American Numismatic Society unveils MANTIS, a major numismatic research tool

April 28, 2011 - On April 6, 2011, American Numismatic Society Director Ute Wartenberg Kagan unveiled the new interactive ANS collection search tool, MANTIS. MANTIS (Mantis: A Numismatic Technologies Integration Service) provides access to all 600,000 records for objects in the ANS collection, through a series of new, easy-to-use search screens.

The new search tool is an open source implementation of several applications used in the Library, Archive, and Museum communities, including Apache Solr for faceted searching. The tool enables users to interact with the ANS collection through keyword searches or by browsing and sorting on numerous categorical and physical attributes common to numismatics. This search tool connects individual objects together by these searchable attributes, allowing users to seamlessly navigate from one object to its relations.

ANS Director Wartenberg explains, “The collections database is the work of a generation of expert cataloguers, and was originally designed to allow curatorial staff to manage the massive holdings of the Society. MANTIS marks a huge leap forward in making this work available to the general public in a way that is easy to understand for specialist and non-specialist alike. Together with DONUM, our bibliographic search tool, the release of MANTIS places the ANS at the forefront of numismatic research on the World Wide Web.”

The Database breaks down into 11 Departments, which can be searched as a whole or individually. Approximate totals for each department are as follows:

Greek    100, 000
Roman    80, 000
Byzantine    15, 000
Islamic    60, 000
East Asian    45, 000
South Asian    50, 000
Medieval    50, 000
Modern    100, 000
United States    25, 000
Latin America    20, 000
Medals and Decorations    50, 000

Traditional searches by mint person, date and numismatic categories are catered for, and supplemented with a new map interface. This latter feature, still under development, will eventually allow the user to find coins, medals and banknotes issues around the world by clicking on points on a map.

The release of the new research tool is an exciting development, not just for the access it provides to our remarkable collection,” notes ANS Deputy Director Andrew Meadows. “It also harnesses an ANS initiative to create stable identities for numismatic concepts on the World Wide Web through the project. This is most visible at the moment in the mapping functions that we offer, but will ultimately extend to the creation of other exciting new tools.”

The design of MANTIS is the work of ANS Web Developer Ethan Gruber, working in close collaboration with ANS Research Scientist Sebastian Heath. Heath explains: “The new ANS database is now positioned to become a tool for expressing all the links inherent in each individual coin. We can already see this in the powerful mapping function. Even at this early stage of development users can browse the Greek and Roman departments by geography, with an expanding set of North American mints also coming available. It's already possible to make maps of similar coins, such as those showing Greek and Roman deities, and this functionality will become available for more coins as Ethan Gruber continues his work. The database also supports a variety of export formats that will encourage exploration of the links between numismatics and other disciplines. Underlying much of our work is a technical approach called ‘Linked Open Data’. As the humanities increasingly embrace digital tools, researchers of all stripes can be confident that the ANS is bringing exceptional resources into their domains.”

So if you need to do some numismatic research, now you can try MANTIS.

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