Thursday, December 17, 2009

Interoperation with Pleiades

I've had a few questions lately about how other web-based publications could be designed to support interoperation with Pleiades. Here's my working advice:

Any project that wants to lay the groundwork for geographic interoperability on the basis of Pleiades should:

1. Capture and manage Pleiades identifiers (stable URLs like for each place one might want to cite.

2. Request membership in the Pleiades community and add/modify content therein as necessary in order to create new resources (and new URLs) for places that Pleiades doesn't yet document, but which are provably historical and relevant to content controlled by the external project.

3. Capture and manage stable URLs from Wikipedia or GeoNames that correspond to modern geographic entities that are relevant to the content controlled by the external project. Don't conflate modern and ancient locations, as this will eventually lead to heartbreak.

4. Emit paged web feeds in the Atom Syndication Format (RFC 4287) that also conform to the guidance documented (with in-the-wild, third-party examples) at:

and make use of the terms defined at

to indicate publicly relationships such as "findspot" and "original location" between the content controlled by the external project, Pleiades resources, Wikipedia resources, GeoNames resources and resources published by other third parties.

5. Alert us so we can include the entry-point URL for the feeds in the seeded search horizon list for the web crawler and search index service we are developing.

You can see how the Epigraphic Databank Heidelberg team has been thinking about how to accomplish this at:


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bringing the Frontier to the Center: Empires and Nomads from Achaemenid Persia to Tang China

a lecture, presented by:

Wu Xin
Visiting Research Scholar
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, New York University

This paper presents a comparative consideration of the ideological strategies used by Achaemenid and the Tang empires to manage relations with their subjects living in Central Asia and on the Central to Eastern Eurasian steppe. For both empires, the nomadic communities to the north were an especially important constituency that was complicated by strong dynastic hereditary ties. In each case, a conscious program specifically addressing this complex and mobile community was developed and was expressed through the official language (text and images) of the imperial court. An exploration of those programs reveals striking parallels in their approach to maintaining imperial control and cooperation.

Monday, 6:00 pm
November 30, 2009

Lecture Hall
ISAW Building
15 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028

this event is free and open to the public

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bridging Institutional Repository and Bibliographic Management

As an institution, ISAW has an interest in disseminating, preserving and promoting the research products and publications of its faculty, research staff, students, affiliates and collaborators. Our parent institution, NYU, has made a commitment to the persistent dissemination of such materials when voluntarily contributed to its Faculty Digital Archive (FDA). We'll use the FDA as a locus for materials that fit well into DSpace (with which the FDA is realized) and that aren't rights-constrained. But we also need mechanisms for developing and publishing the whole bibliographic story of a particular faculty member, research group, project or conference with links from the individual entries to digital copies wherever they may be (e.g., the FDA, JSTOR, Internet Archive, Google Books). For this function, we like Zotero. Atop Zotero's robust and ubiquitous feed documents, we can build interoperability with our website and other tools and venues in a way that is also completely visible to commercial and third-party search and discovery tools.

There will be a number of iterations necessary to reach a fully robust solution, but we're already taking some of the first steps.

As an early experiment with the FDA, we had a student assistant input all of my boss's articles in PDF format, along with descriptive metadata (see: Roger Bagnall's Publications). The default metadata schema in the FDA wasn't a perfect fit for journal article citations, but the FDA staff is now working with us to extend the schema to meet our needs. We're using the Zotero data model as a guide.

Given that the metadata in this collection is the only structured dataset around for Roger's articles, I wanted to be able to get it all back out to use for other things. The FDA does provide web feeds, but (unlike Zotero) these aren't comprehensive for a given context and don't incorporate all the metadata fields. But we can use FDA's OAI-PMH interface to get the full metadata with a query like:

where "hdl_2451_28115" is the identifier for the "Roger Bagnall's Publications" container I linked to above. (Special thanks to Ekaterina Pechekhonova on the NYU Digital Library team, who helped me with syntax).

As a further experiment, I wrote an XSL transform to convert the OAI-PMH XML document into the RDF XML Zotero can import. There are a couple of inelegant hacks in the transform (mainly to get at substrings within single fields), but I'm still happy with the results. The import into Zotero went smoothly:

Next steps: move this to a shared Zotero library so Roger, a student assistant and members of our digital projects team can collaborate to enter the rest of the publications (books, book sections, etc.) and fix any errors in the article records. Then we'll look at the process for using that metadata (via another transform) to help us populate the FDA. We'll also start working on parsing and aggregating Zotero's feeds for use on our website (in Roger's online profile and aggregated with other affiliates' feeds to provide a "recent publications" section).

We're also experimenting with Zotero for the bibliography of our Pleiades project (a collaborative online gazetteer of the Greek and Roman world), and as a component in a potential replacement for the Checklist of Editions of Greek, Latin, Demotic and Coptic Papyri, Ostraca and Tablets. On a more personal level, I've taken to doing all my bookmarking with Zotero and have set up a folder in my library (with associated feed) so that colleagues can following what I'm citing on a daily basis.

Friday, October 23, 2009

La formation et la définition des frontières locales

By way of I learn about an interesting conference going on today in Poitiers:

Information signalée par Renaud Alexandre

La formation et la définition des frontières locales
(paroisses, communautés d'habitants)

Cycle de journées d'étude « Frontières et limites ». Session 3


9 h 30
Ouverture de la journée par Cécile Treffort, directrice adjointe du CESCM et par Stéphane Boissellier, professeur (Université de Poitiers, CESCM)

Paroisses, présidence Cécile Treffort, professeure (Université de Poitiers, CESCM)

9 h 50
Les actes de délimitations paroissiales dans les diocèses de Rennes, Dol et Saint-Malo, entre les XIe et XIIIe siècles
Anne Lunven, doctorante (Université de Rennes II)

10 h 20
Limites de paroisses et de villae dans le nord du Portugal
Christophe Tropeau, doctorant (Université de Poitiers)

10 h 50
La délimitation des paroisses de l'ancien diocèse de Liège ( XIIe -XVe siècles)
Julie Dury, doctorante (Université de Liège)

11 h 20 Discussion

12 h 00 Repas (buffet sur place)

Autres circonscriptions, présidence Luc Bourgeois, maître de conférences (Université de Poitiers, CESCM)

13 h 30
Les frontières des territoires locaux dans l'espace gaulois de Sidoine Apollinaire à Grégoire de Tours
Pierre-Eric Poble, post-doctorant (Université de Paris IV)

14 h 00
Villa, ban, court et mairie Formation et définition des frontières locales dans les seigneuries de l'abbaye de Stavelot-Malmedy (XIe - XVe s.)
Nicolas Schroeder, doctorant (Université libre Bruxelles)

14 h 30
Réflexions autour des limites des agglomérations à la fin du Moyen-Âge en Basse-Bretagne,
Régis Le Gall, doctorant (Université de Poitiers)

15 h 00
Délimiter l'espace maritime dans la Bretagne de la fin du XVe siècle, d'après les archives ducales
Frédérique Laget, doctorante (Université de Nantes)

15 h 30

16 h 20

Source : Centre d'Études Supérieures de Civilisation Médiévale

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Horse is Man's Wings: Archaeological Science and the Changing Nature of the Human-Horse Relationship in Central and East Asia

Dr. Mim Bower (Cambridge University) will give a free, public lecture at ISAW on 27 October 2009 at 6:00 p.m.

