Friday, May 11, 2007

How to use ISEGRIM

ISEGRIM is searched using an ISEGRIM-specific query language (rather than simple web forms.) Learning a bit of the language is necessary to use ISEGRIM.

When searching for matches to an unknown coin, the most important search parameters are the obverse type, the reverse type, the metal, and the city. ISEGRIM uses the following database field names, based on German abbreviations:

  • VT Obverse Type
  • VA Obverse Attributes
  • RT Reverse Type
  • RA Reverse Attributes
  • M Metal
  • PO City / Poleis

ISEGRIM uses the colon (:) as the equals sign. The colon means exact match. (Actually, it's a 'regular expression' match).

For example, suppose we are looking for silver coins with a boar on the obverse. The ISEGRIM query for this is

vt:boar m:ar

This isn't a very good query. Although it matches against 'BOAR', it doesn't match 'BOAR WINGED'. To search for anything beginning with 'BOAR...' on a silver coin, append ".*", like this:

vt:boar.* m:ar

The ".*" is a 'regular expression'. It means "any amount of any character". (I recommend appending ".*" no matter what you are looking for.)

Sometimes I want to search for a phrase, such as 'BOAR WINGED'. The obvious query 'vt:boar winged' wouldn't work, because ISEGRIM doesn't see a join between 'boar' and 'winged'. Use a period (.) instead of the space:


The period is a regular expression meaning "any character" (including space).

It is also possible to prepend ".*". So to search for anything flying right, use

vt:.*flying.r.* m:ar

ISEGRIM describes types at multiple levels of specificity. So a coin depicting Athena is listed using both 'WOMAN' and 'ATHENA'. This is incredibly useful because sometimes it is impossible to identify the particular diety or person without knowing the city. This principle is what makes ISEGRIM far more useful than other query systems.

ISEGRIM lists 'attributes' such as clothing and objects in the 'attribute' fields, not the type fields. So to search for a helmeted Athena use

vt:athena.* and va:helmet.*

The ISEGRIM format is very similar to the format in Otfried von Vacano's book Typenkatalog der anitiken M├╝nzen Kleinasiens (1986), and Vacano works on ISEGRIM.

1 comment:

Ed Snible said...

As of 2014, the English-language entrance to ISEGRIM is