Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Flavia Faustina, version 3: chi-rho, dolium, multiple editors, rationale

Ryan Baumann and Georgia Tsouvala have joined the mob!

Ryan forked my Mob Epigraphy repository on github and added markup to the EpiDoc XML file to represent the Chi-Rho and dolium(?) that appear below the inscribed text. Then he sent me a pull request. I merged his changes and pushed them back to github, and then I pushed a few more modifications to show his contribution in the EpiDoc/TEI header and to modify the stylesheets to handle whitespace and multiple editors better (and to write out an HTML doctype). Here's the result:
Ryan's change -- which parallels the treatment in ICVR II as reported via EDB -- raises some questions in my mind:
  1. Is the second illustration really a dolium? It doesn't look that much like what's illustrated at Why would a dolium appear on a Christian sepulchral inscription? Maybe someone like Sebastian Heath or Charlotte Tupman will have an idea about that.
  2. Are those two items really glyphs that should be "read" as part of the inscription and therefore marked up using the TEI "g" element (as Ryan has done), or should they be treated as figures or illustrations and therefore marked up a different way? If they are "glyphs", then what would be the corresponding glyph definition markup (if any) and where should it go in an EpiDoc file? Maybe someone like Gabriel Bodard or Marion Lamé will have an opinion about that.
Meanwhile, Georgia wrote to me as follows:
I like version 2. For one, I could see it and read it without any problems; something I could not do with version 1. I like the idea of being able to see pictures, texts, and translations of inscriptions on a single page. My question is: what are you trying to do here? What's the purpose, goal, etc. of Mob Epigraphy? And how can others help, contribute, etc.?
My goal with Mob Epigraphy is two-fold. First, I want to create more on-line, open examples of real inscriptions marked up in EpiDoc. Secondly, I want to see how far we can push an openly collaborative model in the practice of digital epigraphy, welcoming all interested parties in editing the text and pushing the boundaries on what we can and can't do with standard encoding and web publication.

How to contribute? There are many ways. This post highlights two examples. Ryan saw something missing and, exploiting the digital collaboration infrastructure provided by github, pitched in to fill the gap. Georgia had comments and questions and, after having some trouble with Blogger's comment functionality, sent me an email. Both are great ways to contribute, and I bet readers of this post can come up with more -- like suggesting answers to my questions above, or proposing more robust or interesting documentation of the inscription or elaboration of the encoding or HTML representation.

Previous post.


Sebastian Heath said...

I'm with you that dolia should be ceramic. If we're sticking with Latin, cupa?

Saint Nicholas of Myra is said to have rescued three children from suffocation in a barrel. But I do not know if that is an ancient or more recent anecdote. Can anybody answer that? If it's of the right period, the story is topical.

Joel Kalvesmaki said...

Is there a reason why the chi-rho is marked with the instead of U+2627?

Ryan Baumann said...

I used <g type="chirho"/> because that's how it's encoded in the DDbDP. Then I cribbed "dolium" from ICVR. It may be that neither is the correct choice, but perhaps better than transcribing nothing.

The description on this Flickr photo of the inscription speculates that the second figure may denote the child burial, which may make an actual "dolium" a bit more ridiculous. Perhaps it's something formulaic to (4th century) Roman Christian funerary inscriptions?

Gabriel Bodard said...

@Joel: I think it's good practice to tag non-alphabetic symbols explicitly in XML even if there is a good Unicode codepoint for them. You might want to use the Unicode *as well* of course. But the markup gives you more control over how to choose to process this in the printed edition. For example the editor here has chosen to print (chirho) in his edition rather than ☧. Also more generally, the chi-rho might be transcribed differently depending on what we think it means (ligature of letters χρ; abbreviation for string χριστ-; short-hand for Christiantity...); for at least some of these the Unicode chirho symbol would be incorrect, or at least inadequate.

@Ryan: I'd mark up the barrel drawing as Cupa rather than in this case, since it's really a drawing not a glyph. (You could argue the same is true of the Chirho, of course.)

@Tom, in the XML of the Latin text, you might also want to tag the length of Flavia's life as a (just representing a duration rather than a point). We've used for this; enables crosswalking to the EDH "age at death" category.

Ryan Baumann said...

@Gabby: Frustratingly, blogger seems to just strip unescaped markup in comments instead of escaping it itself. I used an online escape tool like this one to escape the XML in my comment.

Gabriel Bodard said...

Aargh! I should have noticed that. Sorry.

was what I was trying to suggest.

<date when-iso="P2Y8M8D">
for representing the duration of a time-span.

Tom Elliott said...

Joaquín L. Gómez-Pantoja (University of Alcalá) writes:

The dolium is not really a dolium but a cupa or wine cask, for which there are several ancient images. My favorite is the well known wine ship carrying barrels from a Gaulish funerary monument which is now in Trier Landesmuseum. I don't know why this motive appears on funerary inscriptions but it isn't the only case I have seen. What I know for sure is [that there is] a class of funerary monument not only with the shape of a barrel but even with recognizable staves, as in Faustina's epitaph.

mlame said...

First of all, I apologise: I missed this post that arrived inside my own blog only a week ago...

Second, I really do appreciate this fundamental methodological aspect: "more online, open examples of real inscriptions marked up in EpiDoc. Secondly, I want to see how far we can push an openly collaborative model in the practice of digital epigraphy, welcoming all interested parties in editing the text and pushing the boundaries on what we can and can't do with standard encoding and web publication." I hope that always more epigrapher will participate to these "dispositifs de sciences participatives" as I read it in French recently.

Third, about the figure at the bottom right, I cannot say what it is and I hope that some epigrapher will soon give any opinion (Eleonora Santin had a lot of supposition when I asked her, I hope she will share them here).

Fourth, about the encoding: I would follow Gaby's point of view, even if I consider the chiro as a kind of alphabetic symbol. I would recommend to encode the chiro in both ways, when it is possible and adequate, explicitly with some xml code such those related to abbreviations for instance *AND* / *OR* with its unicode codepoint. The editor has to make up his own mind, interpretes and take a decision.

About the figure, I would not encode it with a or a , as this is not related to character or glyph. It reminds me in some ways the discussion about "langue" and "langage" initiated by De Saussure. However, it has to be encoded as part of the object that bears an epigraph, and works well as it does for some other figures, like axe (see an example for the figure that comes often with « sub ascia » expression here :

Any suggestion to formalized the description of a figure?