The Sphere Knowledge System Evolution and the Shared Scientific Identity of Europe


Access the Database

The Sphaera CorpusTracer database is open to the public and free to access.

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We model our data according to the formal ontology CIDOC-CRM and the FRBRoo extension for bibliographic records. This ensures that our data is compatible to other sources and remains usable in the foreseeable future. We use and extend the Erlangen OWL implementation of CIDOC-CRM and FRBRoo.

Database Home Screen

For person and place records we include links to WikiData, making our dataset part of the growing web of Linked Data. WikiData provides links to other authority records such as VIAF and allows us to add new persons or other entities that we discover in our records.

In addition to the public database instance, all data is also available for download on the MPIWG Dataverse.

View of a book record

The Corpus

This corpus consists of 359 books printed between 1472 and 1650, which contain the text of or are closely related to John of Sacrobosco’s treatise De sphaera mundi. More precisely, each book of this corpus belongs to one of five book types:

  1. Original treatise (16 books): Sacrobosco’s treatise is printed as a standalone monograph, in the original Latin or in translation.
  2. Annotated original (48 books): Sacrobosco’s treatise is commented on or annotated by a different author, keeping the original text as its basis.
  3. Compilation of texts (44 books): Sacrobosco’s treatise is included among other treatises by different authors. Short paratexts by different authors or compilations of several texts by one author are not subsumed under this category.
  4. Compilation of texts and annotated original (124 books): Sacrobosco’s text is featured as the basis for a commentary or annotation and included among other treatises by different authors.
  5. Adaption (127 books): Treatises and works that significantly resemble Sacrobosco’s treatise in terms of content and structure but do not include the original text. Although implying a certain vagueness, this book type is relevant in order to represent Sacrobosco’s treatise as paragon and literary genre of the period’s cosmological writings, most often simply called De sphaera and structured in four parts just like the original treatise. This book type also includes treatises called Quaestiones, which deal with the topics of Sacrobosco’s treatise in the form of questions and answers.

Editing a book record

The Book Records

Each book of the corpus has its own record, similar to common bibliographical datasets. For all books at least one existing copy of the printed edition has been inspected and is related to by locators, leading to library records and/or digital facsimiles.

All book titles have been transcribed entirely. Places of publication have been adjusted to modern names and can be visualized on a map. Years of publication generally have been taken from the book itself. In ambiguous or problematic cases, the year of publication however had to be inferred from circumstantial evidence and is given in square brackets or as timespans.

The authors who are credited relate to those names of persons that appear on the title page, neglecting authors whose works may be included in the volume but whose names do not appear on the title page. It has been distinguished between author and translator. For all authors, short and preliminary biographical information is provided where possible, and links to WikiData and other databases can be found.

Reflecting the early modern editorial practice, printers and publishers have been distinguished wherever indicated as two persons or companies inside the book. Additionally, brief information on copyright information and approval licenses are given as indicated in the volume itself.

In some cases, the tab “Annotations” provides further information on the volume inspected for the record or on further bibliographical information.