A DIALOG between projects: Bridging the GAP to ancient world data

HESTIA has started to use the latest digital technology for the interrogation of geographical concepts mentioned in an ancient historical narrative; GAP builds on this research by pioneering the means to discover ancient places not only in a single text like Herodotus’ Histories but using the entire corpus of GoogleBooks; DIALOG goes one step further still by starting to bring together ancient world research so that different kinds of data related to any given ancient location can be discovered, queried and visualised.

DIALOG (Document and Integrate Ancient Linked Open Geodata) is being funded by JISC (strand 15/10, Infrastructure for Education and Research: Geospatial) and will run from 1 February to 31 October 2011. Employing Linked Open Data (LOD) principles to connect textual, visual and tabular documents that reference places in Ancient World research, it has three primary aims:
i) To define a Core Ontology for Place References (COPR)
ii) To document the process of assimilating place references and publish as Resource Description Framework (RDF)
iii) To develop neo-geographic Web services and tools that can make the published RDF available easily consumable by learners, educators, researchers and the public.

We believe that, by using LOD principles to connect geo-situated textual, visual and tabular documents (hence LOG: Linked Open Geodata), DIALOG will dramatically empower learners, teachers and researchers in seeking to find and use geospatial data and services.

Led by HESTIA and GAP’s Elton Barker (Classical Studies, The Open University) and Leif Isaksen (Archaeological Computing Research Group, Southampton), in collaboration with the JISC-funded project LUCERO (The Open University), DIALOG brings together an experienced, international and interdisciplinary consortium of pre-established teams that use geospatial information technologies for Ancient World research. They are (with datasets in parentheses):

Perseus, Tufts (XML-encoded free-text)
GAP (narrative free texts)
Supporting Productive Queries for Research, KCL, London (fragmentary free- texts)
Arachne, Cologne (database records of material finds)
Digital Memory Engineering, Austrian Institute of Technology (rasterized maps)

DIALOG partners will exchange data, practices and experience with each other as they align their place referencing to the Uniform Resource Identifiers (URIs) produced by the Pleiades gazetteer of ancient places. In this way, when one project points to a particular ancient location, it will be possible for the user to find out what other datasets also refer to that place, and bring that information to bear on their analysis of it.

We are immensely grateful for all their support (and from others) in putting this successful proposal together and we look forward to working with them!

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About eltonteb

Lecturer in Classical Studies at the Open University
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