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ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN TEXTS



“From Dictionary to Superdocument: XML, the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary, and the Universe” Steve Tinney, Babylonian Section, University of Pennsylvania Museum ([email protected]) The ever-increasing importance of computers in gathering, storing, and presenting knowledge brings with it the need to respond to the challenge of exploiting the potential of electronic information management to the maximum. But while it is natural to view knowledge management from the viewpoint of eventual delivery or publication, whatever form it may take, the issue of information reusability is at least as important, and arguably more so. Reusability requires well-structured information as well as permission to reuse it and the means to access it. One of the promises of XML and its increasing circle of friends and relatives is the provision of a well-defined means of defining information structure and accessibility, not only as it relates to publication, but also as it relates to the storage and relational organization of interconnected datasets. Several aspects and implications of the above will be discussed in the present paper, particularly as they relate to the ongoing development of an electronic version of the Pennsylvania Sumerian Dictionary (ePSD). A brief orientation to relevant components of the XML world will be followed by a discussion of some key elements of the ePSD implementation. Some general considerations concerning the relationship between data, knowledge, dissemination and extant structures of publication and academia will also be offered. “The Ancient Egyptian Dictionary Project: Data Exchange and Publication on the Internet” Stephan Seidlmayer, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities ([email protected]) Since 1993 the Ancient Egyptian Dictionary project has been housed at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Berlin. It aims to provide up-to-date lexical information on the Egyptian language, supplementing and replacing the great Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache by Adolf Erman and Hermann Grapow, which appeared in twelve volumes between 1926 and 1963, and which is outdated in important respects. As in the Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache, work at the Ancient Egyptian Dictionary project is centered on compiling a comprehensive corpus of Egyptian texts, which in turn provides the basis of the dictionary. Both the corpus of texts and the dictionary are produced as a database and will be published in due course on the Internet. In this context, encoding Egyptian texts in XML will play an important part, because this standard supports long-term system-independent storage of the data, because it offers a common platform for the exchange of encoded texts and thus for international cooperation in the Ancient Egyptian Dictionary project, and because it opens up new perspectives for the publication of the material on the Internet. Open discussion: “The Current State of Electronic Publication: Problems and Possibilities” Moderated by Charles Jones, Research Archivist and Bibliographer, Oriental Institute ([email protected]) and John Sanders, Head, Oriental Institute Computer Laboratory ([email protected]), University of Chicago Topics to consider include: (1) advantages and disadvantages(!?) of electronic publication as compared to traditional print publication; (2) good and bad examples of electronic publications that are available today; (3) the importance of cross-platform access based on non-proprietary open standards; (4) the limitations of HTML and the impact of XML/SGML; (5) the availability and effectiveness of software tools for producing XMLbased electronic publications; (6) the distinction between markup of content or logical structure and markup of style or presentation characteristics; (7) the merits of facsimile reproduction versus transliteration of texts. “Creating, Integrating, and Expanding Electronic Texts in the Perseus Digital Library” Jeffrey Rydberg-Cox, Assistant Editor for Greek Language and Lexicography, The Perseus Project ([email protected]) The Perseus Project (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu) is an evolving digital library of resources for the study of the ancient world and beyond. Collaborators initially formed the project to construct a large, heterogeneous collection of materials, textual and visual, on the Archaic and Classical Greek world. Recent expansion into Latin texts and tools and Renaissance materials has served to add more coverage within Perseus and has prompted the project to explore new ways of presenting complex resources for electronic publication. In this paper the data entry methods, archival formats, and initial tagging process used by the Perseus Project will be presented, followed by a description of how tagged information is used to create “interoperable” primary and secondary sources. These secondary sources include research tools such as lexica, commentaries, and morphological analyses, and plans are now being developed for the integration of geographical data and architectural reconstructions as well. Mention will also be made of the use by the Perseus Project of techniques from the fields of information retrieval and corpus linguistics in combination with structured data to add value to electronic works. “XML and Digital Imaging Considerations for an Interactive Cuneiform Sign Database” Sandra Woolley ([email protected]) and Theodoros Arvanitis ([email protected]), Educational Technology Research Group, School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Tom Davis ([email protected]), Department of English, and Alasdair Livingstone ([email protected]), Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, University of Birmingham This presentation will summarize the work of a centrally-funded interdisciplinary team project at the University of Birmingham, working toward an interactive database of cuneiform signs. The project team comprises cuneiform specialists from the Department of Ancient History and Archaeology, digital imaging researchers from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, and a forensic scientist from the Department of English Literature. The presentation will describe the objectives of the project, the findings of the first 12-month study, work in progress, and plans for future work. There will be a brief description of the basic principles of forensic handwriting identification, with examples. A proposed database format, issues relating to XML coding of the data, and plans to improve digital image representations of cuneiform signs will be presented. From the website of the University of Birmingham Cuneiform Database Project ): The usual method of recording and publishing cuneiform material is through the time-consuming process of copying by hand, and this method is also used in the standard reference lists of cuneiform signs. Inevitably, the hand of the modern copyist comes between the hand of the ancient scribe and the eye of the modern scholar who uses the copy. The University of Birmingham Cuneiform Database Project seeks to apply the most recent research on digital representation and compression to the particular challenges posed by cuneiform texts. Relevant techniques include those developed for industrial inspection and medical imaging. One of the principal challenges involves three-dimensional visualization and computation, because a drawback of the traditional handcopying method is the fact that a three-dimensional script is represented in two dimensions on paper. A further interdisciplinary aspect of the Cuneiform Database Project involves the adaptation of existing techniques of handwriting analysis to the cuneiform writing system, providing a scientific system of description that will enable an objective categorization of scripts and script types. Open discussion: “Editing, Disseminating, and Preserving Electronic Publications” Moderated by Charles Jones and John Sanders, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago With panelists Patrick Durusau, Interim Manager, Information Technology Services, Scholars Press ([email protected]), James Eisenbraun, Publisher, Eisenbrauns Inc. ([email protected]), and Thomas Urban, Senior Editor, Oriental Institute Publications Office, University of Chicago ([email protected]) Topics to consider include: (1) the ease of “self-publication” on the Web and the role of peer review and editorial oversight; (2) maintenance and upgrading of delivery media, whether optical disks or Internet servers; (3) citation of electronic publications and the problem of permanence; (4) the economics of electronic publication and the fate of traditional publishers; (5) institutional responsibilities for the establishment of digital monograph series and journals. “The Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions Project” Gene Gragg ([email protected]) and Matthew Stolper ([email protected]), Oriental Institute, University of Chicago The aim of the Achaemenid Royal Inscriptions project ) is to create an electronic study edition of the inscriptions of the Achaemenid Persian kings in all of their versions: Old Persian, Elamite, Akkadian, and, where appropriate, Aramaic and Egyptian. The edition is to be accompanied by translations, glossaries, grammatical indexes, basic bibliographic apparatus, basic text critical apparatus, and some graphic apparatus (e.g., plans indicating provenience of the inscriptions, images of exemplars); the texts will be available for downloading and printing. The first stage of the project presents the inscriptions from Persepolis and nearby Naqsh-i Rustam, where the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago carried out excavations between 1931 and 1939. Close study and accurate use of these texts calls for synoptic presentation of the versions.


ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN TEXTS


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