Current Epigraphy
ISSN: 1754-0909

26 August, 2007

Guide de l’épigraphiste 7e éd.

Filed under: publications — Gabriel Bodard @ 19:23

The seventh supplement to the Guide de l’Épigraphiste (by Bérard, Feissel, Petitmengin, Rousset, Sève et al.) has been published as a PDF, downloadable from the École Normale Supérieure website at:

As usual the supplement contains additions and corrections to the themed bibliographies, websites, and other resources listed in the Guide itself.

Just out of interest, the new online resources (or those with modified addresses), listed in this year’s supplement include:

22 August, 2007

CIEGL Visual Aids: Advice to Speakers

Filed under: AIEGL,CIEGL,events — Tom Elliott @ 19:09

The organizers of the 13th Epigraphic Congress, to be held 2-7 September in Oxford, have promulgated the following essential information for presenters (digested from an email):

  • Visual materials may be displayed during presentation either via a PowerPoint presentation or transparencies on a conventional overhead projector; 35mm slides will not be supported
  • Printed handouts should be prepared in advance by speakers (200 copies for plenary talks; 30 for thematic sessions)
  • Posters concerning epigraphic organizations or events are welcome
  • See specific requirements (including advance preparation) below

(more…)

Help us blog CIEGL 2007

Filed under: AIEGL,CIEGL,events — Tom Elliott @ 13:55

The 13th International Congress of Greek and Latin Epigraphy is just over a week away! If you plan to attend the congress in Oxford, the editors of CEp request your help in sharing the event with colleagues who cannot attend, as well as interested students and enthusiasts around the world.

How can you help? By committing to submit brief reports on one or more papers or sessions you attend via the CEp website. The basic requirements for a post here are minimal:

  1. speaker’s name and affiliation
  2. title of paper
  3. a brief summary or judgment

Of course, additional material can be added, and would be very welcome (we’ll send you some guidelines if you volunteer).

So, if you can lend your hand, please contact Gabriel Bodard or Tom Elliott and we’ll get you one of those snazzy “I’m blogging CIEGL at currentepigraphy.org” badges to wear with pride!

21 August, 2007

BMCR Review of Hispania Epigraphica CD Rom

Filed under: review — Gabriel Bodard @ 09:59

In Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.08.46:

Joaquín Gómez-Pantoja, Hispania Epigraphica 1989-2000 (1 al 10). Madrid: Servicio de Publicaciones, 2006. Pp. CD-Rom. ISBN 84-95215-53-5. €50.00 (individuals). €66.00 (institutions).

Reviewed by David Noy, University of Wales Lampeter (d.noy@lamp.ac.uk)

In his review of this incredibly useful resource (ten issues in PDF on a single CD Rom rather than the hefty volumes which–as Noy points out–are only held by four libraries in the UK), Noy both discusses the advantages and limitations of this electronic format, and considers the quality of some of the contents. He concludes with this comment:

Anyone who has emerged with an aching back and covered with dust after a session with CIL will appreciate having inscriptions in a form accessible from a desktop anywhere, although we are still a long way from the epigraphic utopia of having all information about an inscription available at the click of a mouse, or even from easily knowing where to click for the information. It is not likely that anyone other than a reviewer will want to go through ten volumes of HEp page by page, but the convenience of being able to do so at home rather than in a library is clear. Electronic publication offers other advantages too: ease of searching; updatable bibliographies and concordances. The epigraphy of the Iberian provinces seems to be particularly well-served electronically, and although the CD-ROM version of HEp has some shortcomings, it will be extremely useful in conjunction with other resources.

20 August, 2007

BMCR Review of Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess

Filed under: review — Gabriel Bodard @ 08:25

This week in BMCR 2007.08.43:

Joan Breton Connelly, Portrait of a Priestess: Women and Ritual in Ancient Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. Pp. xv, 415; figs. 109, color pls. 27. ISBN 978-0-691-12746-0. $39.50.

Reviewed by Catherine M. Keesling, Georgetown University (keeslinc@georgetown.edu)

This very thorough review is broadly positive, but makes some very important critical observations, especially with regard to evidence outside of Connelly’s primary field of archaeology and iconography (see below). On the methodological approach generally, Keesling notes approvingly that:

Chapter 1 outlines possible approaches, both theoretical and pragmatic, to the role of women in Greek religion. In the end (16-17), the methodology of Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood is adopted, in practice a kind of thick description of every possible source of evidence, without unduly privileging some forms of evidence over others.

