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 (https://forms.gle/7hNm6dS7X36ded3b7) 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)

ALL WELCOME

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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 gabriel.bodard@sas.ac.uk 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).

Organizers:

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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EpiDoc Training Workshop, London, April 20-24, 2020

EpiDoc Workshop:
Training in digital epigraphy and papyrology and electronic publication

Date: April 20–24, 2020 (starting 11:00 Monday; finishing 16:00 Friday)
Venue: Institute of Classical Studies, University of London
Cost: £100 for one week (£50 if unwaged and no source of funding*)
Tutors: Gabriel Bodard & Laura Löser; with support from Christopher Ohge, Charlotte Tupman and Scott Vanderbilt

We invite applications for a five-day training workshop in the use of EpiDoc (http://epidoc.sf.net/), the de facto standard for encoding ancient epigraphic and papyrological editions in TEI XML for online publication and interchange. The workshop will cover the encoding of ancient texts in XML, sources of information and support on EpiDoc, and publication of editions through the EFES platform (http://github.com/EpiDoc/EFES). No technical knowledge is required, but participants are expected to be familiar with the transcription conventions for inscriptions and papyri (“Leiden”), and either Greek, Latin or other ancient languages of their epigraphic tradition.

To apply for a place on this workshop, please send a brief explanation of your motivation for seeking EpiDoc training (including any projects you will work on) to <gabriel.bodard@sas.ac.uk> by February 23rd, 2020.

*If you would like to request the unwaged rate, please confirm that you have sought funding from your institution to cover the fees and that none is available.

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Digital Scholarly Editing course at London Rare Books School

Posted for Christopher Ohge:

For the third year in a row, the London Rare Books School <https://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/study-training/study-weeks/london-rare-books-school> is offering modules in Digital Scholarly Editing. Taught by several scholars with years of practical editing experience, the two modules feature a unique blend of theoretical and hands-on training in the fundamentals of editing with digital technologies. Students will also be able to handle rare books and manuscripts, in addition to being in close proximity to a wealth of archives in London.

Registration is open, and there is still time to apply for bursaries. The deadline to apply for bursaries is 13 March 2020. LRBS Students can also opt to receive MA-level postgraduate credit at the Institute of English Studies, which is part of the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

The introductory editing module (15–19 June 2020) surveys the traditions and principles of scholarly editing and textual scholarship, complemented with hands-on workshops on the fundamentals of creating digital editions, including a rigorous overview of the Text Encoding Initiative. For more information, including registration, see <https://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/study-training/study-weeks/london-rare-books-school/digital-scholarly-editing>.

The advanced editing module (22–26 June 2020) takes your digital editing further, showing through several hands-on workshops how to implement advanced TEI encoding, XPath and XSLT, as well as text analyses of edition data. For more information, including registration, see <https://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/study-training/study-weeks/london-rare-books-school/digital-scholarly-editing-advanced-methods>.

Courses fees are £650 (standard) and £520 (student), with discounts for multiple course bookings. Fees include documentary material, sandwich lunches and coffee and tea. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until a course is full.

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Sunoikisis Digital Cultural Heritage 2019 programme

The fall 2019 programme of Sunoikisis Digital Classics, which focusses on Digital Cultural heritage, has now begun. The nine common sessions, which are broadcast live (and then archived indefinitely) on YouTube, cover three broad strands: imaging technologies, geographic methods and ethical issues. This collaboratively taught semester includes contributions from 20 scholars from at least 10 countries. The online sessions are followed by students as part of MA programmes in classics, digital humanities or informatics, and may also be followed by any student or interested colleague or member of the public anywhere in the world for their own purposes.

