URNs at Brill

CTS URNs identify texts, thus making them citable (There is no reason to limiting their use to canonical texts; see also the appendices on fragmentary texts).

CITE URNs identify everything else, for example subjects are index terms like places or persons.

Here is how they are used at Brill.


This is the syntax of a CTS URN:



  • Brill does not use its name here, or indeed anywhere in the URN. We want to keep the URNs "open", i.e free of branding.
  • there is no central registrary. This is a problem. So far we have minted the following previously unused namespaces:
Namespace Explanation
brill for publications by, or relating to the publishing house
humLit for secondary literature, i.e. scholarly monographs and articles
akkLit for Akkadian texts
anaLit for Anatolian texts
egyLit for Egyptian texts
nwsemLit for North-West Semitic texts
suxLit for Sumerian texts
engLit for English texts


  • Can be an author name, or the name of a group of texts.

In the latter casee, it may be identical to the name of a scholarly publication, such as fgrh. In the former case, if the name belongs to arabicLit, we put the date of death according to the Hijri calendar, e.g. 0601Maimonides.


The work may be a number or a name.

The version has this syntax:


  • the product acronym is used for access management
  • the edition is a number. For example, jo-3-comm3-eng denotes the third edition of the text.
  • the CTS flavour is either ed or tr or comm. Nothing else.
  • the language is an ISO 639-2 code.


This is about textparts. Theoretically, there can be an endless hierarchy. In practice, we mostly see one, two, or three levels. (E.g. [book]-chapters; [book]-pages-lines; [papyri]-fragments-columns-lines).

Always give the entire subreference. E.g., not 1.1-2 but urn:cts:greekLit:tlg0526.tlg003.fjo-ed1- grc:1.1-1.2


This is the syntax of a CITE URN:


Brill uses CITE URNs to identify

  1. people (and organizations)
  2. places
  3. periods
  4. subjects

These are most of the BOCS categories. The last BOCS category, references, is expressed in CTS URNs rather than CITE.

Use of Brill CITE URNs does not exclude use of other persistent identifiers. Indeed, this is mandatory. URIs prevalent in scholary communities must be used in order to link Brill data to other resources.

The Brill CITE URNs for these BOMS categories look as follows:

urn:cite:brill:indexTerm.Persons.00000001 = people urn:cite:brill:indexTerm.Places.00000001 = places urn:cite:brill:indexTerm.Periods.00000001 = periods urn:cite:brill:indexTerm.Subjects.00000001 = subjects

In this case, the Brill name is used in the namespace. This is because these identifiers are specific to Brill. They, and their schema, are published here, accessible to all.

  • so we better stick to CTS. And even when Brill uses CITE URNs, they contain a version identifier.
  • Brill never uses brill as namespace.
  • Brill always uses the product acronym in the version identifier.

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