Digital World Classics: virtual programme

As we were thinking about the Digital Classicist London seminar series on the theme of World Classics, which starts in a couple weeks and runs over the summer, with a few occasional events over the rest of the 2021–22 academic year, we have been discussing coverage and inclusivity. The programme the organisers have put together is very exciting and I look forward to all of the seminars, but it can not be said to cover “the world.” The programme includes papers covering Arabic, Egyptology/Coptic, Ethiopic, Ancient Italic, Jewish/Hebrew, Maya, South/Southeast Asian and Syriac; and presenters at (or from) Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Romania, Syria and the USA.

I’m very keen to see this as the start of a conversation, not the end of a focus on “world classics” in the Digital Classicist seminar. That said, this is not the beginning of the story either: although many of the papers we have featured over the last fifteen years of the London seminar (and many many more in Berlin, Leipzig, New England) have been on Greco-Roman classics and archaeology, we have also welcomed “classics” from other ancient cultures.

I would like to offer here a “virtual programme” of digital world classics seminars from the past 6 years (as long as we have been streaming to YouTube). I’m not including here any seminars from Berlin’s YouTube channel, although we could add them if someone wants to help compile a list. If you haven’t watched them before, please feel welcome to follow this virtual, asynchronous seminar programme!

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On teaching a new asynchronous Digital Humanities open course

On-line teaching and learning has already become an integrated part of our professional lives, but we are still experimenting with methods and try to find the best way to accommodate both teachers’ and students’ needs.
In this quest, this spring semester, a digital humanities open course was organized at the Babeș-Bolyai University from Cluj-Napoca (Romania). Fully on-line and taught in English, the course was delivered by Rada Varga and addressed all humanists who wanted to take their first steps into the world of DH, thus developing computational thinking and increasing computer literacy – two sets of skills which become more paramount by the day.
The course was taught asynchronously, with registered lectures and tutorials for each topic; their approximate duration was of 1 hour, generally fragmented in 2-3 parts. The sessions implied individual exercises, team exercises, as well as discussions and individual and group feedback. The participants were encouraged to use their own datasets, so that the results are both familiar and relevant, but in case of need they have been provided with sample spreadsheets. Regarding the employed software, we used open access programs and platforms.
The topics were imagined as following the logics of a normal scientific research, but also progressively increasing as difficulty level on the technical side implied by the used digital tools.

In order to make this presentation comprehensive, here is the course overview (also available
Data structuring: focusing on structuring any kind of data (but especially narrative) into a tabular form, as well as on interrogating and identifying the information within structured datasets (spreadsheets, tables). The most accessible data structuring formats were presented (Excel, .csv).
Database building: focusing on the basics of database building. Besides the technical component, it encompassed a methodological side, as the filtering has to answer coherent research questions
Text encoding: teaching the main text encoding norms and TEI standards. Basic encoding and annotation principles were introduced, as well as essential XML.
Visualization: providing a critical analysis of the role of visualization in humanities and social sciences and as an introduction into the most employed visualizing platforms: Tableau Public, Raw Graphs.
Geographical annotations and georeferencing: familiarizing the participants with the most common systems of geographic annotation and visualization – Google MyMaps and Geographic Information Systems (GIS), with QGIS, the associated platform.
Data analyses (social network analyses): demonstrating how one can achieve scientific insights using their structured data and the platforms presented before. For focusing on network analyses, we showcased both Nodegoat and Gephi.
Project presentation: The final project was a very important phase in the general economy of the course, as it marked the passing from strictly learning notions to using them for research purposes and assessing the freshly gained DH knowledge.

This year the course was undertaken by 18 participants and the results of their work and the progresses they made were remarkable. As formation, they were linguists, philosophers, historians, and artists, ranging from a few MA students to senior researchers. The mixture was a positive factor, as it made input more diverse.
Upon completion of the course, participants presented a small project, using the digital skills acquired throughout the module. Given that each topic was almost a stand-alone, appealing differently to each participant, according to background and research interests (e.g., philologists will be more interested in text encoding, while historians will find GIS and SNA more suited for their researches), we considered that it was fair to evaluate based on a project of each participant’s choosing, where they could show effectively how the methodologies and tools presented can be applied in order to increase the value of a given research, or to create a new, useful tool.

