Database

The heart of the thesaurus is a database. All information on the ancient artefacts and their early modern visual documentation as well as the digital reproductions are recorded and stored in it. The digital strategy of the Thesaurus focuses on sustainability and stability with regard to the choice of technologies in the backend on the one hand, and on flexibility with regard to the choice of design of the frontend on the other. In addition, in the era of Linked Open Data, there is the use of established standards and interfaces as well as the open licensing and accessibility of the Thesaurus' own research data, in order to be able, for example, to network all relevant digital offerings in the future.

In order to meet the requirements formulated by the initiative for a national research data infrastructure (NFDI), the project is entering into a partnership with Heidelberg University Library. As the main pillar of the DFG-funded ‘Fachinformationsdienste’ arthistoricum.net for art history and Propylaeum for classical studies, Heidelberg University Library offers a digital infrastructure for the backend of the thesaurus database that is designed for the long term and has been tested in numerous applications and cooperations.

In the digitisation platform DWork, many of the printed works of the 17th and 18th centuries that are central to the Thesaurus work plan are already accessible and indexed in an exemplary form. Further source material will follow in the course of the cooperation with the Thesaurus.

The object and image database heidICON will serve the Thesaurus as an instrument for data collection. The data model of heidICON and the database management system easydb, which is currently being used, are both generically designed and implemented in such a way that they can do justice to a wide range of topics, in particular also to the potential complexities of cultural heritage objects, as the Thesaurus will investigate them. The data model incorporates authority data from the GND and other providers, and is also largely mapped to the LIDO data exchange format, so that standardised data exports to aggregators such as the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek, Europeana or the Graphikportal are possible. In addition, the heidICON data can be fully accessed via the easydb API. Finally, all data from heidICON and DWork are integrated into a powerful backup and long-term archiving system (heiARCHIVE).

Access to the Thesaurus data in the form of a user-friendly and intuitive search and navigation environment, on the other hand, will primarily be provided via a specially developed web frontend, which is currently under development. It will be put online step by step and with a constantly growing range of functions.

Between the database backend and the Thesaurus frontend, a middleware will be inserted. Within this middleware, the raw data delivered by heidICON can be restructured according to Thesaurus criteria and, if necessary, enriched with further data from external resources before being passed on to the frontend for display. This approach makes sure that the Thesaurus frontend can be more easily adapted to changes in the backend, such as a new version of the API. After the frontend has reached a first powerful stage of development, the middleware will also deliver the Thesaurus data in a CIDOC-CRM-compatible RDF modelling.

All software components developed for the Thesaurus will be published as open source and will thus be available to other easydb users for their own subsequent use.