Laurie Pearce, Lecturer

Closed (1) Ancient Texts, Modern Tools and Technologies

Applications for Spring 2018 are now closed for this project.

Are you interested in ancient and modern technologies? Would you like to help preserve knowledge and cultural heritage over time and bring ancient texts to a wider audience and new life on the web?

In this URAP project, students will assist in the preparation of cuneiform text corpora for online presentation and research. Cuneiform script developed in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), and was one of the world’s earliest writing system— in use from c. 3200 BC – 75 AD. Cuneiform scholars were early adopters of digital text editions, evident in the consortial platform: Oracc (On-line Richly Annotated Cuneiform Corpus). HBTIN (Hellenistic Babylonia: Texts, Images and Names), one of the constituent projects, is directed by Dr. Laurie Pearce, lecturer in the department of Near Eastern Studies. This corpus of 500+ Babylonian texts document and contextualize the legal, economic, and scholarly activities of elite families of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Uruk during the Hellenistic period, the reign of Alexander the Great and his successors. They provide a rich picture of the lives of the last native Babylonians. Research apprentices in Ancient Texts, Modern Tools and Technologies will contribute to the curation of project glossaries, catalogue and bibliographies, the preparation of images and the upload of existing materials to the HBTIN website. This URAP project offers apprentices the opportunity to participate in the maintenance and development of an active, on-going research project that is part of an international scholarly agenda. It provides a close, supportive working environment, especially (but not exclusively) for the apprentice with a wide range of interests and skills — including classics, ancient history, Near Eastern history, cultures in contact, urban studies, architecture, digital humanities, social networks, data visualization. The apprentice learn about an ancient society and actively contribute to scholarly efforts to preserve cultural and textual heritage in one of the world’s early, great, literate societies.

A research apprentice can expect to participate in the following project activities:

1. Edit digital text editions and rebuild the project corpus using Oracc’s open source software, working under close supervision of the project director. The apprentice will develop an understanding of a digital project workflow, of the history and development of digital project history. The apprentice will develop skills in working with FTP clients, text editors, and project specific programs.
2. Scan published images for upload to the project and consortium catalogues. The apprentice will develop skills in Photoshop and will learn and understand the importance of conforming to project and consortium standards.
3. Update and maintain the project bibliography. The apprentice will update the local project catalogue with the most current references to text publications, contributing to the timeliness and professionalism of the project.
4. Preparation of original images illustrating text content, such as maps of neighborhoods occupied by the inhabitants documented in the corpus. The apprentice will thus transform the textual descriptions to images with which the scholar or lay research can engage.
5. Advance existing database for new uses as tool for social network analysis. The apprentice will learn principles of data structuring for SNA and how to consider and transform legacy data for new research questions and tools.

Qualifications: Students eager to engage in digital humanities projects, who are meticulous in handling data and text files, have strong organizational skills, and familiarity with Word, or database/spreadsheets or digital graphics programs are encouraged to apply. Background in ancient history, classics, archaeology are a plus, not a requirement. The research assistant will meet with the project director weekly, and will generally be expected to work on project computers; some work may be completed outside of meeting times.

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

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