About the data
Pelagios links online material that have something in common with each other: that is, reference to place. It is important to note from the outset, therefore, that Pelagios is not a data aggregator or a search portal: all the data that can be found via Pelagios’s links are created, stored and managed by the community, for the community, and can be discovered via the community. What Pelagios does, which is the way these varied materials can be linked, is to provide a structured way for Web documents to describe in their metadata the places to which they refer. This process of providing additional information to a Web document is known as annotation. (Pelagios has built a geo-annotation tool to assist in the process of annotating geographic concepts in Web documents: see our Recogito page.) All annotations are released under a CC0 (“zero”) license, and are the means by which data of widely different provenance and type, but with references to places in common, can be linked.
While not being an aggregator service, Pelagios is also experimenting with ways of enabling people to make use of interconnected online materials. Currently this takes three forms:
- Digital Maps;
- The Peripleo search interface;
- The Pelagios API.
While the place annotations being generated via Pelagios can shed new light on the geographies of certain periods, producing and interpreting them can be greatly assisted by contextualising them against a relevant backdrop. With community expertise, Pelagios is helping to facilitate this with the production of new digital mapping ‘tiles’ which can be incorporated in a variety of digital mapping applications. The map featured here is of the early Roman Empire, produced for Pelagios by Johan Åhlfeldt. Johan describes the process of creating the map here. Other maps are being created by Ryan Horne of the Ancient World Mapping Center. All Pelagios maps are free to use: see under Resources.
If you want to do more than simply look up ancient places, then you will need something more than a digital map. This is where Peripleo comes in. Though any Pelagios-annotated resource can potentially act as a window to other Pelagios-annotated data, it is helpful to have services which aggregate those annotations so that they can be used by anyone. With this in mind, we have set up a generic demonstrator service – Peripleo – which aggregates annotations that we are aware of. As well as the API (see below) it offers a user-friendly search interface to show the potential of linked data to throw up interesting connections or neglected materials. Peripleo makes use of an interactive map display to enable users to explore historical data of all kinds—texts, archaeological information, images, etc.—curated by the community where places are the common (linking) element.
Peripleo’s user interface allows for free browsing as well as keyword and full-text search, while offering filtering options based on time, data source and object type. Data currently ranges from antiquity until circa 1500 AD and from Europe to East Asia. The online materials themselves remain hosted at source, links to which are provided by Peripleo. The Pelagios Web of data is continually growing: for up-to-date information see our live list.
The Pelagios API
Peripleo is a demonstrator search service which is usable by both people and machines. If you have Web development skills, you can conduct your own queries directly using the Pelagios Application Programming Interface (API), by means of which you can integrate related content from the Pelagios community into your own Web resource.