many of the same broad categories as the Getty, but the main difference between the two systems is that the BM thesauri reflect what they have in their own database, and the Getty thesauri are aimed at representing concepts across all of art history. The Nomisma editing interface now enables quick and easy linking to denominations, ethnic identities, manufacture methods, materials, mints, object types, people, and regions in the BM thesauri.

See the following examples:

When creating or editing ids manually, we'll be able to easily add BM and Getty URIs into the system. Ideally we will want to do a mass update of all of our ids that can be mapped to concepts in both thesauri. Creating a concordance between Nomisma and Getty concepts will hopefully facilitate large-scale aggregation in the future.

Major photographic updates to OCRE

Much progress has been made recently in photographically covering the American Numismatic Society collection for the Roman imperial department. By using some NEH funding to hire a photographer to focus mainly on Roman imperial coins in a more high-speed workflow, photos for more than 7,000 Roman imperial coins have been captured over the last six months or so.

These images have finally pushed through the main image processing workflow and are now available online. The SPARQL endpoint has been updated with the latest dump from Mantis to reflect these additions. Furthermore, more than 1,100 new links to OCRE have been made from the ANS collection from RIC Volumes I to IV. Nearly 15,300 coins from the ANS are now linked in OCRE, up from just over 14,000 previously. Furthermore, the photographic coverage has been extended from 3,499 coins in our collection to about 12,000.

Lastly, we have pushed the first portion of RIC Volume V into OCRE. These are the coins from during Valerian's life, from his sole reign to joint reign with his son, Gallienus. We have not yet linked physical specimens from the ANS or other museum collections into these RIC V URIs yet, but look for this to be done in the next week or two. For now, you can take a look at the types at*.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

From 0 to 60 on SPARQL queries in 50 minutes

On Wednesday, May 13, at 10 AM EDT, I will be giving a free webinar sponsored by the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative and the Association for Information Science & Technology.

This webinar provides an introduction to SPARQL, a query language for RDF. Users will gain hands on experience crafting queries, starting simply, but evolving in complexity. These queries will focus on coinage data in the SPARQL endpoint hosted by numismatic concepts defined in a SKOS-based thesaurus and physical specimens from three major museum collections (American Numismatic Society, British Museum, and Münzkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin) linked to these concepts. Results generated from these queries in the form of CSV may be imported directly into Google Fusion Tables for immediate visualization in the form of charts and maps.

This webinar was first presented as a training session in the LODLAM Training Day at SemTech2014. I will cover the basics of an RDF triple, but the presentation assumes some baseline understanding of linked data. The SPARQL queries will begin simply and build in complexity, culminating in spatial queries.

Sign up at 


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

ANS Partners with HathiTrust for Open Access Publications

In a sweeping effort to make its older and out-of‐print publications available to the public as Open Access, The American Numismatic Society has partnered with HathiTrust ( As a result of this partnership scans of nearly 550 ANS titles – including the American Journal of Numismatics, Numismatic Literature, Numismatic Notes and Monographs, and stand-­alone monographs have become fully readable and downloadable to anyone who wants them under a Creative Commons, non-­commercial, attribution, share-­alike license. This means that these ANS publications can be used for personal reading, research, and academic publication just so long as the ANS is cited as the source. Titles currently in the public domain – already have a home on HathiTrust. These volumes were OCR-scanned as part of the Google Books project.

HathiTrust, founded in 2008 by the member universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the University of California, is a large, collaborative repository of digital content from research libraries and publishers that includes content digitized by Google Books and Internet Archive and Microsoft. Millions of volumes are available via HathiTrust’s website ( The entire repository can be full-text searched.

The ANS publications have been organized into a single collection for easy searching:;c=1850525919.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

New framework has been released

After much work, the new framework has been launched into production. Not only is this a major architecture migration (moving the public UI from Apache Cocoon into Orbeon), but a data migration. We have implemented a new data model for IDs that conforms to the Nomisma ontology that Karsten Tolle has been working on for at least two years. IDs have a more stable system of classes that will improve the predictability of queries. There are presently 16 classes by which IDs are defined--most of them in the nmo: ( namespace, but we are using the W3C Organziation ontology for expressing roles of people and organizations (under foaf:). The ontology is still evolving, but has a carefully curated set of properties and classes that pertain to numismatics. Certain URIs (like nm:mint), will never again be used simultaneously as classes and properties. In fact, all of the URIs that were used as classes and properties have been made instances of nmo:NumismaticTerm. Instances of mints (like Rome or Athens) are an nmo:Mint, and nmo:hasMint is the property to use for linking a coin or coin type to a mint URI. The ontology and data conform to standards established by the semantic web and computer science communities.

Data dumps from museum collections (like the ANS and Berlin) have been migrated into the Nomisma ontology, as have RDF exports from online type corpora, like OCRE and CRRO. This involved updating Numishare's code to export in the new ontology (see for example), as well as update SPARQL queries and the XSLT for reading latitude and longitude in the new model for mints. Mints are now reckoned as concepts (carrying the skos:Concept class, as well as nmo:Mint) that may or may not have a spatial feature, linked with geo:location. The object links by the geo:location is a geo:SpatialThing which may either have a latitude and longitude or have geoJSON encapsulated in the osgeo:asGeoJson property. Complex shapes, represented as geoJSON, can be drawn in Nomisma's XForms-based editing interface (powered by Orbeon). geoJSON objects created in OpenLayers in the editing interface are extracted by Javascript and incorporated into the XForms engine.

