Mardi 19 mai – Thasos
On the last day of the 2015 Visible Words workshop, we spent the morning wrapping up our projects on the columns that Michele Brunet had reconstructed from the large dossier of inscriptions found in the Passage des Théores.
Due to our limited time, our focus was not to finish all of the parts of our assignments, but to learn the different tools with which to approach various research questions involving prosopography. In our case, we were interested in testing Michele’s reconstruction by constructing a timeline of the attested magistrates as well as creating a social network to detail their prosopography in relation to each other.
In the afternoon, we reconvened to present our progress and to discuss the different challenges we faced in using these new tools. The problems ranged from coding issues, such as how to code breaks in the stone that traversed organizational categories (in this case, ‘time’), to epistemological quandaries, such as what to do when LGPN offers a contested date for an inscription or if a reconstructed name appears not to be attested.
After discussing the positives and negatives of these digital research tools, we realized that we may have perhaps only skimmed the top of their capabilities as we received presentations on more advanced functions. Emmanuelle Morlock demonstrated her experiment with XSLT that produced a more efficient way of accomplishing what we had manually inputted for the Passage des Théores project. Simona Stoyanova then presented on the Standards for Networking Ancient Prosopographies: Data and Relations in Greco-Roman Names (SNAP: DRGN). Equally as enthralling and useful were the presentations on inscriptions that we had worked with in the Archaeological Museum of Thassos. Adeline Levivier exhibited the results of her photogrammetry work, while Nicolas Bresch showed his digitization of our squeezes.
Since I have the privilege of writing the last blog post, I wanted to conclude the blog by discussing the overall impact and outcome of the Visible Words project. Ultimately, the workshop’s greatest benefit was that it provided us with a candid forum in which to test out new digital tools and to weigh their pluses and minuses (there is always room for change/improvements, after all!). The international aspect of the workshop, with Americans and French scholars convening in Greece, pushed us to broaden our various approaches to studying the ancient world by comparing research methods. Ευχαριστώ to everyone involved in such a productive and inspiring workshop!