Project active 2007-2011

The Rethinking Timelines project aims to develop methodologies for modeling and visualising historical events with both temporal (timeline) and spatial (mapping) components.

The project aims to publish models and data recording methodologies (including an interactive events database), linked spatial and timeline visualisations, and pedagogic approaches to the use of historical event visualisation in teaching (particularly at an undergraduate level), in museums and visitor centres, and on the web.

Unlike many temporal database models, we aim to model spatial data as well as temporal data, and to take account of time ranges, uncertainty and fuzzy boundaries in both the spatial and temporal dimensions.

The project received ARC funding for four years in 2007 and is currently active, with two doctoral students (Cathy Campbell in Archaeology and Shannon Kennedy-Clark in Education) and development work carried out by staff of the University of Sydney Archaeological Computing Laboratory/Digital Innovation Unit.

The Rethinking Timelines project makes extensive use of the Heurist collaborative database infrastructure, which is being modified to handle historical dates, including recording of imprecise dating information. We expect to release our first historical temporal data recording interface in fourth quarter 2009. On the spatial side, significant developments in spatial data handling within Heurist have been made during the first half of 2009. A method of visualising related entities, such as historical events, in termporal and geographic context, was developed in 2008. See pilot results for all of these elements.