Digital Nineveh Archives (http://www.digitalnineveharchives.org/index.html).
Institution(s): University of California, Berkeley
Established in 2005 by a team from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with the aid of a Recovering Iraq’s Past NEH grant, the Digital Nineveh Archives (DNA) was developed to provide researchers with a digital repository that fully documents the history of archaeological excavations at Nineveh (located near modern Mosul, Iraq) while also rendering rare textual resources and data available and accessible. Two years after its inception, the DNA was joined by the British Universities Iraq Consortium, including the British Museum and the CAMEL (Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes) lab at the University of Chicago, which provided further support and considerably broadened the scope of the project. The multi-institutional team initially began digitizing field records from UC Berkeley’s archaeological excavations in 1987, 1989, and 1990, though it gradually expanded its focus to include documentation spanning from the 19th century to the present. Additionally, the DNA was designed to not only offer researchers information on the history of excavations of Nineveh, but also situate the site within the larger history of ancient Near East and its excavation and exploration.
Written in both English and Arabic, this digital repository is a novel and valuable resource for researchers since it contains geographical reference and spatial information – i.e. high-resolution aerial photos and maps – as well as archival photos of the site and artifacts, field excavation reports, articles, and interactive timelines of the archaeology and history Nineveh, especially shedding light on its role as the capital of the Assyrian empire. Given the uniqueness of having these resources in one place that fully chronicle the history of an archaeological site, especially in Iraq, which has many sites that have either been destroyed or seriously endangered during the Iraq War, the DNA is both an important research tool as well as a much needed project to preserve data.
Additionally, the DNA website is technologically sophisticated, having a design that is user-friendly and created for a broad audience, especially one that is multi-lingual. The project has made a concerted effort to utilize multiple open source platforms to support the display of its data. The display of geospatial information is especially useful for researchers, allowing for the layering of historic maps with recent infrared or high-resolution aerial photos. While parts of the DNA site remain unfinished, such as the blog component, as a work-in-progress the Digital Nineveh Archives is a project that would be well utilized by researchers of the ancient Near East.
North American Women’s Letters and Diaries (http://solomon.nwld.alexanderstreet.com – Note: The site requires a subscription to login, but is accessible through UT libraries).
Institution(s): Alexander Street Press and the University of Chicago
Developed in 2000 by the University of Chicago and Alexander Street Press, the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries database was envisioned as a way to make manuscript materials from the 18th through the mid-20th centuries pertaining to women and gender accessible to researchers. Due to the often poor quality of microfilm and the difficulties posed to researchers unable to visit repositories in person, the developers of the database sought not only to make archival materials available in print text, but to also render them searchable by subject or index term, in such a way that would yield information previously inaccessible through other mediums. The biggest challenge the developers encountered, however, was how to structure the database and which controlled vocabularies to use. Bearing in mine that the presumed audience would be those primarily interested in women’s and gender studies, history, and social studies, they designed an interface that would allow researchers to simultaneously search for several subjects terms, implementing full text with fielded searching.
As the largest assemblage of manuscript material documenting the experiences of women in the United States, the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries comprise over 150,000 pages documents. Although the database chiefly contains published letters and diaries, the developers have also been collecting unpublished materials, having accumulated approximately 6,000 items so far. Undoubtedly, having such a collection chronicling women’s history is a highly valuable and useful resource, albeit the database is only accessible through subscription, thus possibly limiting who can utilize it. In addition, the database’s collection of unpublished manuscript materials remain relatively small. Since unpublished manuscripts are more difficult to access, the database would be able to offer significantly more vital information should it make more unpublished items available. A collaboration with other institutions to digitize and make available more unpublished items would considerably broaden possibilities for research and our understanding of the history of women in North America.
