Make the most
of Humanities
Research Data

Timbuctoo lets you fully exploit your Arts and Humanities data.
It features powerful tools for data management and analysis, and allows you to connect your data with other datasets.
Learn more.

Why Timbuctoo

Timbuctoo is specifically designed for academic research in the Arts and Humanities, which often yields complex and heterogeneous data. It lives up to academic standards for working with such content: the infrastructure accommodates different views on a subject and leaves the interpretation of the data to the researcher. Also, Timbuctoo keeps meticulous track of data provenance and does not impose a certain research methodology on its users. Data can be searched and analyzed through the web interface, or queried using the API.

Timbuctoo implementations

Huygens ING uses Timbuctoo to share its data with the world and to host high quality datasets of ongoing research projects in which the institute participates. Timbuctoo also forms the backbone of Anansi, the central CLARIAH infrastructure. Anansi will be the data hub between the three primary CLARIAH domains (Linguistics, Social & Economic History and Media Studies). Furthermore, Anansi will link up with large-scale existing data infrastructures outside CLARIAH and allow researchers to connect their own datasets. The International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and Oxford University (the Cultures of Knowledge project) have announced to implement Timbuctoo in their digital research infrastructures.


  • Data management
  • Data enrichment
  • Privacy and sharing options
  • Powerful search and analysis tools
  • API
  • Multiple interpretations of data
  • Provenance tracking
  • Combine and create datasets
  • Replication of data analysis
  • Data export

Data management

Keep full control of your data with user-friendly data management tools.

Data enrichment

Timbuctoo is well-suited to making connections between data from different sources. It does not, however, combine records by itself. Instead, Timbuctoo suggests a possible match to the user, who can then choose to accept or decline.



Privacy and sharing options

You can choose to keep your dataset private or open it to the world.

Powerful search and analysis tools

Gain insight in your data with Timbuctoo’s easy-to-use faceted search and data analysis tools.


For computerised access to the data in Timbuctoo, an API is provided.


Multiple interpretations of data

Timbuctoo accommodates different views on a subject. It leaves the interpretation of the data to the researcher.

Provenance tracking

Timbuctoo keeps meticulous track of data provenance: what is the source of the data and who has uploaded or edited it?

Combine and create datasets

Timbuctoo can create new datasets, combining data from various other datasets, according to specific user needs.

Replication of data analysis

Timbuctoo is a dynamic system. It will contain a growing number of datasets over time and some of these will be in a process of constant updating. In order to make replication of data analysis possible, Timbuctoo always shows version information and will store and give access to previous versions of the database system.

Data export

You can export data from Timbuctoo to the following file formats: csv, JSON, GraphML.


The basic structure of the software is a set of REST API’s on top of a linked data store (implemented on Berkeley DB), offering developers the opportunity to build clients interacting with these data. Currently the infrastructure provides:

  • end user GUI’s for uploading, configuring and searching a dataset;
  • the ability to access the data as an RDF graph or as a REST (document oriented) datastore;
  • various importers for binary formats;
  • the ability to discover and download datasets from remote servers that contain ResourceSync descriptions;
  • the ability to subscribe to changes on a dataset, which enables the creation of post-hoc data stores (e.g. MongoDB, MySQL) optimised for specific query patterns.

Timbuctoo is constantly being maintained and updated by the developers of Huygens ING. It is open-source and freely available under GPL v3.

Please refer to GitHub for a detailed description of technological features and information for engineers of research institutions who wish to implement in their digital infrastructure.


Timbuctoo is named in commemoration of the mission of the libraries in the historic city in Mali, which for many centuries famously preserved unique collections of Arabic and West African manuscripts. It was around the time when news came that jihadists had set out to destroy these libraries, in 2013, when Huygens ING started developing the Timbuctoo database infrastructure.




Timbuctoo is currently released as an Alpha version.
Please contact Marnix van Berchum if you are interested in using it for your data or research project.

Credit background photo: Katie Orlinksy