ROMARCH: Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic- New Research Tool

The American Numismatic Society and the Institute of Archaeology of University College London, UK, launch an important new tool for the analysis of Roman Republican coin hoards.

Coin Hoards of the Roman Republic Online (CHRR Online) is a collaboration between Rick Witschonke and Ethan Gruber at the ANS and Dr. Kris Lockyear of UCL.

The new web-based tool makes available in searchable form the contents of a database created by Dr. Lockyear of 694 Roman Republican Coin hoards and the 115,000 coins that they contain. The new tool, which is based on the Numishare technology, makes it possible to browse, search, map and analyze the evidence of Roman coin finds in new and exciting ways.

“The database was initially created on a PC for my PhD, but it has continued to be expanded since then and forms the basis of my book Patterns and Process in the Late Roman Republican Coin Hoards, where it is used, amongst other things, to investigate the size of late Republican coin issues, the date of the import of Republican denarii to Dacia and the patterning created by the events of the civil wars. I am very grateful to Professor Michael Crawford for allowing me access to his unpublished archive held in the British Museum”, noted Dr Lockyear. “It was obvious that the database, the result of over twenty years work, was a valuable resource that could help others in their research if I could make it widely available. As the database continues to grow, updates will be posted to the online version, which I hope will encourage others to share information.”

The potential for the ANS to help in the process of online publication was spotted by curatorial associate Rick Witschonke. “It was clear that Kris’ database dovetailed very neatly with work being carried out at the ANS to create stable identities for numismatic concepts on the web”, explains Witschonke. “We were very fortunate also to be in touch with the curators at the British Museum, Ian Leins and Eleanor Ghey, who generously made available to us the work they had recently undertaken to catalogue the BM collection. By bringing together their data and Kris’ hoard database with the work that ANS has been undertaking at Nomisma.org, we were able to create a new tool based on Linked Open Data principles.”

The creation of the new web tool was the work of ANS database developer Ethan Gruber. The integration of Roman Republican Coinage coin types defined by Nomisma.org into CHRR Online enables maps and timelines showing the geographic and temporal extent of hoards. Furthermore, users of the quantitative analysis interface may compare the distribution of selected typological attributes across numerous hoards, visualizing results in the form of graphs or downloading data in CSV for more sophisticated analyses. For example, one may compare the distribution of mints or issuers across dozens of hoards: a common numismatic query, delivered nearly instantaneously.

“The CHRR project is wonderful example of the way that ANS is working with multiple partners to create new resources for our members and the whole community of collectors and scholars” notes ANS Executive Director Ute Wartenberg Kagan. “By sharing our data in standard, open formats, we increase its power hugely. The ANS is currently at the forefront of the development of digital tools for numismatics at an international level. It is tremendously exciting to see another tool launched today.”

Submitted by Ethan Gruber

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