FLAME will be returning to the 52nd International Congress on Medieval Studies. Members of the FLAME Project will present in panel 467, at Schneider 1155, on Saturday (May 13) at 3:30pm in the panel Exploring the Early Medieval Economy: From Macro to Micro. Within the panel will present:
Lee Mordechai (Princeton University), The FLAME Project: Visualizing Transnational Medieval Economic Networks
Andrei Gandila (University of Alabama-Huntsville), Fraternal Enemies Reconciled: History, Numismatics, and Archaeology
Jane Sancinito (University of Pennsylvania), The Monetary Economy of Early Medieval Syria in its Mediterranean Context
We’re looking forward to seeing you all there!
We are glad to announce that FLAME has recently started working on importing external databases into its own structure. We FLAME members see this as the best way to move research forward through collaboration. The first database we have imported is the British Portable Antiquities Scheme, which includes about half a million coins relevant for FLAME’s focus on Late Antiquity. The coins are currently housed in a separate database for both technical reasons and scholarly reasons – once we move such a large number of coins into the regular database, it would skew all the results of our tools, creating the false impression that Britain was an economic center, whereas in reality things were closer to the opposite. You can see a screen shot below, showing coins minted between 325 and 400 that were found in Britain. The numbers within circles represent the number of coins found in each area in the form of a cluster. Zooming in, these clusters break up into smaller clusters. We are keen to have additional collaborations with other projects in the future, which would be credited in the live version of our application.
As part of the development of FLAME’s Phase II: Circulation, we have developed a feature that displays the main mints operating during a selected time period, linking them to all the locations in which coins minted in that period were found. Once polished and with enough underlying data, this tool would be able to suggest how commercial, trade or movement networks operated in a given time in late antiquity. You can see an example of how this tool operates below. The colored circles represent mints, while the lines going out of them are to the locations in which coins from these mints were found.
On March 18, FLAME Director Lee Mordechai will present FLAME’s most recent developments at the ninth B.D. Kochnev Memorial Seminar in Central Asian and Middle Eastern Numismatics at Hofstra University. His talk’s title is “The Transformation of the Late Antique Economy in West Asia: Digital Data and Databases“.
You can find the seminar’s full-day schedule here.
As one of its first questions, FLAME was designed to better understand the disappearance of silver in the Mediterranean economy. We have recently been developing a feature that displays the numbers of coins found in the different regions of FLAME, grouped by their type of metal. Users are able to select a timeframe they are interested in, and a regional or subregional division, and receive an outcome that reveals the different concentrations of metals at a glance. In the image below, we display the fourth century coins found in subregions in the project during the fourth century are displayed. Each subregion has an icon with three coins, representing the three metals (in order: gold, silver and bronze).
We are proud to announce that we have recently moved to an easier system of data inputting into the FLAME database. Our old system was based on a series of unresponsive forms that fed into one database, which had to be manually added into the database feeding the mapping application. This meant that days or even weeks would pass between making a change to the data, such as adding a coin, and until this data was visualized. This naturally caused a high rate of errors in the database. Our new administrator panel is directly tied to the database, and contains help in auto-completing forms to save time. it also includes a system of automated error-checking, which notifies users in case of some standard errors in the data they have inputted. A few screenshots from the current version of the admin panel are below – selecting several options, such as the imitation checkbox on the second form, would open up additional specific questions for this case.
We are glad to announce that FLAME will be presenting at a panel at the Second International Congress on the History of Money and Numismatics in the Mediterranean World in Antalya, Turkey. The congress is part of the activities of the Suna & İnan Kıraç Research Institute on Mediterranean Civilizations, a research center of Koç University. The conference will be held on 5-8 January 2017, and its scope covers numismatics from the beginning of coinage to the end of the Byzantine era.
FLAME will be presenting as part of the The Late Antique and Medieval Economy in the Mediterranean panel on January 8. FLAME’s speakers will include:
Merle Eisenberg (Princeton University), Changing Coinage: Transformations of Governance in the Early Medieval West
Lee Mordechai (Princeton University), A Macro-View of Money in the Early Medieval Mediterranean Economy (4th-8th Centuries)
Alan Stahl (Princeton University), Medieval Coin Circulation in the Northeastern Mediterranean: The Finds from Antakya, Avkat, and Polis
Luca Zavagno (Bilkent University), Beyond the Periphery: Reassessing the Byzantine Insular Economy between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (ca. 650-850 CE)
Additionally, Lee Mordechai will speak about Big Data and the Mediterranean Economy on January 5.
The website of the Congress can be found here.
The schedule of the Congress can be found here.
It is often difficult to make sense of large amounts of data. When visualizing geographical details such as coin finds, they can often overlap and hide each other, obfuscating the results. To ameliorate this issue, we are developing a heat map feature. This feature examines the coins the user is interested in – filtered by time, metal and denomination, and visualizes the results using a heat map. The redder an area is, the more coins were found in that region. Red areas have the most coins found, followed by green areas, followed by blue areas. The map automatically updates based on the data in FLAME’s databases. The heat map below demonstrates the find locations already in our database. The red dots in Antioch, Carthage and Rome represent large coin finds in those regions, while the faded blue marks across the Balkans represents the fewer coins found in that region. As with all the other FLAME data, this depends on biases of publication and excavation, so using these results should always take these limitations into account.
A similar development to FLAME’s Mint Focus feature, covered in a recent update, is its Find Focus feature. Just as in Mint Focus, users can select a find spot, whether an excavation or a hoard, and a time interval (the default is FLAME’s entire timespan). The application will then visualize where all the coins in the find were minted at, differentiating between locations based on the number of coins within the excavation or hoard. In the image below, the find location near Catania, Sicily, is marked by a small solid yellow square. All the places in which the coins within the hoard were minted are marked by purple circles, with the size of the circle roughly corresponding to the amount of coins from that mint, visualizing that most coins in the hoard are from Constantinople and Sicily. The left side of the image includes a table with all the mints together with the number of coins they have within the find. Clicking on Graph visualizes the years in which these coins were minted smoothed to 10-year intervals. In this case, we’re looking at a mid-sixth century hoard in which all the coins were minted within less than half a century of each other. As always, these visualizations are based on the data within FLAME’s database, so in case future research changes the attribution of one or more of the coins and this is changed in our database, this graph might look differently.
FLAME has been building upon its Phase I: Minting, which has done much of the groundwork that supports the current Phase II: Circulation. One of the ways in which we are planning to connect between both phases is through linking a mint to all the locations in which its coins were found. Enter Mint Focus, a feature we are currently developing, which visualizes these connections within a specific time frame. You can see an example of coins minted in Carthage from 541 onwards below. Carthage itself is represented by the small solid light blue dot. It is connected by lines to all the locations in which its coins from this period were found, which seems focused on the central Mediterranean, and to a lesser extent the Levant. The size of circles on the map corresponds to the number of coins found in each of these places. A list of all the locations, together with the number of coins from Carthage found in them is to the left of the map, together with their metals. Clicking on the Graph button shows the distribution of coins minted in Carthage over time in the form of a smoothed histogram. As everything else on the FLAME application, the graph is automatically generated, so each added coin in the database will change its shape, ensuring that it includes the most recently updated data.