Five of the final projects were situated in the realm of digital classics and archaeology and they were remarkable in the diversity of topics tackled, as well as tools and methods employed. Thus, one project presented an Airtable database registering all inscriptions from an archaeological site in Asia Minor, proving very graphically the necessity of systemizing, cleansing and inter-linking data; the advantages of the tool used were also visible, as the owner would be able to use it in the future collaboratively, with different clearance levels for colleagues and students in training. Two projects focused on geographic annotations in QGIS and ArcGIS, creating a map layer or only personalizing existing maps. One project in particular combined the possibilities offered by visualizing on a map different types of discovered pottery and presenting in parallel the statistical overview. Two other projects were more in the classics sphere and both employed SNA: one focused on visualizing and analysing the gods’ networks from Hesiod’s Theogonia and the other immersed into the networks of the main Augustan poets and their patrons. All these projects, though, of course, incipient, had very good, solid and promising results, underlining the utility of digital tools in classics and the gains of interdisciplinary research.

All in all, the course was a very useful and pleasurable experience, with extremely positive feedback and proof that, at least in DH, online teaching has its merits and benefits.

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Digital Classicist London seminar 2021

The 2021 season of the Digital Classicist London seminar is on the theme of world classics: we have put together a programme of speakers who are working with digital humanities and digital classics methods to the study of antiquity—whether language, corpora, archaeology—from across the world. All sessions are streamed live on Youtube, and will also be available to watch there afterwards.

All seminars at 17:00 UK time.

  • Fri, Apr 16 Christian Prager (Bonn) & Cristina Vertan (Hamburg), Machines Reading and Deciphering Maya Hieroglyphs: Towards a Digital Epigraphy of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing (Youtube)
  • Fri, May 28 Andreas Fuls (TU Berlin), Mathematical epigraphy and the Interactive Corpus of Indus Texts (ICIT) (Youtube)
  • Fri, Jun 11 Arlo Griffiths (EFEO Paris) & Dániel Balogh (HU-Berlin), Project DHARMA: Pushing South and Southeast Asian Textual Sources into the Digital World (Youtube)
  • Fri, Jun 25 Chiara Palladino (Furman) & Tariq Yousef (Leipzig), We want to learn all languages! Applications of translation alignment in digital environments (Youtube)
  • Fri, Jul 9 Heidi Jauhiainen (Helsinki), Machine-Readable Texts for Egyptologists (Youtube)
  • Fri, Jul 23 Daria Elagina (Hamburg), Modelling Vocabulary of Digital Competencies for the Project ENCODE (Youtube)
  • Fri, Aug 6 Kylie Thomsen (UCLA), The utilization of SfM and RTI to study ancient Egyptian statuary reuse (Youtube)

In addition to the summer seminars listed above, occasional seminars will run throughout the 2020-2021 year. (See full programme and updates.)

  • Fri, Sep 10, 2021 Amir Zeldes (Georgetown), Caroline Schroeder (Oklahoma), Lance Martin (CUA), Leveraging non-named entities in Coptic antiquity (Youtube)
  • Fri, Nov 12, 2021 Mariarosaria Zinzi (Florence), Languages and Cultures of Ancient Italy. Historical Linguistics and Digital Models (Youtube)
  • January 2022 (date tbd) James E. Walters (Hill Museum and Manuscript Library), Ad fontes: The Digital Syriac Corpus as a Resource for Teaching and Learning Syriac (link tba)
  • Fri, Mar 18, 2022 Ortal-Paz Saar & Berit Janssen (Utrecht), PEACE: The Portal on Jewish Funerary Culture (link tba)
  • Fri, May 27, 2022 Matei Tichindelean (UCLA), Digital Reconstruction of the Akhenaten Torso in the Brooklyn Museum (link tba)
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Sunoikisis Digital Classics, Summer 2021

SunoikisisDC 2020-2021 Wiki

The full programme of the Summer Sunoikisis Digital Classics semester is at the SunoikisisDC GitHub Wiki, including session pages and YouTube links. Reading lists, exercises, and summaries of all sessions will be added in the next weeks. The calendar is as follows (sessions are on Thursdays at 17:15–18:45 CEST time):