More information, including an abstract of the talk, is available on the ISAW events page.

The Historian in the Future of the Ancient World: A View from Central Eurasia

ISAW has announced the third annual Leon Levy Lecture, to be held on November 5, 2009 at 6 p.m in the Oak Library, 2nd floor of the ISAW building, located at 15 East 84th Street in New York. The speaker will be Professor Nicola Di Cosmo of the Institute for Advanced Study. The lecture is free and open to the public but seating is limited. Interested individuals are requested to RSVP by calling 212.992.7818, or emailing

More information (including abstract) is available on the ISAW events page. There is also an NYU press release with more details.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

David Klotz: The Temple of Osiris in Abydos during the Late Period

2009-2010 Visiting Research Scholar Lecture Series
The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU

The Temple of Osiris in Abydos during the Late Period
Presented by: David Klotz, Visiting Research Scholar

Although the city of Abydos was one of the most important religious centers of Egypt from the Predynastic  Period through the New Kingdom, little remains of its monuments from the Late Period (c. 1000-300 BC).  In the early twentieth century, W.F. Petrie discovered meager traces of an Osiris temple dating to the reign of Amasis (Twenty-Sixth Dynasty, c. 570-526 BC), and recent New York University excavations have uncovered another temple built by Nectanebo I and II (Thirtieth Dynasty, c. 378-341 BC). Nonetheless, the intervening period - the era of Persian domination - remains a mystery, and the earlier temple of Amasis seems to have completely vanished.

Two new sources provide valuable information on this obscure chapter in the history of Abydos.  The first  is a statue in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA 1996.91) belonging to a prominent Egyptian general from the Thirtieth Dynasty.  This object includes a difficult autobiographical inscription text in which the owner narrates how he defended Egypt from invading Persian armies and restored massive damage inflicted upon Abydos. At Sohag, meanwhile, the church of St. Shenoute at the White Monastery (c.450 AD) incorporates Pharaonic and Graeco-Roman spolia reused from earlier monuments.  The Yale White Monastery Church Documentation Project (2007-2009) recorded over twenty granite blocks from the reign of Amasis, and the decoration indicates they derive from the Osiris temple at Abydos.

The archaeological and epigraphic record suggests the Osiris temple was badly damaged - if not completely destroyed - during the period of Achaemenid rule in Egypt.  Similar accounts of Persian looting are attested at multiple Egyptian sites, but they are often dismissed as mere propaganda intended to legitimize the subsequent Ptolemaic dynasty.  The case of Abydos leads us to reevaluate our assumptions concerning the religious policies of the Great Kings of Persia.

Date: Tuesday, October 20th
Time: 6:00pm
Location: Lecture Hall
The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
15 East 84th St.
New York, NY  10028

*This event is free and open to the public

Friday, October 2, 2009

David Taylor: A Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire?

A Greek-speaking Eastern Roman Empire? The View from New York
presented by
David Taylor,
Visiting Research Scholar
2009-2010 Visiting Research Scholar Lecture Series
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

Tuesday, 6:00 pm
October 6th, 2009

Lecture Hall
ISAW Building
15 East 84th Street
New York, NY 10028

*This lecture is free and open to the public

The overwhelming majority of the surviving epigraphic texts of the Late Antique Roman provinces of Syria and Mesopotamia are written in Greek, and in a number of recent books and articles it has been argued that Greek was in fact the ordinary daily language of the local populations. By examining examples of the full available range of ancient linguistic evidence, and drawing on sociolinguistic theory about multilingualism and diglossia, this thesis will be challenged, and a more complex pattern of language usage will be sketched out. The consequences of this for issues of local identity and culture will then be explored.

David Taylor is the University Lecturer in Aramaic and Syriac at the University of Oxford, and during 2009-2010 he is a Visiting Research Scholar at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, NYU.

The next lecture of the series will be given by David Klotz on October 20th.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

ISAW Job: Systems Administrator / Web Master

We have an immediate opening for a full-time web master / systems administrator at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. Job description and application instructions:

Position Summary:
Design, develop, program and manage websites, databases, departmental servers and other computing and office automation systems for the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISAW).  Formulate policies, establish priorities, independently resolve routine and non-routine technical matters; provide technical analysis, user support and oversee repairs/upgrades for the full range of ISAW's computing and office automation needs; manage administrative and technical functions for the Institute; collaborate with central Information Technology Services and other university departments to ensure a complete, up-to-date and smoothly functioning IT infrastructure. Provide direct IT support for events and other special requirements.

Qualifications/Required Education        
Bachelor's degree in computer science, information science, computer engineering or a closely related field. 

Preferred Education    
Master's degree in computer science, information science, computer engineering or a closely related field. 

Required Experience    
Four years of relevant experience and/or combination of education. Must include administration of Macintosh servers, website creation and maintenance, and design, deployment and management of databases. 

Preferred Experience
Customization and administration of Plone-based web applications. 

Required Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities    
Macintosh and PC network and systems administration. XHTML+CSS, Filemaker Pro plus one or more of the following programming skills: Python, SQL, JavaScript/AJAX. Ability to communicate policies and procedures to a diverse population at all levels. Demonstrated knowledge and understanding of information technology applications in complex networked/on-line system environments. Ability to make decisions independently and without direct supervision. Ability to work cooperatively as a member of an interdisciplinary team, communicate effectively and persuasively to senior IT and administrative management, and represent the Institute in internal and external interactions. Excellent organizational, interpersonal and problem-solving skills. 

Preferred Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities    
Management of a major website re-engineering or information systems development project. Experience as a consultant working with clients to identify IT needs and developing a system responsive to those needs. 

Projected Position Start Date     10-15-2009  

Principal Duties:
1. Modify, maintain and update all ISAW websites and web applications including the Institute's legacy website, as well as existing "minisites" for excavations, exhibitions, conferences and other ISAW-related projects.  Train staff how to update sites and monitor results for quality and technical integrity. Plan for and implement upgrades and technology transitions to ensure all web assets remain functional and accessible, and reflect positively on the Institute's public image. Adapt existing or create new minisites for ISAW projects, excavations, exhibitions and conferences.

2. Collaborate with staff and leadership across the Institute to design, develop, program, deploy and administer a next-generation content management system, events management system and associated web application. Collaborate with Digital Projects staff in directing subcontractors working on programming and design tasks to support the effort, evaluate their work, communicate effectiveness to leadership and ensure on-time project completion. Manage the migration of content from the legacy website to the new system and the decommissioning of the legacy website. Assume primary responsibility for the systems administration, software upgrade and maintenance of the new site and associated systems.

