Time Capsule


Making Pharmaceutical and Botanical Cultural Heritage Digitally Accessible and Usable

  • 7 data providers
  • 8 datasets
  • 55 million RDF triples
  • 9 GB data

Go to the system


Big data in digital cultural heritage present an unprecedented opportunity for historical research. However, information without context is of little use for historians. For this reason, the Time Capsule project set out to address the challenges related to semantically interconnecting a variety of dispersed multi-disciplinary data sources. Additionally, the Time Capsule project has developed a research platform that allows both historians, as well as a wider audience of expert and non-expert users to explore this complex interrelated data, by highlighting their temporal, geographical and informational context.

For data sources integration, we have developed a customized ontology, whereupon our data is mapped, following a linked-data approach. For the resulting RDF datastore, we do not only provide a SPARQL end-point, but also a graphhical interface, so that users may explore the knowledge base content by applying both exploratory search, as well as a user-friendly natural language wizard for ad hoc SPARQL queries.


Time Capsule links and displays data from the follwing datasets, provided by various project partners:

  • Three datasets with data on samples or specimens from plants:
    • RADAR, provided by the Cultural Heritage Agency, containing data on almost all archeobotanical samples from the Netherlands
    • BRAHMS, provided by Naturalis Biodiversity Center, which is their collection management system
    • Economic Botany Database, provided by Naturalis Biodiversity Center, containing metadata on dried specimens from the collections of Naturalis, annotated with their economic use as for example medicine, food, or dye
  • Two linguistic datasets:
    • Chronologisch Woordenboek, provided by the Meertens Instituut, containing data on the origin of Dutch words
    • Snippendaalcatalogus, provided by Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, containing name variants and botanical information based on the first catalogue of the hortus by Johannes Snippendaal in 1646
  • One historical dataset:
    • Boekhouder Generaal Batavia, provided by Huygens/ING, containing information concerning the circulation of commodities as found in the administration of the Bookkeeper-General of the Dutch East India Company in Batavia in de 18th century
  • DBpedia

The Farmaceutisch-Historische Thesaurus, provided by Stichting Farmaceutisch Erfgoed, served as a backbone for the ontology.

Coming Up


Project team

prof. Toine Pieters Project leader
dr. Frans Wiering Supervisor Interaction Technology
Dr. Kalliopi Zervanou Postdoc Computational Linguistics
Wouter Klein PhD student History of Science
Peter van den Hooff Project coordinator