  1. Thu, April 15, 2021: Introduction (Monica Berti, Gabriel Bodard, and Valeria Vitale) [YouTube]
  2. Thu, April 22, 2021: Teaching Epigraphy in a Pandemic (Alice Bencivenni, Gabriel Bodard, and Irene Vagionakis) [YouTube]
  3. Thu, April 29, 2021: Digital Epigraphic Corpora. The Example of the Inscriptions from Israel and Palestine (Michael Satlow and Elli Mylonas) [YouTube]
  4. Thu, May 6, 2021: Linguistic Annotations of Greek and Latin Inscriptions (Francesca Dell’Oro) [YouTube]
  5. Thu, May 13, 2021: NO SESSION
  6. Thu, May 20, 2021: Learning and Reading ancient Greek with Pedalion (Toon van Haal and Alek Keersmaekers) [YouTube]
  7. Thu, May 27, 2021: Reading and Learning ancient Greek with Diorisis and the Scaife Viewer (James Tauber and Alessandro Vatri) [YouTube]
  8. Thu, June 3, 2021: Trismegistos People (Yanne Broux) [YouTube]
  9. Thu, June 10, 2021: Named Entity Recognition and Prosopography (Monica Berti and Gabriel Bodard) [YouTube]
  10. Thu, June 17, 2021: Annotating Geographical Data with Recogito (Elton Barker, Monica Berti, and Valeria Vitale) [YouTube]
  11. Thu, June 24, 2021: Data Citation for Historical Texts and the Cited Loci Project (Matteo Romanello) [YouTube]
  12. Thu, July 1, 2021: The Digital Latin Library (Samuel J. Huskey) [YouTube]
  13. Thu, July 8, 2021: eAQUA (Corina Willkommen and Jens Wittig) [YouTube]
  14. Thu, July 15, 2021: Beyond Classics: The Book of the Dead in 3D (Rita Lucarelli and Franziska Naether) [YouTube]
  15. Thu, July 22, 2021: Beyond Classics: The Turin Papyrus Online Platform (TPOP) (Susanne Töpfer and Franziska Naether) [YouTube]

This is the third semester of the 2020/2021 programme, whose description is available in a previous Stoa article posted on October 5, 2020. The Summer semester follows the German academic calendar, being based at the University of Leipzig. This is the reason why we have 14 sessions of 90 minutes each from April through July 2021.

The programme of this semester covers topics in the fields of Digital Epigraphy, Computational Linguistics, Named Entity Recognition, Geographical Annotations, Data Citation, Digital Libraries and Corpora. We also have two sessions about Digital Egyptology that are part of our efforts to extend the program beyond ancient Greek and Latin.

All sessions are freely available online, and everyone, student or not, is welcome to watch, leave comments in the live chat if you are with us live, and attempt the exercises. Contents of the SunoikisisDC Programme remain available on GitHub and YouTube indefinitely, and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you are interested in using any of the SunoikisisDC materials in your own teaching and would like to discuss any aspect of the programme, please do get in touch with any of us.

Monica Berti and Gabriel Bodard

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Collection and Promotion of Real-World LOD Resources: Report on Activity 5 for the LP6 Symposium

Paula Granados Garcia (British Museum); Sarah Middle (Open University)

Linked Pasts 6

The sixth annual Linked Pasts symposium (LP6) was held in December 2020 as an online event hosted by the University of London and the British Library. The event brings together scholars, heritage professionals and other practitioners with an interest in Linked Open Data (LOD) as applied to the study of the ancient and historical worlds. 

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the symposium had to be a fully remote and online event which despite preventing us from meeting in person, did allow a much larger number of attendees in comparison to previous years (about 500), while facilitating multiple events taking place over two weeks rather than an intense three days of in-person sessions. 

The event was designed so that prospective participants could propose different activities (including roundtables, seminars, workshops, discussion groups…) to be hosted throughout the two weeks of the conference, thereby promoting discussion among participants who decided to join one or more of the proposed activities. 

Promotion and Leverage Activity 

In this context, we decided to propose an activity focused on the collection and promotion of real-world LOD resources. Both of us had been involved with LOD resources in our respective PhD researches and had noticed how there does not seem to be an agreed mechanism for promoting and leveraging LOD projects for Ancient World research, with current strategies being rather fragmentary. This issue becomes especially concerning in the semantic web world, where the success of the approach relies on the collaboration and discoverability of the existing resources. 

We had noticed that well-known initiatives for the promotion of newly created LOD datasets include the LOD cloud and the mailing list, although neither facilitate the process of discovering relevant datasets for Ancient World research. The topic is yet to receive sufficient attention from the linked data community, especially regarding published research or guidance on how better to promote/leverage LOD resources and initiatives.

As a result, we worked with Gabriel Bodard and Elton Barker to create a catalogue of Linked Ancient World datasets. As well as providing the dataset URIs, our spreadsheet contains information such as formats and licences, and links to relevant entries on the Digital Classicist wiki. Our current criteria for inclusion are:

  • Data can be queried or downloaded in a format generally understood as LOD (e.g. RDF, JSON, Atom)
  • Datasets are related to the Ancient World in some way

We realise this scope is quite strict, but it ensures that we can currently keep the entries to a manageable number, while providing scope to broaden our criteria in future. If you know of a dataset that you think should be included but does not yet appear in the catalogue, please provide its details via our entry form.