3. Perform system and network administration duties for Macintosh server (file sharing and centralized backup services) and  Apple and PC laptop and desktop computers.  Ensure security, performance and optimal uptime of all systems. Ensure availability of network, internet access, printing and other services for guests as appropriate. Monitor and analyze system performance and resource usage to identify areas for improvement and potential economies.

4. Support the computing and office automation needs of staff, faculty, students, visiting scholars and other guests in accordance with Institute policy. Establish a help desk system and associated process for request submission and task management. Train personnel on its use and monitor it to provide quick and effective response to all tickets. Handle inquiries and requests in a congenial, professional and efficient manner. Assess nature and complexity of requests, responding to inquiries and resolving problems immediately whenever possible. Promptly report conflicts or other difficulties to the Administrative Director and Associate Director for Digital Programs. Provide "how-to" guides and other training and reference materials via internal web pages, emails and other means.

5. Ensure efficient and innovative flow and processing of information throughout the faculty and administrative staff and offices (to include non-local affiliates). Train staff in use of database and web applications for information management. Identify bottlenecks, research appropriate solutions and communicate recommendations to management. Design, develop, program, install and configure databases and web applications to support information management and processing.  Maintain and improve software and hardware for scanning and desktop publishing functions. Administer email lists.

6. Manage inventory, procurement and proper operation of computer and office automation hardware, software, licenses and associated supplies. Oversee supply closet, retain keys and authorize access to supply closet. Respond to requests about office equipment. Schedule both regular and emergency maintenance of shared equipment (fax, copy machines, printers, etc.) as appropriate.  Maintain inventory database in a complete and up-to-date fashion. Track expenditures and report to Administrative Director on budget concerns and major purchases.

7. Serve as liaison between ISAW and ITS, Telecomm, Asset Management and other University departments, as well as external service vendors to ensure that installations, upgrades, repairs and policy changes are implemented in a timely manner and perform as expected.

8. Ensure the smooth, professional and on-time execution of ISAW public and internal events (e.g., lectures) by conducting routine checks and preventative maintenance on all required audio-visual systems, laptops, projectors and the like; by ensuring all systems are set up in advance of each event; by liaising with presenters in advance to ensure their slides are properly prepared for presentation and loaded on appropriate machines; and by attending (or ensuring a subordinate attends) all appropriate events to assist in the event of difficulties. Smooth functioning of technology at these events, and ready access to technical assistance, is highly visible and has a significant impact on ISAW's reputation.

9. Supervise staff; identify and prioritize assignments to ensure deadlines are met and review work for accuracy.

Conference this weekend: The Sarcophagus East and West

October 2-3, 2009

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
15 E. 84th Street
New York, NY 10028
(212) 992-7800

RSVP: (please indicate day(s) attending)

This conference, organized by Wu Hung and Jas' Elsner, focuses mainly on decorated stone sarcophagi from around the second century BCE to the third century CE, when this type of burial equipment not only continued to develop in the parts of Europe dominated by the Roman Empire, but also enjoyed considerable popularity in East Asia. Whereas the chronological and formal developments of each regional tradition remain an important research goal, this conference encourages comparative observations and interpretations of ancient sarcophagi in broader geo-cultural spheres and more specific ritual/religious contexts. It is hoped that by addressing these two research objectives simultaneously, this conference will help open new ways to think about the development of art and visual culture in a broadly defined ancient world, where the art historical materials available are subject to comparable methodological constraints both from archaeological excavation and from known literary and historical contexts.

This event is free and open to the public, please RSVP.


Friday, October 2, 2009

9:00 Opening remarks: Roger Bagnall (Director of ISAW)

Panel 1   Chair: Roger Bagnall

9:20 Introductory Lecture 1
    Wu Hung (University of Chicago) - “Consistency and Variations in Han Sarcophagi”

10:00 Introductory Lecture 2:
    Jas Elsner (Oxford University) - “Rhetoric in Pagan and Christian Sarcophagi”

10:40   Coffee Served in Oak Library

Panel 2   Chair: Jonathan Hay (IFA, New York University)

11:10 Paul Zanker (Scuole Normale Superiore di Pisa) - “Understanding Images Without Texts”

11:50 Alain Thote (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes) - “The Chinese coffins from the first millennium BC and the early images of the after world”

12:30   Lunch Break

Panel 3   Chair: T. J. Clark (U.C. Berkeley)

2:15 Richard Neer (University of Chicago) - "The Polyxena Sarcophagus from Ilion"

3:00 Eugene Wang (Harvard University) - “The Jouissance of Death: Mapping the Bodily Cosmos on Chinese Sarcophagi”

3: 40 Tea Served in Oak Library

Panel 4   Chair: Wu Hung

4:10  Discussion: Barry Flood (IFA, New York University)

4:40  Discussion: Chris Hallett (U. C. Berkeley)

5:10  Open floor discussion

6:00   Reception


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Panel 5   Chair: Barry Flood

9:00 Verity Platt (University of Chicago) - "Horror Vacui: Framing the Dead on Roman Sarcophagi"

9:40 Zheng Yan (Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing) - “Sarcophagus Tombs in Eastern China and the Transformation of Han Funerary Art”

10:30   Coffee Served in Oak Library

Panel 6   Chair: Chris Hallett

11:00 Janet Huskinson (Open University, UK) – “Roman Strigillated Sarcophagi and 'How Societies Remember'”

11:40 Bjoern Ewald (University of Toronto) – “Sarcophagi in the Roman World: a Comparative Approach”

12:30   Lunch Break

Panel 7   Chair: Jas Elsner

2:15 Lillian Tseng (Yale University) - “Funerary Spatiality: Wang Hui’s Sarcophagus in Han China”

3:00  Edmund Thomas (Durham Center for Roman Culture) – “Inside and Outside: Roman Sarcophagi as Public and Private Monuments”

3:40   Tea Served in Oak Library

Panel 8   Chair: Jas Elsner

4:10  Discussion: Jonathan Hay

4:40 Discussion: T.J. Clark

5:10 Open floor discussion

Sunday, September 27, 2009

ISAW now accepting applications for visiting research scholars 2010-2011

Each year the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World makes about 9 appointments of visiting research scholars... Academic visitors at ISAW should be individuals of scholarly distinction or promise in any relevant field of ancient studies who will benefit from the stimulation of working in an environment with colleagues in other disciplines. Applicants with a history of interdisciplinary exchange are particularly welcome. They will be expected to be in residence at the Institute during the period for which they are appointed and to take part in the intellectual life of the community.
ISAW is now accepting applications for 2010-2011. The deadline for submissions is December 14, 2009. 

