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The Multilingualism of Time


Early cultures are characterized by a myriad of systems that structure and periodize time.

Founding dates, dynasties, terms of office, or events can serve as points of reference. Attempts were already being made in antiquity to correlate this multitude of systems. The transformation to post-ancient time calculations and their translation into science resulted in a multiplicity of period concepts that is difficult to manage. The Middle Imperial era, the Antonine dynasty, and the 2nd AD can be used to refer to the same time periods. Accordingly, different naming conventions are used even within the scope of European scientific systems.

If this view is expanded to encompass world archaeology, the result is an almost overwhelming multiplicity that is nonetheless significant for the respective conceptions and scientific cultures. This multilingualism becomes especially relevant the moment it becomes the object of automated analysis, for example, when comparing databases or performing text mining.

The project is based on the and the project “chronOntology: a Time Gazetteer for the Fields of History and Cultural Studies.” Its goal is not only to find complete, explicit, chronological expressions, but also implicit, poorly specified time references.


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