The aims of the sessions at LP were to:

  1. discuss the effectiveness of current strategies to raise awareness about LOD projects online;
  2. develop a tentative protocol with the most interesting solutions proposed;
  3. collate and leverage Ancient World datasets by adding to our catalogue

Main Discussions and Interviews 

After presenting our ideas to LP6 attendees, we opened a Slack channel for asynchronous communication (which is still open for comments) and held two synchronous meetings for further discussion. Participants generally agreed that the catalogue would be useful to both consumers and producers of LOD, although there were suggestions to convert the data to JSON format and to provide a more interactive interface – both of which we will consider once the catalogue moves past the ‘proof of concept’ stage.

We also spoke about current criteria for inclusion and potential expansion, with suggestions including the introduction of data categories to facilitate discoverability. Another topic for discussion was our definition of ‘Ancient World’, which we ultimately decided would be best to align with criteria for inclusion in the Digital Classicist wiki.

Feedback and Outcomes

Looking to the future, we discussed the importance of community engagement for sustainability, particularly if we expand our remit by using a broader definition of ‘Linked Data’, as well as maintaining some form of moderation for contributions. We also recognised the importance of preserving the catalogue data in a trusted repository, while ensuring that it additionally continues to be maintained as a living resource.

In addition to our specific initiative, we found it very useful to draw parallels with other activities at LP6. In particular, it was extremely valuable to participate in conversations around user needs for Wikidata alignment (with Anne Chen, Kyle Conrau-Lewis, Elton Barker and Rob Sanderson) and we are interested to hear about Adam Rabinowitz’s plans for a date/time LOD resource catalogue. Taking part in all these other sessions at LP6 enriched our own discussions and enhanced our understanding of community interests and needs.

We would like to thank everyone who contributed to our discussions and look forward to continuing them in future. We hope that this event doesn’t mark an end but rather the start of new conversations on how to better promote LOD projects as well as to raise interest in the catalogue and the leverage and discoverability of LOD real-world resources.

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CFP Digital Classicist London 2021

Digital Classicist London banner

Digital Classicist London invites proposals for the summer 2021 seminar, which will run online on alternate Friday afternoons through the summer, hosted by the Institute of Classical Studies. All presentations will be live-cast and archived on Youtube.

Digital Classicist understands “Classics” to refer to foundational texts and heritage of the whole world, and this year we are particularly interested in research that addresses classics outside the Greco-Roman Mediterranean. We would therefore like to see proposals that address digital, innovative and collaborative research, teaching and practice in all areas of antiquity, from philology, ancient history, cultural heritage, reception, or other perspectives.

Proposals from researchers of all levels, including students, heritage professionals, practitioners and academics, are equally welcome. To submit a paper, please email an abstract of up to 300 words as an attachment to by Monday, March 15, 2021. (Include the words “Digital Classicist seminar” in the subject line to be sure of not being missed!)


  • Gabriel Bodard (School of Advanced Study, University of London)
  • Paula Granados García (British Museum)
  • Eleanor Robson (University College London)
  • Valeria Vitale (British Library)
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Call for Posters, Linked Pasts 6 (London, Dec 2–16, 2020)

We would love to hear from anyone in the Digital Classics, History or Cultural Heritage worlds who have a LOD/LAWD project or method to share, and would like to do so in a digital poster. The online poster session will also be our conference social event, to we’d love to hear from as many people as possible! Happy to chat with anyone who isn’t sure if their idea is a fit.

Call for posters, Linked Pasts Symposium, December 2–16, 2020, London (remote).

The annual Linked Pasts symposium, which has previously been held at KCL, Madrid, Stanford, Mainz and Bordeaux, brings together scholars, heritage professionals and other practitioners with an interest in Linked Open Data as applied to the study of the ancient and historical worlds. Panels and working groups at Linked Pasts are more goal-oriented than a conventional academic conference, and activities and agendas are often proposed, developed and revised by all participants at the event itself. In the absence of individual presentations and lectures, posters are a great way to share a project, dataset, method or activity related to the LOD and historical or heritage research, and discuss your work in a less formal setting with other interested attendees.

To propose a poster, please send an abstract of 100–150 words to by the end of Monday, November 9, 2020.

