The Geolat project is highly interdisciplinary and is built around the idea of allowing scholars to study the classical Latin texts starting from the geographical knowledge they contain.
This requires that the geographical knowledge contained in the texts be formally annotated so that it can be found and reused, and an ontology (a formal ontology for the web) is best suited tool. And finally a user interface is needed where the user can query the system focusing onto the content and getting the results in a pleasant way.
The project is characterized by the adoption of some key choices, which are mainly:
- the Open access perspective – the system will be freely accessible to everyone – along with the adoption of Creative Commons licenses – the openness of access is formally regulated;
- the collaboration: the system allows for continual evolution of the knowledge it contains, and this can’t be done with the only contribution of the research team and its collaborators;
- the URIs for identification of places: we want to build a stable resource, which reliably cites (links) other resources and which can reliably be cited (linked) by other resources. All the resources produced, as the primary sources as the geographic thesaurus and the list of textual annotations that link geographic locations and places text (identified by URI) will be made available on the Web according to the principles of Linked Open Data, and will help to enrich the “Web of Data” with new content;
- the underlying digital library: the project is based onto a digital library of the Latin texts through the integration of various already existing high quality different and smaller libraries – first of all that of DigilibLT – which encode the texts according to TEI; in order to manage the geographical knowledge these texts will be encoded with a very light TEI subset of tags because the main part of the annotation and representation of knowledge will reside out of the texts (standoff markup);
- the textual annotation of geographic references – each occurrence of place names and geographical references will be identified by a URI that will point to a formal description of the place in a gazetteer like that of Pelagios (while the traditional printed reference was and still is the Barrington Atlas);
- the geographical ontology GO!: it aims to provide a complete and informative description of the geographical knowledge emerging from Latin literature, and to offer some minimal types of automatic reasoning which plays a central role in intelligent spatial search on the web and serves as a shared vocabulary for spatial mark-up of Web sources. At this level the sites of antiquity will be associated with a variety of information – in particular GPS coordinates, historical, geographical, cultural, etymological, semantic, and temporal annotations.