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Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative Funding

NEH Award Announcement

"The invention and early development of writing is credited to inhabitants of southern Mesopotamia who in the late 4th and in the 3rd millennium B.C. recorded first administrative and economic transactions, and later literary texts, on clay tablets, using a wedge-like script called cuneiform. Between 1850 and 1990 above all, British-American, French and German archaeological expeditions in the Near East unearthed hundreds of thousands of clay tablets documenting an uninterrupted written tradition stretching over three millennia. The source materials for the study of these ancient civilizations, however, remain widely scattered in museum collections in Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the United States. This project (WWW: will create a database of digital copies and electronic transliterations of digital copies of clay tablets from these collections. Graphics software will be created for the digital presentation of cuneiform script directly from the clay tablets, whose rounded forms present challenges for digital capture techniques. Tools will be devised for linguistic analysis. The project's staff has formed a partnership with the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, based on a mutual interest in the evolution of quantitative thought and its relation to the emergence and development of writing in early Babylonia, and in the use of digital technology for creating access to historical source materials. In addition, the project has secured the cooperation of the British Museum, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Louvre and the State Museum in Berlin. Subcontracts with Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania will ensure the inclusion of the largest cuneiform collections in North America. Maintenance of the collection within the California Digital Library, a comprehensive digital library under development by the University of California system, will ensure the collection's long-term accessibility. When completed, this project will offer scholars, teachers and lifelong learners an opportunity to view and study cuneiform texts on the Internet."

Source of Announcement from NEH:

"U.S. Humanities Endowment Funds High-Tech Solutions to Humanities Research Problems" - ""The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced five new information-technology projects providing high-tech solutions to research problems in the humanities. [September 28, 2000]

NSF Award Announcement

"The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative proposes to develop tools and techniques leading to the systematic digital documentation and new electronic publication of cuneiform sources. Despite the 150 years that have passed since first decipherment of cuneiform many basic research tools remain to be developed that will allow this material to be studied in depth by specialists and generally made available to the public. This project, conducted in close collaboration with a number of organizations (including the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and the California Digital Library) will: (1) Create virtual archives of widely dispersed early cuneiform tablets Implement an integrative platform of data presentation combining raster, vector and 3D imaging with text translation and markup, and (2) Establish for collaborating museums a lasting archive procedure for fragile and often decaying collection of cuneiform records. The project's dataset will be built using platform-independent [XML] text encoding and markup conventions and linked to accurate, high-resolution images. Typologies and extensive glossaries of technical terms will be included, later supplemented by linguistic tools for accessing the primary sources by non-specialists."

Source: NSF Award Abstract - #0000629.


The CDLI project funding is part of Digital Libraries Initiative-Phase 2 ( Digital Libraries Initiative Phase Two</a> is a multiagency initiative which seeks to provide leadership in research fundamental to the development of the next generation of digital libraries, to advance the use and usability of globally distributed, networked information resources, and to encourage existing and new communities to focus on innovative applications areas. Sponsoring Agencies and Programs include National Science Foundation (NSF), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), National Library of Medicine (NLM), Library of Congress (LOC), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA); in Partnership with National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Smithsonian Institution (SI), and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

Prepared by Robin Cover for The XML Cover Pages archive. See "Encoding and Markup for Texts of the Ancient Near East."

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