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Text-based Extraction, Analysis, and Annotation of Ancient Greek References to Authors and Works

Monica Berti has been recently awarded a Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) grant for a project on Named Entity Recognition (NER) and Annotation of ancient Greek.

The goal of the project is to extract, analyse, annotate and comment the language of ancient Greek references to authors and works. This project will produce a structured knowledge resource with ancient Greek word forms, corresponding lemmata, contextual annotations, coreferences and relations. The project will provide a full database of lemmatized and annotated Named Entities pertaining to words and expressions of bibliographic citations in ancient sources (author names, work titles, work descriptions and editions).

Digital Athenaeus

Entities will be semi-automatically extracted and annotated in the text of the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus of Naucratis as part of the Digital Athenaeus project. Preliminary annotations will be also performed on the Lexicon of the ten orators of Valerius Harpocration and on the Suda (Α-Γ entries). NLP methods and computational linguistics tools like INCEpTION and ANNIS will be used to produce and visualise annotations.

The final goal is to produce a text-based catalog of ancient Greek literature with a structured knowledge base that can be reused to annotate and analyse other texts. Annotations will be the result of a deep analysis of the original language and the project will produce a commentary of ancient practices of source references.

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Sunoikisis Digital Classics, Fall 2020

The Sunoikisis Digital Classics programme (SunoikisisDC), a collaborative endeavor involving faculty from six continents, produces reusable materials that many participants use in some way in their own teaching. It was founded in 2015 by Monica Berti in Leipzig, as an offshoot of the Sunoikisis programme hosted by the Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies. It is now co-chaired by Monica Berti in Leipzig and Gabriel Bodard in London, with co-organizers all around the world.

The core of the syllabus is the online session, delivered by one or more presenters via live YouTube video, with slides, demos, discussion panels and the potential for student interaction via chat. Sessions are accompanied by (open access) reading lists, resources and exercises for students to gain hands-on experience in tools, methods and skills discussed. Many faculty who use SunoikisisDC in their teaching have students follow the online sessions and attempt practical exercises, and then attend a seminar or tutorial in person, which allows collaboration, discussion, technical support and feedback on both formative and assessed work. This year, of course, some of this in-person engagement is likely to be moved online as well.

SunoikisisDC 2020-2021 Wiki

There are currently three semesters of SunoikisisDC sessions, organised more or less independently, and with a greater or lesser degree of overlap with each other (and indeed with sessions from previous years), depending on the organizers. There are also individual sessions and mini-semesters, held at irregular times and hosted on the same YouTube channel. In fall of 2020 the syllabus is Digital Classics (in parallel with the ICS02 master module in London), chaired by Gabriel Bodard, with co-chairs Monica Berti, Irene Vagionakis (Bologna) and Polina Yordanova (Helsinki) each responsible for a portion of the programme, on the themes of collaboration, text encoding, and computational linguistics, respectively. The spring 2021 syllabus will focus on Digital Approaches to Cultural Heritage (alongside London module ICS03), and is led again by Bodard with co-chairs Valeria Vitale (British Library), Andrea Wallace (Exeter) and Alicia Walsh (Recollection Heritage). The summer 2021 programme, Digital Classics (as part of the MSc of Digital Humanities in Leipzig), is led by Monica Berti.

The full programme of the fall Digital Classics semester is at the SunoikisisDC GitHub Wiki, including session pages, YouTube links, reading lists, exercises, and summaries of all sessions. The calendar is as follows (sessions are on Thursdays at 17:00–18:15 German time  unless indicated otherwise):

  1. Thu, Oct 8, 2020: Open Source software, commandline and Git (Monica Berti, Gabriel Bodard & Irene Vagionakis) [session page] [YouTube]
  2. Thu, Oct 15, 2020: Introduction to Markup (Jonathan Blaney, Charlotte Tupman, Irene Vagionakis) [session page] [YouTube]
  3. Monday, Oct 19, 2020: EpiDoc XML (Gabriel Bodard, Alessio Sopracasa, Irene Vagionakis) [session page] [YouTube]
  4. Thu, Oct 29, 2020: Introduction to Computational Linguistics (Alek Keersmaekers, Marton Ribary, Thea Sommerschield) [session page] [YouTube]
  5. Thu, Nov 5, 2020: Web Annotation (Monica Berti, Valeria Vitale) [session page] [YouTube]
  6. Thu, Nov 12, 2020: Research with Wikimedia Commons (Monica Berti, Gabriel Bodard, Richard Nevell) [session page] [YouTube]
  7. Thu, Nov 19, 2020, 16:30–17:45: Using Treebanks (Francesca Dell’Oro, Vanessa Gorman, Marja Vierros, Polina Yordanova) [session page] [YouTube]
  8. Thu, Nov 26, 2020: Translation Technologies (Franziska Naether, Chiara Palladino) [session page] [YouTube]
  9. Thu, Dec 3, 2020: Visualisation (Aurélien Berra, Gabriel Bodard, Naomi Wells) [session page] [YouTube]

