Medieval Manuscripts and Their Migrations: Using SPARQL to Investigate the Research Potential of an Aggregated Knowledge Graph

Toby Burrows, Laura Cleaver, Doug Emery, Eero Hyvönen, Mikko Koho, Lynn Ransom, Emma Thomson, Hanno Wijsman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Downloads (Pure)


Although the RDF query language SPARQL has a reputation for being opaque and difficult for traditional humanists to learn, it holds great potential for opening up vast amounts of Linked Open Data to researchers willing to take on its challenges. This is especially true in the field of premodern manuscripts studies as more and more datasets relating to the study of manuscript culture are made available online. This paper explores the results of a two-year long process of collaborative learning and knowledge transfer between the computer scientists and humanities researchers from the Mapping Manuscript Migrations (MMM) project to learn and apply SPARQL to the MMM dataset. The process developed into a wider investigation of the use of SPARQL to analyse the data, refine research questions, and assess the research potential of the MMM aggregated dataset and its Knowledge Graph. Through an examination of a series of six SPARQL query case studies, this paper will demonstrate how the process of learning and applying SPARQL to query the MMM dataset returned three important and unexpected results: 1) a better understanding of a complex and imperfect dataset in a Linked Open Data environment, 2) a better understanding of how manuscript description and associated data involving the people and institutions involved in the production, reception, and trade of premodern manuscripts needs to be presented to better facilitate computational research, and 3) an awareness of need to further develop data literacy skills among researchers in order to take full advantage of the wealth of unexplored data now available to them in the Semantic Web.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages48
JournalDigital Medievalist
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Dive into the research topics of 'Medieval Manuscripts and Their Migrations: Using SPARQL to Investigate the Research Potential of an Aggregated Knowledge Graph'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this