PAThs: a digital archaeological atlas of Coptic literature for the study of Late Antique Egypt

Julian Bogdani (La Sapienza, Rome)

Digital Classicist London seminar 2019

Friday July 5th at 16:30, in room G34, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Livecast at Digital Classicist London YouTube channel.

PAThs is an ERC granted project based in Sapienza University of Rome directed by P.Buzi and aimed at designing and publishing open access tools able to provide an in-depth diachronic understanding and effective representation of the geography of Coptic literary and manuscript production and, in particular, of the corpus of literary writings produced in Egypt between the 3rd and 13th centuries in the Coptic language. Recently, a draft of the digital Atlas has been presented to the scientific community, marking the arrival point of two years of activities by a multidisciplinary team, including experts of Coptic literature, Coptic language, philology, codicology, history of religions, palaeography, archaeology and finally Digital Heritage.

While all disciplines are equally important for the reconstruction of the cultural milieu where the Coptic Literature was shaped, spread out and, at its final stage, gradually replaced by the Copto-Arabic and then Arabic production, the Digital Heritage has provided the common ground and the theoretical framework for their fruitful interaction. Geography, finally, has provided the common language, able to connect and put back together the pieces of a greater puzzle, using the map as a canvas on which to draw freely.

While feedback from the scientific community, to whom the Atlas belongs, are already reshaping it in a highly collaborative way of contributing, new challenges are on the table: the enhancement of the data goes along with a greater effort to openness and long term sustainability. Machine-to-machine communication and data export—with a particular attention to data interchange formats, protocols and semantics—are considered as a fundamental tool not only for the mutual exchange with similar projects, but also as a safety net in the nearly daily renewal of the Internet technologies.