All sessions are freely available online, and everyone, student or not, is welcome to watch, leave comments in the live chat if you are with us live, and attempt the exercises. Contents of the SunoikisisDC Programme remain available on GitHub and YouTube indefinitely, and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you are interested in using any of the SunoikisisDC materials in your own teaching and would like to discuss any aspect of the programme, please do get in touch with any of us.

Monica Berti, Gabriel Bodard, and Valeria Vitale

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Digital Classicist London online seminars report

The Digital Classicist London seminar, one of the many research seminar series hosted by the Institute of Classical Studies, has been videoed and posted to our YouTube channel since 2013, and livecast directly since 2016. Both of these developments were by popular demand, since there was an international audience with an appetite for the content of these presentations of computational or quantitative approaches to the study of antiquity. We have always known that more people watched the videos online than attended the seminars in Senate House. The archived versions of the live webcasts also tended to double in views within a week of the seminar, suggesting a roughly equal number of people who watched live and who caught up shortly after the event.

Due to the global pandemic making in-person events impossible for the whole of summer 2020, this year’s seminar was run entirely online, with speakers, chairs, and sometimes a small “studio audience” of two or three guests participating via the streaming service Streamyard. In place of open discussion in the room at the end of the seminar (which was often not very well captured in the streamed version in previous years, since audio pick-up was via the laptop’s built-in microphone), we took brief questions from the in-call audience, and activated YouTube’s “live chat” feature for comments from those watching remotely in real time.

Screengrab from Thea Sommerschield's Digital Classicist seminar, in Streamyard

It was of course gratifying that these online-only seminars reached a very much increased and diversified audience, including people who for a range of geographical, professional and social reasons could not attend a seminar in London on a Friday afternoon. Even more striking, however, was the engaged and lively participation from the remote audience. Seminars live-streamed to Youtube have always had the option for the remote audience to ask questions that would be relayed to the speaker, either via comments or a Twitter hashtag, but this was almost never taken advantage of in previous years. After each seminar in the 2020 season there was vigorous discussion, not only among those of us in the call, but also between and among the remote participants via the YouTube “live chat” feature.

I think a combination of actively addressing and engaging with the live audience before and during the seminar itself, and the fact that there was no in-room audience to make remote viewers feel like outsiders or interlopers, led to this burst of enthusiasm for online discussion. It was very nice to see a mix of familiar names and new colleagues among those participating in the live chat, and a range of questions and comments that showed real engagement with the projects and topics under discussion. I hope that we can maintain this lively discussion in the digital forum even when seminars are being held in a room in meatspace again.

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Digital Classicist Wiki editing sprints

The Institute of Classical Studies now hosts the Digital Classicist Wiki, a community-edited database of information, questions and commentary on projects, tools, methods and other resources relating to the digital or quantitative study of the ancient world. The site includes nearly 3000 pages edited by 250 registered users, and receives irregular but frequent contributions as well as an organized monthly editing sprint, when editors gather to improve the coverage of specific themes. Since the site moved to its new home at the ICS in 2020, a larger editorial board has been convened, with a brief to manage engagement and strategy for the Wiki.

Digital Classicist Wiki front page

On the first Tuesday of every month (probably the second in January), the editors and various other volunteers meet in an IRC chatroom for two hours of editing, during which people can discuss changes and issues, ask questions, request an editing account from one of the administrators, reserve pages, and otherwise feel involved and engaged while conducting what is otherwise solitary work editing a wiki page. Participants are invited to take part in each month’s theme, which helps to bring in new communities and collaborators, but may also work on any area of the site that is of interest to them (or even just press Random Page and see what can be improved). For instance, currently Hannah Hungerford, a masters student at KCL, is undertaking a summer placement funded by the Roman Society, to work on improving the connections between the DC Wiki and library catalogues and review venues, helping to set up links in both directions.

