Greater Mesopotamia

Greater Mesopotamia

workshop on NaBuCCo online project

ActivitiesPosted by Kathleen Abraham Wed, March 26, 2014 09:21:06

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 (, 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.

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