The Department of History and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies on Roman Provinces at the University of Sassari (Sardinia, Italy), together with the Association Internationale d’Épigraphie Grecque et Latine and the Istituto Italiano per l’Africa e per l’Oriente are pleased to announce the XIX International Conference on “Roman Africa”. The conference will be held in Sassari on 16-19 of December 2010 and the main theme of the Conference will be: “Trasformazioni dei paesaggi del potere nell’Africa settentrionale fino alla fine del mondo antico. Scontri, integrazioni, transizioni e dinamiche insediative. Nuove prospettive dalla ricerca”. The conference will therefore focus on the change of power in the Roman provinces of North Africa throughout the ancient world.
The current programme has an epigraphy session scheduled for Sunday 19th of December 2010, 9.00-12.00 am. The following papers may be of particular interest to epigraphists:
- Marc Mayer (Bacelona): La presenza degli Antonini nell’epigrafia delle città africane
- Roger Hanoune (Paris): Le poème épigraphique de Sétif AE 1916, 7-8
People interested in this conference, and for more information, should contact the Department of History by the end of July 2010 (Dipartimento di Storia – Università degli Studi di Sassari (Viale Umberto n. 52 – I – 07100 SASSARI — fax 079 2065241; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica (http://ircyr.kcl.ac.uk). First International Workshop. British School at Rome, 28-29 February 2008.
Charlotte Tupman and Gabriel Bodard: Epigraphic Interoperability
On the occasion of the Inscriptions of Roman Cyrenaica Workshop on geospacial data and interoperability, held in Rome on February 28-29, scholars, mainly archaeologists, involved in digs and studies in Libya presented their work with a particular focus on digital data capture and publication.
At 14:00 on Friday 29th, Charlotte Tupman and Gabriel Bodard gave an interesting joint paper on Epigraphic Interoperability. (Slideshow available to view.)
As an introduction, EpiDoc and its principles were briefly explained. The EpiDoc schema and guidelines offer guidance for the encoding of epigraphic texts and metadata in an XML system that abstracts structure and semantics on the one hand from the specifics of display on the other, so that the same underlying data can be used to generate various presentations (from traditional Leiden edition, diplomatic text, web page, printed page, dynamic indexes, or database-like tables).
However, the main focus of the paper was to demonstrate the possibility of collaboration between EpiDoc and the EAGLE databases through a sort of “crosswalk” of data from one schema to another. The EpiDoc guidance defines a level of compliance with the EAGLE database which means that all metadata required by the relevant databases is included and explicitly tagged in a compliant EpiDoc XML edition. Finally a simple tool was demonstrated that created tabular output compatible with the Epigraphic Database Roma from the IRCyr XML files).
At the end of the presentation Professor Silvio Panciera, chair of the AIEGL committee on IT and Epigraphy and director of the EAGLE federation of databases, expressed his support to the project and stressed the importance of digital applications to the study of epigraphy and the Classical world in general. He also expressed his gratitude for any sort of collaboration with the EAGLE endeavour and encouraged the audience to embrace the new opportunities offered by digitalization.
Epigraphic Saturday, Cambridge, February 16th, 2008.
Dorothy Thompson gave a witty and intriguing paper about the history of two Greek inscriptions found in 1995 in Al-Maroqui, in the far west of the oasis of Siwa.
The two inscriptions, originally believed to be three, received immense press and ended up being published in Hello! magazine in February 1995 together with some glossy, but not especially useful, photographs. At the time of publication, the archaeologist Liana Souvaltzi claimed that they revealed the location of the tomb of Alexander. This reading was already refuted by R.S. Bianchi in the article, “Alexander’s Tomb…Not”, Archaeology May/June 1995 and by A. Spawforth in “The quest for Alexander’s tomb” Ad Familiares 11 1996, II-III.
Thompson and Joyce Reynolds have been re-examining the readings in these early publications.