In the next few months, sprints are planned on the following themes:

  • October 6, 2020: Prosopography and onomastics, person and name catalogues
  • November 3, 2020: EpiDoc and digital epigraphy and papyrology
  • December 1, 2020: Clean-up: look at old and flagged pages
  • I would like to propose a sprint on Hittite and Cuneiform projects at some point in the new year, to be announced

We welcome new volunteers, whether you plan to attend a sprint or just add pages for your favourite projects from time to time. We are also very happy to receive suggestions for pages to be added or improved, even if you don’t want to edit them yourself, and we welcome suggested themes for future sprints from the digital classicist community. Contact any of the Administrators to discuss anything you have in mind, or make suggestions on the Digital Classicist discussion list where they may be taken up by others.

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Linked Pasts 6 (London, Dec 2020) call for activities

Linked Pasts 6
December 2–16, 2020
University of London and British Library

The annual Linked Pasts conference, which has previously been held at KCL, Madrid, Stanford, Mainz and Bordeaux, brings together scholars, heritage professionals and other practitioners with an interest in Linked Open Data as applied to the study of the ancient and historical worlds. Panels and working groups at Linked Pasts are more goal-oriented than a conventional academic conference, and activities and agendas are often proposed, developed and revised by all participants at the event itself.

The sixth installment of Linked Pasts, hosted by the University of London and British Library in December 2020, will be a fully remote and online event, with events taking place over two weeks rather than an intense three days of in-person sessions. Other than welcome, keynotes and wrap-up at the beginning and end of the conference, most activities will be asynchronous, with work or discussion taking place in whatever medium is most appropriate to the activity and community in question. Participation in the conference is free, but advance registration is required.

Call for activities

There will be space for suggestion and selection of activities at the conference, but we also welcome proposals for research activities, which may include (but are not restricted to): development of standards, ontologies and research applications; discovery and integration of datasets; enrichment and annotation of textual collections; collaboration, pedagogy and community expansion; other relevant undertakings with a focus on Linked Open Data and the historical world. To propose a stream or working group for the conference programme, please fill in the form at ( with a max. 200-word abstract outlining your suggestion, type of activity and the medium in which it will be run, and some indication of the likely participants (e.g. names, community or expected stakeholders) by end of Sunday November 1, 2020 (extended).

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Digital Classicist London 2020 seminars

This year the Digital Classicist London seminars will all be streamed online only; the audience will watch on YouTube (either live or any time after the event) rather than attend in Senate House in person.

All seminars will be at 17:30 on Friday afternoons (except June 19, at 16:30).

Fri, Jun 5 Thea Sommerschield (Oxford), PYTHIA: a deep neural network model for the automatic restoration of ancient Greek inscriptions (YouTube)
Fri, Jun 12 William Garrood (KCL), Late antique prosopography and Socrates Scholasticus’ Ecclesiastical history (YouTube)
Fri, Jun 19, 16:30 Marton Ribary (Surrey) and Barbara McGillivray (Alan Turing Institute & Cambridge), “The thing is mine”: Extracting the terminology of the Roman law of “ownership” from Justinian’s Digest (YouTube)
Fri, Jun 26 John Bradley (KCL), Digital Prosopography of the Roman Republic as Linked Open Data (YouTube)
Fri, Jul 10 Harry Tanner (Galway), A Digital ‘Metal Detector’ for Classical Philology (YouTube)
Fri, Jul 24 Claire Holleran (Exeter), Mapping Migration in Roman Iberia (YouTube)
Fri, Aug 7 Charlotte Tupman (Exeter), Reconsidering the Roman workshop: Applying machine learning to the study of inscribing texts (YouTube)
Date TBC Andrew Roberts (English Heritage), My Roman Pantheon: experiential digital interpretation at Chesters Roman Fort (YouTube)


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Write an Open Data Paper: an invitation to JOHD

Write an Open Data Paper!
Gabriel Bodard and Barbara McGillivray

Digital Humanities scholars have long recognised that digital research data is both most useful, and most likely to be disseminated and therefore sustainable in the long term, if it is freely available and openly licensed for creative and transformative reuse [e.g. Cayless 2010]. To this we would add that the potential for reuse and preservation is much higher if people know about your data.

