Sharing Ancient Wisdoms: developing structures for charting textual transfer

Charlotte Roueché & Charlotte Tupman (King's College London)

Institute of Classical Studies Digital Seminar 2011

Friday June 17th at 16:30, in Room 37, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

The Sharing Ancient Wisdoms (SAWS) project has been made possible by funding from HERA - Humanities in the European Research Area - as part of a programme to investigate cultural dynamics in Europe. It is made up of three teams, at the Centre for Hellenic Studies and the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London; The Newman Institute Uppsala; and the University of Vienna.

Our project exploits digital technologies to present and analyse the tradition of wisdom literatures in Greek and Arabic. Throughout antiquity and the middle ages collections of wise or useful sayings were created and circulated, as a practical response to the cost and inaccessibility of full texts in a manuscript age; our project focuses on those which collected moral and social advice, and philosophical ideas. The compilation of these collections formed a crucial route by which ideas of reasonable behaviour and good conduct were disseminated over a huge area over the course of many centuries.

We have two main aims: to mark up and publish collections of wise sayings (gnomologia) using TEI XML; and to develop a series of explanatory links, expressed in RDF, between sections of text within the collections, and also between the collections and their source texts and texts which drew upon them.

Our main challenges are:

  1. To choose and agree a set of useful statements: is a translation of; is exactly the same wording as; is a variant version of; etc.
  2. To identify appropriate TEI-compliant encoding using an iterative process of testing
  3. To create an ontological framework to enable us to express the relationships within and between our own texts
  4. To identify the tools that will enable other projects to link their texts to ours and express the relationships that exist between them

We therefore welcome opportunities to present and discuss our work and the challenges that we are facing in our project.


The seminar will be followed by wine and refreshments.

Audio recording of seminar (MP3)

Presentation (PDF)