CAA-2014-S07: Ethan Gruber & Tyler Jo Smith. Linked Open Pottery

Linked Open Pottery

Tyler Jo SMITH


Presentation held at the CAA2014, session Ontologies and Standards for improving Interoperability of Archaeological Data


Linked open data methodologies have tremendous potential in facilitating data interoperability, aggregation, and analysis. With lessons learned in the development of, a collaborative project dedicated to the definition of numismatic concepts in the semantic web, the author has endeavored to apply these methodologies to the field of Greek pottery. While several thesauri have been published online, not all employ linked data, and none of them currently interact as «five star» linked data, as defined by Berners-Lee. This paper discusses the development of a discipline-specific thesaurus which serves as a bridge between the Getty vocabularies (soon to be published as linked open data), British Museum, and other thesauri, supplemented by URIs from the Pleiades Gazetteer of Ancient Places ( for production places, Virtual International Authority File ( identifiers for people, and DBpedia URIs whenever applicable.

The paper will discuss the challenges in data normalization between vocabularies, the creation of an ontology in terms that pottery specialists understand, employing SKOS, OWL, Dublin Core, etc. when possible, and the development of an architecture for maintaining, editing, and publishing linked open data. This architecture is based primarily on, utilizing XForms for editing linked data in web forms, allowing for sophisticated validation scenarios, SPARQL/Update, and other types of REST interactions.

Only by building a bridge between existing thesauri can large-scale aggregation of pottery data be possible. The paper will conclude with several test-case scenarios, showing quantitative and geographic visualizations made possible by the normalization discussed above: the statistical distribution of pottery shapes by vase painters or production places or the distribution of the vessels created by specific potters over time and space, rendered in the form of maps and timelines.

Ethan Gruber – American Numismatic Society (ANS)
Tyler Jo Smith – McIntire Department of Art. University of Virginia

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