Thursday, 26 July 2012

OCRE Joins Pelagios

Last week, the American Numismatic Society and the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University released Online Coins of the Roman Empire (OCRE).  OCRE aims to represent every Roman imperial coin type from Augustus to Anastasius (31 B.C. to A.D. 518), based on the enumeration system and metadata contained in Roman Imperial Coinage (RIC).  The first phase of the project contains those coin types from Augustus through the reign of Hadrian (A.D. 138)--roughly 8,300 distinct typologies. Many of these records link to physical specimens owned by the American Numismatic Society, and we hope that other collections will contribute their own data to the project in the future.

Each of these records is described with the Numismatic Description Standard (NUDS), an XML schema influenced by other common metadata standards, such as TEI and EAD, and by the tenants of linked open data.  Like other standards common to the library and archival communities, NUDS uses the W3C XLink attributes for semantic linking.  The record for Augustus 1a as defined in RIC contains the obverse and reverse type descriptions, legends, and other typological attributes--material, method of manufacture, place of minting, etc.  These attributes are intellectual concepts represented by web resources on  The denomination, quinarius, is represented by the URI  The coin was minted in Emerita, represented by  The RDF model for Emerita indicates that the Pleiades place is a related resource, and thus the Pleiades URI is stored in OCRE's Solr index for querying.  As a result, the contents of OCRE are available in the form RDF, which is, in turn, ingested into Pelagios.  More than 7,600 of the records in OCRE are associated with Pleiades places and accessible through Pelagios.  Moreover, OCRE supports an Atom feed driven by Lucene queries.  This Atom feed links to the HTML representations of each record, as well as RDF, KML, and source NUDS/XML.  It is therefore possible to programmatically page through the Atom feed to harvest all of the data in OCRE.

Work on OCRE is ongoing.  We expect the coins of Antoninus Pius to be published in the near future.  It may take several years to fully publish the coin types through Anastasius, but the current phase of the project is an important first step in bringing the study and publication of Roman imperial coins into the twenty-first century.

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