The constitution of a geo-historical repository should allow researchers from different historical disciplines to work together on a common geographical space, in this case the region of Paris and its surroundings.
In the current context of multiplication and massification of digital practices resulting from the “spatial turn”, the various historical disciplines can be seen as the result of the cumulative activity on the territories, of organizations and actors who pursue their own objectives with different problems, means and tools.
These organizations tend towards a common goal: the reconstitution of past cultural systems from the traces that remain. The tools of geomatics have led to an increase in the use of spatial representations which, already very present in some historical disciplines, such as archaeology for instance, have been reinforced in other historical disciplines. Geomatics and geo-historical databases, instruments at the service of our disciplines, are also bearers of ideas, social projects, utopias, economic interests, and dominant models, conscious or not. Today, the Web of data offers us technologies and standards to disseminate geo-historical data in an interoperable way on the Web, based on ontologies. In this context, geo-historical repositories put back at the center of our practices, as a new challenge, the principles of mutualization and sharing which must be based on shared and interoperable practices.
This notion of geo-historical repository is understood as being a core of geographical information allowing to locate directly or indirectly the expert data produced by the researchers. This implies associating to the notion of space the notion of time in forms that allow working on long term evolutionary dynamics. More concretely, it is necessary to make available a set of reference systems (spatial and semantic) that allow the spatialization of historical data sets with geographical references that are complex to manipulate on reliable geographical bases. For example, it is a question of reinscribing in a contemporary geographical space data as varied as archaeological sites, the limits of medieval seigneuries, tax households studied from the rolls of size of the beginning of the 14th century, or aristocratic hotels of the 13th or 14th century.
The annotation of spatial named entities from texts and their linkage to a semantic geo-historical referential is a widespread need in various SHS communities (historians, philologists, literary scholars, linguists). In this sense, the notion of geo-historical repository renews that of the map base and constitutes for SHS research programs with a spatio-temporal dimension, one of the elementary bases of data sharing and thus of interdisciplinarity.
The geo-historical repositories answer the logics of functioning and the needs of each organization of the discipline and induce the implementation of new logics of more mutualized research. These 2D or 2D+T repositories are the real stakes in the development of our systems. To be fully operational, these tools must be associated with the actors of the involved disciplines, which dialogue, negotiate and have their own logics and cultures.
The present consortium therefore proposes to pool and make accessible the reflections of its member teams on the constitution of these reference systems by working concretely on the construction of a 2D+T geo-historical reference system for urban space that respects and takes
advantage of the main web standards.
In a first time, the consortium’s work will focus on the case of Paris, not to emphasize the specific character of the capital but, on the contrary, to implement methods and tools that can be replicated in other French cities. We are starting from the Paris case primarily because within the team, work has already been done, in particular the work of Alpage, which is accessible on the servers of the TGIR Huma-Num. The results already acquired constitute a foundation on which we can build an
approach that can be replicated. In order to be able to exploit in a more coherent way the cartographic data of the first half of the 19th century, which allowed advances on the urban functioning up to the medieval period, they will be completed by a first project which corresponds to
the georeferencing and the vectorization of the parcel plan surveyed between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. This work is itself completed by the georeferencing and vectorization of the Napoleonic cadastre of the communes of the small suburbs annexed in 1860. Two sets of maps will then be available (early 19th century via the Vasserot Atlas and 1900 plot of land) which will allow a coherent link to be made with the upstream and downstream of these two key elements of an urban geo-historical reference system.
These elements are directly linked to the work on the creation of historical gazetteers of place names, which constitute the second necessary project for the constitution of a geo-historical reference system. This work has also its assets with the work carried out within the framework of the Condorcet workshop in progress, “Semantic geo-historical repositories for the humanities”. Gazetteer-like resources are essential to allow the automatic recognition and resolution of spatial
named entities in historical and literary texts.
Who is this geo-historical repository for? We have identified several audiences who may directly or indirectly need such a tool. We have chosen to focus on a single audience, that of researchers in social sciences and humanities, and to develop methods and tools that will allow the construction of such repositories elsewhere. The consortium will have the means to organize training for researchers and engineers by relying on the MSH network to organize research activities as well as
study days and training workshops.
To implement these projects, we are using several software tools that are already operational: the Oronce Fine, GEO and Heurist platforms, to which interoperable services and webservices will be added to establish the processing necessary for the constitution, structuring, integration and analysis of the data, as well as for the dialogue between the platforms that are already functional.