Friday, January 29, 2010

A new Concordia term: "where" (needed for linking papyri to Pleiades resources)

In discussions this week with Sean and Hugh, we explored what would be minimally necessary for web feeds describing the papyrological documents now being surfaced via

In the long term, we'd like to link not only to descriptive resources (at Pleiades or elsewhere) for their modern places of finding but also any ancient places attested in the texts themselves (having done named-entity analysis on all 50,000+ documents, the first steps in which are now underway by Mark Depauw and the Trismegistos team in Leiden).

In the near term, we can express geographic linkages on the basis of the nome attributions recorded for the papyri by the editors of the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens whose records are incorporated into the contents.

But none of the terms we had previously defined in our Concordia link-type thesaurus precisely fit this information. We did have several geographic terms (findSpot, origin, observedAt and attestsTo), but we needed to add a more generic one: "where". The nomes as indicated by HGV are geographical classifications, based on the ancient regions, made primarily for facilitating reference and review by modern scholars. They don't necessarily constitute "find spot" or "place of origin" in every case. This "where" term idea followed naturally from Sean's earlier efforts to advocate for a "where" link relation type. A link in a feed entry using this term will simply indicate that the described resource should be treated as being located, in a general way, at the place described by the linked resource.

Hopefully, this term will be useful not only for, but also for other pre-existing datasets where the location information recorded about ancient artifacts is similarly less precise than the born-digital epigraphic corpora that guided the minting of our initial thesaurus terms. Hopefully it will also prove useful in contexts such as those that Sebastian has recently been blogging about.

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