A Semantic Web Approach to Enable a Smart Route to Historical Archives

  • Annamaria Goy Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino, Turin, Italy
  • Diego Magro Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino, Turin, Italy
  • Alessandro Baldo Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino, Turin, Italy
Keywords: Semantic Web, Intelligent Web applications, Ontology-driven Web applications, Digital Humanities, Web-based access to historical archives


In this paper we show that an ontology-based approach can be beneficial for enhancing the access to cultural resources, and in particular historical documents. The paper starts with an overview of our approach, aimed at providing online archival systems with a semantic layer based on Semantic Web standards (OWL 2 and RDF). Two projects are introduced, namely Harlock900 and PRiSMHA, carried out in collaboration with local cultural institutions owning rich historical archives. In particular, the paper describes the computational ontologies supporting the approach, and then focuses on two case studies showing that our framework provides better results if compared with standard access systems. The case studies show the enhancement provided by a semantically rich representation of time intervals and a detailed formal description of events and their participants.


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Author Biographies

Annamaria Goy, Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino, Turin, Italy

Annamaria Goy is a Researcher at the Computer Science Department of the Università di Torino (Italy), where she works in the area of web-based systems and semantic technologies. She obtained her Ph.D in Cognitive Science at the same university, with studies in the area of lexical semantics. She currently carries on her research and development activity applying knowledge representation, ontology modeling and human computer interaction approaches mainly to the Cultural Heritage and Digital Humanities areas. She teaches Web Technologies and Web Programming classes.

Diego Magro, Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino, Turin, Italy

Diego Magro got the Master degree in Computer Science from the Università di Torino (Italy) in 1997. He currently works as a Researcher at the Computer Science Department of the Università di Torino.

His research interests are in the areas of Artificial Intelligence, Digital Humanities and Web of data. His current research activity is mainly focused on Knowledge Representation, Ontologies and Semantic Technologies. He teaches Programming, Algorithms, Databases and Ontology Modeling and Reasoning in undergraduate and postgraduate university courses.

Alessandro Baldo, Dipartimento di Informatica, Università di Torino, Turin, Italy

Alessandro Baldo received his Bachelor and Master Degree in Computer Science at the Università di Torino (Italy). Since 2017 he works as a Software Architect at TomorrowData Srl, where he designs and maintains industrial IOT applications.

1 The case study reported in this section is a walkthrough using real data, but it is not a quantitative test, therefore, here we use the notions of precision and recall in their “qualitative” meaning.

2 (charge OR clash) AND (police OR policemen OR carabinieri) AND student; the star is used to capture both singular (e.g., carica) and the plural (e.g., cariche) of Italian nouns. In order to build a plausible query, we asked 10 users to write the queries they would have tried in order to satisfy the given information need. The case study can be easily modified taking into account slightly different queries.


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