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.
As one of the early features of FLAME, we wanted to visualize where the finds in our database are concentrated. The Find Spots feature marks each location in which coins are reported as found by a small green dot, no matter how many coins were found in it. This feature would be useful to quickly gauge which regions and areas are better covered in our database, and should help us correct at least some of the biases by calling attention to the contrasts between these and areas that are not covered as well, whether as a result of a lack of excavations, secondary scholarship or simply the areas on which FLAME’s members focus.
One of the first features we had wanted to develop for FLAME’s Phase II: Circulation was the Marker Cluster. This is meant to quickly show users how many coin finds or coins were found in a given area. When using a broad perspective, for instance the entire Mediterranean, a high concentration of find spots in a small geographical region, such as Sicily, would obfuscate the map and the number of finds. The marker clusterer feature ameliorates this situation by showing clusters of markers when the map is zoomed out, and splitting those markers into smaller markers and eventually single find locations when zooming in. Clicking on the markers zooms in a level and breaks them, and clicking on a find provides some of the basic data about that find. The image below shows the data we have for the Mediterranean. The larger brown circles represent clusters, while the number inside them refers to the number of finds they aggregate. The smaller brighter and solid circles mark single find spots (which could have any number of coins).
The 1st FLAME Conference at Princeton University was a great success – with a day and a half of talks followed by a half-day workshop to discuss FLAME as a project. Our speakers – in the fields of history, archaeology, numismatics and digital humanities – have all discussed different aspects of the late antique and early medieval economy, ranging from broad overviews to detailed case studies. We have all received a lot of insightful comments and suggestions for the future and are looking forward to implementing those into our work and future development of FLAME.
A few photos from the conference (click on any photo for a larger version):
The coin exhibit at the conference, showcasing late antique coins from Princeton University’s numismatic collection:
Photo credits: Vered Rekanati-Mordechai