By looking at these photographs, and others supplied by an Egyptian journalist:
- nothing can be made out of the first inscription
- the second text is broken into many pieces, at least twenty-two. Once reconstructed, it forms a large block with a border that presumably framed the text. The lettering is quite clear and visible on the pictures, which allowed appropriate supplements to be made and new readings suggested
Prof. S. Panciera (Rome) in his introductory remarks expresses his willingness and enthusiasm in embracing the IT Revolution and applying it to the study of inscriptions. At the same time, however, he shows frustration and disappointment for the slowness with which the work proceeds and for the lack of agreement in aims and methods to follow. In fact, while it is appreciable that there are many individual projects, it is nonetheless essential to work in collaboration with each other. Standardisation is needed!
Elaine Matthews (Oxford) in her paper reproduces a general tracing of the development of IT in many of its applications and explains the introduction of it in epigraphy. The IT revolution is nothing new; it is at least sixty years old and classicists’ use of it has a history of some forty years. Individual projects are a reliable testimony of certain activity in the field. Some early projects are mentioned, such as the David W. Packard’s 1968 Concordance to Livy and the TLG online. More recent exploitations of technology applied for in the Classical world include EpiDoc and LGPN. At the end of her reconstruction of the history of the IT Revolution, E. Matthews stresses the importance of IT in the future of epigraphy. This, she explains, does not mean that every single epigrapher has to have technical knowledge, but it does mean that someone must engage with the technology!
John Bodel (Brown University) is the second and last speaker of this plenary session. In tune with Prof. Panciera and Elaine Matthews, he emphasises the importance of embracing the IT Revolution in the study of inscriptions. It is not a matter of it being necessary or worth it but inevitable! The IT Revolution has indeed already touched the world of epigraphy. A pioneer in digital epigraphy was D. Packard (Concordance to Livy, 1968). Packard’s mark-up system, known as Beta Code, was then adopted by the TLG in 1981 and quickly established itself as the standard means of encoding polytonic Greek. These early initiatives were important for raising general awareness of the potentials of computers. J. Bodel defines our days as “the age of digital epigraphy”. There have been many important advances in digital epigraphy during the last decade that can lead us towards a more optimistic vision of the future. Three broad areas have been particularly touched: 1) Databases. – EAGLE (Collaboration among three projects: Heidelberg, Rome, Bari). The federation is open and recently a fourth initiative has been welcomed into the community, namely HISPANIA EPIGRAPHICA ONLINE. 2) Images. The use of technology can provide high quality at relatively low cost images. – X ray fluorescence imaging. – Polynomial texture mapping. – GRAVA. 3) Editing. – EpiDoc. Two pilot projects are “The Vindolanda Tablets online” and “Inscriptions of Aphrodisias”. Recently the EpiDoc system has been adopted in papyrology and numismatics as well. We now have all the tools we need to perform efficiently and the potential benefits to epigraphers of the new information technology are widely recognised!
Giulia Baratta focused her attention on the marginal role and inadequacy that affect inscriptions in museums and archaeological sites. An average tourist is resonably more attracted by a monument, in particular if iconographically rich, than an inscribed stone written in an almost incomprehensible language, it being Greek, Latin or any ancient language. In fact, a statue is more accessibly amusing than a few inscribed lines. A better attention on the epigraphic material is needed by the people in charge of the organisation of museums and archaeological sites in order to stimulate the interest of tourists and non-specialists. Some “shameful” examples of bad use and display of inscriptions are given (eg. Rome, Pompei, Lyon): inscriptions are abandoned in corners, put in a non accessible and legible area, without captions, comments and translations. Often inscriptions are a crucial part of monuments and their knowledge could offer a better understanding of the monuments themselves; however, all the interest of the tourist is focused on the monument since that is where the attention is driven.
Giulia Baratta’s paper is an observation on the unfair role given to inscriptions within archaeological areas. This point of view is shared by Antonio Santori (Universita’ di Milano, Italy) who gave a paper in the same session, “Museographia Epigraphica”, entitled “La comunicazione epigrafica e l’epigrafia comunicata”. His advice is to use a considerable number of inscriptions and create a separate area for them within a museum, a sort of “epigraphic gallery”. The inscriptions should be cleaned properly and lit with a good, possibly individual, light. In order to be more accessible to people, they should also have a quite detailed and clear caption with description and translation.
In general, both papers show big disappointment for the very limited role and scarce importance given to inscriptions in museums and archaeological sites.