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.