Perseids Participates in Visible Words

The Perseids team and Tufts University joined the Université Lyon II, l’École Française d’Athènes and Brown University for a three week field workshop in Greece this May. The workshop included 12 graduate students from either side of the Atlantic and a team of faculty composed of professors, professionals, and information technology specialists (see our Participants list). The workshop addressed current issues in the practice of digital epigraphy, especially with respect to prosopography. Faculty and students examined stones and sites in Athens, Larissa, and Thasos. Daily blog entries created by students are available on the workshop website. At each site, we produced digital editions of texts and used a variety of digital tools to extract information from the data we created.

In particular, we used Timemapper to test a new reconstruction of the famous Mur des Théores in Thasos proposed by our colleague Michèle Brunet. The inscription in question is a long list of the names of yearly magistrates in Thasos, spanning at least seven centuries of local history. As the wall has crumbled over time, the reconstitution of the arrangement of the blocks is crucial in understanding the chronological organization of the inscription. Entering the data in Timemapper and thus reconstituting the proposed sequence of magistracies has allowed us to verify the chronological succession and arrangement of the blocks. We enhanced the Timemapper workflow by creating a CITE Image Collection of drawings of the blocks and including links to specific regions of interest on these images, referenced by stable CITE URN.

We also began drafting a social network of the inscription using the SNAP prosopographical standards in order to understand the relationships among the persons listed on the stone (so far, only father/son relationships are represented). The results are displayed in a prototype of a social network visualization plugin for the Arethusa annotation framework. (This plugin was developed for Visible Words with the additional support of the Humboldt Chair for the Digital Humanities at Leipzig.) We used the annotation tool to annotate the relationships and identities according to a controlled workflow and simplified tagging conventions. We used stable URI identifiers from the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN) to annotate the identities. We then submitted the annotations to Perseids for stabilization and preservation. Upon ingest, the Perseids system tested the annotations to ensure they adhered to the tagging conventions and converted the tool-specific annotation data according to the standard Open Annotation data model, and converted the simplified tags for the social relationships to adhere to the stable SNAP ontology.

In addition, this data can be further queried and presented in the Timemapper interface in order to compare it against  traditional prosopographical resources such as the Lexicon of Greek Personal Names (LGPN). The names of the magistrates had also been encoded with TEI/EpiDoc in the Perseids Platform in reference to the blocks on which they were inscribed. As the LGPN also provide some TEI serialization of its data, it’s possible to enrich the TEI/EpiDoc transcription with information about the persons that were recognized by the students from the encoded names.  Emmanuelle Morlock (HISoMA research center in Lyon) showed the students how they could re-use their encoded transcriptions to produce automatically – with some bits of XSLT – another Timemapper  visualization displaying face-to-face the inscribed names and the information taken from the LGPN about the identified persons. A rough calculation of the age the magistrate would have at the year of the block is also possible, thus allowing to detect some wrong identifications through inconsistencies in the dates. In this way, our work contributed in creating a better understanding of this complex ancient inscription while furthering the development of digital tools and methods.

Our workshop in Greece was also the occasion to participate in SunoikisisDC, an international consortium of Digital Classics program with a shared interest in digital methods led by the Humboldt Chair of Digital Humanities in Leipzig. The Université Lyon II is an active participant in the consortium. On May 13, Michèle Brunet and Marie-Claire Beaulieu led the 6th Sunoikisis common session from Thasos focusing on Thasian involvement in the Peloponnesian War. On May 19, Michèle Brunet and her graduate students Nicolas Genis, Adeline Levivier, and Élise Pampanay led the 7th Sunoikisis common session from Thasos focusing on the history of the walls surrounding the ancient city.