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Part of the Web, not just on the Web

We’re really pleased to collaborate with some amazing people and projects that have a deep understanding and appreciation for the Web. The Pelagios project is working out some very low-barrier-to-entry approaches to share references to ancient places (curated by the Pleiades Gazetteer). Since place is such an important concept for ancient studies, shared notions of place represent a potentially powerful and useful way to link data in multiple collections. Pelagios is doing just that, and they have successfully brought together 15+ different Web-based collections to collaborate and share place metadata. In bringing these collections together Pelagios has developed an “API” (Application Program Interface) that lets Web developers build upon a powerful index of multiple collections, all cross-referenced by links to ancient places.

We’re happy to note that Pelagios now cross-references some Open Context data now. I say “some” because Open Context has rather more Neolithic and Bronze Age material than the Classics emphasis of Pelagios. But as we publish more data from Classical Archaeology (see the “Rough Cilicia” example), Open Context will have more overlap with the other collections indexed by Pelagios.

In related developments, the NEH funded “Linked Ancient World Data Institute” (LAWDI) will soon meet in New York. Sebastian Heath and Nick Rabinowitz worked on a powerful new tool for making use of all sorts of linked data now shared by various online collections (including the many partners brought together by Pelagios). The awld.js library calls up useful data referenced by Web URIs (stable hyper-links) for display. This displays rich contextual information for users. For example, a reference to “Antioch” may mean a city in Northern California, an ancient town in Cilicia, or a more major ancient city further east. The linked data helps to remove this sort of ambiguity, and the awld.js library presents this contextualizing information clearly to users. Here’s a great example of the awld.js library in action, and here are two examples from Open Context:

All of these developments represent an important development in data sharing methods for archaeology. No longer are we just talking about putting data on the Web. Now we’re talking about making our data part of the Web. The rich and highly meaningful interlinking between various Web-based collections helps to better reflect the deep contextualization of knowledge of the past. Moreover, this approach is inherently collaborative. The growth and success of another group’s project has immediate benefits to all other projects that exchange linked data. It’s all part of developing a growing and dynamic information ecosystem, and it’s very exciting to help cultivate.






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