digital archive for the study of pre-islamic arabian inscriptions

Digital Archive for the Study of pre-Islamic Arabian Inscriptions
DASI project was funded by the European Community within the Seventh Framework Programme “Ideas”, through an ERC – Advanced Grant awarded to Prof. Alessandra Avanzini at the University of Pisa (2011-2016). The Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, additional participant of the project, was responsible for the technical development of the archive, which is now maintained at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Rome.
Content and objectives – DASI seeks to gather all known pre-Islamic Arabian epigraphic material into a comprehensive online database, with the aim to make available to specialists and to the broader public a wide array of documents often underestimated because of their difficulty of access, so that the rich cultural heritage of ancient Arabia can be studied in a holistic manner to fill an important gap in the history of the ancient Near East. During the course of the DASI ERC project, the University of Pisa team under the direction of Prof. Alessandra Avanzini made nearly 8,200 Ancient South Arabian inscriptions and 600 more anepigraphic objects openly accessible. The digitization of the Ancient South Arabian corpus has continued after the end of the funded project and is currently conducted at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche.
Thanks to the collaboration with other major European centres for the study of the Arabian Peninsula, during the course of the ERC funded project, also parts of the corpora of the Ancient North Arabian inscriptions (supervision by Mr. M.C.A. Macdonald, University of Oxford), Nabataean inscriptions (supervision by Dr. Laila Nehmé, UMR 8167, CNRS-Paris) and other Aramaic inscriptions (supervision by Dr. Maria Gorea, Université de Paris VIII) were digitized. For further information regarding each corpus, please visit the corresponding sections of the archive from the Projects menu.
Archive: consultation – By entering each of the sections of the archive, the user will be able to access their content by different Indexes, whose lists can be refined by using filters. Corpora of inscriptions are hierarchically organized by language and script typology; Collections of objects are organized by deposit and gather epigraphic and an-epigraphic objects from ASA collections worldwide, digitized on DASI thanks to specific agreements with museum institutions. The indexes of Epigraphs, Objects and Sites provide refinable alphabetical lists of inscription/object sigla and modern toponyms respectively, giving access to their records. Each record displays meta-information specific to its category, plus links to the related records; the Epigraph records also host the transcription of the inscriptional text and potential translations. A Bibliography index is also provided.
Thanks to the xml mark-up of the textual features and to the record of extra-textual features, the DASI user can enjoy two useful sections for the consultation and study of inscriptions. The Word lists allows to retrieve the list of the words occurring in the inscriptions of the archive, both for lexicon and onomastics. Two separate lists are provided: the General word list and the list of all the words with Lacunae at beginning. The Textual search tool allows to perform dynamic searches on words or patterns of words within the texts of the inscriptions. Searches can be refined using one or more filters that will be applied to the meta-information of the epigraphs or to the encoded texts. A Map is also available in the Tools section: it displays the location of the sites, whose coordinates have been recorded in the archive, and gives access to the Site cards.
Users are invited to visit the Help and Editorial criteria pages in order to get instructions on the browsing of the cards and use of indices and tools, and to get an overview of the editorial criteria followed in cataloguing.
Archive: digitization – The digitization of the pre-Islamic Arabian inscriptions is done by means of a data entry system, which ensures uniform and secure cataloguing, archiving and indexing of data. This is collected in a relational database, whose structure is centred on the inscription as the main entity, relating to other entities which complete its description (information about the support of the text, its translation, its bibliography, geographical information about the site, visual material). Epigraphic texts are transliterated according to the Unicode Standard and encoded using a standard XML language (TEI/Epidoc), in order to annotate information concerning the structure and the onomastics of the text, and editorial interventions. A Lexicon tool has been implemented for the lexicographic study of the ASA languages, which is currently in progress.
Archive: interoperability and reuse – DASI inscriptional records are exposed in an OAI-PMH repository for data harvesting by service providers, including Europeana. The Corpus of South Arabian Inscriptions in DASI contributed data to Trismegistos and is currently a data source for the Digital Atlas of Ancient Arabia and the Gazetteer of Ancient Arabia of the MAPARABIA Project.