What are entities?
An entity is something that exists on itself, which can be a person, place or a thing. In the context of the Entities API, there is the notion of different kinds of entities such as persons (agents) such as Leonardo da Vinci, concepts (topics) such as Art Nouveau and places such as Amsterdam. In a later stage we will also add entities such as Time periods or Works. All these entities are part of the Europeana Entity Collection, a collection of entities in the context of Europeana harvested from and linked to controlled vocabularies such as Geonames and Dbpedia (soon also Wikidata).
The entities in the Europeana Entity Collection consist of different types of entities. As of the Public Alpha released in January 2017, the entities in the collection consist of aproximately:
- 200,000 agents (people)
- 100,000 concepts (topics)
- 50,000 places
Europeana maintains data gathered from several sources about these entities, in order to semantically enrich its data beyond the original object description given by data providers. This data is 'harvested' from various external sources:
For each entity in the entity collection, Europeana generates an identifier such as "http://data.europeana.eu/entity/agent/base/147466". More information about how this is done and why can be read in the document Minting Europeana URIs for Contextual Entities.
Linking to other sources
In order to really benefit of the semantic web, each entity has often several "sameAs" values, which are references to the same entity in other data sources such as Wikidata, Geonames or DBpedia. This way, an API client can traverse through various data sources in an automated way to retrieve all known information about a certain entity.