Full details and application instructions are on the ISAW website.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

grad student conference: Database, Archive, and Knowledge Work in the Humanities

By way of a tweet from Brett Bobley, I learned about this call for papers:

***Deadline Extended to September 30th***

The Past’s Digital Presence:
Database, Archive, and Knowledge Work in the Humanities

A Graduate Student Symposium at Yale University
February 19th and 20th, 2010
How is digital technology changing methods of scholarly research with pre-digital sources in the humanities? If the “medium is the message,” then how does the message change when primary sources are translated into digital media? What kinds of new research opportunities do databases unlock and what do they make obsolete? What is the future of the rare book and manuscript library and its use? What biases are inherent in the widespread use of digitized material? How can we correct for them? Amidst numerous benefits in accessibility, cost, and convenience, what concerns have been overlooked? We invite graduate students to submit paper proposals for an interdisciplinary symposium that will address how databases and other digital technologies are making an impact on our research in the humanities. The graduate student panels will be moderated by a Yale faculty member or library curator with a panel respondent. The two-day conference
will take place February 19th and 20th, 2010, at Yale University.
Keynote Speaker: Peter Stallybrass, Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania
Colloquium Guest Speaker: Jacqueline Goldsby, Associate Professor, University of Chicago
Potential paper topics include:
  • The Future of the History of the Book
  • Public Humanities
  • Determining Irrelevance in the Archive
  • Defining the Key-Word
  • The Material Object in Archival Research
  • Local Knowledge, Global Access
  • Digital Afterlives
  • Foucault, Derrida, and the Archive
  • Database Access Across the Profession
  • Mapping and Map-Based Platforms
  • Interactive Research
Please email a one-page proposal along with a C.V. to Deadline for submissions is September 30th, 2009. Accepted panelists will be notified by early October. We ask that all graduate-student panelists pre-circulate their paper among their panels by January 20th, 2010.
Please contact Molly Farrell, Heather Klemann, and Taylor Spence at with any additional inquiries.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

ISAW Exhibition: Lost World of Old Europe (opens 11 November)

ISAW has announced its next exhibition (and associated public programming schedule).

The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC
November 11, 2009 -April 25, 2010
The Lost World of Old Europe brings to the United States for the first time more than 160 objects recovered by archaeologists from the graves, towns, and villages of Old Europe, a cycle of related cultures that achieved a precocious peak of sophistication and creativity in what is now southeastern Europe between 5000 and 4000 BC, and then mysteriously collapsed by 3500 BC. Long before Egypt or Mesopotamia rose to an equivalent level of achievement, Old Europe was among the most sophisticated places that humans inhabited. Some of its towns grew to city-like sizes. Potters developed striking designs, and the ubiquitous goddess figurines found in houses and shrines have triggered intense debates about women’s roles in Old European society. Old European copper-smiths were, in their day, the most advanced metal artisans in the world. Their intense interest in acquiring copper, gold, Aegean shells, and other rare valuables created networks of negotiation that reached surprisingly far, permitting some of their chiefs to be buried with pounds of gold and copper in funerals without parallel in the Near East or Egypt at the time. The exhibition, arranged through loan agreements with 20 museums in three countries (Romania, The Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova), brings the exuberant art, enigmatic ‘goddess’ cults, and precocious metal ornaments and weapons of Old Europe to American audiences.

Get complete information and schedule at Other ISAW-sponsored events at

Gregory Mumford on Old Kingdom Collapse in Huntsville

The North Alabama Society of the Archaeological Institute of American kicks off its 2009-2010 lecture season tomorrow as follows:

We begin our new archaeology lecture series with a fascinating discussion of the collapse of the Old Kingdom in Egypt for which evidence from Egyptian fortifications in the Sinai is particularly revealing. Dr. Gregory Mumford will share his extensive knowledge of the Old Kingdom and how he employs both satellite data and traditional excavation in his
analyses of its collapse.

Wednesday, September 9
Dr. Gregory Mumford
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Enemy at the Gates: The Collapse of the Old Kingdom in the Sinai
7:30 PM
Chan Auditorium, Business Administration Building, UAH

Please also mark your calendars for talks on representations of children during the wars between ancient Athens and Sparta on October 14 and on Gothic cathedrals on November 11.

To get more information about upcoming events  as well as keep up with current news in archaeology, please see our website:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NEH Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship

From Bethany Nowviskie:

The Scholars' Lab at the University of Virginia Library is now accepting applications for an NEH-funded "Institute for Enabling Geospatial Scholarship," to be held in Charlottesville, Virginia in November 2009 and May 2010.

This program will bring together humanities scholars, software developers, and librarians and other cultural heritage professionals to discuss and develop geospatial tools, content, methods, policies, and infrastructure, in the context of open source and open access. Thirty-one leading academics, developers, and higher-ed administrators serve on the faculty and advisory board of the Institute.

The National Endowment for the Humanities will support travel, working meals, and lodging for 40 attendees as well as Institute faculty members. Special funding is available for graduate students. The University of Virginia Library will also fund up to 5 short-term scholar- and developer-in-residencies at the Scholars' Lab to complement the Institute's focus on humanities GIS.

Three four-day Institute tracks are planned:

15-18 November 2009:
Track 1: Stewardship (for library, museum, GIS and digital humanities center professionals)
Track 2: Software (for Web developers, designers, systems administrators, and information scientists)

25-28 May 2010:
Track 3: Scholarship (for humanities scholars, advanced graduate students, and post-docs)

Application DEADLINES are September 1st (for Tracks 1 and 2) and December 1st (for Track 3). Special consideration will be given to those who apply as part of an institutional team, as the curriculum is designed to foster robust technical and social infrastructure, at a local level, for geospatial scholarship in the digital humanities.

Apply to attend at the URL above, and please help distribute this message widely!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Determining BAtlas IDs for future Pleiades interoperation

For those who are working with datasets they'd like eventually to link up with Pleiades, we created the Barrington Atlas ID scheme. I've just posted some more tools for helping you determine the BAtlas IDs to go with your existing geographic names or other information.

There's now a draft "Barrington Atlas Index with Identifiers". In PDF (watch out: 7.2 MB) it looks like:

It's also available in a 1.0 MB zip-compressed HTML version, with somewhat semantic class attributes on spans that could be used to parse out different themes ahead of an attempt to match it to a names list:

And of course there is already the home-brewed XML format we distributed the original IDs in (last release tar-gzipped archive):

Share and enjoy!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Bagnall on Amheida Excavations (NYC, 17 June 2009)

The American Research Center in Egypt Presents:
Roger Bagnall
NYU Excavations at Amheida
Date: Wednesday, June 17th
Time: 6:00 pm
Location: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 15 E 84th St., New York, NY 10028, Second Floor Lecture Room

Amheida is a vast archaeological site on the western edge of Dakhla Oasis in Egypt. A team of researchers led by Dr. Roger Bagnall, Director of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU, began the Amheida Project in 2001 with an intensive investigation and survey of the site.

One of the most spectacular discoveries, near the center of the town in Area 2, is the house of Serenus, who was part of the city council in the middle of the 4th century. The structure contains fifteen rooms, one of which was painted with classical wall scenes. On the northern wall, to the left of the doorway, a mythological scene depicts the legend of Perseus rescuing the beautiful Andromeda who is about to be devoured by a sea-monster, while to the right of the door is the Homeric scene of the Return of Odysseus to Ithaca, from his long voyage which brought him to Egyptian shores.

