A successful inaugural meeting

The inaugural meeting of the GeoHumanities SIG was held July 8, 2014, prior to the Digital Humanities 2014 Conference in Lausanne Switzerland.

We have prepared a summary report of the meeting; the schedule and abstracts appear below. Also, please check out Susanna Ånas' excellent blog post, The Spatial in Digital Humanities, which reviews several of the talks in the SIG meeting.

When: 8 July 2014, 9:00-4:00
Where: Swiss Tech Convention Center, EPFL, Room 1C

Meeting Schedule / Abstracts

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome & Introductions

Gazetteer Presentations


  • Kathy Weimer, Texas A&M University (Geographic name authority records)
  • Stuart Dunn, Kings College London (Heritage Gazetteer of Cyprus)
  • Miranda Anderson and Beatrice Alex, University of Edinburgh (Palimpsest project)

10:15-10:30 Break


  • Leif Isaksen, Rainer Simon, and Elton Barker [University of Southampton, Austrian Institute of Technology, The Open University ] (Pelagios 3)
  • Humphrey Southall, University of Portsmouth (PastPlace)
  • Petr Pridal, Klokan Technologies (Old Maps Online)
  • Susanna Ånäs (Wikimaps, OpenHistoricalMap)

11:50-12 noon Morning wrap-up

12 noon–1:00 pm Lunch

1:00 pm–2:00:

  • Eric Kansa, Ryan Shaw [Alexandria Archive Institute, UNC-Chapel Hill] (PeriodO)
  • Wolfgang Schmidle, German Archaeological Institute (DAI) (CIDOC-CRM and CRMgeo)
  • Asanobu Kitamoto,  (Digital Silk Road)
  • Karl Grossner, Stanford University (A Setting Pattern)

2:00- 3:30

  • Extended Q&A from presentations
  • Related discussion topics:
  • Crowd-sourcing historical map digitization
  • GeoDiRT and educational resources

3:30- 4:00

  • SIG Business Meeting

Presentation Abstracts

Building a Gazetteer: Time and Place Within the Library Catalog
Katherine H. Weimer
Texas A&M University Libraries

Geographic name authority records provide the official form of place names used in the library catalog. This presentation will discuss the philosophy and practice of their development and use, including recent developments like the addition of geographic coordinates and interoperability with other gazetteers through linked open data.

Heritage Gazetteer of Cyprus
Stuart Dunn, Charlotte Roueche, Tassos Paacostas
Kings College London

The Heritage Gazetteer of Cyprus will provide a flexible means of aggregating online references to place and location in the online corpus of data, publications and other research material concerning Cypriot history and archaeology.

Palimpsest: Geolocating the Literary
Miranda Anderson, Beatrice Alex, Claire Grover, James Loxley
University of Edinburg

The aim of the Palimpsest project is to explore the dimensions of literary Edinburgh through geo-located extracts of literary works dating from the early modern period to the twentieth century. The work includes developing methods and resources in order to tune the Edinburgh Geoparser to deal with geo-referencing fine-grained place names in literary texts, such as streets, buildings, local areas, and vernacular terms such as "Old Town."

Pelagios 3: Early Geospatial Documents
Leif Isaksen, Elton Barker, Rainer Simon
University of Southampton; The Open University

Pelagios is a community-driven Linked Open Data initiative that is connecting together online cultural resources that have shared conceptions of place. The objective of its third phase is to annotate place references in Early Geographic Documents: images and texts that describe the world or regions of it up to 1492. We intend this core body of annotations to encourage resource providers, scholars and the wider public to contribute further annotations to other material from antiquity, the Middle Ages, Islamic and Chinese studies.

Humphrey Southall
University of Portsmouth

The PastPlace gazetteer is being developed in collaboration with the Pelagios project, and with the Collaborative for Historical Information and Analysis led by the University of Pittsburgh. It derives its data model from the successful Vision of Britain system, meaning that it distinguishes between un-typed places and administrative units whose legal status is recorded as precisely as possible. Coverage is global, deriving an initial list of places from Wikipedia, but we are giving particular priority to Europe. This is a specifically historical gazetteer in that all place names, other than the “labels” derived from Wikipedia, are derived from identified and dated historical sources.

Old Maps Online 2.0 and GeoSEO
Petr Pridal
Klokan Technologies

OldMapsOnline.org is a popular easy-to-use gateway to historical maps in libraries around the world. The system is powered by an interactive MapRank geographical search allowing fast spatial browsing through a large database of maps from the world's best online map collections. One of several recent enhancements to this resource is the integration of a gazetteer of administrative units and physical features appearing on a typical world map with scale 1:10 mil.

Exploring Maps and Place Names with Wikipedians and Openstreetmappers in the Wikimaps Project
Susanna Ånäs
Wikimedia Finland, Wikimaps project

Wikimaps is an initiative to gather old maps in Wikimedia Commons and place them in world coordinates with the help of Wikimedia volunteers. Connecting with OpenHistoricalMap the historical maps can be used as reference for extracting historical geographic information. Additionally, the resulting historical geodata can be connected back to the data repository of Wikimedia through Wikidata, creating a community maintained spatiotemporal gazetteer.

Periods, Organized (PeriodO): bridging the gap between concept and usage in Linked Data period gazetteers
Eric Kansa [1], Adam Rabinowitz [2], Ryan Shaw [3]
1 Alexandria Archive Institute
2 University of Texas at Austin
3 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

One barrier to the integration of periodization into the Linked Data ecosystem has been wide disagreement across national and scholarly boundaries about the spatial and temporal coordinates of specific period concepts. Rather than trying to enforce consensus, we propose a way to integrate periodized data that embraces scholarly differences: the construction of a Linked Data gazetteer of authoritative *claims* about the spatio-temporal coordinates of periods.

Effective design and use of a Spatiotemporal Gazetteer
Wolfgang Schmidle [1], Martin Doerr [2], Øyvind Eide [3], Gerald Hiebel [2]
1 German Archaeological Institute (DAI)
2 Center for Cultural Informatics, Institute of Computer Science, Hellas, Greece;
3 Universität Passau, Germany

With CIDOC CRM and CRMgeo as ontological background we propose a spatiotemporal gazetteer that is based on the phenomenon identified by an entry in the gazetteer and the type disambiguating its spatial behaviour over time. When a gazetteer is used to annotate an item, the temporal validity of the annotation allows for disambiguating the relevant range of spatial interpretation of the entry.

Geohumanities and the Digital Silk Road
Asanobu Kitamoto
National Institute of Informatics (Japan)

Dr. Kitamoto's talk will focus on the "geohumanities" aspects of the Digital Silk Road project (http://dsr.nii.ac.jp/), such as georeferencing old maps, making gazetteers, and linking heterogeneous sources.

Linking Place and Period in Settings
Karl Grossner
Stanford University

The temporal and spatial extents of places are bound together, although representing this circumstance in computer systems has been challenging .The concept of a setting captures the spatial-temporal nature of answers to many “where” and “when” questions. A simple ontology design pattern (ODP) for Setting is presented.