  1. Thurs Oct 3: Digital Images and Photography (Rossitza Atanassova, Eugenio Falcioni)
  2. *Thurs Oct 10: 3D Imaging and Photogrammetry (Gabriel Bodard, Emma Payne, Valeria Vitale)
  3. Thurs Oct 17: Decolonization of Cultural Heritage (Usama Gad, Zena Kamash, Patricia Murrieta Flores)
  4. Thurs Oct 24: 3D Modelling for Cultural Heritage (Chiara Piccoli, Martina Polig, Valeria Vitale)
  5. Thurs Oct 31: Digital Gazetteers (Johan Åhlfeldt, Tom Elliott, Valeria Vitale)
  6. Thurs Nov 7: Linked Open Data (Gabriel Bodard, Paula Granados García, Matteo Romanello)
  7. Thurs Nov 14: Legal and Ethical Considerations (Gabriel Bodard, Richard Nevell, Andrea Wallace)
  8. Thurs Nov 21: GIS and Geovisualization (Chiara Palladino, Rebecca Seifried)
  9. *Thurs Nov 28: Crowdsourcing Cultural Heritage (John Pearce, Mia Ridge)

The full programme, along with readings and exercises, can be found at the SunoikisisDC 2019 Github page. The Fall 2019 programme is convened by Valeria Vitale (Institute of Classical Studies) with Gabriel Bodard, and Sunoikisis Digital Classics is directed by Monica Berti (Leipzig).

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Programme: Destruction/(Re-)Construction, Sep 30–Oct 2, 2019, Beirut

Announcement from Konstantin Klein:

Destruction/(Re-)Construction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Cultural Heritage in Conflict

Beirut/Lebanon, 30 September–2 October 2019
International Conference of the Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities (AGYA).
Organized by Julia Hauser (Kassel), Konstantin Klein (Bamberg), Lena-Maria Möller (Hamburg), and Mohammed Alwahaib (Kuwait).
In collaboration with the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Orient-Institut Beirut (OIB).

Conference Programme

Monday, 30 September 2019 – American University of Beirut, College Hall B1

8:30 am | Registration

9:20 am | Bilal ORFALI (American University of Beirut/Lebanon) | Welcome Address

9:30 am | Konstantin KLEIN (University of Bamberg/Germany) | Scales of Loss: Why Some Buildings (Seem to) Matter more than Others – Introduction to the Conference

———

Continue reading

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Digital Classical Philology. Ancient Greek and Latin in the Digital Revolution

Digital Classical Philology. Ancient Greek and Latin in the Digital Revolution
Ed. by Monica Berti
Series: Age of Access? Grundfragen der Informationsgesellschaft 10
De Gruyter 2019
Open Access – DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110599572

Thanks to the digital revolution, even a traditional discipline like philology has been enjoying a renaissance within academia and beyond. Decades of work have been producing groundbreaking results, raising new research questions and creating innovative educational resources. This book describes the rapidly developing state of the art of digital philology with a focus on Ancient Greek and Latin, the classical languages of Western culture. Contributions cover a wide range of topics about the accessibility and analysis of Greek and Latin sources. The discussion is organized in five sections concerning open data of Greek and Latin texts; catalogs and citations of authors and works; data entry, collection and analysis for classical philology; critical editions and annotations of sources; and finally linguistic annotations and lexical databases. As a whole, the volume provides a comprehensive outline of an emergent research field for a new generation of scholars and students, explaining what is reachable and analyzable that was not before in terms of technology and accessibility.

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Call for Participation: Linked Pasts 5: back to the (re)sources

From Vincent Razanajao:

Call for Participation: Linked Pasts 5: back to the (re)sources
University Bordeaux Montaigne, Institute Ausonius

Bordeaux, 11-13 December 2019

Dear colleagues,

We are very pleased to invite you to contribute to Linked Pasts 5 Conference, which will take place at the University Bordeaux Montaigne, from Wednesday 11 until Friday 13 December 2019.

Linked Pasts is an annual symposium dedicated to facilitating practical and pragmatic developments in Linked Open Data in History, Classics, Geography, and Archaeology. It brings together leading exponents of Linked Data from academia, the Cultural Heritage sector as well as providers of infrastructures and library services to address the obstacles to, and issues raised by, developing a digital ecosystem of projects dedicated to interlinking online resources about the past.

This year’s symposium aims to centre on the questions of sources, understood here both in terms of ancient/‘historical’ sources, and in terms of data (re)source used in digital, LOD-related projects. We would like to focus on how, and why it is important to link back to the sources, as those are where the historical objects we are dealing with originate from. In this perspective, one target identified for this year is the consolidation of data models related to place, people, and historical sources, especially on how to model relationships between instances from these three classes.