The site at Amheida will be part of a long-term scheme for the Dakhla Oasis Project. Please join us for a presentation and discussion on Amheida and its archaeological significance.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please be sure to RSVP to For more information on the lecture and other ISAW events, please visit: You may also contact the ISAW events office directly at 212.992.7818. For press inquiries, please contact Suzan Toma at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Determinationes, past and present

Determinatio is a Latin term (Greek: ἀφορισμός or ὁροθέσια) for the written, serial description of boundaries, produced as necessary by Roman surveyors and routinely included in the verdicts of Roman (pro-)magistrates and iudices when settling boundary disputes.

Here's an example, dating to the early second century CE:

Serving as proconsul of either Achaia or Macedonia, Q. Gellius Augurinus delivered the following verdict in a boundary dispute between the Thessalian communities of Lamia and Hypata (mod. Ypati). His ruling was subsequently inscribed, and was first recorded by modern scholars in 1855 in the Greek village of Myxiates, where the stone had been reused in building a house.

CIL 3.12306; ILS 5947a; IG IX/2 p. 19 (before no. 60); CIL 3.586; Henzen 1856; Smallwood 1966 447. See also: Stählin 1924, 220-222; RE s.v. Hypata.

Q(uinto) Gellio Sentio Augurino proco(n)s(ule) decreta / ex tabellis recitata kalendis Martis. Cum optimus maximusque princeps / Traianus Hadrianus Aug(ustus) scripserit mihi uti adhibitis menso/ribus de controversiis finium inter Lamienses et Hypataeos cognita causa / terminarem egoque in rem praesentem saepius et continuis diebus /5 fuerim cognoverimque praesentibus utriusque civitatis defensoribus, / adhibito a me Iulio Victore evocato Augusti mensore, placet initium / finium esse ab eo loco in quo Siden fuisse comperi, quae est infra con/saeptum consecratum Neptuno, indeque descendentibus rigorem ser/vari usque ad fontem Dercynnam, qui est trans flumen Sperchion, it[a ut per] /10 amphispora Lamiensium et Hypataeorum rigor at fontem Dercynn[am supra] / scriptum ducat et inde ad tumulum Pelion per decursum Sir [---] / at monimentum Euryti quod est intra finem Lam[iensium --- ] / [---] Erycaniorum et Proherniorum [---] / [---] thraxum et Sido [---] /15 [---] const [ ------

Translation (mine):

Verdicts recited from the tablets when Quintus Gellius Sentius Augurinus was proconsul, on the kalends of March. Since the best and greatest princeps, Trajan Hadrian Augustus, wrote to me that, once surveyors had been consulted concerning the boundary disputes between the Lamienses and the Hypataeoi, and the case had been investigated, I should make a boundary demarcation; and, since, in the case at hand, I was present often and for successive days, and I investigated with the defenders of both cities being present and with Iulius Victor, evocatus of the emperor, a surveyor, being consulted by me, let it be that the start of the boundary be from that place in which I have learned Side was, which is below the enclosed area consecrated to Neptune; and thence in descending to preserve a straight line all the way to the spring (called) Dercynna, which is across the river Sperchion, so that a straight line leads through the amphispora of the Lamienses and the Hypataeoi to the above-mentioned spring Dercynna; and thence to the tumulus (called) Pelion along the slope (called) Sir... to the monument of Eurytos which is within the boundaries of the Lamienses ...
This same genre is still in use in legal property descriptions in the United States today. I stumbled across another example this morning in the revised Huntsville downtown planning and zoning document, now awaiting approval by the city council (ARTICLE 23 GENERAL BUSINESS C-3 DISTRICT REGULATIONS, pp. 9ff):

Within Historic District Buffer Zone B, the maximum number of stories shall be four (4) stories with a maximum height of sixty (60) feet.

Historic District Buffer Zone B is defined as the property that lies within the following boundaries: Begin at the the intersection of the centerlines of Clinton Avenue and Monroe Street/Lincoln Street; then in a southerly direction along the centerline of Monroe Street/Lincoln Street to the intersection of the centerlines of Lincoln Street and Randolph Avenue; then West along the centerline of Randolph Avenue to the intersection of the centerlines of Randolph Avenue and Green Street; then South along the centerline of Green Street to the intersection of the centerlines of Green Street and Eustis Avenue; then West along the centerline of Eustis Avenue to the intersection of the centerlines of Eustis Avenue and Franklin Street; then South along Franklin Street to the intersection of the centerlines of Franklin ... [ it goes on and on, of course! ]

Truly, a morning of geekish glee for me ...

Thanks to James at the Huntsville Development Blog for posting the link.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Unraveling the Mysteries of Ancient Angkor's Water Management System

Tuesday, April 28, 6 pm
2nd floor lecture room
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
15 East 84th St.
New York, NY 10028

Dr. Dougald J.W. O'Reilly
Department of Anthropology, Yale University

A presentation on research undertaken by the Greater Angkor Project exploring the development and decline of this ancient civilizations water management network. Since 2001 the University of Sydney (Australia) researchers and their partners have been working to unravel the mysteries of the Angkorian network - an achievement that is often overshadowed by the scores of massive temples that dot the landscape. Dr O'Reilly, a member of the research team, will present the work done to date and present future research at Angkor.

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please be sure to RSVP to For more information on other ISAW events, please visit: You may also contact the ISAW events office directly at 212.992.7818.

Another Persian Crisis: the Persepolis Fortification Archive in Chicago

A public lecture

Friday, April 24, 12 noon
2nd floor lecture room
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
15 East 84th St.
New York, NY 10028

Matthew W. Stolper
Professor of Assyriology, John A. Wilson Professor of Oriental Studies in the Oriental Institute, The University of Chicago

Matthew W. Stolper is the Director of the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project. In 1933, Oriental Institute archaeologists working at Persepolis, clearing the ruined palaces of Kings Darius, Xerxes, and their Achaemenid Persian successors, found tens of thousands of clay tablets in a bastion in the fortification wall at the edge of the great stone terrace. These documents were pieces of a single, complex system, the Persepolis Fortification Archive, that proved-after decades of painstaking work-to be the largest and most important single source of information from within the Persian Empire on Achaemenid Persian languages, history, society, religion and art. Now, the Archive faces a legal battle that could well lead to its dismemberment and loss if it is seized and sold, and disappears into the holdings of private collectors around the world. Fueled by this crisis the Persepolis Fortification Archive Project is a new phase in recording and distributing the results of the study of the archive, responding to emergency conditions with electronic equipment and media alongside the conventional tool-kits of philology and scholarship.

