Update on Project Goals

Now that Ancient Lives has been active for more than a year, we wanted to remind everyone about project goals. Ancient Lives combines human computing with machine intelligence in order to expedite the process of identifying known texts, contextualizing unknown texts, bringing together fragments for textual reconstruction, and cataloguing fragments in a more expeditious digital way. The overall goal is to rapidly transform image data from papyri into meaningful information that scholars can use to study Greek literature and Greco-Roman Egypt; information that once took generations to produce.

Since Ancient Lives went live in July of 2011, we have logged have over 1.5 million transcriptions. “Volunteer papyrologists” have specifically helped in identifying over 100 texts, including important pieces from ancient authors like Plutarch and Simonides.

With this mass amount of data Ancient Lives is now capable of moving into the emerging field of Digital Philology. We have generated, for the first time, a database of digital Greek texts. Consequently, the project is now working with programming analysts on creating an innovative interface and potential digital text-editing environment that will make this data more accessible to professional scholars and papyrologists. Furthermore, although the core dataset of Ancient Lives has been the Greek papyrus fragments from the city of the sharp-nosed-fish (Oxyrhynchus), the project, in the future, would also like to start collecting transcriptions from the other languages present in the collection (ancient Egyptian, Aramaic, Arabic, Coptic, etc), as well as try to incorporate other datasets from the ancient world. The Ancient Lives team is very pleased with the response and hard work of the Zooniverse volunteers, and would like this site to transform into an online hub where users from around the world can help scholars study the languages and manuscripts of the ancient world.

One response to “Update on Project Goals”

  1. Martine Extermann says :

    I really appreciate this update. It is motivating to learn what comes out of the project.

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