The Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah (U.S.A.) has installed a display featuring a Roman military diploma issued to one Marcus Herennius Polymita during the reign of the Emperor Trajan (dating to 109 CE), along with a replica of the diploma for visitors to handle, as well as other items. The exhibition (March 2007 – March 2008) is entitled “Two Ancient Roman Plates: Bronze Military Diplomas and Other Sealed Documents” and has been accompanied by significant coverage online:
Two articles about the diploma were published in BYU Studies (I cannot tease out volume and year because of the way the website is arranged):
Provenance and editions
The online, free access materials are not explicit on this matter, saying only that the diploma was discovered in Dacia and its metallurgical makeup is consistent with ores mined in Sardinia and the Iberian peninsula and smelted during the first century of the Roman Empire. It would appear to me, however, that this diploma was cataloged in:
- M. Roxan, Roman Military Diplomas 1985-1993, London, 1994, ISBN: 090583334 (worldcat record; fulltext PDF online via the BYU exhibition website), no. 148 (text and commentary).
According to Roxan, the diploma was discovered in 1986 at Ranovac (now in Serbia and Montenegro), ca. 30km south of the Roman legionary fortress at Viminacium (modern Kostolac = BAtlas 21 D5), “allegedly with three others.”
The diploma is also registered in the Epigraphic Databank Heidelberg (text, bibliography), albeit without a reference to Roxan:
I am not aware of an online translation of this diploma.
Readers may also be interested in the now venerable (1998!), website for the Roman Military Diploma from Slavonski Brod, which includes photographs, text and discussion of another diploma for which the original seals (and protective covering) are preserved.
Thanks to Gregg Schwender at What’s New in Papyrology who points out the two following
(easily missed) epigraphic titles from Journal of Juristic Papyrology 36 (2006):
- Tomasz Derda & Jacques van der Vliet, ‘Four Christian Funerary Inscriptions from the Fayum (I. Deir el-CAzab 1–4)’, 21-34.
- Włodzimierz Godlewski & Adam Łajtar, ‘Grave Stelae from Deir el-Naqlun’, 43-62.
The full table of contents of JJP 36 available in PDF, or at Gregg’s blog.
Recently in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review:
- BMCR 2007.05.37: Peter Keegan reviews Kinuko Hasegawa, The Familia Urbana during the Early Empire: A Study of Columbaria Inscriptions, BAR International Series 1440, Oxford: Archaeopress, 2005, ISBN: 1841718769 (worldcat record for book).
Mark Handley writes to the Late-Antique discussion list to ask:
Trawling the web looking for information on late antique graffiti I came across a project run out of the Swedish Institute at Rome on a building now in the basement of the American Embassy. This building has produced Christian and Jewish graffiti of Late Antique date which were being studied by Anna Blennow (see http://www.isvroma.org/projects/graffiti.html). I can not find any information on these (as far as I know unpublished) graffiti other than a short one page note in the US State Department’s Newsletter in September 2003 (see http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/23769.pdf at page 15).
Does anyone know more about these graffiti, or have the contact details for Anna Blennow? Any help greatly appreciated.
Do any CE readers have any information on these graffiti? Please reply either to Mark Handley, or leave a comment to this post.
The BES Newsletter for Spring 2007 has been circulated today. The newsletter is in PDF and back issues (from 9 through to 15) can be downloaded from http://www.csad.ox.ac.uk/bes/Newsletter.htm. The Contents for the current issue include:
News of members & other notices
Forthcoming Events, incl. AGM
BES 10th AGM
Cambridge Epigraphy Day
Joint BES / SPHS Meeting
Argos Archive Lecture, Oxford
BES Spring Colloquium
BES Subscription and Gift Aid Forms
(Note: some of the reports have previously appeared in this blog.)
