Inscriptions of Israel Palestine

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Description

The Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine (hereafter Inscriptions) project was officially launched by Michael Satlow in 1996. This initial prototype was produced under the auspices of, and with generous support from, the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at the University of Virginia. The primary goal of this prototype was to develop a data architecture (the DTD, or "Document Type Definition") that would allow for encoding inscriptions in a way that would be maximally useful for scholarly and pedagogical purposes. Although modified in the years since, our present DTD is largely an outgrowth of this early one. The prototype encoded the inscriptions in English translation only from the catacombs of Bet She'arim, a late antique Jewish burial site located not far from modern day Haifa. At that time, it was technically too challenging to encode the Greek and Hebrew texts, as Unicode was just an emerging standard that had few tools available for its entry or display. This project also experimented with a geographical interface that would allow users to better view inscriptions within their wider context.

Satlow moved to Indiana University, Bloomington, in 1999, and began work on the next phase of the project with the help of the Indiana University Digital Library Project. From 1999-2002, the DTD was converted into XML and, with technological advances in the application of Unicode, it became increasingly possible to encode and search Greek and Hebrew texts. During these years we also worked on user interfaces and ways of better integrating geographical data into the project. Many of these contributions were not implemented before Satlow left IU in 2002 to move to Brown University, but the skeleton of a second prototype can be seen at http://letrs.indiana.edu:9090/inscript/index.html.

The present project builds on these earlier prototypes but also goes far beyond them. Reconstituted as a collaborative project and now under the auspices of the Scholarly Technology Group at Brown University, Inscriptions now has a functioning permanent site.