A summary of the project is available on the website of the Oriental Institute (

Background and news of the project and the controversy are available at the Persepolis Fortification Archive Weblog (

This lecture is free and open to the public, but please be sure to RSVP. For more information on other ISAW events, please visit: You may also contact the ISAW events office directly at 212.992.7818.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Publishing Archaeological Data on the Web (New York, 14 April)

Two Public Lectures on Publishing Archaeological Data on the Web

Sebastian Heath, Ph.D. (American Numismatic Society)
Eric Kansa, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley)

Date: 14 April 2009
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, 15 E 84th St., New York, NY  10028, U.S.A. (lecture room)

Heath: Digital Publication and Linked Data at Troy

The Post-Bronze Age Excavations at Troy in Turkey, known as Ilion in the Greek and Roman periods, have begun a program of publishing ceramic vessels and coins from the site in digital format. Our goal is to provide the information in formats that are useful to archaeologists in the field and to students or anybody else interested in this material. Accordingly, all the files that make up these publications are available for download under Creative Commons licenses. Anybody can take this information and redistribute it for free. We are also working to express the inherent links within archaeological information. A user reading about pottery from North Africa found at Troy can easily link to secondary literature and internet resources that will increase their understanding of this material. We likewise hope to make such links discoverable by search engines as well as by researchers working on the digital processing of humanities resources.

Kansa: Open Context: Digital Dissemination of Field Research and Museum Collections

Publishing archaeological field data and primary documentation has received increasing attention and concern. Archaeological sites are threatened and archaeological methods themselves are often destructive. Often, excavation and survey records represent the only aspect of the archaeological record that can be preserved. This is especially worrisome, since so much of this documentation is in vulnerable, volatile digital formats. In addition to cultural heritage preservation issues, archaeologists often want to use pooled primary field documentation as a resource for investigation. Research may be enhanced by simplifying and speeding access to such documentation, or even by comparing across the results of multiple studies.

In an attempt to respond to these needs, several initiatives are exploring several approaches toward digital dissemination. Open Context ( is an open source system that provides a cost-effective dissemination solution for field research and museum collections. The system offers integrated access and services across datasets pooled from multiple research projects and collections. A long-term development goal is to help link field research and museum collections with active discussions and creative reuses, making these collections a much richer and integral part of continued cultural and scholarly production. Citation features and editorial control encourage researchers to consider publication in Open Context as a valid form of scholarly communication. At the same time, Creative Commons licenses give explicit permissions for users to freely and legally use the material so long as they properly attribute the original creator and abide by a few other optional terms.

A major challenge with Open Context’s approach lies in data integration and mapping different source data sets to Open Context’s common global structure. Open Context aims to provide Web-based tool for researchers and collections managers to upload, "markup" and publish diverse archaeological and museum collection datasets. It remains to be seen if this tool can be easy enough to use by individual contributors, or if trained staff will always be required to aid such markup.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

John Hessler on Physical and Epigraphical Remains of Roman Centuriation and Surveying in Tunisia (25 February 2009)

By way of Lawrence Summers' post to the MapHist list, I just learned of the following public lecture, to be given by John Hessler at the Library of Congress on the 25th of February, 2009:
John W. Hessler, a senior reference librarian in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, will present "In the Footsteps of Caesar: Searching for the Physical and Epigraphical Remains of Roman Centuriation and Surveying in Tunisia" at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 25. The lecture will be held in the Geography and Map Reading Room, in the basement level of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Geography and Map Division, the event is free and open to the public; tickets and reservations are not required. The lecture is part of the division's "Map Talk" series.

In his lecture, Hessler will provide a brief description of the cartography and surveying techniques employed by the Romans in North Africa; a description of a sixth-century manuscript known as "Corpus Agrimensorum," which spells out how the Romans surveyed their territories; and a travel log describing his search for the physical remains of Roman surveying practices in Tunisia and Southern France.

Friday, January 30, 2009

There is more than one "TimeMap" in the geohistorical software space

Guest blogging at the Google Geo Developer's Blog, UC Berkeley's Nick Rabinowitz details his TimeMap Javascript library that:
helps the Google Maps API play nicely with the SIMILE Timeline API to create maps and timelines that work together
This is not to be confused with the older TimeMap family of software components (some now open-sourced), originally built by the Archaeological Computing Laboratory at the University of Sydney under the direction of Ian Johnson.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

DM The Book Ex

Paul Jones posted at Facebook a link to this notice from Bull City Rising: "The Book Exchange to shutter in February after 75 years."

The Book Ex (in Durham, North Carolina) wasn't just for Law School students. I was a clueless freshman in the fall of 1985, sent there by Bill Willis (cf. APA Newsletter, 23.4, August 2000, p. 11 sub "Obituaries" [pdf]) to collect a copy of the then already out-of-print Allen's First Year of Greek.

Cluelessness on my part of course is proved by the fact I'd elected to take Greek. As a freshman. At 9:00 a.m. With no prior Latin. From a papyrologist. Some will of course already have guessed that that experience, harrowing as it was, is no small part of why I do what I do professionally today.

So long, Book Ex. And thanks.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Concordia Graph

In yesterday's post, I should also have linked directly to the working copy of the Concordia Graph ... persons, places, names, objects and some basic, history-oriented relationships between them ... a subset of what hopefully GAWD will eventually address (as non-idiosyncratically as possible).

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Semantic Web, Scholarly Resources for Antiquity and the Museum

Our on-going work on geographically functional, cross-resource, machine-actionable citation(!) with the Web continues to get more interesting.

The kickoff was, of course, the joint NEH/JISC grant that is (under the rubric of the Concordia project) funding our look at this in collaboration with the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College, London. Our two workshops (and lots of discussion with other parties in between) have led us through KML, Atom+GeoRSS, citation vocabularies and OAI/ORE on to Cool URIs, Linked Data, CIDOC CRM and more.

Traffic is now building on the Graph of Ancient World Data discussion group (e.g., Sebastian Heath's post on coin hoard data at Yesterday, Sean Gillies rolled out some changes to the Pleiades interface that provide #this endpoints for Pleiades places, so that Sebastian and others can make explicit reference either to the historical places themselves (non-information resources cited like or our descriptions of them on the web (information resources, cited like

And then this afternoon I came across the latest Talis Semantic Web podcast, featuring Koven Smith on Semantic Web initiatives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 38 minutes well-spent. They're thinking about and exploring a number of the approaches and technologies we're interested in, but from a museum perspective. It would be interesting to discuss how these methods could be used to better bridge gaps between museums, field archaeologists, epigraphers, numismatists, papyrologists, prosopographers, historical geographers, librarians, archivists and the rest!

Monday, January 26, 2009

From "Web Watch" to "Planet Atlantides"

In rummaging around the web for a prior citation, I stumbled across Michael Shank's kind comment about a now-defunct, labor-intensive service I cobbled together in 2004 for the Ancient World Mapping Center: Web Watch. It was an attempt to "provide links to interesting articles and discussions elsewhere on the web" that related to ancient geography.

I realize now that, in setting up the Planet Atlantides feed aggregators, I've exploited the now more-mature ancient blogosphere (and webfeed way of doing things and other people's software) to gin up a true replacement.

I just hadn't realized I should probably say so, until now.