The new features of this framework are almost two numerous to mention, but here is a synopsis:

  • IDs are available in their native RDF/XML, but also serialized into Turtle and JSON-LD. IDs for regions that may contain complex geoJSON polygons are exported in geoJSON-LD. These serializations are linked from the ID page. Data dumps of all IDs are available in these three serializations as well.
  • Spatial queries are supported by extending Fuseki to interact with a Solr index.
  • Much improved browse interface allows for additional filtering by roles of people/organizations and sorting. These filters can be applied to the Atom feed as well.
  • Content negotiation is supported for IDs, the SPARQL endpoint, and the browse page. See for more information about interacting with IDs and Solr. The SPARQL endpoint supports text/html, text/csv, text/plain, application/sparql-results+json, and application/sparql-results+xml.
  • RIC and RRC ids have been deprecated by Nomisma, as OCRE and CRRO maintain up-to-date and better quality versions. HTTP 303 See Other redirects are established for any ID that contains a dcterms:isReplacedBy property that links to something else. See
  • We have begun documenting the model and example SPARQL queries. The documentation will evolve to become more comprehensive in the coming months.
  • The system in general is far more stable and efficient now that RDF/XML has replaced XHTML documents. It reduces the need for additional transformation when delivering web services. More than 90% of HTTP requests for Nomisma content comes from machines (about 30,000 per day).

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Coinage of the Roman Republic Online: Something for Roman Numismatists to “CRRO” about

Today, in collaboration with the British Museum and the Münzkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the ANS launches another major new tool to aid in the identification, research and cataloging of the coins of the ancient world. 

Coinage of the Roman Republic Online (CRRO) continues the precedent set by Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE) in presenting, in an easily searchable form, all the varieties of the coinage issued in the Roman Republic. Six online collections containing over 20,000 specimens of Roman Republican coinage spread across 2,300 coin types, in addition to hundreds of hoards from Coin Hoard of the Roman Republic (CHRR) and additional individual findspots provided by Berlin are now available for research. 

The site presents a basic description of each published variety based on Michael Crawford’s 1974 publication Roman Republican Coinage (RRC), which remains the primary typology used for the identification of Roman Republican coin types. Since its publication there have been significant revisions to the dating of the series following the discovery of new hoards, but no attempt has been made to reflect these, or to make any other amendments to the published typology at this stage. 

The descriptions are based on the typology set out in RRC, but have been modified to meet the standards of the British Museum’s collection management system by Eleanor Ghey and Ian Leins. These were previously published in Ghey and Leins 2010, which forms an update to the 1910 catalogue of the collection by Grueber. Additional types not in the British Museum’s collection were added to this database by Richard Witschonke of the ANS. 

Many of these coin types are linked to specimens present in the British Museum’s collection, Münzkabinett of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the ANS, and elsewhere, and where available, to images. Searches are made straightforward through a series of facets, presented in a way that will already be familiar to users of other ANS search tools. Traditional searches of familiar numismatic categories such as obverse and reverse legends and types are provided, as well as the ability to search by deity, in the hope that CRRO will provide an identification tool useful to collectors, dealers, curators, and field archaeologists. Researchers can now list all coin types found within a country and any regional division below the country (E.g., Liguria, down to the town or city). 

ANS database developer, Ethan Gruber, says that, "like OCRE and all of our other digital projects at the ANS, CRRO uses Linked Open Data methodologies to aggregate information from disparate institutions and present the information in an interface available in more than 10 languages with advanced mapping and metrical analysis features. CRRO is a fully functional research portal for Roman Republican numismatics." 

The ANS acknowledges the contribution of Michael Crawford to the project, and also thanks Michael Sharp of Cambridge University Press for allowing us to use the numbering system of Roman Republican Coinage. 

For further information contact Joanne Isaac or call (212) 571 4470 ext. 112.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Berlin Joins OCRE Project

We are kicking off the new year with a major breakthrough in the Online Coins of the Roman Empire project. Yesterday, I received a data dump of LIDO/XML of Roman imperial coins from the Berlin Münzkabinett, for which I wrote two PHP scripts: the first to create a concordance between their reference field and coin type URIs in OCRE, and the second to iterate through their dump to create RDF that I just ingested into's SPARQL endpoint. Nearly all of Berlin's coins are photographed, and all contain axes, weights, and diameters which are available for metrical analysis through OCRE visualization interface (

In the week before the holiday, we completed RIC Volume IV, covering all Roman emperors through Uranius Antoninus (A.D. 254). There are now more than 21,000 coin types available in OCRE, with physical specimens from the British Museum and Berlin now linked in through Uranius. We are waiting on some updates from Mantis in order to link in ANS coins for Trebonianus Gallus, Trajan Decius, and a few others. We also expect a batch of photographs for several thousand coins in the coming weeks.

We should be moving into RIC V by next month.

edit (12 Jan. 2015):

All of Berlin's coins in OCRE come with photographs, but the current number (3,620) is not representative of all of Berlin's Roman imperial coins. Only those which have been photographed are published to the database online.