This will be addressed through one panel on Places (keynote: Carmen Brando Lebas) and another on People (keynote: Charlotte Roueché), each followed by a breakout session.

The second aim of Linked Pasts 5 is to debate on infrastructures and LOD implementation. This key question will be addressed through a keynote by Gautier Poupeau (Institut national de l’Audiovisuel [INA], France; @lespetitescases), and a round-table gathering actors from national and supra-national infrastructures (Archaeology Data Service, DARIAH, dataforhistory.org and Huma-Num). We hope this will be the opportunity to share the best practices and present to the conference attendees potential solutions for data storing and publication.

The conference will start with a session where you will be able to participate in a hackathon or attend tutorials on LOD theoretical approaches and tools. There also will be a ‘rolling’ hackathon (running in parallel to breakout sessions) named LinkedPipes, which will be dedicated to tools and workflows, with the aim of producing a set of resources for people who want to do LOD.

Last but not least, Linked Pasts 5 will also provide an extensive poster session, followed by a reception.

Website and Complete CfP: https://linkedpasts5.sciencesconf.org/
Where: University Bordeaux Montaigne, France
When: 11-13 December 2019
Organizers: Alberto Dalla Rosa & Vincent Razanajao (Project PATRIMONIUM ERC-StG 716375 – Institute Ausonius – University Bordeaux Montaigne)
Email: linkedpasts5@sciencesconf.org

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Cataloguing Open Access Materials Workshop

The Combined Classics Library and Institute of Classical Studies, University of London, held a one-day workshop on Thursday July 11, 2019, related to the Cataloguing Open Access Classics Serials (COACS) project, which is now moving from journals to a focus on monographs. We invited colleagues from libraries, archives, bibliographic work and digital humanities. We were particularly keen to discuss the process of adding catalogue records for Open Access publications to specialist library catalogues, including:

  • sources of open access publication data;
  • pathways for ingesting data into our (and shared) catalogue formats;
  • workflows for adding necessary metadata such as subject headings to records;
  • issues around update and maintenance of records relating to OA publications;
  • identification of other consumers of this catalogue data and mechanisms for sharing the outcomes of this work.

The COACS project was funded in 2017 by a strategic grant from the School of Advanced Study, which enabled us to hire a developer, Simona Stoyanova, to convert data from listings and web pages to MARC catalogue records, both to ingest into the ICS/HARL catalogue, and to make available for other institutions to re-use as desired. We received further support from the Classical Association in 2019 to consolidate this cataloguing work and begin planning the work on recording open monographs. In this time we have consulted with publishers, librarians and other heritage professionals on data standards and other technical needs.

The July workshop aimed both to address a series of questions that remain to be resolved, and to engage the community of our potential collaborators and users of our shared data. The discussion, focussed on five main areas:

  1. Introductions to the participants and the institutions represented (several libraries, including ICS/HARL, Warburg, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House Library, British Library, Bodleian, Sackler, Research Libraries UK; publishers, including Open Library of the Humanities and University of London Publications; and JISC). We solicited recommendations of (a) sources of data on open access (especially classical) journals, monographs and other titles, (b) data formats and standards that might be useful to investigate for both ingest and export, and (c) other aggregators and discovery tools for this kind of data. The major incompatibility between schemata used by publishers (such as ONIX) and libraries (primarily MARC and RDA) was noted as a serious hurdle to overcome.
  2. We then discussed pathways to ingest and transform records from the source datasets (whether aggregators, other catalogues, or scraped from individual websites). Questions that arose included to what degree ingests can be automated or need human attention, and what levels of deduplication are needed—a print journal and an online journal may be two separate cataloguable entities, but there will potentially still be items in any ingest dataset that are already in the catalogue, perhaps with different metadata. Guidelines for data formats and especially vocabularies were felt to be very desirable. There was still no consensus on how to record analytic level records (articles/stories/songs etc. within a longer work) in either MARC or ONIX.
  3. After lunch the discussion turned to processes for enhancing records and metadata added to the library catalogue; which fields are likely to need to be added in the library, many of which may be specific or idiosyncratic to the individual catalogue, including: classmark; subject heading; keyword; searchable text (abstract); ORCID identifiers. One difficulty that was still in need of a solution was how to cross-reference between two related fields in MARC, to make it clear for example that a print and electronic item were “the same” book. We discussed whether ingesting large amounts of imperfect/incomplete data was preferable to never being satisfied with the quality of metadata, and also pondered whether machine learning might (imperfectly) help to produce metadata such as subject headings for sparse records with large quantities of free-text available.
  4. In the discussion of data curation and persistence, the biggest question was what to do about links to open access items that have disappeared from the web—could broken links be detected/flagged by software, or is human intervention always needed? We did wonder whether encouraging all publishers, authors etc. to submit works to a stable web archive, and including links (or allowing software to create fallback links) to archived versions of a resource) might be a partial solution; DOIs might also serve part of this solution, but there are still fragile points in the chain. The other issue with persistence is when data has been updated or added to: new issues of a journal appear, a second or expanded edition of a book or non-print-like publication. In these cases, do we need to test and deduplicate records again? Do we update or replace records—and if the latter, what happens to the data that have been added or enriched by the librarian?
  5. The final section of discussion considered who are the potential consumers of the data on open access resources produced by library catalogues, and in particular what digital humanities research might be enabled by making these records available as freely and in as many formats as possible. We were given a quick overview of the workflow of JISC’s National Bibliographic Knowledge-base (NBK), slides from which are reproduced in the online minutes. We considered what value has been added by a library project such as COACS, and the key features were: license information, open formats, and scale of data all in one place. We then discussed briefly the value of citation indexes and other novel research in this area, and were given a demo of the Cited Loci of the Aeneid tool (sadly Matteo Romanello was not able to be with us in the afternoon, so he was not present to discuss his own work).

As is clear from the above, there were more questions than answers provided by this meeting, but it was a very valuable conversation. The minutes that we wrote collaboratively between us at the event, are online at tinyurl.com/COACS2019, with much more detail than this summary, lists of tools, projects and people, and links to many of the resources discussed. We hope that many of the participants will continue to stay in touch and consider how we can work together to these ends in the future.

The next steps for the COACS project are (i) to clean up and finally ingest the journals data into the ICS Library catalogue; (ii) decide how to expose the c. 50,000 article-level records to the catalogue, and make those available; (iii) begin to collect data on open access monographs, and see how feasible it is to create (and deduplicate) catalogue records for these as well. In the meantime, all of the MARC records and the Python scripts we used to create them are available from the COACS Git repository, licensed for you to re-use if they are useful to you.

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Digital Editing in the Classics (Munich, Sept 25-17, 2019)

Posted for Philipp Weiß:

Conference announcement:
DIGITAL EDITING IN THE CLASSICS

The Bavarian State Library (BSB), together with the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BadW), is organizing a conference on digital editions in the fields of Classical and Byzantine Studies. The conference will take place in Munich from September 25-27, 2019 (Bavarian State Library, Ludwigstraße 16, 80539 Munich, Friedrich-von-Gärtner-Saal). The main focus will be on the interaction of different stakeholders, such as scientists, publishers, data centers, and libraries. The presentations cover a broad range of different ancient materials (epigraphy, papyri, manuscripts) and their specific challenges within an editing project.
Conference papers are held in both German and English.

If you plan on coming to Munich we can offer support in finding a suitable hotel. Please register via email by September 10 (Arnold@badw-muenchen.de, Sieber@ub.uni-heidelberg.de or philipp.weiss@bsb-muenchen.de).

See also full programme and registration information.

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Registration Extended: Epigraphy.info workshop in Hamburg

Via email from the organizer, Franziska Weise, we learn:

the registration deadline for the 4th epigraphy.info workshop has been extended until 30th September 2019.
Please pass this message on to colleagues and institutions, who might be interested in participating in the workshop.

The workshop will be held at the University of Hamburg, 19-21 February 2020. Registration is via Doodle: https://doodle.com/poll/dy8k5bngr2s5e8fb

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Digitizing the Ehrenberg Archaeological Collection

Through the Roman Society Museum and Heritage Summer Placement, I was chosen to participate in a two week long internship with the Hellenic and Roman Library and the Institute of Classical Studies, at the University of London. My time here was spent cataloguing and 3D modelling the Ehrenberg Collection, which consists of Greek and Roman artifacts from various periods that were donated to the library by Victor Ehrenberg.

This placement interested and benefited me as a Master’s student in Digital Archaeology and Heritage Management. I will soon be completing my degree at Leiden University, where I have been researching the uses, politics and ethics of 3D imaging as a documentation tool for tangible heritage that will be repatriated to its origin communities, or for items that are difficult for researchers and the public to access.

Working with the Ehrenberg collection was an interesting addition to my research, because the goal of the project was to make the items fully accessible online. When Victor Ehrenberg donated these items, he wished they would be used for further research and education, and thanks to 3D imaging, we are now able to make the artifacts accessible for those interested to view and learn from without having to request them from the library. Furthermore, many of the items are still being held in storage either due to their fragility or lack of display room in the library, so making them available to view digitally will hopefully help carry out Ehrenberg’s wishes and benefit researchers of Greek and Roman antiquity.

3D models that are now available on Sketchfab.

During this internship, I identified and transcribed Ehrenberg’s original catalogue of artifacts into an online catalogue, which will eventually be added to the library’s database. I then began creating 3D models of the items on Agisoft Photoscan, a photogrammetric software. The models that have been created are now accessible on Sketchfab to view and download for free at https://sketchfab.com/harlehrenberg or https://sketchfab.com/awalsh/collections/harl-ehrenberg. While completing these steps, I also created a workflow with useful tips and tricks so that this project may be continued in the future by following the same methodology. This includes a standard workflow for taking photos and using Agisoft, creating a 360 degree model and uploading the completed models to Sketchfab.

A variety of challenges arose during this project. The first step was identifying and transcribing the items in the original catalogue, which contained only a brief description of the items in the collection. Perhaps with future research of these items, they will be assigned more descriptive identifies that can be included in the archive.

The 3D models were created using photogrammetry with Agisoft Photoscan Pro. Of the almost 200 items in the collection, 10 models were created and uploaded to Sketchfab. The photos were taken using a Canon Rebel t5i with varying settings depending on the item, but usually with an ISO of 3200, an aperture of F/9 and shutter speed of 1/30. The items were placed on a stable surface while I moved the camera around it, taking multiple rounds of photos at different heights, always at 70-80% overlap. The photos were always immediately added and aligned on Agisoft Photoscan at a low quality setting to ensure a sufficient amount of camera coverage before the item was moved. In many cases, I went back and took additional photos, particularly when the item such as a jug included a handle, as a significant amount of photos were needed to capture around the handle and between the handle and neck of the vessel. The amount of photos taken were       between 75-135, depending on the size of the object. Some items were particularly difficult to capture, such as the painted column krater due to its curved dark interior (for which I used the camera’s flash), and with a small red figure aryballesque lekythos, which was not modelled in the end due to the difficulty it presented having a reflective surface, and due to time constraints.

Camera alignment on Agisoft Photoscan while modelling a krater.

Once an appropriate amount of cameras aligned on a high quality setting, I proceeded with creating the dense point cloud, mesh, and texture usually using Photoscan’s default parameters. The bases of most of the items were not photographed or rendered on Photoscan because there usually was nothing of interest. In these cases, I used MeshMixer to create a flat base and filled it using a similar texture as the rest of the model. This program was also useful for closing holes that were missed in the mesh. However, there were a few items that had painted bases and were therefore necessary to capture. In these cases, I took photos of the item sitting upright, then flipped it upside down and repeated the photography. The photos were then divided into two chunks on Photoscan and automatically aligned using the align chunks and merge chunks tools. This method did create a messier dense cloud and more time was spent cleaning the cloud and aligning the two clouds, but it was worth the effort in the end to create a 360 degree view of the object.

