EHM – Engineering Historical Memory is both an experimental methodology and an ongoing research project for the organization of historical information in the digital age. Andrea Nanetti
first theorized it as a Visiting Scholar at Princeton University in 2007. EHM develops and tests new sets of shared conceptualizations and formal specifications for content management systems in the domain of Heritage Science
. What sets it apart from other approaches is a focus on developing and applying computationally intensive techniques to achieve this goal (e.g. pattern recognition, data mining, machine learning algorithms derived from other disciplines, interactive and visualization solutions).
The first results of EHM tests on highly cross-linked historical data have been published in Italy in 2008 (local
urban historical memory transmission)
, 2010 (global
views and networks)
, and 2011 (regional
. The research and publication were funded by the University of Bologna.
designed the master plan and the Web strategies for EHM. Meduproject is a company that I established in 2002 as an academic spin-off of the Department of History and Methods for Cultural Heritage Conservation of the University of Bologna. Initial funding came from a prize awarded in 2001 by StartCup, the first Italian business plan competition devoted to projects with high content of knowledge, and a grant awarded by the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Environment. Meduproject Ltd. organized the research teams and raised funds for projects in Venice, China, Australia, USA, Turkey, Russia, Egypt, India, and Singapore.
The current focus of the project is to develop and test tools (technologies and processes) that can be readily adopted by all users to visualize high volumes of data through maps, timelines, tag clouds, and/or interconnected graphs on different scales. Not only historians and art historians, but also artists, students, and other users will be welcome to create and share their own narratives, by tagging, connecting and recognizing links among elements of the historical landscape.
Using English as lingua franca, heritage science scholars of all countries are invited to use EHM to organize and share literary, documentary, art historical, cartographical, archaeological, photographic, audio recordings, and musical data sets. As a research project, EHM is based on the question “What the implications will be for studying the past when ALL archival materials will be digitized and available in any language?” From a media perspective, the challenge is to have a system work on a visual base for art historians interested in investigating technological intercontinental networks: data mapping and visualization of the diffusion of technologies related to art (e.g. ceramics/porcelain, silk, glass, paper, lost-wax casting bronze production, pottery kilns, etc.). In this way one could create a new paradigm to bypass the current theoretical impasses of global heritage/art histories.
The main research projects are listed here, starting from most relevant ones:
– 2013… Interactive Global Histories. For a new information environment to increase the understanding of historical processes. The research is conducted in Nanyang Technological University by Andrea Nanetti, Siew Ann Cheong, and Mikhail Filippov, with two main aims: first, to test ontologies to organize texts, images, and sounds in a relational database suitable to develop a systemic approach to the study of complex interactions between key subjects of the historical landscape; and second, to test coherent narratives from growing historical data and metadata that can be tested at the same level of rigor as scientific hypotheses and theories. The vision is that the generation of such narratives, supported by a new coherent ontology, automatically and in a scalable way, can revolutionize the practice of heritage studies.
– 2000… The world as seen from Venice (1205-1433), based on a constantly updated on-line edition with English translation of the Morosini Codex, first edited by Andrea Nanetti (2000-2010) and translated into English (1999…) by Michele Ghezzo, John Melville-Jones and Andrea Rizzi. Andrea Nanetti applied EHM to the study of Venetian documents and chronicles, seen as a major source to start an experimental CMS development on Intercontinental trade, diplomacy, conflicts and other interactions among cities, nations and continents during Late Medieval and Early Modern Times (1205-1533). The project has beed funded by the University of Bologna, the Italian Ministry of Research and University, Flaminia Foundation, Italian and Austrian Academy of Sciences, Princeton University PHS, Meduproject Ltd, and University of Venice Ca’ Foscari.
– 1996… Venetian Messenia 1207-1500 (funded by the University of Bologna, State Archive of Venice, Institute for Byzantine Research of the National Hellenic Research Foundation, Hellenic Institute for Byzantine and Postbyzantine studies in Venice, the Maniatakeion Foundation, and Dimitris Koulourianos), was awarded by the “Confédération Internationale de Généalogie et d’Héraldique (CIGH)” for “recherches sur les relations médiévales de la Sérénissime avec les côtes balkaniques, et notamment avec la Péloponnèse” (2000, Besançon, France), and was officially presented in Athens (Old Parliament 2008 and Byzantine Museum 2011), Kalamata (Cultural Centre 2008) and Venice (Archivio di Stato 2011) with speeches by the President of the Greek Parliament, the Metropolitan of Messenia, the Italian Ambassador in Athens, and others.
– 2009… Venetian notarial deeds drawn up in Mameluke Egypt (1252-1517) (fund raising phase).
– 2007… Venetian Ravenna, 1441-1509 (funded by the University of Bologna, Carira Foundation, Flaminia Foundation, and Archivio di Stato of Ravenna).
– 2002… Venetian notarial deeds drawn up in Constantinople (1261-1453).
– 2007-2008 Gothic Trapani, 13th-16th c. (supported by the Pepoli Museum of the Regione Siciliana).
– 2007-2008 Chronicles for the history of Medieval Imola (Italy, funded by the Carimola Foundation).
 A. Nanetti, Ancient and Medieval Imola in Modern chronicles of the city. A case study for engineering historical memory, in Italian. Imola: Editrice La Mandragora, 2008 (ISBN 978-88-7586-176-6).
 The Morosini Codex. The World as seen from Venice (1094-1433), Critical edition, Introduction, Index and other apparatuses by A. Nanetti, 4 vols. in Italian, Foundation CISAM, Spoleto 2010 (ISBN 978-88-7988-194-4), pp. 2,335.
 A. Nanetti, Atlas of Venetian Messenia. Coron, Modon, Pylos and their islands (1207-1500 & 1685-1715), trilingual (English, Italian, Modern Greek), University of Bologna and State Archive of Venice. Imola: Editrice La Mandragora, 2011 (ISBN 978-88-7586-301-2).