But later in the review, and of particular interest to the epigraphist reader, she concludes:

In my opinion, Connelly’s scholarly accomplishment in this book would emerge with greater clarity if she were willing to concede this point, and to accept the primacy of the epigraphical evidence in the book she has written: after all, how many of the 150 priestesses mentioned here would we know by name without inscriptions?

18 August, 2007

Seminar: ‘A VRE for the Study of Documents and Manuscripts’

Filed under: EpiDoc,events — Gabriel Bodard @ 12:45

Yesterday afternoon’s (Friday 17th August) seminar in the Digital Classicist series was presented by Charles Crowther of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents in Oxford, on the subject of ‘A Virtual Research Environment for the Study of Documents and Manuscripts’. The project on which Dr. Crowther was reporting (mentioned here back in May) is the successor to the BVREH (Building a VRE for the Humanities) and VWSAD (Virtual Workspace for the Study of Ancient Documents) projects, which ran during the last couple of years.

The new VRE, which recently won two years’ funding and is at an early stage of development, will be targeted explicitly at epigraphic and papyrological texts (although it could easily be repurposed for medieval or other manuscripts). The aim is to create a working environment to replicate for scholars at a distance the opportunities for collaborative research offered by bringing several experts into a room at the same time to look at high-quality images of a papyrus or inscription. In addition they intend to take advantage of the many online research tools that are available (e.g. PHI Greek Inscriptions, especially the new concordance tool; the Epigraphik Datenbank Clauss/Slaby; the more sophisticated Epigraphische Datenbank Heidelberg; the Photographic Archive of Papyri in the Cairo Museum; the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri, etc.), as well as more “deep” resources–scholarly publications such as Aphrodisias in Late Antiquity or Vindolanda Tablets Online.

It would also be valuable to integrate this system with the excavators who might be digging up new inscriptions and need an expert to look at them. The Silchester excavations, who use the VERA (VRE for Archaeology) environment and keep detailed electronic notes, would be an ideal candidate for such collaboration, except that they very rarely unearth inscribed objects. Vindolanda do not have such sophisticated electronic recording methods, or else their many and difficult texts would be ideal. A first pilot collaboration might be with the excavations at Zeugma, where the excavators are aware of the importance of calling upon specialists in particular fields (such as epigraphy) to work with the excavators on their finds.

This is a project that is worth watching. The VRE will be run on the Oxford servers in the first instance, and other collaborators will be very welcome to help test the environment as soon as there is something running. Ultimately the tools created by this project will be Open Source, and so can be used by anyone with an interest in working collaboratively on documents, inscriptions, papyri, or manuscripts in an environment that integrates multiple freely available resources to enrich the editor’s research experience.

4 August, 2007

‘Can Computers Ever Read Ancient Texts?’

Filed under: EpiDoc,events — Gabriel Bodard @ 15:33

Yesterday (Friday 3rd Aug) Melissa Terras, lecturer in Electronic Communication in the School of Library, Archive and Information Studies (UCL) gave a seminar in the Digital Classicist series at the Institute of Classical Studies entitled ‘Can Computers Ever Read Ancient Texts?’ In this excellent presentation, Dr. Terras’ answer to the question posed in the title was (pace a response on the Humanist list last week) basically ‘no’, or at least not yet and not in any significant sense as we understand “read”. A better question, she asserted, would be “Can computers assist in reading ancient texts?”, and to that question she gave (and demonstrated) a much more positive response.

In the course of this paper, which was in part a demonstration of past and ongoing work on the semi-papyrological/semi-epigraphical Vindolanda writing tablets, she made several important points that are worth repeating to an audience of epigraphists.

  1. The expert who teaches the computer to read texts is not principally the programmer, analyst, or engineer, but principally and essentially the papyrologist (or epigrapher) who knows the art and works in a discipline that has decades (centuries) of methodologies and expertise behind it.
  2. Based on Herbert Youtie’s now famous distinction between “public” (published, polished, perfect) and “private” (in progress, iterative, much-laboured) text scholarship, she points out the ability of computer-assisted readings to reveal and preserve the private processes of text editing and track methodologies and mistakes, a process known by engineers as “truth maintenance”. For example, it would be incredibly valuable to be able to document the process of making decisions as to dating and/or scribe based on letter-forms (see point 4 below), a process that seasoned papyrologists and epigraphers currently often perform based on instinct and therefore find very difficult to describe and teach.
  3. The computer does not, in the prefered model, make firm decisions and statements of “fact” based on engineering principles and programmed algorithms; rather it offers a range of probabilistic results (number-crunching is what machines are good at), offering likely character-groups or words, for the text editor or historian to choose between based on her expertise (interpretation is what humans are good at).
  4. One of the most impressive by-products of the Vindolanda text-analysis project has been the development of palaeographic markup, a system designed to record and predict average letter-forms as well as variants.
  5. Perhaps the most striking point was that this project, although firmly in the humanities and concerned with Ancient History, provides a rare “real-world” application of theories and techniques in Artificial Intelligence. New use-cases lead to new solutions, and a project like this benefits the discipline of Engineering Science as a whole. We Classicists should not underestimate what we have to offer to the high-powered world of medical imaging, defense technologies, and forensic science, for example.

