Tag Archives: Oxford

Crowdsourcing Proto-Elamite

Here’s an interesting article from the BBC: researchers from Oxford’s Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative, led by Jacob Dahl, are attempting to decipher inscriptions in Proto-Elamite — an undeciphered writing system from Elam, in present-day Iran — by taking high-resolution photos of the inscriptions and posting those photos online for anyone and everyone to help decipher. Here’s the BBC’s description of the process:

Dr Dahl, from the Oriental Studies Faculty, shipped his image-making device on the Eurostar to the Louvre Museum in Paris, which holds the most important collection of this writing.

The clay tablets were put inside this machine, the Reflectance Transformation Imaging System, which uses a combination of 76 separate photographic lights and computer processing to capture every groove and notch on the surface of the clay tablets.

It allows a virtual image to be turned around, as though being held up to the light at every possible angle.

These images will be publicly available online, with the aim of using a kind of academic crowdsourcing.

Dahl and his team have set up a wiki with links to their photos of the Proto-Elamite inscriptions and tools for studying the language. Interested parties can also email cdli.oxford@orinst.ox.ac.uk to volunteer.

To me, this sounds like a very good opportunity for an undergraduate class project in a Near Eastern Languages and Cultures or a Classics program. Students would get hands-on experience using digital tools for research, as well as providing a great benefit to the field.

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Three New Online Resources from Oxford UP

I’m very excited about these new online resources from Oxford University Press. One of them is online now, and the other two will be released very soon. Check them out!

1. Oxford Scholarly Editions

The first new resource from Oxford is Oxford Scholarly Editions. The blurb from their website:

Available for the first time online, Oxford’s scholarly editions provide trustworthy, annotated texts of writing worth reading. Overseen by a prestigious editorial boardOxford Scholarly Editions Online is a collection of these highly sought after editions, making them more accessible and searchable than ever before. The launch content on the site includes hundreds of poems, plays, and prose works, written by writers active between 1485 and 1660.

Check out the authors list and the works list. It’s impressive! It’s also quite useful for studying religion from the time period given above; they have, for instance, letters from Richard Baxter, several works by John Donne, letters from Erasmus, several works by George Herbert, letters from Henry More to Anne Conway, poems by Robert Southwell, and Holy Living and Holy Dying by Jeremy Taylor.

2. Oxford Reference

The second exciting thing from Oxford is Oxford Reference. The blurb:

Oxford Reference is the home of Oxford’s quality reference publishing, bringing together over 2 million entries, many of which are illustrated, into a single cross-searchable resource.  Newly relaunched with a brand new look and feel, and specifically designed to meet the needs and expectations of reference users, Oxford Reference provides quality, up-to-date reference content at the click of a button. Made up of two main collections, both fully integrated and cross-searchable, Oxford Reference couples Oxford’s trusted A-Z reference material with an intuitive design to deliver a discoverable, up-to-date, and expanding reference resource.

The site is a combination of Oxford Reference Online and the Oxford Digital Reference Shelf. It’s set to launch on September 19, which is not so far away. And, not surprisingly, it will have a lot of good resources relating to Biblical Studies and Religious Studies. They’ll have sources on Archaeology, Art & Architecture, Classics, History, Linguistics, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, Science & Technology, Social Science, and Society & Culture. They’ll also have bilingual dictionaries in a myriad of languages, which in itself will be fantastically handy.

3. Oxford Handbooks Online

The final bit of news is an upcoming update to Oxford Handbooks Online. Again, from their website:

Oxford University Press is pleased to announce that Oxford Handbooks Online will relaunch in 2012. The site will feature the same analytical and authoritative review articles currently available through Oxford Handbooks Online, but with expanded coverage and with new articles added on a monthly basis. Coverage will expand to fourteen disciplines: Archaeology, Business and Management, Classics, Criminology, Economics, History, Law, Linguistics, Literature, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Religion.

The relaunch of Oxford Handbooks Online represents a transition from an e-book database, to a dynamic article-delivery service featuring handbook chapters in advance of their print publication, ensuring the scholarship’s currency and reliability. Handbook chapters will appear alongside articles commissioned exclusively for Oxford Handbooks Online to provide comprehensive coverage of the discipline. Each subject area will be overseen by an Editor in Chief and Editorial Board of subject experts who will guide editorial development and insure the scholarship meets high standards for academic quality.

I’m pretty excited about this update. Right now, all they have online are digital versions of the handbooks from four different disciplines (Business & Management, Political Science, Philosophy, and Religion). But with the update will come ten new disciplines, including several with clear ties to Biblical Studies and Religious Studies: Archaeology, Classics, History, Linguistics, and Literature.

(HT: The Hindu Business Line)

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