By markup I mean the association with an image of relevant sets of information. This information must address some or all of these requirements:
There are also more specialised sorts of information that papyrologists need for serious work on an image. In the case of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, this information is already in the public domain with the published volumes. These contain exhaustive information on all the papyri appearing on this site (and many, many more). But it would be handy to be able to search subsets of this information. The sample volume weve put online just has papyrus numbers, and the headings they were given at original publication in the tables of contents: thus far, a stark minimum.
- Identification: the papyrus must be uniquely identifiable
- Clarification: the markup can convey information that is not obvious from the image alone (eg traces hidden by folds)
- Elucidation: the markup might contain (eg) a translation of the papyrus text
Routinely, people working with papyri need to ask or answer a number of basic questions. These include:
Of course, it doesnt stop there. Papyrologists wanting to check a reading will want to know where the papyrus physically is: not all of them end up with the main body of a particular collection. Lots of the early Oxyrhynchus Papyri were distributed by a cartel, and have ended up at literally hundreds of separate institutions: see the Location-Lists on this site for the bewildering details. (Regrettably, not every papyrus that gets found has stayed found.) And papyrologists could also do with knowing whether plates of the papyrus have been published; or articles written about it; or whether their alternative reading has in fact already been proposed elsewhere. (Theres no sense in reinventing the wheel.)
- What the text is: a specific kind of document? part of a known literary work?
- How the papyrus can be located within the collection that contains it (essential for referring to it in scholarly literature, or to check readings): what is its index number?
- What it is physically like: width, height, how many bits its in. You can often guess at the physical condition even without an image: square brackets [ ] indicate a lacuna in the text, which tends to mean a hole or rip in the papyrus.
- When it was produced: the editors best guess on dating, based on comparison against a range of dateable handwriting samples. A good stylistic match can give a pretty reliable rough dating along the lines of early second century AD. If the text is a document, it may well contain a precise date.
Theres little I could say about APIS that its originators havent said better and more boldly elsewhere. POxys links page offers some further pointers. Its big, its clever, its expertly organised and grandiose in scope. Meanwhile heres me with my camera and thousands of papyri. Ho hum.
Seriously, APIS is the inspiration for a lot of what were about here. Collectively, the APIS sites represent a great deal of work and frightening levels of expertise. Its a huge achievement. For an indication of the state of play, check out Dukes most recent progress report.
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