Many high profile datasets coming out of Digital Classics projects are licensed for reuse precisely because their value lies at least as much (if not more) in the potential for others to exploit and build on them, as in their status as a fixed output of a single research process. Just to give a couple of illustrative examples:

  1. The Diorisis Ancient Greek Corpus is a digital collection of ancient Greek texts compiled for linguistic analysis, with the purpose of developing a computational model of semantic change in Ancient Greek [McGillivray/Vatri 2018]. This corpus (itself built on several open data resources) will enable others to address a variety of research questions about the Ancient Greek language, for example on the evolution of Ancient Greek terms in specific areas such as religion, and is already being used by Ancient Greek linguistics scholars.
  2. Vanessa Gorman has morpho-syntactically annotated half a million words of Ancient Greek literature, and made the resulting treebanks freely available through the Perseus Ancient Greek Dependency Treebank and her own Github repository [Gorman 2019]. These trees, alone or alongside the rest of the Perseus AGDT corpus, may be queried or processed for linguistic and stylistic information, can help answer questions about Greek morphology and syntax or authorship attribution, and can also be used in pedagogical contexts.
  3. In 2017, the Epigraphic Database Heidelberg (EDH), a project of more than 30 years standing to publish in digital form the inscriptions of the Roman Empire, now in danger of losing its funding, released all of its contents as open-licensed, open data in standard formats (EpiDoc XML; GeoJSON; CSV; RDF, including Lawd, Pelagios, Cidoc, Snap) [EDH Open Data Repository]. This was conceived by the EDH’s Frank Grieshaber to protect against the loss of data if the database were taken offline, but it was also picked up by many scholars in digital classics as a call to arms: the Open Epigraphic Data Unconference, held in London and (remotely) worldwide kicked off at least half a dozen mini-projects reusing and building on EDH data, and in turn made a compelling argument for the importance of the project (which subsequently had their funding renewed for three years, and a commitment to keep the database online and stable thereafter).

As can be seen in these examples, publication of open, transparent and licensed data can have positive impacts on reach, dissemination, sustainability, research value, standards development, student engagement, and development of new projects. Most of these projects and datasets are neither the start- nor end-point of the data reuse process; they are both enabled by existing open-licensed resources, and in turn pay it forward by enabling future work, whether it involves the original authors in any capacity or not.

As mentioned, beyond making data available, licensing it appropriately to liberate it for free reuse, and attaching robust metadata, there is the important question of documenting and disseminating the processes behind the creation of the data itself. One way to publish this invaluable information and further increase the visibility of your work is to write a data paper, a publication which describes a dataset or resource which is openly available in a repository and which has potential for reuse.

The Journal of Open Humanities Data (JOHD) is a growing open-access peer-reviewed academic journal specifically dedicated to data papers for Humanities research. JOHD publishes two types of papers: short data papers, 1000-word descriptions of a dataset or resource, and full-length research papers, articles between 3000 and 5000 words discussing methods and challenges in the creation or analysis of datasets in Humanities research. The web page has more information on submission guidelines and publication fees. JOHD has recently published its first article dedicated to a Digital Classics resource, Dependency Treebanks of Ancient Greek prose by Vanessa Gorman, which received 70 views and 8 downloads in just a week. Given their potential to shape new ways of doing research in Digital Classics, publishing data papers in Digital Classics is a strategically important focus area for JOHD.

The reuse of open data has a positive impact on the authors of the original research, giving further recognition of their work, both through citation (required by almost all open data licenses) and measurable metrics of impact. As well as increasing the visibility of your dataset, a data article is a publication that can be consulted and of course cited by those building on and transforming your digital resources. In this world where more and more academic work is in digital form or computationally enabled, the transparency of reuse and data documentation is an essential part of the scientific process of research, argumentation, publication and citation [Bodard/Garcés 2008].

We invite you to join the open data community by submitting a paper to JOHD describing any open datasets that you have created and made available in public repositories, and that you think can be of interest and value to others.

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Call for proposals: Digital Classicist London seminar 2020

Digital Classicist London invites proposals for the summer 2020 seminar, which will run on Friday afternoons through June and July at the Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House.

To submit a paper, please email an abstract of up to 300 words as an attachment to by Sunday, March 29, 2020. (Include the words “Digital Classicist seminar” in the subject line to be sure of not being missed!)

Proposals from researchers of all levels, including students, practitioners and academics, are equally welcome. We would like to see papers that address digital, innovative and collaborative research, teaching and practice in all areas of antiquity (including cultures beyond the Mediterranean), from classics, ancient history, cultural heritage, reception, or other perspectives. As with previous years, presentations will be live-cast and archived on Youtube. There is a small budget to assist with travel to London (usually from within the UK, but partial reimbursement for longer trips may be possible).


Gabriel Bodard (Institute of Classical Studies)
Paula Granados García (Open University)
Eleanor Robson (University College London)
Simona Stoyanova (University of Nottingham)
Valeria Vitale (Institute of Classical Studies)

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