Spatial Technologies and Methods (Charlottesville, 28-30 June 2009)

I learned, by way of Bethany Nowviske, that the topic of the next Mellon-funded Scholarly Communication Institute at the University of Virginia has just been announced:

The upcoming session, SCI 7, will be held in Charlottesville, Virginia, June 28-30. It will focus on spatial technologies and methodologies—the specific modes of working they favor, the scholarly practices they enhance, and the infrastructure they demand to achieve scale and significance. Technologies that analyze and represent space and spatial relations—notably geospatial and mapping technologies—have gained widespread use both through sophisticated Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) software (commercial, like ESRI Arc Globe, and open source, like GeoServer/GeoNetwork) and through vernacular applications such as 2-dimensional mapping (Yahoo Maps), 3-dimensional globes (Google Earth), and virtual worlds (Second Life). We will also consider visualizations such as virtual modeling and concept mapping, as appropriate. SCI 7 will bring together accomplished scholars from the humanities and social sciences, as well as leaders in information technology and data stewardship, to explore the range of these technologies and their promise to advance humanities scholarship.

SCI is designed to frame a set of meaningful questions that lead to a plan for further action. Participants will convene for two full days in plenary and small group discussions, with ample occasion for informal discussions and to include time in the University of Virginia Library’s Scholars’ Lab to explore key methodical questions in the context of ongoing research projects. The meeting will result in an action agenda, and SCI leadership will follow up over the following 12 months to advance activities identified by the participants.

Participants will include scholars who are working in imaginative and innovative ways with geospatial, mapping, and visualization technologies, including leading figures from historically-grounded disciplines such as geography, archaeology, and history that engage methodological questions posed by spatial relationships in their work. We will also involve leaders from research centers that could support possible follow-up activities. Individuals with expertise in libraries, advanced technologies, and publishing will join us to help us think through the implications of scholarly practices we discuss for the full cycle of scholarly communication, from
research and discovery to analysis, presentation, dissemination, and persistent access.

In the months preceding the Institute, SCI will consult with leaders in a variety of disciplines to identify the key challenges and opportunities to use of spatial technologies in the humanities, with special attention to the critical methodical questions that these new ways of representing spatial and temporal relations pose to researchers. What are the implications for such scholarly practices as comparison and contextualization, temporal analysis and causality, study of global phenomena, and the possibility of new fields emerging from these?
Participation seems to be by invitation only; participants have not yet been publicly announced on the SCI website.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Smithsonian 2.0

Smithsonian 2.0, a "gathering to re-imagine the Smithsonian in the digital age," is going on right now in Washington. You can follow the procedings via:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Coffee in Huntsville: Sam and Greg's

I finally made good on my long-standing intention to drop in at Sam and Greg's Pizzeria/Gelateria on the north side of the square in downtown Huntsville today (map). The veggie pizza for lunch was great and so was a properly made cappuccino (using beans locally roasted around the corner at the Kaffeeklatsch, a Huntsville standby since 1977; map).

Both staff and fellow customers at Sam and Greg's were friendly, and the place is very comfortable. I anticipate spending alot more time there.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

When a free-on-HBO inaugural concert isn't (and then is)

Update 2:

I came home from the gym at 4:00 this afternoon and noticed the message indicator on my DVR was lit. The message: a notice that the inaugural concert would be live broadcast free on the local access channel 13 (so I missed it) and rebroadcast on the same channel at 6 this evening.


So I called my cable provider (Mediacom) this morning -- the monopoly cable TV provider in much of Madison County Alabama outside the Huntsville city limits -- to ask if they would be allowing their customers access to the "free" HBO coverage of tomorrow's inaugural concert.

After 10 minutes on hold, the representative returned to apologetically inform me that only current HBO subscribers would be able to see the concert. In other words: no soup for you.

Both DirectTV and Dish (the two satellite providers that compete with Mediacom here) are trumpeting on their websites the fact that they are providing free HBO for the event (and more). If I want to make Mediacom pay, I'll have to switch to satellite and get AT&T to install DSL at my house (and then live with the thinner data pipe). Right now I'm tempted, despite the costs, hassles and lower-value internet connection. Not that it would get me access to the concert in time.

Aside: Yes, I know I can watch it streaming from I applaud HBO for providing that workaround for dealing with their less civic-minded local outlets. Of course, we might blame the inaugural committee for making this an exclusive deal with HBO (but then somebody's got to pay for all this celebratory activity).

But to return to my main line of rant: what's Mediacom's excuse? Lameness? A callous decision to try to make money by requiring an upgrade to subscription to get HBO access for the event?

I call it FAIL.


According to media reports, Mediacom will air the special free for folks in Des Moines Iowa and Valdosta, Georgia. What makes them more special than Madison County Alabama?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Digital Projects (ISAW Newsletter January 2008)

Since the ISAW Newsletter is only available online as a monolithic PDF, I thought I'd make the text of my contribution (about our "digital programs") available here in HTML form:
ISAW’s digital programs are fundamental to the Institute’s mission. Convinced that the transformation of the media and information landscape now underway offers scholars unparalleled opportunities to make new discoveries, collaborate with distant colleagues, engage public interests, and tackle previously intractable problems, we have committed ourselves to an ambitious slate of digital initiatives that extend far beyond the walls of the Institute. As the examples below illustrate, we emphasize the creation and delivery of core resources such as primary and secondary texts and images, as well as geographic and archaeological reference information. We seek to serve the entire field of ancient studies by working for the durability of digital publications–and the sustainability of the projects that create and maintain them–through promotion of standards, creation of reusable free software, use of open-access licenses, and decentralization of authorial, editorial, and peer-review activities.

In early 2008, ISAW became a partner in the Pleiades Project. Together with the Ancient World Mapping Center (AWMC), we are digitizing the most comprehensive register of geographical data for the ancient Greek and Roman world, collected by the American Philological Association’s Classical Atlas Project to support the preparation of the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World (R. Talbert, ed., Princeton 2000). All of the coordinates, historical names, and other information in this rich collection are being placed online so scholars, students, and enthusiasts worldwide can browse, search, and map it, as well as offer suggestions for updates and additions. The Pleiades effort has recently expanded with funding from a Transatlantic Digitization Grant, awarded to ISAW and King’s College London, by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the U.K. Joint Information Systems Committee. It supports the prototyping of mechanisms to tie Pleiades into important digital collections of epigraphic and papyrological texts from Egypt and coastal North Africa (see further: the Concordia Project and the Graph of Ancient World Data group). This effort will lay the foundation for extensive, automated cross-linking between Pleiades and other web-based scholarly resources for the entire Greek and Roman world. We are currently seeking funding for a second, two-year development period for Pleiades/Concordia that will accelerate the digitization of content and bring users together for a series of workshops to identify needed improvements to the system and to facilitate more effective collaboration.

