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Use Case Ontology of Cantabria's Cultural Heritage

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Ontology of Cantabria's Cultural Heritage


Fundación Marcelino Botín http://www.fundacionmbotin.org and Universidad de Cantabria http://www.unican.es
Contact person: Francisca Hernández (hdz@fundacionmbotin.org)

Background and Current Practice

The Ontology of Cantabria's Cultural Heritage aims to bring together knowledge about the heritage of Cantabria (a region in the north of Spain) in each and every one of its aspects: from the industrial to the archaeological heritage, from the scientific and cultural heritage to ethnographic; to each and every one of the manifestations of this rich heritage, its agents, works, events and historical periods. These data come from heterogeneous sources such as official publications, monographs, articles, catalogs, inventories, encyclopedias, databases, web sites, archaeological sites, digital objects, etc., And it is in various stages of formalization and digitization, all of which difficult the access to information and its exploitation through the Web.

Most of bibliographic or documentaries databases and those dedicated to cultural heritage, disseminate only specific relationships that provide basic services for which they were created. Rarely give users contextual information that may be of interest as biographies, relationships of people with institutions, etc. This type of contextual information is, moreover, expensive to obtain and register. The project's basic idea is that the interrelationship of data from different sources, processed and structured appropriately, would result in a significant increase in contextual data. It has been developed an ontology that brings together the results of various scientific and technical areas related to heritage: history, geography, literature, art, heritage management, etc., taking into account also the agents active in these fields and the events in which the agents made their work. The data are published on a website (in beta: sustained in a publication ontology that makes use of all data and displays it around a series of basic elements: People, institutions, chronological periods and events, works and monuments, places, and subjects. The ontology is based on CIDOC CRM + FRBRoo. For the population of the ontology It has been developed specific conversion rules from MARC 21, EAD, DC and METS.


  1. To integrate comprehensive information, data and digital objects related to Cantabria's Cultural Heritage from heterogeneous sources of information
  2. Construct a model that allows the reuse of archives, libraries and museums data created in accordance with their standard practices and the transformation into an ontology that provides users with a specialized portal

Target Audience

General Public, Students, Teachers, Scholars, Libraries, Archives, Museums

Use Case Scenario

Users can find information on the basic elements of the ontology and their relationships, as well as the text content of digital objects or in the metadata of still images, video and sound.

Users can also take tours of navigation, without a specific search, from the basic elements of information (people, institutions, chronological periods, events, works and monuments, places and concepts).

Based on the network of relations of the ontology it have been designed a series of navigation components that allow users to go to other basic elements of information (contemporary, colleagues, family relations), institutions (membership, activity, occupation, etc..) works (author, collaboration, contemporary works); events and projects in which a person have participated in different roles; and places and sites (birth, activity, etc.). In that way the user doesn't need to know in advance the relation between basic elements to retrieve data.

Each basic unit of information has in turn the appropriate navigation components, so that the user receives, irrespective of its way of entering to the portal (search or navigation tours), complete relationships between basic elements. In designing the site it has been made a special effort for that the navigation proposed will reflect all the semantic relationships with meaningful information to all users, not only as a way to expand a search, but from the very outset of navigation.

The website provides a semantic search and allows the representation of data geographically and chronologically (timeline). Users can update content through a semantic wiki.

Application of linked data for the given use case

Under the project has been necessary to make a major effort to generate data and digital objects given the low level of data and digital collections in Cantabria. Furthermore, only in some well known cases (i.e., the Caves of Altamira) information has a good representation internationally, the majority is of great interest to regional or national level. Sources, say international, as Geonames, DBpedia and others provide little information on Cantabria. This is one contribution that can perform the project, providing data about Cantabria in Linked Open Data, increasing its visibility and usability. In 2011 the project aims to open up their data via SPARQL endpoint

It can also benefit from data published by other projects, among which the most significant is Europeana.

Existing Work (optional)

  • CultureSampo
  • DBpedia

Use of Semantic Web Technologies on the BBC Web Sites http://www.w3.org/2001/sw/sweo/public/UseCases/BBC/ Europeana Functional Specifications for Danube release

Related Vocabularies (optional)

  • VIAF
  • LCSH

Related Projects

  • Linked Data Services der DNB
  • Instituto Geográfico Nacional (España)
  • Europeana en LOD
  • DBpedia

Problems and Limitations (optional)

The main problem is not a technical or technological problem, but rather political. Logically, both on the web and LOD, 'cultures' most active are overrepresented. That is why initiatives like Europeana, with strong government EU and national support, are pushing to break this vicious cycle. The same applies to the W3C, in this case from the normative aspect.

Technically an effort should be made to represent data explicitly, specially geographic and chronological data, that is uncertain, estimated or deduced. In Libraries, Archives and Museums there are an enormous quantity of this type of data that can produce a feeling of distrust in users.

Related Use Cases and Unanticipated Uses (optional)

References (optional)