Ad itum liberum. Essays in honour of Anne Helttula (eds. O. Merisalo – R. Vainio), Jyväskylä 2007. ISBN 978-951-39-2807-0. Distributed by the Department of Languages, University of Jyväskylä, Finland; contact joutsen [at] jyu.fi
Silvio Panciera: “Tarracina: comptum non compitum”
Reija Pentti-Tuomisto – Pekka Tuomisto: “Un bollo laterizio dell’Isola sacra”
Heikki Solin – Pekka Tuomisto: “Appunti su Battista Brunelleschi epigrafista”
Antero Tammisto: “Epigraphic identifications of birds and the identification of owls in Pompeian graffiti and bird drawings”
Charles Crowther points out a VRE award closely related to the Image, Text, Interpretation e-Science award posted yesterday.
A Virtual Research Environment for the Study of Documents and Manuscripts
The Humanities Division at Oxford University has been awarded two years of funding by the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC: http://www.jisc.ac.uk/) as part of the second phase of its Virtual Research Environments Programme to develop a VRE for the Study of Documents and Manuscripts (VSDM).
The VSDM project aims to create an integrated environment within which documents, analytical and collaborative tools, and scholarly resources will be available to users as a complete and coherent ensemble. The research resources around which the VRE will be built are, in the first instance, ancient documents on various media (inscriptions, wooden tablets, papyri, lead tablets, etc.), but the tools and the structure of the environment are intended to be suitable for the study of a wide variety of types of documents and manuscripts across humanities disciplines. Within the VSDM environment documents are treated not as disembodied texts but as artefacts with an original archaeological or physical context which can, in principle, be recovered or reconstructed. VSDM will be collaborating closely with the VERA archaeological VRE project at the University of Reading (https://vera.rdg.ac.uk).
The VSDM project builds on previous work undertaken as part of the Building a Virual Research Environment for the Humanities project (BVREH: http://bvreh.humanities.ox.ac.uk), and is led by Alan Bowman, Charles Crowther, Michael Fraser (Principal Investigators), and Marina Jirotka (Co-Investigator), with a team comprising Ruth Kirkham (Project Manager), John Pybus (Technical Manager) and an additional developer (to be appointed).
Initial results of the project will be presented at both the XXV International Congress of Papyrology (Ann Arbor, July 29 – August 4 2007) and the XIII International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy (Oxford, 2-7 September, 2007).
Just announced: Oxford and UCL have won an award to apply e-Science technologies to the reading of the Vindolanda Tablets and other other epigraphic materials.
“Image, Text, Interpretation: e-Science, Technology and Documents”
Original documents are primary, often unique, resources for scholars working in literature, history, archaeology, language and palaeography of all periods and cultures. The complete understanding and interpretation of textual documents is frequently elusive because of damage or degradation, which is generally more severe the older the document. Building on successful earlier research at the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents http://www.csad.ox.ac.uk/ (Professor Alan Bowman) and Engineering Science (Professor Sir Mike Brady) at Oxford University http://www.robots.ox.ac.uk/~mvl/, in collaboration with UCL SLAIS www.ucl.ac.uk/slais/ (Dr Melissa Terras), this project aims to construct a signal to symbol system, which will aid scholars in propagating interpretations of texts through a combination of image processing, computational interactive reasoning under uncertainty, the provision of tools to construct datasets of palaeographical information, to disseminate it in the research community, and to provide training methods and resources in the application of e-science technology to texts and documents.
The project will begin in October 2007, with studentship and postdoc details to be posted shortly.
A recent publication of the Finnish Institute at Athens:
Maria Niku, The Official Status of the Foreign Residents in Athens, 322-120 B.C.. Papers and Monographs of the Finnish Institute at Athens, 12. Helsinki 2007. 181 pp., app. ISBN 978-951-98806-7-9 [worldcat record]).
Available through Tiedekirja, Helsinki (www.tiedekirja.fi).
Over the last few years an international group of scholars has been developing a set of conventions for marking up ancient documents in XML for publication and interchange. The EpiDoc Guidelines started from the case of inscriptions, but the principles are also being applied to papyri and coins, and the aim has always been to produce standards consistent with those of the Text Encoding Initiative, used for all literary and linguistic texts.
