Navigation on DISHAS platform

The DISHAS platform aims to furnish a portal of resources for research in the history of astronomy: these include a portal of data, tools and table editions. In order to guide the exploration into this vast corpus, different navigation paths have been set up throughout the platform.

Back office

Front office

The back office is the part of the website reserved for the platform's contributors, i.e. the researchers creating the dataset of DISHAS from historical sources. It has been designed for data management, whether it be for adding, modifying or deleting data. To request access to the back office, please contact the project's scientific committee.

The front office has been designed for all types of users. It serves as an introduction to the DISHAS project, and provides access to the resources produced within this framework. It offers a tailor-made consultation interface for the project's tools and numerical corpus. Several navigation paths have been designed through the website to fulfill the wishes of different users.

These paths are structured according to a hierarchical logic: the navigation pages offer a global overview on the resources, and give access to record pages that provide more detailed information on a specific data item in the database.

Historical navigation

Historical navigation is dedicated to the thorough description of the content of astronomical sources, both material and intellectual. The diffusion of these documents and the identification of their intellectual milieus thus shape exploration paths through interactive visualizations. The chronomap, in particular, highlights interesting periods and geographical areas by identifying the he temporal and geographical dispersion of the production of astronomical works and primary sources.

Three entities are emphasized in the historical navigation: works, primary sources and table witnesses.


Table witness

Primary source

The pages dedicated to works attempt to show their spread and diffusion within primary sources: the contents of these different sources give indications of the composition of the work in question and how works were copied and compiled;

The pages concerning table witnesses describe the context in which the table was created and make it possible to trace the material and intellectual history of the source;

The primary source pages illustrate the distribution of the tables within its pages, and reveal the eventual entanglement and reordering of the works within the manuscript. These record pages are also intended to supplement the bibliographic records of curation libraries.

hist-nav-1 A is a manuscript or an early printed book displaying astronomical content primary source
hist-nav-2 The astronomical content can either be a text, diagram or table: DISHAS focuses on tables
hist-nav-3 A usually contains several tables: we call them primary source table witnesses
hist-nav-4 Each is considered to stem from a table witness work
hist-nav-5 work A is an intellectual production that can manifest itself in several sources
hist-nav-6 A may therefore contain manifestations of several primary source works

Astronomical navigation

Astronomical navigation is devoted to the mathematical and editorial aspects of the database: the editions, table models and parameters are ordered according to the astronomical phenomenon or mathematical algorithm they describe. This ordering allows the user to emphasize the way the tables were used, i.e. as calculation instruments. The treemap visualization can also give indications as to the astronomical objects most studied by ancient astronomers as well as historians of astronomy.

Three entities are highlighted in astronomical navigation: table editions, parameter sets and formula definitions.

Parameter set

Table edition

Formula definition

The page dedicated to parameter sets highlights the circulation of astronomical practices through their use in the edited tables of the digitized corpus;

The table edition page is the most complete of the whole interface. Indeed, the edited tables are a central element of the DISHAS project. The interface aims to facilitate their consultation so that they may become citable editions themselves. Different aspects of the tables are also described, such as its historical context of creation, their editorial environment and the different parameters used;

The page concerning to the formulae definitions explains in detail the processes underlying the mathematical models of the computation tables presented in DISHAS.

Table content

Editorial practices

Critical edition

The edited navigation offers an access to the historical material read and interpreted by the researchers that contribute to DISHAS. The table content records are digitized representations of the historical table values, stripped from graphical aspects. They often come with general comments on the aspects of the table in the sources.

In DISHAS, table witnesses can be edited more than once. Each researcher may have their own readings of the table, depending on their research question. Moreover, a single researcher may chose to edit a table with different editorial strategies (see "Type of edition" in the glossary).

A critical edition is an edition of a work's table often based on various table witnesses taken from different primary source. Critical editions are research tools that can be designed for different non-mutually exclusive aims: to give an access to the table, to explore its variation in witnesses, to analyse its mathematical and astronomical structure etc. To manage critical editions, DISHAS implements CATE, the critical edition manager initially developed by the HAMSI program.

Astronomical were used to compute and study celestial phenomena tables
In DISHAS, these are classified according to the they describe tables astronomical object
Within this classification, tables are ordered according to their i.e. the astronomical phenomenon they represent table type
Computation methods implicit in the tables are translated by modern historians into mathematical formulae
In DISHAS, are digital transpositions of tables that can be found in primary sources table editions
A can either be very close to the original table or entirely recalculated using modern formulae table edition
Tables of the same can be compared by a set of characteristic numerical quantities called type parameter sets

Navigation principles

The website has been designed to adapt to the needs and interests of a variety of users, comprised of researchers in the history of astronomy as well as an interested non-expert audience. Because some users may wish to browse through the corpus while others may seek specific resources, different ways have been developed to access the data. To find a particular document, the search engine offers advanced ways of searching the corpus. To browse more freely, the navigation pages invite you to explore topics of interest using interactive visualizations. Several principles have guided the design of the interface:




By weaving links between records, related data are made accessible from every node of the network. Thus, it is possible to reconstruct multiple contexts from which the data finds its meaning. Visualizations help to make visible the interactions between the data. Whether through the search page, the navigation pages or the API, the focus is always on the ease of access to the information.

The concepts and objects of study in the history of astronomy are complex, and thus the approach to sources adopted by DISHAS needs to be made explicit. This is why an effort has been made to render the content of the platform as intelligible as possible. Several comprehension support tools have been deployed. In particular, the DISHAS platform offers numerous visualizations, documentation pages, and visual supports.

Finally, the DISHAS platform seeks to promote and support the analysis of the digital corpus by providing tools to manipulate the data using software tools such as DTI and DIPS. Other devices, like graphical visualizations, allow the user to link contextual data in ways that may reveal unexpected correlations or irregularities in the sources.