Thursday, May 21, 2015

CDLI News: Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)

Detroit Institute of Arts—Cuneiform too!
The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported research project “Creating a Sustainable Digital Cuneiform Library (CSDCL),” are delighted to announce the addition of new resources to the web in support of online research and of the digital preservation of shared world cultural heritage. Under the general direction of the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative (CDLI), an international research project based at the University of California, Los Angeles, an initial agreement of cooperation was reached in December of 2013 between Prof. Robert K. Englund, CDLI Principal Investigator, and Lina Meerchyad, DIA Collection Research Associate, who managed communication, catalogued objects, compiled and shared photographs, and translated texts of DIA cuneiform objects. With the generous support of the Department of Collections Management and the Department of the Arts of Asia and the Islamic World at the DIA, the collection was scanned in May of 2014 by CDLI member and UCLA graduate student Michael Heinle, working closely with Lina Meerchyad in Detroit. The results of that collaboration have now been added to the CDLI website, viewable here; they can also be viewed via the project’s search page (type DIA in “Collection number”). 
The DIA is one of the top art museums in the United States. In addition to having great collections of famous artworks, the Museum also possesses discoveries from ancient Middle East, Africa, Egypt, Europe, Greece, America, etc. The art of Ancient Middle East collection consists of significant archaeological artifacts from the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Iran, and the Arabia. Within the collection is a group of 34 administrative cuneiform clay tablets, cones, and bullae that were formerly in the collection of Prof. Albert T. Clay, Yale University, donated to the museum by Henry Glover Stevens in 1919. The objects date back to the Sumerian kings of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Shulgi, Amar-Sin, Shu-Sin, and Ibbi-Sin, and were mostly found at Puzrish-Dagan, Umma, and Girsu (ca. 2112-2004 BC). Among them are documents from the time of Sin-kashid of the Early Old Babylonian (ca.1790 BC), as well as from the Old, Middle, and neo-Babylonian periods, dated from the 19th-6th centuries BC. Other inscribed objects are neo-Assyrian reliefs of Assurnasirpal II (883-859 BC), a brick of Shalmaneser III (858-824 BC), a relief from the Palace of Tiglath-pileser III (744-727 BC), all from Nimrud, and a statue of Gudea, the governor of Lagash (ca. 2150-2125 BC). Three publications in the Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts on the latter objects can be viewed here.
With the goals of ensuring the long-term digital preservation of ancient inscriptions on cuneiform text artifacts, of furthering Humanities research, and of providing free international access to all objects data, we hope that the DIA-CDLI collaboration will be welcomed by Assyriologists, scholars of related fields, and all those generally interested in the history of the ancient Near East. We look forward to their investigation of the DIA digital content, and are grateful for their corrections and interest in our catalogue and in publishing unedited texts in the collection. For publication purposes, any inquiries about the cuneiform collection should be directed to the Detroit Institute of Arts.
For the Detroit Institute of Arts:
Lina H. M. Meerchyad, Collection Research Associate, Collections Management, DIA
For the Cuneiform Digital Library Initiative:
Robert K. Englund, Director, CDLI, and Professor of Assyriology, UCLA

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