Open Conference Systems, Kainua 2017

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Heron VE –visualisation and dissemination of semantic cultural heritage data
Martijn van der Kaaij

Last modified: 2017-03-21


Over the past two decades, there has been a proliferation of software to create great 3D- models of archaeological sites and objects, and there has been plenty of thought and discussion on data models for finds. The results of those exertions have been made public through institutional websites and specific portals, but now, a further step is necessary: the cultural heritage data and (meta)data need to be taken into the semantic web.

The “Heritage Online Visualisation Engine” (further: HeronVE) was born to do this. It provides tools for documenting, visualising and disseminating the semantic relations between sites, objects, documentation and narratives. Heron VE is scalable: it can be used to tell the story of a particular archaeological complex, but it can also illustrate relations between sites and objects which are widely separated in both time and space. With Heron VE, dissemination of (meta)data can take many different forms: Heron VE contains modules for presenting and reporting on data, but it can also be used to provide data only, for example in several XML-formats or in N-triples.

The designer of Heron VE has 25 years of experience with cultural heritage data in the field of archaeology, in museums and in libraries. During those 25 years, he has also been working on the structured dissemination of cultural heritage data, first in the semantic web and now within the framework of linked data.

The paper will illustrate the journey towards Heron VE, including considerations regarding the adoption, adaptation or rejection of existing data models and ontologies. It will also contain examples. These will mainly be based on data regarding (sites of former) castles and stately homes in the Netherlands, but it will become very clear that the Heron VE can be applied to many different culture heritage datasets, including those regarding ancient urban areas.