I’m always interested in how online databases of all types of cultural heritage are structured. What is their interface, how does the search function work, how user-friendly is the browsing experience, is it easy for scholars to contribute, etc.? Another fine example has come to my attention: Papyri.info, an initiative of New York University.
… dedicated to the study of ancient papyrological documents. It offers links to papyrological resources, a customized search engine (called the Papyrological Navigator) capable of retrieving information from multiple related collections, and an editing application, the Papyrological Editor, which contributors can use to suggest emendations to PN texts. The Papyrological Navigator aggregates and displays information from the Advanced Papyrological Information System (APIS), the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri (DDbDP) and the Heidelberger Gesamtverzeichnis der griechischen Papyrusurkunden Ägyptens (HGV), as well as links to Trismegistos.
The search engine is pretty straightforward. This website aggregates several online databases of these Greek/Latin papyri texts effortlessly. Combining, bundling databases is of course a very much needed path to allow scholars to focus on research rather than hunting down books or jumping back and forth between different online collections, each with their own interface and conventions. Some manuscripts come with photos and even translations, e.g., P.Ross.Georg. 1, 23. I found one small problem: when I click the symbols alerting me to apparatus notes (kind of footnotes) to a text passage/word, the browser doesn’t take me to the actual note at the bottom of the web page. Also, those notes are not numbered or differentiated in any way, making it hard to link up notes with the text they are related to. Maybe this issue is temporary or limited to certain manuscripts? I don’t know. One example of this can be found in, for instance, P.Abinn. 1. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test drive the Papyrological Editor as it is understandably limited to registered scholars only. I wouldn’t want to pass myself of as a papyrologist any time soon, even Assyriologist would be a stretch after so many years…
2 thoughts on “Papyri.info”
Just a note, we don’t actually vet users, anyone can sign up and propose emendations (or just play with the system – although documentation for new users is lacking right now it is being worked on). However, the DDbDP and HGV editorial boards vote on and check submissions before they pass into the main public corpus. Soon we actually hope to have a “propose emendation” link on every text page in the PN which will allow you to sign up or log in and immediately begin working with that text in the editor.
Thank you for the correction and clarification!