Monday, November 27, 2023

West Semitic Research Project

 [First posted in AWOL 1 February 2010, updated (new text and links) 27 November 2023]

West Semitic Research Project
The West Semitic Research Project is an academic project affiliated with the University of Southern California School of Religion and directed by Professor Emeritus Bruce Zuckerman. For the past 40 years WSRP has used advanced photographic and computer imaging techniques to document artifacts and texts from the ancient Near East and Mediterranean worlds. In doing this we have built a vast collection of images that are available to scholars, students, educators and the general public through the USC Digital Library.

About WSRP

WSRP was started in the early 1980s by Bruce Zuckerman and his brother Kenneth. Bruce, a scholar and teacher of the Bible and ancient Semitic languages, was frustrated by the lack of good photographs of important ancient inscriptions. With the help of his brother, Ken, he set out to remedy the situation.

The study of ancient writing is called epigraphy. In this field it has been typical of scholars who read ancient texts to do their own reading, produce a drawing of the text and publish the drawing, translation and transcription as the main tool for study. Photographs, if provided, can rarely be used for study. The reason is that the photographs are either taken by scholars who know little about photography, or by photographers who cannot read what they are looking at and so may miss important data.

The most important principle that governs the work of the WSRP is the combining of good photography with knowledge of the scripts and languages. We believe in training scholars to be good photographers, or at least encouraging them to work closely with photographers to get the best possible results.

For Educators and Students

This site is designed to provide an educational experience for students, teachers and the general public. It includes images of Dead Sea Scrolls, biblical manuscripts and ancient texts relating to the Bible, together with descriptions and informative discussions of the images. We encourage instructors to make these images available, on a non-commercial basis, to their students as a resource in the study of history, culture, religion, biblical studies, and related subjects.

Non-Biblical Ancient Texts Relating to the Biblical World
Biblical Manuscripts
Dead Sea Scrolls
USC Archaeological Research Collection

For Scholars

The image collection of West Semitic Research (WSR) includes a wide variety of inscriptional material, particularly in the languages and scripts of Northwest Semitic. The following is a listing of image collections in high-resolution digital form. Many are subject to arrangements with collaborating institutions. Scholars can use the links here to browse through the image lists.

These images are for study purposes only. Permission to publish must be obtained in writing from WSR and collaborating institutions.

The West Semitic Research Project launched its image database as an Internet database application, InscriptiFact, in 2004. That application is now closed, but the images found on that application, as well as many others, can be found through the USC Digital Library, InscriptiFact–An Image Database of Inscriptions and ArtiFacts.

 Training Program in the Use of Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)

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