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Time Capsule

Making Pharmaceutical and Botanical Digital Heritage Accessible and Usable

Pages from Pharmacopoea Dordracena Galenico-Chymica (1708), an apothecary manual with force of law in Dordrecht

 Drawers from a simplicia cabinet (ca. 1730), used to store samples of pharmaceutical components

Pages from Paul Hermann’s Ceylon herbarium (ca. 1670), containing samples of cypress vine, true indigo, tamarind, and bird flower

Project  description

Project Time Capsule intends to contribute to a systematic linking and exchange between a variety of digital data sets for heritage data. Intensive collaboration between historians, linguists, pharmacists, ethnobotanists, and computer scientists offers new possibilities for making digital heritage data in the area of herbal medicines available for universities, industry and the general public. The aim is to make the technological infrastructure of the platform as generic as possible so that heritage data can be broadly disclosed. The goal is to provide a new standard of presenting and using our heritage in the digital era. 

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During the THATCamp Workshop, 28-29 January 2015 we presented the first demo of the Time Capsule project. During this demo we asked the user group to attempt to build a time capsule by accessing example resources that we provide. This Time Capsule will have material relevant to a specific research question. Can you tell us what kind of functionalities you would like from an automatic tool that facilitates this process?

Users could search on Drug components, the plants used to create these drugcomponents and the sources these components are mentioned.

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Materia  medica  on  the  move

On 15-17 April, 2015, the Descartes Centre for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities, Huygens ING, and Naturalis Biodiversity Centre organized what turned out to be a wonderful and inspiring conference on the circulation of knowledge regarding non-European plants and plant components, to which therapeutic properties were attributed in the early modern period (1500-1800). You can find a report on the conference here. 

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Project Time Capsule employs the concept of ‘time capsule’ as envisaged by the famous American artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987) to provide integrated exploration of cultural heritage data.

From the early ’70s until his death in 1987, Andy Warhol selected items from the daily flood of correspondence, magazines, newspapers, gifts, photographs, business records, and other material that passed through his hands. By putting the items together in sealed boxes which Warhol marked with a date or title, he produced specific aggregated time-space configurations. These so-called time capsules provide a unique view into Warhol’s private world, as well as an enlightening window on the interrelatedness of culture, media, politics, economics and science in the '70s and '80s. All of Warhols time capsules are currently held at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (USA). 

Using Warhols art work as a guiding concept we will aggregate different but contextually related digital heritage items in an easily accessible way, in order to facilitate innovative forms of data extraction and manipulation that may serve various research interests as well as public needs. The resulting bird's eye view of all kinds of structured and related heritage data will provide new insights and raise new interdisciplinary research questions.