Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Regnum Francorum Online historical GIS

Regnum Francorum Online — interactive maps and sources of early medieval Europe 614-840 is a historical geographic information system (GIS), aiming at referencing historical events of Merovingian and Carolingian Europe (Frankish kingdom) in time and space. The information system covers the time period approx. 614 to 840. Historical events are recognized through source-documents of different kind, mainly contemporary charter documents or copies of such documents, but also archeological evidence like coins. Meta-data about the events has been collected, including time and geographical locations of the events, type of event (donation, privilege, assembly, battle, siege etc.), actors involved in the event (historical persons like Charlemagne, or persons or groups identified by name) and links to source-documents available online. The information system is implemented as an online database-application running on a Apache-server, using MySQL with spatial extensions, PHP server-script and AJAX, producing interactive maps and inter-related output of historical and geographical information. Over the last years, a growing number of editions of primary sources have become available online in digital libraries such as Google Books, Gallica, Monumenta Germaniae Historica (dMGH), and Regesta Imperii, just to mention the largest collections. The main purpose of this information system is to provide an interactive geographical interface for the visualisation of the events and their historical context, connecting them to freely available online resources like full-text source documents and literature, but also other sources like medieval manuscripts, coins and maps.

I intend to use this blog to elaborate and discuss conceptual, methodological and technical issues regarding the development of Regnum Francorum Online. I have written my own PHP-class to draw the maps from coordinates stored in MySQL database-tables. The maps are currently drawn using the Universal Transverse Mercator - projection. There are a number of map-layers collected and compiled from various sources including own digitization of printed maps. In parallel to my own maps, basemaps from the Google Maps - service are also used to visualize layers with historical information. The blog will also be used to report on digitization of historical (medieval) sources, semantic web, historical GIS and online mapping in general (Google Maps API, Google Earth, Openlayers). Questions and comments are most welcome.

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