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  • Description, translation and process: Making the implicit explicit in digital editions of ancient text-bearing objects

    Martina Filosa, Usama Gad, Gabriel Bodard

    Chapter from the book: Palladino C. & Bodard G. 2023. Can’t Touch This: Digital Approaches to Materiality in Cultural Heritage.

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    Digital editions of ancient texts and objects follow the nineteenth–twentieth century tradition of academic editing, but are able to be more explicit and accessible than their print analogues. The use of digital standards such as EpiDoc and Linked Open Data, that emphasise interoperability, linking and sharing, enables—we shall argue, obliges—the scholarly editor to make the digital publication open, accessible, transparent and explicit.

    We discuss three axes of openness:
    1. The edition encodes dimensions and physical condition of the inscribed object, as well as photographs and other imagery, and should include translations to modern languages, rather than assuming fluency.
    2. Contextual and procedural metadata include the origins of scholarly work, permissions, funding, influences on academic decision-making, material and intellectual property, trafficking, ethics, authenticity and archaeological context.
    3. The digital standards and code implementing them, enabling interoperability among editions and projects, and depend on consistency and accessible documentation of practices, guidelines and customisations. Standards benefit from training in scholarly and digital methods, and the nurturing of a community to preserve and encourage the sustainable re-use of standards and editions.

    Ancient text-bearing objects need to be treated as material artefacts as well as the bearers of (sometimes abstract or immaterial) strings of historical text. All elements of the publication of both object and text are interpretive constructs. It is essential that we not neglect any of the material or immaterial information in all of these components, in our scholarly quest to make them explicit, interoperable and machine actionable.

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    How to cite this chapter
    Filosa, M et al. 2023. Description, translation and process: Making the implicit explicit in digital editions of ancient text-bearing objects. In: Palladino C. & Bodard G (eds.), Can’t Touch This. London: Ubiquity Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/bcv.d

    This is an Open Access chapter distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (unless stated otherwise), which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

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    Additional Information

    Published on Dec. 18, 2023


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