2 August, 2007

Review of Trzcionka, Magic and the Supernatural in Fourth-Century Syria

Filed under: review — Gabriel Bodard @ 09:07

Reviewed today in BMCR 2007.08.06, a volume which includes detailed discussion of inscribed amulets and curse tablets:

Silke Trzcionka, Magic and the Supernatural in Fourth-Century Syria. London and New York: Routledge, 2007. Pp. 227. ISBN 0-415-39242-X. £17.99.

Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus, Hilpoltstein (t.j.kraus@web.de)

The very positive (but not uncritical) review summarises the contents (for a summary of which see this post at the Papyrology blog), and shows how the geographically, chronologically, and topically constrained subject matter makes for a more thorough and rigorous study of ancient magic than is normally possible in the general tomes that abound in this field. The reviewer concludes with the words:

Without doubt T.’s meticulous work is very welcome and a significant contribution to the field of research on (late) antique magic. T. approaches magic in two geographical regions and in a historical period, both of which are usually not in the main focus of scholarly work. This is done in an unbiased and sound way. Very impressive is her skillful narrative account and her fluent style of writing. With her fine and concise observations at hand the readers, no matter if they are specialists in the field, beginning students of (late) antiquity, or just readers interested in the subject matters, are enabled to develop some further insights in some very specific topics that could only be touched in the book. T. must be thanked for having written that fascinating book.

1 August, 2007

Epigraphic titles for review from BMCR

Filed under: review — Gabriel Bodard @ 20:34

In this months Books Received list in BMCR 2007.08.01, the following titles appear that may be of interest to epigraphers:

Titles marked by an asterisk are available for review. Qualified volunteers should indicate their interest by a message to classrev@brynmawr.edu, with their last name and requested author in the subject line. They should state their qualifications (both in the sense of degrees held and in the sense of experience in the field concerned) and explain any previous relationship with the author.

*Benoist, Stéphane (ed.), Mémoire et histoire: les procédures de condamnation dans l’antiquité romaine. Publications du Centre Régional Universitaire Lorrain d’Histoire, Site de Metz, 31. Metz: Centre Régional Universitaire Lorrain d’Histoire, 2007. Pp. xvii, 360. EUR 35.00 (pb). ISBN 2-85730-035-2.

*Heinen, Heinz (ed.), Handwörterbuch der antiken Sklaverei. CD-ROM Lieferung 1. Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei, 5. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2006. EUR 175.00. ISBN 978-3-515-08919-7.

*Ramsby, Teresa R., Textual Permanence. Roman Elegists and the Epigraphic Tradition. London: Duckworth, 2007. Pp. ix, 197. $81.00. ISBN 978-0-7156-3632-9.

*Ray, John, The Rosetta Stone and the Rebirth of Ancient Egypt. Wonders of the World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007. Pp. 199. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-674-02493-9.

*Rhodes, P.J., The Greek City States. A Source Book. Second Edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Pp. xiii, 339; maps 2. $29.99 (pb). ISBN 978-0-521-61556-3.

Robert, Louis, Choix d’écrits. Édité par Denis Rousset avec la collaboration de Philippe Gauthier et Ivana Savalli-Lestrade. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2007. Pp. 799; figs. 77. EUR 85.00. ISBN 978-2-251-38083-4.

*Schumacher, Leonhard (ed.), Corpus der römischen Rechtsquellen zur antiken Sklaverei (CRRS). Teil VI. Stellung des Sklaven im Sakralrecht. Forschungen zur antiken Sklaverei, Beiheft 3. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag 2006. Pp. xxiii, 126. EUR 36.00. ISBN 978-3-515-08977-7.

*Eiteljorg, Harrison, II, and W. Fredrick Limp, Archaeological Computing. Bryn Mawr: Center for the Study of Architecture, 2007. Pp. 244.

*Fourrier, Sabine, and Antoine Hermary, Amathonte VI: Le sanctuaire d’Aphrodite. des origines au début de l’époque impériale. Études Chypriotes XVII. Paris: De Boccard, 2006. Pp. 218; figs. 508, pls. 50, plan 1. EUR 100.00 (pb). ISBN 2-86958-220-X.

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