Following on from the interest we have seen in EpiDoc training events (including recent sessions in Rome and San Diego) and the success of the London EpiDoc summer school over several years now, we shall be holding another week-long workshop here at King’s College London, from the 11th-15th June this year.
- The EpiDoc Guidelines provide a schema and associated tools and recommendations for the use of XML to publish epigraphic and papyrological texts in interchangeable format. For a fuller description of the project and links to tools and guidelines see http://epidoc.sf.net.
- The Summer School will offer an in-depth introduction to the use of XML and related technologies for publication and interchange of epigraphic and papyrological editions.
- The event will be hosted by the Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King’s College London, which will provide the venue and tuition. The school is free of charge, but attendees will need to fund their own travel, accommodation, and subsistence. (There may be cheap accommodation available through KCL; please inquire.)
- The summer school is targeted at epigraphic and papyrological scholars (including professors, post-docs, and advanced graduate students) with an interest and willingness to learn some of the hands-on technical aspects necessary to run a digital project (even if they would not be marking-up texts by hand very much themselves). Knowledge of Greek/Latin, the Leiden Conventions and the distinctions expressed by them, and the kinds of data and metadata that need to be recorded by philologists and ancient historians, will be an advantage. Please enquire if you’re unsure. No particular technical expertise is required.
- Attendees will require the use of a relatively recent laptop computer (Win XP+ or Mac OSX 10.3+), with up-to-date Java installation, and should acquire a copy of the oXygen XML editor (educational discount and one-month free trial available); they should also have the means to enter Unicode Greek from the keyboard. Full technical specifications and advice are available on request. (CCH may be able to arrange the loan of a prepared laptop for the week; please inquire asap.)
Places on the workshop will be limited so if you are interested in attending the summer school, or have a colleague or student who might be interested, please contact email@example.com as soon as possible with a brief statement of qualifications and interest.
Gregg Schwender posts in the What’s New in Papyrology blog the following summary of a new publication. I re-post this here not only because the Vindolanda website is one of the first pilots of the EpiDoc schema, but because this is a methodological and technological issue that is of just as vital importance to epigraphers as it is to papyrologists. (Not to mention a great book.)
Image to Interpretation: An Intelligent System to Aid Historians in Reading the Vindolanda Texts
ISBN13: 9780199204557ISBN10: 0199204551 hardback, 264 pages, Dec 2006
Price: $95.00 (06)
The ink and stylus tablets discovered at the Roman fort of Vindolanda are a unique resource for scholars of ancient history. However, the stylus tablets in particular are extremely difficult to read. This book details the development of what appears to be the first system constructed to aid experts in the process of reading an ancient document, exploring the extent to which techniques from Artificial Intelligence can be used to develop a system that could aid historians in reading the stylus texts. Image to Interpretation includes a model of how experts read ancient texts, a corpora of letter forms from the Vindolanda text corpus, and a detailed description of the architecture of the system. It will be of interest to papyrologists, researchers in Roman history and palaeography, computer and engineering scientists working in the field of Artificial Intelligence and image processing, and those interested in the use of computing in the humanities.
264 pages; 86 illus.; ISBN13: 978-0-19-920455-7; ISBN10: 0-19-920455-1
Table of Contents
2. How Do Papyrologists Read Ancient Texts? Knowledge Elicitation and the Papyrologist (1)
3. The Palaeography of Vindolanda. Knowledge Elicitation and the Papyrologist (2)
4. Image to Interpretation (1). Using Artificial Intelligence to Read the Vindolanda Texts , Paul Robertson (co-author)
5. Image to Interpretation (2). Results , Paul Robertson (co-author)
Melissa Terras is Lecturer in Electronic Communication, School of Library, Archive and Information Studies, University College London
Bjorn Paarmann, Editing and commenting on the Athenian Tribute Lists in 2007.
Saturday 5th May 2007, BES Spring Meeting, Edinburgh.
