AN INTERNATIONAL ELECTRONIC ARCHIVE OF ANCIENT GREEK INSCRIPTIONS (IEAAGI) A PROPOSED PROJECT
INTRODUCTION. Ancient Greek Inscriptions, along with the texts of the ancient Greek (and Latin) authors, and the archaeological remains and finds, constitute the primary sources of Greek History. Inscriptions are very important for the study of ancient Greek history because they refer to many aspects of ancient life—from the private sphere to the official, public, level. Moreover, they are authentic, uncontaminated, texts because no one has interfered between the cutter of the inscription and the reader. On the contrary, the texts of ancient Greek authors have come to us after a long process of copying, a process that took place through the centuries with the result that many changes and mistakes have been made.
Inscriptions bring to light new evidence on facts that were previously unknown, or supplement what we know from the ancient writers about various political/military events and state institutions, economy, justice/law, society, cult, every day life, etc.
Texts of inscriptions are available in published collections (i.e., corpora) arranged by geographical regions: one thinks primarily of the Inscriptiones Graecae, constantly published by the Berlin Academy since the second decade of the 19th century, though other series are also extant nowadays (for example the series of Inschriften Griechischer Städte aus Kleinasien [IK], which is jointly published by the Österreichische and the Rheinisch-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften).
Thanks to the important Packard Humanities Institute project, texts of already published inscriptions became electronically available, first in CDs and, subsequently, since the mid-1990s, on the internet. In this project thousands of epigraphic texts became accessible to scholars and other readers after having been copied from published editions.
However, important for the study of an inscription is not only the text proper but also the material (stone, metal, pot, etc.) on which an inscription is written. In fact, no study of an epigraphic text can be considered complete unless the inscribed object has also been thoroughly examined. Ancient Greek inscriptions, and specifically those that were found in Greece, are mainly stored in the Museums in Greece and some are stored in the Museums of other countries (Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, etc.), though by far the most important collections are those of the Epigraphical Museum (Athens), which contains approximately 13,500 inscriptions, and of the Museum of the Ancient Agora of Athens, with 7,500 inscriptions. Of course, numerous inscriptions remain in archaeological sites where they were excavated, or other places where they were first found. It is therefore obvious that their study requires extensive travel to Greece or to other countries, travel which involves spending time and money.
For this reason unhindered access to photographs, drawings, or squeezes of the already published inscriptions is a constant desideratum of epigraphic scholarship. The importance of squeezes lies in the fact that they preserve the state of the inscribed surface at the very moment at which they were made, very often shortly after the discovery of the inscriptions. Thus squeezes frequently prove to be more reliable than photographs. Many squeezes were made in the 19th century, and in many cases the respective inscriptions have long since suffered serious damage or have very simply disappeared; therefore the importance of squeezes for the study of inscriptions is paramount.
Several small or large collections of squeezes and/or photographs of inscriptions have been compiled by individual scholars, primarily epigraphists and archaeologists (see fig. 1). This is also true of scholarly research centers (for example the Institute of Greek and Roman Antiquity [KERA] of the National Research Foundation of Greece), which have the study of ancient Greek inscriptions as a main research field. It is noteworthy that three major squeeze collections exist, a) of the Archive of Inscriptiones Graecae at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Berlin, b) of the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents (CSAD) of University of Oxford, and c) of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton (New Jersey, USA).
However, this important material for the study of the inscriptions is only partially accessible on the internet: a small number of the CSAD collection has been scanned and most of the squeezes from the collection of the Ohio State University Center for Epigraphical and Paleographical Studies (mostly of Attic Inscriptions) and of the Institute of Greek and Roman Antiquity [KERA]. Web access to collections of photographs is even more difficult because only a small part of the photographic archives of research institutions and Museums has become available on the internet.
A third and equally important source of material for the study of Greek inscriptions consists of the notebooks, drawings and copies of early epigraphists: one thinks, for instance, of the Greeks K. S. Pittakes [1798-1863], P. Eustriatiades [1815-1888], S. A. Koumanoudes [1818-1899], A. Arvanitopoulos [1874-1942], and N. M. Kondoleon [1910-1975]; of the Germans L. Ross [1806-1859], A. von Velsen [1826-1861], and the Austrian A. Wilhelm [1864-1950]; of the Americans Sterling Dow (kept at the Harvard University), W. K. Pritchett and M. H. Jameson (kept at the Sara B. Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy, University of California at Βerkeley) and of the British L. H. Jeffery [1915-1986], W. G. Forrest [1925-1997], and D. M. Lewis [1928-1994]; and of the French L. Robert [1904-1985] and P. Roesch [1926-1990]).
