The Itiner-e project is hosted by The Institute of Catalan Studies (IEC) and has received fundings from a Pelagios Commons Resource Development Grant. Pelagios Commons is a long term project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (NY) and developed under the auspices of the University of Exeter.
IEC is a centenary institution which hosts part of the scientific society and scholars of Catalonia, which configures the role of an institution with a clear impact on the scientific society. The Institute of Catalan Studies is structured in five sections, established according to large thematic units, which organise the research. The Institute has a staff of more than one hundred people and has about 250 permanent and emeritus members. The Historic-Archaeological Section research includes history, archaeology, history of art, the history of law and the history of literature, mainly focused on the study of the territories of Catalan language, but also participating in international research programs and projects.
This wide time scope has allowed its researchers to initiate or collaborate in a large volume of prestigious research projects with strong international repercussions. Some of the most prominent projects where members of this section participate are: Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum (CIL), Corpus International des Timbres Amphoriques (CITA), Catalunya Carolingia, Corpus des Troubadours or Tabula Imperii Romani-Form Orbis Romani project (TIR-FOR). The international vocation and excellence of this section has been continuously strengthened thanks to the various international collaborations.
This project is conceived as a continuation of the Mercator-e Project, the actual project of the lead applicant, Pau de Soto. After storing and digitising all the available information about the historical roads of the Iberian Peninsula, an appropriate next step is to create new ways to share some of the newly produced data. At the same time, this project is conceived as a seed of a bigger project which will be focused in the creation of a digital resource of all the roads of the Roman Empire. The main roads of this future project will be uploaded to Itiner-e. Hence the proof-of-concept nature of this proposal. The final result of Itiner-e will be the creation of the biggest Historical Road Gazetteer where scholars and other audiences will benefit from this online resource.
From now on, after testing this methodology in a small territory, all the historical roads of the Iberian Peninsula recorded in historical sources will be uploaded into the system. The collaboration within the Institute for Catalan Studies and within the TIR-FOR project assures the continuity of the project and its maintenance online. In a future step, an open tool will be created to allow other researchers to easily upload their own roads and information.
All the information and code produced within this project will be hosted on Github and released under CC licenses.
The beneficiaries of this project will be researchers interested in historical places and roads. At the same time, the Open Data community will be benefited with this tool as they could link their project and information not only to some places but also to bigger entities, as in this case, big roads.
The pipeline method for linked open road data and the creation of the gazetteer will be tested through a model focused on the Roman Roads of the Iberian Peninsula. This case was selected due to the diversity and richness of the resources as well as the availability of the most up-to-date knowledge on these routes through the Mercator-e project led by Pau de Soto. In these territories we can find different Roman roads attested in ancient written and depicted sources such as the Vicarello Cups, the Itinerarium Antonini Augusti, and the Tabula Peutingeriana. The Mercator-e project additionally collected all archaeological and historical traces of all route segments to create the most accurate and up-to-date digital resource of physical routes in the Roman Iberian Peninsula. However, this dataset is not currently linked open data.
Through the Itiner-e gazetteer and the places associated with routes, this data resource will be linked with other Gazetteer projects such as Pleiades (https://pleiades.stoa.org/) and the TIR-FOR Project (https://tir-for.iec.cat/the-map/). All the data generated will be stored in GeoJson format where all the information will be stored (id names, places within the roads, chronology, etc…)
Until now, the most common way of approaching the study of communication routes has been to focus on the places where the routes started, ended and passed through. This approach is crucial and partly inevitable, but Itiner-e will explore an alternative to this.
The novelty in this project is that each possible route between every pair of places is understood as a single element that is either historically documented or not, but can all be unambiguously referred to. In other words, it is not the sets of places conceptualised as points that create a route, but the opposite: we conceptualise routes as entities connected through places. Each potential route between a pair of places can receive a unique URI to refer to it, if it is historically documented or merely mentioned. Doing so will enable for each route (segment) the linking of historical documentation, GIS vector-based descriptions of its physical path, photos and other research outputs. Doing so stimulates debate and multivocality of opinion, but it also enables the documentation of different chronological phases of the same route. It will be possible to observe how a locality has some links with other places at a certain moment and how subsequently these relationships change.
Each of the created elements (tracks) will configure a new online gazetteer item accessible and linked with other sources of information such as Pleiades. In this way, it will be possible from any existing node in a route to quickly visualize all the information of the set: to which way (or routes) it belongs in a certain moment or in several moments; which cities or settlements are related to it; explore the role this place played in the global network, etc.