❖ Our 3-year French-American program dedicated to digital epigraphy is funded by the Partner University Fund (Face Foundation) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Visible Words Program consortium brings together, in the USA, Brown University (Department of Classics & Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology), and the Department of Classics-Perseus Project at Tufts University. In France, the Research Center “Histoire et Sources des Mondes Antiques" HiSoMA (CNRS and University Lyon 2) in connection with the Ecole Française d'Athènes and the Ecole Française d’Extrême Orient.
Our consortium includes specialists of Greek and Latin epigraphy, but also specialists of Ancient Egypt and Southeast Asia in the Middle Ages, as it intends to explore some new questions related to the specificities of inscriptions as communication devices, interweaving visual and verbal codes and meanings in a particular context of visualization and reception. Aggregating specialists of different languages and civilizations to work on inscriptions is the best way to ensure that our research enfolds the multiple dimensions of epigraphical documents.
Our epigraphy is also a “digital" one, as digitally-enabled research, digital editions, and digital publications promote a complete reappraisal of inscriptions, giving the opportunity to deal with these documents as both texts and images, considering together the work of art, the visual and verbal message, and contextualizing the documents in their visual environment as performative communication strategies.
For our first field workshop in Greece (May 2015) we decided to address the challenges of "Linking Digital Epigraphy and Digital Classics Projects" (see Alison Babeu, "Rome Wasn’t Digitized in a Day: Building a Cyberinfrastructure for Digital Classicists", 2011). We emphasized three major and interrelated research topics, which also raise scientific and technological issues.
1. Inscriptions and their context, at different geographic/spatial scales
2. Persons in inscriptions: name and portrait – onomastics and prosopography
3. Visual semiotic: inscriptions as iconotexts, scripts as decorative systems
For each topic, our method is the same: make a full analysis of the scientific topic and make an inventory of the digital tools available, in order to estimate which best fit our needs, whether some tools can be improved to match our questions, or if we have to create something new.
Throughout the workshop, graduate students and faculty will work together on analyzing particularly problematic or controversial epigraphical documents, exploring how digital methods can help us solve thorny scientific questions. In Athens, we will focus on the Tribute Lists from the Peloponnesian War, seeking ways to chart the different geo-political situations presented on each document. In Larissa, we will use social networking techniques to trace the different families represented in the inscriptions of the theater, thereby looking into questions of Romanization and social mobility in Roman Greece. Finally, on Thasos, we will focus on the Passage des Théores, tracing social and family networks through the centuries and exploring the prosopography of the island by cross-referencing external documents with the inscriptions.
❖ The Visible Words program is coordinated by :