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"Before they are lost forever": a collaborative open-access platform for privately held photographs of Latin inscriptions

The focus of this project is on inscriptions from regions of the Roman Empire whose epigraphic inventory has – due to wars, climate conditions or improper treatment – decreased substantially over the course of the past 170 years (i.e., since the invention and general spread of photography). At both the national and international level, the project will advertise for contributions through appeals over social channels, individual appeals addressed to specialist communities, societies and associations, as well as via contacts with citizen science networks. Persons contributing images in the project will transmit digitised versions of their (primarily older) photographs along with a small set of metadata relating to them (site, date, other relevant circumstances if known, photographer) electronically to the CIL headquarters in the project. As an alternative, the project will offer them the possibility of sending in slides, negatives or prints for digitisation in Berlin. After the photos have undergone quality control and the inscriptions have been identified using reference editions, the images, along with a standard set of geographic and temporal data, will be made generally available via museum-digital and through links with the major epigraphic databases.

A more general objective of the project is to generate greater awareness of inscriptions and the role they have played as a routine media for communication among human beings for 2,000 years. The project will showcase how simple and straightforward it can be to make what is nonetheless a significant personal contribution to the documentation of cultural heritage. In seeking to reach out to from or in conflict regions, the projects addresses the BAK’s annual theme, in a broader understanding thereof.

The call for participation in the project is available in English, German, French, Italian and Spanish.