British Women Romantic Poets (http://digital.lib.ucdavis.edu/projects/bwrp/)
Institution(s): University of California, Davis
The British Women’s Romantic Poets (BWRP) project contains the poetry of British, Irish, and Scottish women, spanning from 1789 through 1832 (i. e. the Romantic period in literary history). Texts are selected by an Editorial Advisory Board composed of scholars from institutions both in the United States and Canada, though the majority of the poetry represented in the digital repository are housed in the UC Davis Library’s Kohler Collection. The documents are scanned and converted to ASCII format using OCR. The poetry is then made available in both HTML and XML (SGML prior to 2007) versions, enabling researchers to both read print text versions of the poems while also being able to view digitized excerpts of the original texts.
The vast majority of the poetry in the collection is yet unpublished, and thus the BWRP presents access to a large quantity of material that may have been largely unavailable to many researchers. By 2003, the BWRP had made 100 collections of poetry available, and since the website has not been updated more recently, it is difficult to determine if this number has been gradually increasing. Searching the texts can be accomplished two ways: researchers can browse an alphabetical index of authors on the BWRP website, or they can search by keyword, title, author, and date, etc., through the Online Archive of California (OAC), the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship (NINES), or through OAIster, OCLC’s Digital Collection Services. Thus, the BWRP project website itself does not offer extensive search options, which may be limiting in many respects. However, sites such as the OAC offer researchers more search options, allowing them to search and peruse the collections of the BWRP with a great deal of ease.
The Digital Archaeological Record (http://www.tdar.org/)
Institution(s): University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, Penn State University, SRI Foundation, Washington State University, and the University of York under the auspices of Digital Antiquity
As a multi-institution, international digital repository, the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) is designed to house, preserve, and make accessible the records of archaeological field excavations. While most of the data in the tDAR is primarily from field work conducted in the United States so far, the repository will eventually contain data from international archaeological projects. Researchers can use tDAR to access data sets, GIS data, field reports, journal articles, and images of artifacts and from excavations. While the vast majority of users will be archaeologists interested in comparative research or wishing to investigate the history of excavations in a particular region, the digital repository is publicly accessible and is also designed to be an educational tool.
In addition to being able to conduct research, tDAR allows individuals or groups contribute to and enter data from their archaeological excavations to the digital repository. The developers of tDAR created metadata categories that represent the complexity of archaeological data, enabling researchers to simultaneously explore cultural, spatial, and temporal aspects of various archaeological sites and excavations. Given the limited geographical extent of the data within tDAR currently, the digital repository is principally useful for those investigating excavations in the United States. Nonetheless, with approximately 349,397 projects documented thus far, data available within tDAR shed considerable light on past and ongoing archaeological research.
Description de l’Egypte (http://descegy.bibalex.org/index1.html)
Institution(s): Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the International School of Information Science (ISIS), Alexandria, Egypt
The Description de l’Egypte, named after the series of publications resulting from Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1798 expedition to Egypt, during which he was accompanied by a team of more than 150 scientists and scholars and nearly 2,000 artists, is a project by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the International School of Information Science (ISIS) in Alexandria, Egypt, to digitize the 9 text volumes retained by the Institut d’Egypte and the 11 plate volumes housed in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of the Description. The resulting digital resource allows researchers to peruse the various volumes of the Description, search by keyword or index terms taken specifically from Tables de La Description de l’Egypte (1943), or to select, rotate, and bookmark portions of the text and 900 hand-colored copperplate engravings.
This digital resource offers researchers remarkably high resolution versions of the 20 volumes of the Description de l’Egypte that can be easily read and studied. Although the website for the project can be viewed in either English or French, the volumes themselves are only available in French. Likewise, searching the Description requires a knowledge of French vocabulary. Beyond being an invaluable resource for Egyptologists, historians, and archaeologists, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s Description de l’Egypte project is part of a larger endeavor to preserve, document, and digitize the records of Egypt’s ancient and modern cultural heritage. As one of several projects initiated by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and ISIS, the Description de l’Egypte project enables researchers to interact with the “imperial volumes” produced by Napoleon’s expedition in new ways.