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Introductory Tutorial

This tutorial will give you an overview of Peripleo's most important features. You will learn how to:

  • Search for places, objects and other types of data
  • Narrow down your search using filters
  • See summary information about a whole dataset
  • Explore Linked Data and connected information

What is Peripleo?

Peripleo is a search engine to data maintained by partners of Pelagios Commons, a Digital Humanities initiative aiming to foster better linkages between online resources documenting the past.

The data you can find in Peripleo is quite diverse. Right now, most of our partners publish information about ancient places and physical objects, such as archaeological finds. But Pelagios Commons is growing, and we are beginning to include data about people, time periods, and even geo-tagged literature, or data transcribed from historic maps. The full list of datasets currently indexed is here.

User Interface Overview

The image below shows Peripleo's main user interface components. Use the search box 1 to type your query. The search box includes a row of indicators 2 for currently active filters. You can apply filters through the filter panel 3. Select an item from the result list 4 to see detail information 5 and, if available, a preview image 6. The buttons in the upper right corner of the screen are the map controls 7.

Note: some items include zoomable high-resolution preview images. If there is a IIIF logo in the corner, you can zoom into the image using your mousewheel or, on touch devices, a pinch gesture. Use the button in the lower left corner to switch to a full screen view.

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Use the search box in the upper left corner to search by keyword. Peripleo will provide suggestions for search terms and specific records matching your query. Run the query by hitting enter or selecting a query suggestion; or pick one of the suggested results directly, by selecting it from the list. Use the X icon to clear your current search.

Search syntax

Peripleo supports prefix as well as fuzzy search: append * to find everything that starts with the given search term; or append ~ to include approximate matches (i.e. those that differ by a few characters). Use AND or OR uppercase keywords to construct boolean queries, or quote your search with " to force exact phrase matches.

Colour coding

Throughout the interface, search results are coded based on their item type, using colour and symbol:

  • Places
  • Objects
  • Time periods
  • People
  • Datasets

Controlling the Map

Move the map by dragging and releasing it. Zoom using your mousewheel or the + - buttons in the upper right corner. On touch devices you can also use a "pinch" gesture. You can switch between different base layers using the button.

The Filter Panel

After running a search, you can narrow down your results by using filters. Click the downward arrow at the bottom of the search box. This will unfold the filter panel. The most prominent part of the filter panel is the time histogram. It shows how your search results are distributed over time.

To filter by time

Grab and drag the handles on the time histogram. A clock icon in the search box indicates that you have now set a time filter. (Otherwise, it's easy to forget once you have closed the filter panel again!)

Note: unfortunately, not all records in Peripleo are dated. Only those that are will surface in the time histogram. Setting a time filter will exclude all undated records.

To filter by data source

Click the sources facet. Pick one of the data sources from the list in order to restrict your search to this dataset only.

Note: we will be introducing additional facet filters over time, which will work exactly the same way. For the time being, however, the data source facet is the only one that is functional.

To filter by item type

The coloured bar above the time histogram illustrates how your results are distributed across different item types. Often, the bar will have a single colour. That means that all of your results are of the same type. E.g. a search for tetradrachm will likely return only object records while a search for fortress returns places .

Other searches will lead to a mix of places, people, objects, etc. Click the bar. The panel shifts to reveal detail numbers for how many of your search results fall into which item type category. Click one of them. This narrows down your search to the results of only this type. Again, an indicator in the search box reminds you of the active item type filter.

To filter by map viewport

Click the filter icon located at the top right corner of the screen, right above the map zoom buttons. This will toggle the viewport filter. If active, your search is restricted to only those results that intersect the map area you are currently viewing.

Datasets at a Glance

Instead of starting your journey through Peripleo from a place or object, you can also start from a specific dataset. Let's try the University of Graz Collections for example.

Datasets appear in search results just like any other type of item. However, behavior is slightly different when you select one. Selecting a dataset (either from the result list, or from the list of autocomplete options) will automatically switch to a filtered search. That means Peripleo will:

  • list all results contained within this dataset
  • show their geographical footprint on the map
  • display their temporal profile in the time histogram

As usual, the search box shows an indicator to remind you of the active dataset filter. You can use all other available filter types to narrow down your search further, or enter a new query to find specific data inside this dataset.

Once you become more familiar with Peripleo, you will notice that it works slightly different than other map-based search interfaces you may have used before. The key difference is that data in Peripleo is networked. That means items are internally connected through links.

One major consequence is how the map works: one dot on the map is not always the same as one search result. Instead, one dot may represent many results connected to the same place. (The dot size will give you a hint.) Vice versa, one result can appear as many dots. E.g. think of an archaeological artefact, which might be linked to a findspot as well as a place of production. Or a work of literature, which might contain references to hundreds of places!

Whenever there are links to follow, Peripleo tells you at the bottom of the detail information window. For example, select a place, and you can see how many items are connected to it. Click the link to enter a filtered search that shows just these items. As usual, you can narrow down the search further with other filter options.

In a similar way, selecting an object will tell you what the top places are that the object is linked to, along with information about how much else data is available there, given your current search query and filter setting.

Note: when following along these network paths, remember that you can use your browser back button to return to previous stops along your journey.


You have successfully made your way through the introductory tutorial, and know how to use the most important features. Do also check out our advanced tutorials on Peripleo's extended features: