Digitization of the Epigraphic Archive of the OeAI

The epigraphic archive of the OeAI contains reproductions of almost 6,000 inscriptions that were discovered during excavations and surveys under the direction of the OeAI mainly conducted in Turkey and the former Yugoslavia. As part of a comprehensive initiative this material is now being systematically digitized and cataloged.

Housed in the epigraphic archive of the OeAI the documentation has consistently grown since the foundation of the institute at the end of the 19th century – particularly due to the extensive excavation activity in Ephesos that has led to the discovery of more than 5,000 inscriptions (mainly in Greek).

Reproductions of inscriptions and sketch books from Ephesos

As a result the bulk of the inscription reproductions trace back to epigraphic finds from Ephesos and consist of thousands of paper and latex squeezes. These are further underscored because the sketch book pages commonly used for documenting the epigraphic discoveries from Ephesos are also housed in the archive. The following aspects are documented on a page: the find site, the most important measurements, and condition as well as – based on drawings – the appearance of the writing surface of each piece is. Due to the long-term research activity in a site particularly rich in inscriptions, the OeAI now boasts an extensive collection of epigraphic archival material consisting of squeezes and sketch books that, however, are still awaiting to be made digitally accessible.

Up until 1998 a project was engaged with the digitization and cataloging of the sketch books; this dataset will now be expanded, updated, and accompanied with the digital photographs of the squeezes. This will result in a catalog database that contains the documentation including the corresponding meta data – such as information on the first or new edition and various corpus numbers (IvE, McCabe), photographs of the inscriptions and geodata of their site of installation/find spot.

Connection with existing systems

This initiative does not only take into account the already published epigraphic material but also the entire unpublished material thus laying the systematic and especially digital groundwork for further corpus work and edition projects. The data is also being integrated into the  ÖAI-Bilddatenbank.

Future projects could include connecting the database with the Ephesian GIS which would provide a quick overview of find sites and make it possible to draw conclusions regarding the distribution of the respective inscriptions. A long-term objective is to make the epigraphic database of the OeAI openly accessible online.