On March 17-18th
2014 Kathleen Abraham, Shai Gordin (KU Leuven) and Michael Jursa (Universität
Wien) organized a workshop at Leuven in which they discussed the set-up of a
Neo-Babylonian Cuneiform Corpus (=NaBuCCo) website aimed at making available
the large corpus of archival documents from first millennium BCE Babylonia to
historians of the ancient world in general and Assyriologists in particular.

NaBuCCo project

NaBuCCo is a
text-oriented website that aims at putting textual metadata of an estimated
20,000 published Babylonian documentary sources created between roughly 800 and
the end of the pre-Christian era online. It will collect all meta-textual data
from the sources, make the data available online, and link them to the original
source documents from which they are extracted. There will be four main
categories of metadata (Fig. 1): (1) identifiers (NaBuCCo no, CDLI no, museum
no, collection no, duplicates, joins, publication, period, date, archive,
provenience), (2) physical characteristics (dimensions, orientation, sealings,
markings, philological notes), (3) content (text type, transaction object,
quantifiable data, keywords, main persons, paraphrase) and (4) bibliography.

Fig. 1: Metadata – Tablet identifiers

The paraphrase (or Descriptive Summary) is one of
the project’s key elements (Fig. 2), explaining and clarifying the source
texts. By providing such descriptive summaries in narrative style and directly
linking them to the original source documents from which the content data are
extracted, we will make the difficult to interpret cuneiform corpus more accessible.

Fig. 2. Paraphrase: descriptive summary of text’s
content

We hope that the project will benefit the research
community, and will enhance the possibilities of conducting historical and
social investigations into Babylonia’s multicultural society of the first
millennium BCE. The end-product will significantly enrich the resources for the
study of the political, economic, social and cultural history of Babylonia, and
constitute the basis for advanced fundamental research.

Pilot Version

Within six months
(October 2013 – March 2014) Abraham and Gordin have designed the input model,
in close cooperation with the KU Leuven LIBIS team whose consultant has been configurating
their software program CollectiveAccess to our needs (http://www.libis.be/, s.v. Heron).

In the next
stages we will start with the data input and develop the end-user application that
will allow online access to the data.

NaBuCCo and
Digital Humanities

The NaBuCCo project
is firmly situated in the Digital Humanities area of research. It follows
recent research trends and projects in Europe and worldwide which integrate state-of-the
art philological research of cuneiform documentary sources with computer
sciences.

In the study of
the ancient world and more specifically in the discipline of Cuneiform Studies
a sweeping digitalization movement is taking place. There are several projects,
in the Anglo-Saxon scholarly world, in Continental Europe, and in the United
States in particular, which are rapidly moving towards a digitized research environment
in which tools are freely accessible online. The range is broad: from full-text
and metadata databases dealing with Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian and Hittite
texts from various regions, to quality-controlled wiki-environments for editing
ancient documents. These are essential tools to perform innovative fundamental
research.

It
is worthy that our IAP 07/14 funded research group join in such initiatives and
offer the scholarly community the fruits harvested by our
research. Against this background we have set up the NaBuCCo project at the KU
Leuven.