A very exciting aspect of this project was being taught how to 3D print an item. After creating a 3D model from the original that was kept in storage, we printed a copy of a Roman Egyptian stone baboon. 3D printing is a useful method of making artifacts accessible, because they can be used as teaching tools or if the original item is too fragile to handle. Likewise, some items in the collection were broken and are in need of repair, but by 3D modelling the fragments together, I was able to “digitally repair” them so they are visible as they originally looked. For example, two goddess figurines had their heads detached, and a large column krater had a broken handle. In their 3D models you can see them reattached.

3D printing a Roman Egyptian Baboon.

Figuring out how to include in the archive Ehrenberg’s drawings and photographs, as well as the 3D models that will eventually be created of all the items has not yet been decided. With such a large data set that the models created, consideration about how to store this data is an important issue. The ten models that were made created a data set of approximately 50GB, for which a data repository will eventually have to be built. When all the items are eventually modelled, this repository could make up close to 1TB of data.

I enjoyed working with the items in this collection because it gave me an amazing opportunity to continue learning about 3D imaging and its valuable uses. Being at the HARL for two weeks showed me what a valuable resource it is to academics in the field, and I hope my contribution to the Institute through this project proves useful.  Thank you to Fiona Haarer at the Roman Society, and to Gabriel Bodard, Joanna Ashe and Valeria Vitale at the ICS for their help with planning and offering their advice and expertise on this project.

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Report: Digital Palaeography panel (at ICP, Lecce, July 2019)

On the morning on Wednesday, July 31st 2019, there was a two-hour session of the International Congress of Papyrology, in Lecce, Italy, on Digital Palaeography. This session was convened by Isabelle Marthot-Santaniello, Klaas Bentein and myself, although I only attended virtually via Google Hangout.

The session was made up of seven short papers (10 minutes each, no individual questions) and two longer sessions for general discussion between the participants and the audience.

We began with an introduction by the organizers, in which Isabelle asked how we might use computer science progress in areas such as document analysis and handwriting recognition to further the research goals of papyrology and other ancient palaeographical disciplines. Klaas gave a brief overview of his ERC project “Everyday Writing in Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt.”

The first three presentations were:

  • Vlad Atanasiu (Basel): Script Styles Panoramas by Computational Synthesis (including a nice synthesis of the conflict between computational or statistical knowledge, and human expertise, which needs different kinds of understanding and communication).
  • Fabian Wespi (Heidelberg): Digital Palaeography and Demotic studies (great summary of approaches to classification in Demotic palaeography and how digital approaches contribute to the field).
  • Gemma Hayes (Groningen): The Search for the Qumran Scribes (based on the project “The Hands that wrote the Bible: Digital Palaeography and scribal culture in the Dead Sea Scrolls” that we heard about in London in December).

Followed by ten minutes discussion, much of which focussed on the interoperability of algorithmic approaches such as those presented by the first three speakers, and in particular the possibility of applying approaches designed for one language or script to handwritten texts in other languages.

The next four presentations then, were:

  • Antonia Sarri (Manchester): Handling of Received Letters from Ptolemaic to Roman Times (very interesting overview of the difficulty in identifying and analyising handshifts in papyrological texts, and what they tell us about the re-use of papyrus correspondence).
  • Hussein A. Mohammed (Hamburg): Computational Analysis of Handwriting Styles in Heavily Degraded Manuscripts (a wonderful case-study in some very hard to read documents, and discussion of various computational approaches to improving the programmatic analysis of them).
  • Isabelle Marthot-Santaniello (Basel): D-scribes project and notary hands in Dioscorus archive (proposed futuristic database for search for handwriting similarity, described a programming competition for binarization tools, and plugged “GoRDiPal” (Group of Research in Digital Palaeography) and the D-Scribes mailing list)
  • Alberto Nodar, Lluís González Julià (Barcelona): What’s inside the cigar boxes? The carbonized papyi of the Palau-Ribes collection (the difficulty of studying the Bubastos papyri which are both fragmented and [randomly] dispersed among collections around world).

There followed another twenty minutes of general discussion, which touched on the importance of transparency in mathematical analysis, and of course therefore of open source and other permissive licences for software and data. Metadata about both tools and processes used, credit individual interventions and collaborations (including, I would say, micro-contributions) are essential to make this work academically credible.

Please join the D-Scribes mailing list if you would like to join and continue this conversation beyond the conference.

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