Similarly important are the papers of early travelers and dilettanti, such as the French Michel Fourmont [1690-1746] (see fig. 2), and L. S. Fauvel [1753-1838].
Ιnformation preserved amongst the papers of the epigraphists of the 19th and 20th centuries is of paramount importance for the history of scholarship, the history and the fortunes of every individual each inscribed stone, and for the readings of inscriptions made by the scholars who first studied them.
Those old papers, drawings (see figs. 3, 4 and cf. fig. 5), and photographs often contain important information for the texts of the inscriptions themselves, several amongst which are now lost, cannot be located, are mutilated, or are simply worn and therefore illegible (see fig. 6, 7). Study of the aforementioned archives can also produce important information concerning find spots of inscriptions (see fig. 8), their whereabouts (see fig. 9, 10), etc.
Very few documents of this kind are accessible on the Internet. A notable case is the papers of the eminent Greek epigraphist Lillian H. Jeffery (+1986). Her papers on Archaic Greek Inscriptions (which have been the basis of her monumental book, The Local Scripts of Archaic Greece, Oxford 1961), have been scanned by the Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents (CSAD) of Oxford University and are publicly accessible on the CSAD website that goes under the title Poinikastas.
Proposed project: An international Electronic Archive of the Ancient Greek Inscriptions (EAAGI). Aim of the project: The creation of a unified Electronic Archive of Ancient Greek Inscriptions (EAAGI) accessible to the international scholarly community.
Τhe Electronic Archive of Ancient Greek Inscriptions (EAAGI) will comprise:
1. Images of scanned squeezes kept in the Squeeze Collections of the institutions listed below.
Squeezes not included in any of the collections listed below will be made in the Epigraphical Museum and other Museums, and will be scanned so as to cover the gaps of the Electronic Archive.
2. Scanned photographs of inscriptions. The electronic Archive will be based on the rich collection of photographs (mostly scanned) of the Epigraphical Museum.
3. Archive of scanned notebooks, drawings, and copies of inscriptions of early epigraphists, scholars, and travelers.
The project described above will be important because it will provide easy access to the information provided by the material contained in the Electronic Archive. Process: it should be emphasized that the international Electronic Archive will not be a closed archive, i.e. it will not be terminated once the necessary material has been compiled, but it will keep increasing with the addition of material from extant collections (e.g. of a certain European Museum or research Institution), with scanned notebooks of early epigraphists not enumerated above, or with newly published epigraphic material.
The electronic Archive could also be connected with other existent electronic projects, such as the Packard Humanities Institute project on Greek Inscriptions, the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (A Digital Library of Greek Literature) and the Perseus Digital Library project for the ancient Greek authors, and the Greek-English Lexicon (LSJ). Headquarters: Epigraphical Museum of Athens Research staff: Four scholars will be required to work in Greece for three years to organize and run the project in Greece, to make the necessary contacts with the foreign Institutions which will participate, and to work for the identification of the inscriptions included in the notebooks of old epigraphists, travelers, etc., kept in Greek and foreign Research Institutions; a) one or two scholars from each of the foreign institutions which will operate to the project.
INSTITUTIONS (which could collaborate)
1. Epigraphical Museum
2. Greek Epigraphic Society
3. Archaeological Society of Athens
4. National Archaeological Museum of Athens
5. First Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities
6. Archive of the Greek Archaeological Service
7. Centre of Greek and Roman Antiquity (K.E.R.A.)
1. Archive of Inscriptiones Graecae; Berlin-Brandenburgishe Akademie der Wissenschaften
2. Centre for the Study of Ancient Documents of the University of Oxford
3. Bilbliotheque Nationale des Paris (M. Fourmont and L. S. Fauvel’s papers)
4. College de France (Louis Robert’s papers)
5. Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton
6. Sara B. Aleshire Center for the Study of Greek Epigraphy, University of California at Βerkeley
7. Ohio State University Center for Epigraphical and Paleographical Studies
8. Cornell University
9. University of Austin (Texas)
10. Harvard University