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Google funding for discovery of ancient texts online

Ptolemy's World Map (Nicholas Germanus 1482)
Ptolemy's World Map (Nicholas Germanus 1482)

An ECS researcher is part of a team which has just secured funding from Google to make the classics and other ancient texts easy to discover and access online.

Leif Isaksen, of the University's School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), is also part of the Archaeological Computing Research Group in the School of Humanities. He is working together with Dr Elton Barker at The Open University and Dr Eric Kansa of the University of California, Berkeley on the Google Ancient Places (GAP): Discovering historic geographical entities in the Google Books corpus project, which is one of 12 projects worldwide to receive funding as part of a new Digital Humanities Research Programme funded by Google.

The GAP researchers will enable scholars and enthusiasts worldwide to search the Google Books corpus to find books related to a geographic location and within a particular time period. The results can then be visualised on GoogleMaps or in GoogleEarth. The project will run until September next year.

"We are very excited about the potential of this project," said Leif Isaksen. "Up to now many ancient texts have been accessible only at elite institutions or have been very hard to find; now a much wider range of people will be able to discover them. This work will really help open up the field and lead to many further projects."

ECS will work on a Web Service and Web Widget for the project. This will make it possible for Webmasters to add links to the ancient texts within their websites, enabling the public and researchers to search for them easily. The Widget will also be embedded in the Hestia (Herodotus Encoded Space-Text-Imaging Archive) and Open Context projects.

Leif Isaksen is completing a PhD at Southampton with Dr Kirk Martinez (ECS) and Dr Graeme Earl (Archaeology) on integrating archaeological data using Semantic Web technologies. “Google’s recent acquisition of Freebase, the Semantic Web encyclopaedia, means there is a range of exciting possibilities for convergence in the future,” he said.

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Leif Isaksen is a member of the Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia research group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science. If you are interested in doing PhD research in this group you can find out more on our Postgraduate Admissions Pages.

For further information about this news story contact Joyce Lewis; tel.+44(0)23 8059 5453.

Posted by Joyce Lewis on 21 Jul 2010.