PROGRAMME “Ideas” – Call Identifier ERC-2013-AdG


Project Acronym: DIGMEDTEXT
Project Full Title: Online Humanities Scholarship: A Digital Medical Library based on Ancient Texts
Grant Agreement No: 339828
Duration: 36 months

Principal Investigator: Prof. Isabella ANDORLINI


The project to digitise a large corpus of ancient medical papyri and related artifacts from Egypt aims at providing comprehensive digital editions of medical sources, including texts, translations, commentary, metadata and images of the papyri. The research questions underlying the present proposal are: A) the dramatic impact on the capabilities of the digital environment to handle the complexity of the literary texts preserved by papyri; B) the quality of the digital editions assured by the collaboration of an international community of experts and the publication of the primary data kept up-to-date; C) this pilot project will have a major impact on a wider range of text-editing disciplines beyond the papyrological field, for example also in epigraphy, archaeology, and in classics.
(1) Main objective. The goal is to make both texts and metadata accessible through a single interface and to publish online combining philological rigour with technological flexibility. The editions will include line-by-line commentary as well as expandable bibliography and evolving critical apparatus for all Greek texts. In order to optimise financial and scientific resources, the Digital Medical Library will gradually extend the existing Duke Data Bank by bringing documentary and literary papyri together into a common technological framework for the first time.
(2) Strategical vision. The core strategy of DIGMEDTEXT is the interaction of the worldwide community of cooperating and coopted participants who will both enter new literary and sub-literary texts of medical content, as well as thoroughly revise and improve existing editions. Openness and dynamism will characterise our searchable database: it will not be a mélange of fixed data, but rather a constantly changing set of fully open data sources monitored by the scholarly community and maintained by all coopted experts who care to participate. There is a serious risk that despite the considerable amount of texts entered and re-edited scientifically, still no coherent and/or synthetic picture of ancient medicine and its literature will emerge and that the links that will be established will prove incidental.
(3) Co-operation Towards Co-evolution. To enhance the educational and scientific value of the project, an integrated task force of young scholars and reputed team members in Europe (Parma, Heidelberg, London, Cambridge, Oslo) will interact with the team of the SoSOL workspace (the innovative software named Son of Suda Online and housed at NYU), to develop a core set of non-document-specific encoding and use-needs that will improve the current DDB markup and enhance its performance.
(4) Innovative lexicographical infrastructure. This initiative focuses on the specific subset of literary texts. Their exegesis, which reveals medical terminology unattested in other medical texts, will be intertwined with an interactive dictionary of scientific terminology attested in the medical papyri, with attention to Greek and Latin technical words surviving into modern scientific discourse. The dictionary (possibly with links to the Thesaursus Linguae Graecae) will be produced directly via the PN/SoSOL interface, for this enables lemmatised searching.
(5) Outcome and dissemination. The corpus of medical papyri itself needs no championing: the texts are a treasure trove of information about the development of ancient science, on its penetration into Egypt —and, by extension, into regions of a broader Mediterranean world, ultimately to be spread by the Romans to the entirety of Western Europe. The DIGMEDTEXT will become an invaluable research tool for the entire community of papyrologists, ancient historians, historians of science, philologists, and digital humanists. Circulation of researchers and availability of results will be provided by yearly training sessions. Recruitment and specialisation of junior researchers, circulation of senior researchers and joint interpretation of results will be secured by annual workshops which will result in joint publications, defined thematically. The PI will lay the foundation for producing the first monograph in English dedicated to an in-depth-discussion of the contribution of medical papyri and related artifacts to the knowledge of ancient medicine as theory and practice. A final Conference will centre on medical semantics (and, when applicable, pragmatics) as illuminated by the papyri. New intellectual relationships among disciples and their disciplines are expected to result.

Poster presentazione progetto Napoli 2014