Wednesday, February 1, 2012

News from the CDLI: Columbia University Libraries cuneiform collection in CDLI

Columbia University Libraries cuneiform collection in CDLI

The Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI  <>), in partnership with the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the Columbia University Libraries in New York (CUL, <>), is pleased to announce the addition of new digital content to its web offerings.

The collection of 629 cuneiform texts of the Columbia University Libraries is one of the oldest in North America and is made up of an unusual mixture of genres of materials ranging in date from the Proto-Elamite period to Hellenistic times. The Ur III texts in the collections have been the subject of several scholarly publications dating from as early as 1896 (William R. Arnold, Ancient-Babylonian Temple Records in the Columbia University Library), and were most recently gathered together in a comprehensive 2010 monograph by Steven Garfinkle, Herbert Sauren, and Marc Van De Mieroop (=CUSAS 16). But beyond the tablets from the Ur III period, the CUL collection remains relatively unstudied.

Following the 2010 publication, CDLI staff contacted Jane Siegel, Rare Book Librarian of the CUL, and with her kind assistance and that of the CU library staff, UCLA graduate student Jared Wolfe was, in June of last year, able to flatbed scan all then accessible artifacts. The raw images of that campaign were subsequently processed to CDLI fatcrosses by UCLA staff, and have been posted to web, accessible both through CDLI's search page <> as well as through a special website dedicated to the collection at <>, with a brief introduction written by M. Van De Mieroop at <>. We welcomecorrections and additions to our text identifications, and are particularly desirous to learn of specialist interest in the scholarly edition of texts listed as unpublished. The now available image
documentation, itself reduced for web dissemination from archival 600ppi tif to 300ppi jpg files, is envisioned as a facilitator in the preparation of annotated manuscripts.

The imaging and image processing in this Columbia-CDLI collaboration were made possible by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and are part of the on-going mission of CDLI to ensure the long-term digital preservation of ancient inscriptions on cuneiform tablets, and, in furtherance of cuneiform research, to provide persistent, free global access to all available text artifact data.

For the CDLI and the CUL:
Jane Siegel, Rare Book Librarian, Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
Columbia University
Marc Van De Mieroop, Professor of Ancient History, Columbia University
Robert K. Englund, Director, CDLI

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