Paarmann spoke about his doctoral dissertation project at Fribourg (due to be awarded Summer 2007) which was to collect, edit, and comment on the (so-called) Athenian Tribute Lists. In this paper he (1) gave a general background to the history and study of these inscriptions; (2) explained the history of the inadequate publication of the texts; (3) listed the features in his work which would improve on existing editions, in particular ATL and IG I3.
The inscriptions known as the Athenian Tribute Lists (he summarized) are in fact mostly the accounts of the 1/60th part of the tribute from the Delian League states from the time the treasury was moved the Athens in 454. This quota was dedicated to the goddess Athena of the Parthenon, hence making the mismanagement, withholding, or theft of these moneys a sacrilegious and capital offense. There must also have been (and some fragments attest to) Tribute Assessment Lists, four-yearly accounts calculating the amount to be paid by various states, and the Treasury Lists themselves showing the full amounts paid, but the substantial texts normally collected under this rubric are the Tribute Quota Lists showing the amount donated to Athena from each city’s contribution. Texts exist from the 450s through to the 430s, after which the evidence is very fragmentary and often undatable.
The Tribute Lists were first published in the form of a few fragments found on the Acropolis by Chandler in his 1765 Inscriptiones Antiquae, and then more fully, together with fragments from the American excavations of the Agora by Pittakis in 1835 (Ancienne Athènes). Several other editions gradually improved the understanding of the texts, including the difficult relationship between (and mathematical ratio of) the Quota and the Assessment figures, until the current standard text was established by Meritt and collaborators between the 1920s and 1970s. Meritt et al.‘s ATL text was widely criticized for over-confident and unsupported (even unsupportable) restorations, both by European scholars such as Louis Robert, and by fellow Americans such as Sterling Dow. The text included in Inscriptiones Graecae I3 was, contrary to usual practice, edited again by Meritt and his collaborator MacGregor. Paarmann felt that by allowing this David Lewis missed the valuable opportunity to have the texts revisited by a new scholar, where in fact Meritt reproduced the readings in his own edition, discarding effectively all of the more recent emendations by other scholars and reviewers.
In the light of this unsatisfactory state of current publication, Paarlmann’s edition will improve upon ATL and IG I3 in the following ways:
- He will indicate clearly his dependence on previous editions and give full epigraphic commentary (in contrast especially with IG which had no commentary, and ATL which had little);
- He will give complete apparatus criticus;
- He will base his reading on sketches, photographs, and earlier editions, and give full documentation of these sources;
- His texts and restorations will be very conservative, especially as compared to Meritt’s ambitious speculations;
- As a result, some parts of the text will contain radical (and rational) new readings, corrections of erroneous assumptions, removal of conclusions based on circular arguments (e.g. the supposed revolt of Miletus in 454);
- The dissertation will include a major historical commentary (since an edition alone is not an acceptation doctoral dissertation in Switzerland);
- He is also compiling for later publication (although the dissertation does not include) a complete gazetteer of the states listed as contributing to the Delian League throughout its history.
The American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy has a new URL:
Membership in ASGLE for one calendar year costs $30 USD for regular faculty, which also automatically enrolls you into the Association Internationationale pour l’Epigraphie Grecque et Latine (AIEGL). Students, retirees and independent scholars who do not wish to belong to AIEGL may pay $10 USD.
For those of you who wish to renew your membership or join for the first time, if you go to the Membership Page you will see that for a modest service fee you can now pay dues online with a credit card using PayPal. My understanding is that PayPal will accept multiple currencies, so those of you who wish to pay with other legal tender besides the USD and are willing to use a credit card, should be able to do so now. Neither I nor any other member of ASGLE will ever see your financial information. Of course for those who are more comfortable with the postal service, snail-mail is still available as well.
Those who register in the next few days will be eligible to receive a hard copy of the ASGLE Spring Newsletter, which is ready to go in the post and will contain Election Ballots for the offices of Vice President and Member-at-Large, a new text of IG II2 1069 by Elias Kapetanopoulos, and an epigraphical puzzler involving a Gothic painting, religion and sex!
Paul A. Iversen
Department of Classics
Case Western Reserve University