Over the past year ISAW has also assumed a leadership role in a group of interrelated digital papyrology projects (see One of these, funded by a grant to Duke University from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has successfully upgraded and effectively integrated two of the key digital resources for study of ancient documents on papyrus: the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri (DDbDP) and the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens (HGV). Both resources will soon be provided to users via a search and display environment prototyped by the digital libraries team at Columbia University. This system, dubbed the Papyrological Navigator, combines DDbDP and HGV content with images and database records drawn from the 22 museum and university papyrus collections that constitute the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS). It also links them to the extensive Trismegistos databases in Leuven. Under new funding provided to APIS by the NEH, work on this interface will move to the Digital Libraries team at NYU where, with collaboration from ISAW and APIS team members at Columbia, it will see extensive improvements. ISAW is currently working with partners to secure funding for a second major upgrade to the DDbDP and HGV: a collaborative, online editing environment that will speed the addition and revision of content by granting papyrologists worldwide direct authorial capabilities under a distributed system of editorial oversight.

A number of other exciting projects are in work for 2009 and beyond. We hope to expand the utility of Pleiades by linking it to a number of other systems and digital gazetteers under development at a variety of institutions around the world. Plans are being formulated for a collaborative digital encyclopedia of Coptic archaeology, an extensive database of digital images, an online calendar of museum exhibitions, a major book and journal digitization program, and a multi-institutional publication series comprising open-access primary texts and research data.

ISAW Newsletter (January 2008)

The January 2008 ISAW Newsletter has just been posted to the web (it's a 4.1MB PDF file incorporating the page formatting of the original print version).

Given that it's a monolithic PDF, I thought I'd provide a listing of contents here:

From the Director (Roger Bagnall)
  • Introduction
  • Faculty
  • Physical Facilities
  • Graduate Program
  • Events
  • Excavation
Academic Programs: Visiting Research Scholars, 2007-2008 (Anna Boozer)
  • Anne Porter
  • Giovanni Ruffini
  • Kevin van Bladel
Exhibitions and Public Programs (Jennifer Y. Chi)

Library (Charles E. Jones)

Digital Programs (Tom Elliott)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Hotel Pools Suitable for Lap Swim: Marriott Downtown Philadelphia

Most hotel swimming pools are too short for any sort of serious lap swimming. The pool at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown is an exception.

This past week I found the indoor 7th floor pool to be adequate and well maintained. Basically a lap pool (2 lanes wide) roughly 25 yards in length (North American winter short course), with a square lounge/play area off to one side. No lane ropes. Bottom lane marks, but none at ends. Ranging 3.5 - 4.5 feet deep. A newish looking vinyl liner. The water was clear, and tasted vaguely of salt (I guess they're using the new-fangled chemicals -- Ph was good). Open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. I think. Changing rooms with showers adjacent, as well as a larger-than-average workout room with treadmills and so forth. Access with room cardkey.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Truncated Knowledge

The following subscriber is currently being monitored:

Err First Last Address
--- ----- ----- -------
1 01/12 01/12 [...]@CLASSICS.OXFORD.AC.UK
Last error: 5.0.0 X-Postfix; host oxmail.ox.AC.UK[] said: 550-RPT-OBS: Recipient domain obsolete
Your mail to [...] 550-could not be delivered because the mail domain name "" is now obsolete. If this person is still at Oxford, their ad... (300 bytes suppressed)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Follow-up: Digital Epigraphy at APA/AIA

Just a quick note -- for the moment -- to follow up on Saturday morning's panel. What a blast! Thanks to everyone who attended and to our presenters. And thanks to Paul Iversen for doing all the grunt work of setting up the session, issuing the call, and marshaling the administrative details. Thanks also to ASGLE for sponsoring our session.

Unfortunately, two of our scheduled presenters weren't able to deliver their papers, but Marion and then Gabby and Ryan produced well-honed, timely and interesting presentations on topic maps for representing historical analysis involving inscriptions and preliminary work in 3D laser scanning of curse tablets (respectively). I hope we'll have their slides to post soon.

Then Paul and I invited our audience to come back after the scheduled break for an open-ended discussion on epigraphy and digital methodologies. We were surprised and delighted to have over 25 people return! A challenging and interesting range of questions, ideas and project reports ensued. I intend to blog about these soon -- especially the things we identified as needing further attention and follow-up -- over at Current Epigraphy.

Center of Digital Epigraphy (CoDE) website

So, I must have fallen asleep sometime between when CoDE (located at Brown University) was first announced and now, thus missing the launch of the CoDE website. Sorry!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stearn's Coffee Defunct

So Stearns Coffee, which I had staked out as a personal replacement for the recently shuttered Aromas but hadn't had a chance to visit prior to the December 1st fire, is now closed for good. The owners just sent the following note to their Facebook followers:
So as many of you have probably guessed or assumed by now, Stearns Coffee will be unable to re-open. After carefully considering all of our options, we’ve found that we just can’t rebound financially from this. With that said, we are truly lucky to have so many customers and friends who have offered their love and support. We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve these people; you are what made our shop such a wonderful place to be. We will miss seeing your faces and allowing us to be a part of your lives.

Daniel & Marisa


So, in the monthly email newsletter on healthy living that I receive gratis from my beneficent employer, I read:

Find Yourself in the Stressed Lane?

When you find you need to take a moment to relax and slow down, contact The Relaxation Phone Line at [...]. This line is a recorded relaxation message that provides you with an opportunity to unwind and renew for a few minutes during your day. The Relaxation Phone Line is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Is there also a Relaxation Blog (with a relax-o-feed)? Or maybe an @relaxifier I can follow on Twitter?

Clearly I need more coffee ...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Paul Zimansky on Mashkan-shapir in Huntsville, 20 January 2009

On Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 7:30 p.m. the North Alabama Society of the Archaeological Institute of America will host a lecture by Prof. Paul Zimanksy (Dept. of History, State University of New York, Stony Brook) entitled "City of the Grim Reaper: Rediscovery and Demise at Mashkan-shapir, Iraq."

The lecture will be held in the Chan Auditorium on the campus of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (map, courtesy UAHuntsville Theatre).

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Study and Publication of Inscriptions in the Age of the Computer

Update (7 January 2009): added links to abstracts

This Saturday, 10 January 2009, Paul Iversen and I will be co-chairing the following panel at the Joint Annual Meetings of the American Philological Association and the Archaeological Institute of America. The panel, on the topic of digital study and publication of inscriptions, is sponsored by American Society of Greek and Latin Epigraphy. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, January 10, 8:30-11:00 a.m. in Independence I of the Marriott Hotel, Philadelphia:
  1. Publishing Image and Text in Digital Epigraphy
    Neel Smith (College of the Holy Cross)
    [ abstract not available ]
  2. Topic Maps and the Semantics of Inscriptions
    Marion Lamé (Alma Mater Studiorum, Università di Bologna, Italy and Université de Provence, Aix-Marseille 1, France)
    [ abstract in pdf (courtesy APA) ]
  3. An Efficient Method for Digitizing Squeezes & Performing Automated Epigraphic Analysis
    Eleni Bozia, Angelos Barmpoutis and Robert S. Wagman (University of Florida)
    [ abstract in msword (courtesy APA) ]
  4. Opportunities for Epigraphy in the Context of 3-D Digitization
    Gabriel Bodard (King’s College London) and Ryan Baumann (Univ. of Kentucky)
    [ abstract in pdf (courtesy APA) ]