Tuesday, May 19, 2020

British Museum URIs updated, linked to Coin Hoards

More than 62,000 British Museum coins that have been aggregated into the Nomisma.org numismatic Linked Open Data cloud have had their URIs updated to the newly-launched Collections Online system. The lack of long-term maintenance of their own URI scheme has been a well-known problem for years, and hopefully the new Collections Online receives the administrative backing to promote a greater level of stability than the original experiment with SPARQL.

As part of this overhaul, my script read a JSON API for each coin to perform a lookup of new image URLs. The images provided in the new system are higher resolution than before, enabling us to store both thumbnail and maximum resolution image links. In some cases, we have been able to prefer obverse and reverse images over jpegs where these sides had been combined into one file.

In addition, I performed a lookup for Greek coins with "hoard" as a keyword. I downloaded the CSV for these search results (1,600 coins), and was able to link about 1,400 of them to URIs in coinhoards.org. Surprisingly there was zero overlap between Hellenistic coins from the BM that were already in PELLA, SCO, and PCO and coins with hoard references. I imagine this is a gap in cataloging. I also used OpenRefine to reconcile mints, denominations, and materials to Nomisma URIs so that these values can be used for more sophisticated query.

A British Museum coin linked to IGCH 1648.
These 1,400 coins have been linked positively to 38 IGCH hoards, including seemingly complete coverage of IGCH 2194, a hoard consisting exclusively of Carthaginian bronzes. The British Museum's cataloging suggests these were all minted in Carthage, but IGCH suggests an uncertain Siculo-Punic mint.

About half of all of the coins with an IGCH reference come from IGCH 1355, a substantial hoard of Rhodian silver coinage. Sadly, few if any have been photographed so far.

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