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History on the Semantic Web

Event Gazetteers and History Ontologies

Events are an essential component of cultural heritage (CH) Linked Data (LD): they link actors, places, times, objects, and other events into larger narrative structures, providing a rich basis for semantic searching, recommending, analysis, and visualization of CH data. For example, biographies, histories, photos, and paintings often reference or depict events. In this research line of SeCo, we develop shared vocabularies (gazetteers, ontologies) of events, such as the “Battle of Normandy” or “Crucifixion of Jesus”, and apply such representation in publishing and utilizing CH content on the Semantic Web. In our view, event gazetteers, a kind of semantic historical timelines, are a basis for developing and interlinking historical ontologies. Historical ontologies are necessary to 1) facilitate the aggregation and linking of heterogeneous content from various collections and 2) are very useful in developing "intelligent" applications of cultural heritage, such as semantic portals.

Semantic Timeline and History of Finland

Our work started in 2006 by developing a small timeline in RDF of Finnish history during the 19th century. This system was based on the Chronology of Finnish History developed by the Argicola community of Finnish historians. This system is included in the CultureSampo semantic portal that was published in 2008. Since then the timeline has been extented to cover the whole Argicola Chronology, and a new online demonstrator is under development.

Semantic Timeline and History of World War I

In 2011 we started working on war history, in particular history of World War I, in collaboration with Prof. Thea Lindquist of the University of Colorado, Boulder. A set of general requirements for an event gazetteer is being developed based on the needs of publishing, aggregating, and reusing cultural heritage content as Linked Data, as well as a metadata model addressing the presented requirements for representing historical events. The model is being applied in a case study aimed at developing an event ontology for World War I (WWI) with applications. Our goals from an end-user perspective are twofold: 1) Facilitate event-based cataloging for curators in memory organizations; 2) Utilize semantic event descriptions and narrative event structures in end-user applications for searching and linking documents and other content about WWI, and for structuring and visualizing them. (Cf. slides presented at the CIDOC 2012 conference).

Our work builds upon the legacy, results (ontologies, ontology services, tools, pilot applications), and established collaboration network of the FinnONTO project series 2003-2012.

Finnish World War II on the Semantic Web: WarSampo

The WarSampo project aims at publishing large heterogeneous sets of Linked Open Data related to the World War II in Finland. To demonstrate use cases of such data, the WarSampo semantic portal provides different perspectives to the wars. WarSampo is the next member in the "Sampo" series of our Linked Data based systems for Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities, the others being CultureSampo, BookSampo, and TravelSampo .

Contact Persons

Prof. Eero Hyvönen, Aalto University

Dr. Eetu Mäkelä, Aalto University


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