The International association of Greek and Latin Epigraphy has new officers for the period 2008-2012. Angela Donati (Bologna) continues in the office of Secretary-General. Stephen Mitchell (Exeter University, UK) was elected President, with Manfred Schmidt (Berlin Academy) as Vice-President, Christian Witschel (Heidelberg) as Deputy Secretary General, and Prof. Anne Kolb (Zurich) as treasurer.
The officers had a first meeting at the end of June 2008. The main objective was to establish policy objectives for AIEGL over the next quinquennium, until the 14th Congress, which is scheduled to held in Berlin in 2012.
Three aspects of AIEGL’s activities were discussed at length.
1) The role of the International Association needs re-definition, so that it can respond to the needs to the epigraphic community today. When it was founded, late 1970s AIEGL’s main priority was to promote effective links between scholars in the countries of eastern Europe, who faced many economic and political restrictions on their activities, and those of western Europe and the USA. Circumstances are now very different, but the Association’s overriding purpose, to promote communication, dialogue and active cooperation between its members, remains the same. In practice, this requires the Association to be flexible and innovative, and supportive of new initiatives which will advance this purpose.
2) Since the EAGLE initiative, which was launched in 1997 by AIEGL’s then president, Prof. S. Panciera (Rome), digital epigraphy has been a central item on the AIEGL agenda. It is now a particular priority to facilitate initiatives in this area, above all those that try to establish communications between the very many separate digital epigraphic projects. At a modest level this can be done simply by helping these projects to keep in touch with each other. The holy grail would be to develop AIEGL’s own web-site in such a way that it could serve as a portal to many diverse epigraphic projects, providing access with search possibilities to many existing initiatives. It is unlikely that AIEGL itself, with limited resources of finance and woman-power, could achieve this, but it may have a significant role to play in helping other centres to realising an aim of this sort. After the formal meeting in June, the officers had an extended discussion of these issues with Charlotte Roueché, who was present and could up-date us on the progress of the EPIDOC community, and with Tom Elliott (deputy Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World) communicating by Skype from an Internet cafe in New York, who gave invaluable guidance from a wider perspective, including the interlinking of epigraphic digital projects with those in related disciplines.
3) AIEGL has modest funds from accumulated membership subscriptions. As with many organisations, the membership list is in need of revision, and it requires hard work on the part of the treasurer to ensure that members pay their annual dues. The British Epigraphy Society is a model in this respect, in that members’ subs. are paid as a lump sum, with full details of subscribing individuals, making the task for AIEGL immeasurably easier. The current AIEGL officers are acutely aware of the need to maintain membership and subscriptions. There is equally a need for an effective and transparent procedure for disbursing funds to deserving epigraphic causes. There was general agreement that one priority should be the funding of events and workshops designed to train postgraduate students or early career scholars, and I hope that very shortly we can finalise an application procedure, so that organisers of training events and workshops can apply for modest support funding for these events.
We hope that these general objectives will be regarded as desirable and relatively uncontroversial, although they are not necessarily easy to realize. Comments and suggestions from the Current Epigraphy community are warmly welcomed!